Thursday, November 30, 2017

Never a Dull Moment

Around the time when my son, Ike, tends to leave school, I got a phone call from his teacher. She told me that he injured himself in school and still is in pain, so I should be aware and take a look at it when he gets home.

My mom is a physical therapist, and, as luck would have it, had told me five minutes beforehand that she would be visiting us this evening. When she came by, I had her take a look at my son's shoulder, since she usually is good at diagnosing sprains, showing exercises to help things feel better, and even able to move joints back into place that were out of alignment.

Unfortunately my mom told me that she doesn't think she can help, it looks dislocated to her, she even showed me how she could tell, and told me that I need to go to urgent care with Ike.

Ike was very scared, was afraid that putting it back into place would hurt him.... I tried to reassure him, but did know that when my mother dislocated her shoulder 11 years ago she said putting it back into place hurt more than childbirth, so I didn't want to get Ike's hopes up.

Steps to Building a Better Relationship with Money

This post was written by Nancy Evans, a reader who loves to help people improve their financial situation, through various means.

Does the thought of having more money lead you to believe that you’d have an easier life? If so, you’re not alone. Most people have been taught to believe that the pursuit of riches is ultimately the key to a happy life. While it may seem like the case, if you ask a celebrity who’s reached a certain caliber of financial success, they’ll quickly tell you that money can often create more problems. The truth is, you must change the way you relate to money. You’ll find that it’s a lot easier to achieve true wealth.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Anneliese's New DIY Haircut

My nearly 6 year old daughter, Annelise, has gone through all sorts of permutations with her hair. First long-ish, then with bangs, then short into a pixie cut, then grown out, and it had nearly reached her lower back, and in my opinion, was so beautiful on her, and I was able to do all sorts of beautiful hairstyles on her. 

But every single morning, brushing her hair has been a fight. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

A Last Minute Trip to Belgium

I know, I know... I said I was going to Cyprus in February, got a Black Friday deal.... but while I was looking at the website a few days ago, Sunday, I saw super cheap tickets, also 25 dollars round trip, to Brussels, Belgium... On Sunday. This Sunday, the 3rd of December. Coming back Thursday, December 7. I actually had noticed that on Thursday when I bought my tickets to Cyprus, and strongly considered buying it then, but was unsure... Yesterday, though, my friend convinced me that it wasn't a stupid decision to go, it was so cheap and I could totally do it at this point in my life (with my kids old enough and 3/4 in school, etc.), so I bought tickets.
After first checking that I'd be able to find cheap accommodations in Brussels, of course. Because cheap airfare and non affordable sleeping accommodations isn't exactly a frugal move.
I found accommodations for the nights that I'd be there for 48 dollars total (it would have been 22 more, but I had 22 dollars in AirBnB referral credit) which is really decent, considering...

I had seen cheap tickets to other cities, some even cheaper than this (if you can imagine) and some exactly this price (other cities in Poland than where I'd been, Romania, and a few different cities in Germany), but what made me decide that Brussels was where I wanted to go was the fact that my maternal grandfather was from Brussels, Belgium, leaving in the middle of World War Two, and I am curious to learn about his birthplace.

This might seem excessive to you- so many vacations and trips. For my tenth anniversary. Then Poland this past summer. Now Belgium. Then Cyprus in February... but as I wrote in my introduction to my cookbook, I've always had a love of adventure and travel, but just never could afford it, so I had to shelve it and make do with having adventures via foraging and cooking exotic meals. But it's not something that I ever stopped desiring. I just couldn't.
On top of that, having little nursing ones at home meant that I couldn't leave them...
But if I could manage to fulfill my love of travel without going over budget, then that is something that my heart desires so badly it could burst.
Even if that means buying a ticket last minute to travel exactly one week from the date of purchase and then rushing around to get all the arrangements made to make it happen.

This trip will be as low budget as they come. The only expenses I am planning on paying are airfare, transportation to and from airports (and am doing that as cheaply as I can manage, even if it means more of a headache because the airports I'm flying in and out of are all the way in the boonies), airbnbs, cell phone, and insurance, and public transportation while there. I'm bringing as much food along as I can manage in my carry on bags (not paying extra for checked luggage) (and will be bringing the barest minimal of changes of clothing to save room for food) so I don't need to buy expensive food there or pay for restaurants.
I've researched a bunch of free activities to do in Brussels including 4 free tours (I do plan on leaving them tips after, so that is an additional cost), and free museums. The days that I'm going are actually pretty lucky, since many museums in Brussels specifically are free the first week of the month, most of them the first Wednesday of the month, which I've dubbed museum day.
I've also been in touch with my grandfather's brother, the only sibling still alive, who gave me information on where my grandfather's family used to live, where my great grandfather (and name sake) had a shop and even told me about a mini museum about their street and area that is there today. So I plan on checking that out too.

The one extra expense that I decided to have is taking a train to Bruges, Belgium (pronounced Brooj'), known as "Venice of the North" because of its canal system, similar to Venice.

From descriptions and pictures I've learned that it has much of what Venice has to offer, only without it being as much of a tourist trap as Venice. I've dreamed of going to Venice for years and years, specifically because of the canals... and I'm hoping that going to Bruges will fulfill that desire, something to check off my bucket list.

Taking the train to and from Bruges will actually cost me more than my flight to Brussels... 36 dollars, but I do think it will be worth it. Everyone who's been to Bruges talks about how amazing it is.

Anyhow, I'm really excited about this trip, and plan on tallying up every single expense I have to see how much it costs me. My goal- under 200 dollars. I think that is totally doable. But under 250 tops.

Hopefully, now that I've discovered how to find airfare abroad so cheaply, I can more regularly blog about dirt cheap travel....

And now to get ready for my trip!!!

Do you have and/or understand a wanderlust, a love of travel? How do you satisfy yours without breaking the bank? 
Ever been to Belgium, Brussels specifically? Or Bruges? If you have suggestions of things that I can't miss while I'm there, or suggestions of how to do it frugally, I'd love to hear. And if any blog readers live in the general area, and want to come to Brussels or Bruges to meet me, let me know, and send me an email to

Saving On Bedroom Furniture

If you are familiar with my blog, then you are definitely aware of some of my extreme frugality. Today I wanted to tackle bedroom furniture because the holidays are approaching so there will be some serious sales. Also, after the holidays markdowns could come in handy for this big of a project.

So, you want to redecorate your bedroom or maybe you are only looking to add a few new pieces? Either way, you should be able to find some seriously great deals if you do your homework. I’m here to give you a few tips on how to start because I want you to get the best deal for your money.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Our New Homemade Wooden Entry Gate

My youngest, Rose, posing in front of our new entry gate. Silly girl.

We live in a building complex with 8 other apartments in one building. There are 4 townhouse like apartments, and then 4 more apartments on top of them. If you can imagine, there isn't much privacy there. Though all we bottom floor dwellers have yards, front and back, these yards are just separated by a thin metal fence. Everyone can easily look into each others' yards and lives, and while I enjoy the feeling of community, there's something nice about having privacy as well. What especially bothered my husband was having no front gate, because our small front yard, to him, felt like it was more public property and part of the "outside world" than part of our own house. Many of the people in our neighborhood got professionals to build them gates from aluminum or other metals.

Mike decided to build this wooden fence to close our entrance. It was entirely built from scratch.... no, not using pallet wood, but using wood he bought from the hardware store. He spent 60 dollars on this wood and had more left over to use for other projects. The other hardware was a dollar or two, and hence negligible.

Don’t Break Your Budget This Holiday

With the holiday seasons coming up, finances could be very stressful for many families, with pressure (either externally or from within) to buy the nicest presents, do the nicest things, which can certainly take a toll on your pocketbook. My plans? To get all the gifts from, and mainly get gifts for the entire family to enjoy (I got two Perplexus maze balls and the game Sushi Go, among other things.) Here are some more tips from a reader about how to save money this holiday season.

When the season’s all about proving your generosity by spoiling the ones you love, the holidays pose a huge challenge to anyone on a budget. The average American spends more than $900 on the season, but your wallet isn’t prepared for that kind of responsibility.

Between the gifts under the tree, the family feast, and the cost of travel, the festivities can take a chunk out of your budget whether you’re ready or not. If you count yourself amongst those struggling to celebrate the holidays, then you’ve come to the right place. You can get the most out of the season without breaking the bank by following these strategic steps.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Easy Peasy Homemade Pizza Recipe -- Gluten Free and Regular Options Using #TheRecipe

In a local easy cooking group, a few weeks ago, a woman named Maya changed so many people's lives by sharing a super easy pizza recipe. It took off by a storm, that then got dubbed and hashtagged #therecipe. Most people who made this pizza recipe loved it including their kids, and the ease was best of all. 

The original recipe calls for 2 cups of flour, 2 cups of quark cheese (a soft spreadable cheese with a consistency similar to Greek yogurt), and 2 teaspoons of baking powder. Mix it together, roll it out, top it, and bake.

Simple enough, yes?

Only we don't eat gluten in our house. So #therecipe probably wouldn't work for us.

But my kids were begging for me to make pizza, so I figured I'd give it a try and see if I could make it using gluten free flour.

It worked.

Friday, November 24, 2017

My One Black Friday Purchase- I'm Excited!

So of course, Black Friday is today.
Some people are in love with it and take advantage of all the sales they could find and stock up on things for the holidays and the rest of the year even. Black Friday, if done properly, could really help you save money for the rest of the year, if you buy only things you would have had to buy later, only at a lower cost, because of of the sales.
But for some people, Black Friday puts a lot of pressure to buy, buy, buy now, even if you don't have the spare cash. And sometimes, people buy things on Black Friday that they wouldn't have bought otherwise, simply because its on sale.
Hint- if you buy something you wouldn't have otherwise gotten because its on sale, you haven't saved money, you spent money. Its only saving money if buying it was a given and you spent less than you would have otherwise.

Anyhow, my friend Michelle was telling me what she was buying for Black Friday, and I mentioned that I have a problem finding shoes I like, so she sent me some Black Friday deal sites for shoes, and I was looking and looking through them, trying to find something I liked, and then it hit me. Even with the deals those shoes cost more money than I want to be paying for shoes right now. And I wasn't even in the market for shoes specifically now, any more than I usually am.
So then I decided to not buy anything for Black Friday. I wasn't going to look to see what I should spend on when I don't need anything specifically.

And then my sister Violet called me up and told me about RyanAir's Black Friday deals on airfare- 5 euros, or $5.93, each way on tickets to many cities. I looked it up and those 5 Euro tickets seemed to originate only in Great Britain... but I found tickets for 10 Euros each way to Cyprus!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Sumac Onion Salad Recipe and a Delicious Shawarma Dinner From Scratch

Sumac was one of the first things I learned how to forage (as a kid at Six Flags, we used to pick the sumac berries while waiting on line for the rides), and I love it as a spice. Sumac and onion chicken is really amazing, as well as zaatar spice mix containing sumac. If you go to falafel or shawarma shops, you'll notice a bunch of salads and fillings to go inside the shawarma or falafel, and sumac onion salad is pretty standard.
It is really easy, and while it is amazing in shawarma, these sumac onions are great on anything, including any sandwich, in a salad, on cooked veggies or whatever. Of course its a must have for falafel. Really versatile.
While I do have an exact recipe, feel free to play around with this and add less sumac or oil if you like. I prefer more sumac, and then letting it sit, because the acidity of the sumac draws out some of the spice from the onion, making it more mild.

This recipe is vegan and paleo and gluten free and allergy friendly, low carb, and pretty much safe for every diet I can think of, other than no fat diets. Only thing to worry about is if you're allergic to sumac, which some people are.

Tonight for supper, specifically because I'd planned on writing this post, I made a shawarma bar for supper, so I could showcase these onions in all their glory. It was a lot of work, because I made everything from scratch, other than some pickles which I had gotten canned free a while back, but it was so, so so worth it.
Everyone really enjoyed it. It was my kids' first time eating shawarma, and my first time having a full shawarma bar since going gluten free 6.5 years ago (since any shawarma stand will be gluten contaminated, since all these things get spread on flatbread), so that was really exciting for me- I was in heaven!

Best part was the cost.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Extreme Cooking From Scratch Marathon

Today was cold and rainy, and when the weather is like that, I am usually tempted to cuddle up under a blanket with a good book or a movie. But sometimes, when the weather gets like this, I am tempted to cook and cook and cook and not stop, and that's what happened today. Today I had an intense cooking marathon specifically of things that one generally buys in the grocery store- lots and lots of condiments especially.

Pros and Cons of Auto Title Loans You Should Be Aware Of

I don't have a car and have no plans on getting a car in the foreseeable future. I do know, however, that for some people a car is a necessity. If it is, Dave Ramsey would suggest buying a car in cash, even if it is a bad car, and save up cash to buy a better car when you can. While that is ideal, some people don't have the ability to pay for even a cheap car in cash, and therefore need to take a loan for their car. If you do plan on getting a car loan, consider these following things, in a post written by a reader.

Taking out a car loan is a significant undertaking, given you have to make adjustments to your budget and spending in order to pay off your car properly. If you can't afford a car yet, this means you might be taking an auto title loan. It's therefore essential to consider the following factors first before taking out one for yourself.

Considerations to Check First

Monday, November 20, 2017

Healthy Sweet Potato or Carrot Muffins or Cake Recipe, Gluten Free and Vegan

I've been on the lookout for healthy baked goods lately, and since I recently scored a bunch of super cheap sweet potatoes and just stocked up on jaggery, I thought to make some gluten free sweet potato muffins sweetened with jaggery. Since I know sweet potatoes and carrots can be used interchangeably in many recipes, I found this recipe for carrot muffins, and converted it to make it gluten free, using sweet potatoes and vegan, sweetened with jaggery syrup, and without any expensive additives.  Because it was converted from a carrot muffin recipe, it works with carrots as well as sweet potatoes.
Since I didn't have muffin papers and was looking to do this more easily, I decided to bake the recipe into two loaf pans. Feel free to make them into muffins as well- the original recipe calls for 12 muffins, but that doesn't seem right, this seems like it should make at least 18 muffins, if not more.

This recipe was a big hit with everyone who had it; I highly recommend it.
Oh, and it was pretty easy to boot.

Healthy Sweet Potato or Carrot Muffins or Cake Recipe, Gluten Free and Vegan

Thursday, November 16, 2017

My Latest Frugal Shopping Scores

Have I mentioned how much I love going to the market in my nearby city? When life gets busy and I can't make it there to do my shopping, I miss it. And the vendors miss me too. My last trip there was the other day, and the vendors asked why they haven't seen me in a while, that they had such good stuff that I would have appreciated, but missed out on because I didn't come. I've been busy and sometimes its hard to find the time to go there, but when I push myself and go there anyhow, I never come home disappointed.

This last shopping trip I'll break down into two parts- the produce and everything else. (In large part since there wasn't room on my counter to put everything there at once to take a picture.)

Total this shop was $60.31, of which $32.74 was on produce, and $27.57 was on non produce items.

Vipon- Discounts on Amazon

I was approached by Vipon, an online shopping platform that has incredible deals and steals for Amazon shoppers. I checked it out, and definitely think it is worthwhile for you to check out as well.

So, how does Vipon work?

You can go to their site, or download their app (also available in iOS and in the Google Play Store), both totally free.

Once you open the app, you sign in (you can make an account or sign in through Facebook) and then are presented with a few choices- featured deals, instant deals, coming soon, category, and profile.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

My Frugally Decorated Beach Theme Bathroom- Reveal

The day I went to pick out the tiles and fixtures for my new house I was very sick and hadn't realized it yet. My head was spinning and I could barely see straight and I had a headache, which certainly did not make picking out the various colors and patterns for our tiles easy at all. Add to that the fact that at the time I went I hadn't narrowed down my taste in home decor.... I was lucky that most of the tiles I chose out, especially the gray floor tiles were exactly what I would pick out today and love my floors.
But when I saw my bathroom and the tiles there I had such buyers remorse. I hated it. I had no idea what would have possessed me to pick out this beige-ish yellow color and thought I'd just have to make do with a color I hated until I could afford to replace them.

Fortunately my friend Michelle pointed out to me that the color of my tiles was reminiscent of sand, and if I went with a beach theme and color scheme for my bathroom, those tiles would be an asset, not a detriment.
Once she pointed that out to me I realized what potential it had. I decided to go 'full on beach' and have my color scheme be sand colored /beige, a bright sea blue, and wood. Of course there's also the white and chrome colored fixtures so those colors ended up needing to be worked into the theme.

Frugality and Playing the Lottery

I've never been into the lottery, to be honest. But I am a believer in a higher power. I believe that the money I have and get can come to me in the "natural" way, and even then, what I make depends on how often I have clients, which isn't entirely up to me. In my culture/religion, we have a story about someone who prayed and prayed to win the lottery and when he died, he said "Why did I never win the lottery?" and the answer he got was that he never bought a lottery ticket. I do believe that if a higher power wanted to send me money, it can be by means of a lottery ticket, and that by buying one, I'm opening myself up to receiving abundance, if the higher power wants to send it my way. So in my life, I've bought 3 or 4 cheap lottery tickets, and that's all.
I know some other people, though, that really enjoy the lottery. They have a set amount that they spend each month, and they have won smaller amounts on a regular basis, and put that money back in to their lottery fund, so it doesn't come out of their pocket.
For those of you that do enjoy playing the lottery, here is a post by a reader, about some thoughts to consider, about how to do it frugally.

Parents trying to live a frugal lifestyle will go to many lengths to cut corners and eliminate otherwise unnecessary costs, making their own canned goods, for example, or sewing Halloween costumes for their kids. It’s definitely a great way of life, but every now and again it’s fun to partake in guilty pleasures. One of those lovely guilty pleasures is playing the lottery, with its promises of high drama and unlimited wealth. It’s fun to daydream about the yachts we’d buy, the houses we’d flip, the trips around the world we’d take, but it’s actually not that simple: even when you win the lottery, you still need to be frugal.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Homemade Crocheted Ear Warming Headband with Headphones

I want to start exercising regularly. I keep on saying that I want to do that, but something comes up. I have a really bad track record and getting my act together and actually exercising on a regular basis.

However, lately I've been exhausted beyond belief, and even when I think I'm getting more than enough sleep, more sleep than I used to be getting and would have been enough, I'm still wiped out. I made myself an appointment at the doctor to get a blood test to see what's going on, but it was also suggested to me to exercise more often, that regular exercise, despite what it would seem, actually energizes you, not tires you out.

The problem is... my ears. They get cold when I exercise outside, and that's the type of exercise that appeals to me the most.

I don't really like wearing hats. They mess with what I do with my hair, etc... I just want something for my ears. I asked women I know what they did to keep their ears warm- sorry, ear muffs weren't doing it for me, didn't appeal to me, and they all suggested warm knitted thick headbands, with adjustable button closures.
Sounded perfect to me, and as I know how to crochet, I knew that that was something I could make easily myself. And not just for exercising, but any time I wanted to keep my ears warm outside.

Traps Of Debt Relief You Should Avoid When Trying To Get Relief

In an ideal world, no one would have any debt. They'd pay cash for everything and not borrow money to pay for things they can't currently afford. Unfortunately we're not living in an ideal world, and there are many people with debt, either from past mistakes, or emergencies, or even sometimes because of being dealt a bad hand in life. Debt can be crippling, with payments sometimes so large that it makes it hard to get ahead. 
When people are in such a hard situation with their debt, they often look into debt consolidation to allow them to breathe a little bit. I think this post by reader Eddie about the pitfalls of debt relief and things to consider is very insightful and can be helpful to any of you readers who might be looking into debt relief.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Chocolate Peanut Butter Buckwheat Banana Bread

I was supposed to host a group of friends this morning around breakfast time, and last night I was trying in vain to think up something baked and yummy that I could make to serve then. Since it was breakfast time, I didn't want to serve something too cakey or sweet or unhealthy, because, you know, breakfast, not dessert.... But most of the breakfasty foods that came to mind were fruit based, and my kids finished up the last of my apples yesterday, and I didn't have any other cookable fruit in my house...
Eventually I thought of my chocolate buckwheat bread that uses mashed overripe bananas, and luckily I found some frozen bananas in my freezer and decided to make that chocolate buckwheat bread, but with an upgrade- peanut butter! Because peanut butter and chocolate are a match made in heaven, and if you add banana to that, it's just awesome.
This bread is more "bready" and less cakey, so if you're expecting something very sweet, don't be disappointed. I made mine with honey this time which ends up the sweetest this will be, and even then my son wanted to sprinkle sugar on his pieces when he ate his, but I enjoyed them as is. I added chopped up dates to mine because dates make everything taste yummy, and you get sweet morsels in your bread, but you can leave it out if you want to, just note that it'll be even less sweet.

In the end my get together this morning got canceled, so more yumminess for us. I definitely plan on making this again as it was very delicious and easy to make.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Buckwheat Banana Bread

What To Do When You're Too Broke For A Cell Phone Upgrade

I'm an Android girl all the way, but I know many are loyal Apple users and are very happy with it. However, Apple items can be expensive, and upgrading when your old phone works relatively well enough is hard to justify, especially if your finances don't allow it. I enjoyed this post on how to upgrade your phone without paying for a new phone. I wonder which of these could be applied to Android phones...

Since Steve Jobs launched the very first iPhone 10 years ago, the iPhone label has always meant a premium smartphone that cost a little more than average. Nobody expected this to change over the decade, as Apple strived for innovation despite the loss of its creator. However, nobody expected, all those years ago, that it would get this expensive.

At $999, the basic 64GB iPhone X cost a pretty penny, but it’s 256GB version is what puts the fear of Steve Job’s ghost in our hearts. In the US, it’s at its cheapest at $1,149, while other parts of the world can expect prices closer to $1,400.

If you don’t have over a grand to spend on an upgrade, all is not lost. There’s a way around the astronomical price tag without missing out on the X’s cool features.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

What To Do With Lots of Free Expiring Milk - Again!

This is 1/10th of the milk I got, free
Because I live in an area that is considered to be of a lower socio-economic background (gotta love a community like this, as we're all in the same frugal living boat, so not much pressure to keep up with the Jones), from time to time we get deliveries of food items that otherwise would be thrown out, for various reasons. For example, yesterday there were gallons and gallons of milk being given away, as their expiration date is tomorrow. Last time this happened, I shared what I did with my 8 gallons of free expiring milk, and now I wanted to share with you what I did this time.
This time I got ten and a half gallons, not just eight (20 2 liter bottles). I was trying to convince the other people that came to take milk, that there is so much they can do with it to prevent it spoiling before they could use it up, but people were hesitant. I'm sure, sadly, that much of the milk just ended up in the trash because people are so afraid of expiring milk...
This post, hopefully, will inspire you, and when you have milk that is near its expiration date, you'll know that you don't have to trash it, and can benefit from it. And anyone who lives in my community or in similar communities that are recipients of such items will know what to do with all that milk so they can benefit and not have it end up being tossed.

The previous time that I had a lot of milk, what I did with it ended up being a lot of work and a lot of steps, and this time, I'll be honest, I frankly didn't have the emotional energy or time to do what I did then, so I stuck to more minimal work and still managed to find what to do with my 10.5 gallons of milk.

Top Tips On Getting The Best Mortgage For Your Individual Needs

We recently bought a house, after being sure that we'd never be able to own anything, because our financial situation wasn't allowing us to save up the enormous down payment required in my country, not to mention the fact that housing is really expensive compared to salaries where we live. Even once my mother provided the down payment for our place, getting approval for the mortgage from the bank certainly wasn't easy, because our monthly income compared to the monthly mortgage payments didn't seem nearly high enough according to the bank (because they could only consider our rental income from the rental unit in our house as additional income once we signed with a tenant, and couldn't do that when we were first looking for approval for a mortgage). We had to jump through a lot of hoops in order to be able to be approved for a mortgage, and a mortgage broker ended up being the key in our being able to get our mortgage. For those that don't have a mortgage broker to guide them, these tips from a reader are certainly useful, and many of them are ones my mortgage broker advised as well.

Financial situations vary from person to person. Therefore, our definition of "financial freedom" varies. Should you arrive at a time when mortgage seems the best option, always remember that there are many criteria that you should follow before pursuing this. Given that your situation differs from another person's, your mortgage approach can be different. Here are the best tips from AAACreditGuide’s pre approval mortgage guide on how to get the best mortgage that will suit your needs:

Try To Be Pre Approved

Monday, November 6, 2017

A Fun Lacto-Fermentation Class

Yesterday I gave two women a private fermenting class in their homes. Though I've discussed many times how to ferment various things on my blog, some people prefer a more hands on approach, to have their hands held while they're being walked through the steps in fermenting. I decided to share with you here, in this post, what I covered in the class, which is a brief summary of what I have posted about fermenting throughout the years.

I started with a basic overview of what fermentation is, what lactic acid bacteria are, and the benefits of them. Fermentation with lactic acid bacteria is providing food and a good environment for beneficial bacteria, also called probiotics, to grow, and as they grow, they create lactic acid, making your ferment more sour, like pickles. There are different things required to make lactic acid bacteria grow, but in general they do well in a salty environment that isn't too salty.
Eating fermented foods regularly are a good way to provide your body with beneficial probiotics, allowing your gut to work properly and heal from damage. I mentioned that, according to traditional foods diets, such as the Weston Price diet, GAPS diet, and Paleo diet, it usually is a combination of removing foods from your diet that cause gut issues, as well as consuming a lot of collagen rich bone broths, and probiotics to get the system in better shape. By doing this, I've discovered that I'm now more tolerant of foods that previously I couldn't handle. (For example, in the past, any amount of dairy, even yogurt and goat's yogurt and butter would make me nauseous and give me a bad stomach ache- now, after being off gluten for a few years, eating mostly paleo, and eating bone broths, gelatin, and fermented foods, I can have aged cheeses without a problem, and can have 1-2 fermented yogurts, and a small amount of dairy chocolate and/or caramels, (not more than one snickers sized bar), without causing me stomach aches.)

The first type of ferment we made together was sauerkraut. Since it was organic cabbage, I suggested to not wash off the cabbage, because plants have wild beneficial bacteria growing on them already, so no need to wash them off- leaving it unwashed would give it a headstart on the fermentation process.
We chopped the cabbage (food processor helps) and then mixed it with salt (roughly a tablespoon for the whole head of cabbage), then pounded it and kneaded it to release as much of its liquid as possible, tasted it to see its saltiness level, and then packed it into a glass jar, pushing it down as much as possible, and then poured the liquid that was released into the jar. More water was added because the released juices weren't enough to cover the cabbage, and then additional salt was added to make it reach the desired saltiness level. You want it salty, but not too salty that it isn't palatable- too much salt would also stop the beneficial bacteria from growing.

VIPKID- Earning Money At Home While Having Fun

My husband and I got married young, without any real means to support ourselves. Throughout the years, I did many part time work from home jobs, from telemarketing to customer service to content writing to child care and every one of them had their down sides, but at the same time, I realized how beneficial work from home opportunities are, especially the flexible ones, because I was able to fit them into my life, and be able to earn an income from the comfort of my own home.

I recently learned about a company called VIPKID, an online education platform that teaches English to Chinese kids from kindergarten through 12th grade. A friend of mine, Rachel, teaches English to Chinese kids through the internet, and I’ve heard such amazing things from her, about how much she loves it, how she loves learning about their culture while teaching them, and visa versa, and I was fascinated by the concept.

VIPKID is a great way to earn money from the comfort of your own home, with flexible hours and decent pay- teachers for VIPKID on average make $19 an hour. Unlike many teaching opportunities, with VIPKID you don’t need to create lesson plans or a curriculum- you’re given everything you need to teach your students in a 1:1 environment.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Homemade Date Seed Coffee Substitute Recipe and Instructions

Sorry, I couldn't help myself! I had a hard time bringing myself to write coffee on here,
because it isn't... covfefe worked well as a replacement.... 

Growing up, I never liked or drank coffee. I didn't understand the appeal of the bitterness of the drink. I did always like the smell, though, just never drank it regularly until a few years ago. Then it became part of my morning routine, a big cup (that honestly had something like 3 cups worth in one) of coffee, sweetened with either honey or jaggery, sometimes black, and sometimes with almond milk, cashew milk, or coconut milk. I grew to really enjoy that coffee ritual, the concept of sitting down for a coffee with friends.
Coffee, I discovered, is not just a drink, but an event, and it doesn't just get easily replaced with something like lemonade. (You say "We're getting together for coffee," but don't really say "We're getting together for lemonade.")
Unfortunately, once I grew to really enjoy my coffee, I was told by my doctor that I need to stop drinking coffee, since the caffeine was worsening my anxiety. That sucked. I wanted coffee... (Fortunately, chocolate does not seem to have the same effect! At least that!)
As a forager, I knew that you could make a coffee substitute from chicory root and dandelion root that would complement the best mre flavors, but they aren't in season yet round these parts. I ended up buying a chicory root instant coffee substitute and I've been enjoying that, and plan on attempting making my own once it comes into season, but I wondered if there was a way I could make my own coffee substitute now instead of paying for the pricey packaged stuff.

One day, by chance, I saw that my friend Alison talked about saving date seeds to make date seed coffee substitute. That was the first time I ever heard of anyone doing anything with date seeds. For years I've been buying dates and then tossing the seeds into the trash- knowing that I could make a coffee substitute with them was intriguing.

Cooking Dinner With No Inspiration

People think of me as a foodie, as someone who is always chock full of ideas and inspiration for cooking my family and myself delicious meals. I'll admit, lately it has happened to me many times that I've had literally zero inspiration, that I can't even begin to come up with ideas of what to prepare for my family. And it goes beyond that- sometimes I am just craving something so bad, but I have no idea what I am craving, just know what I'm not. It's really annoying to be in that position, because you can waste lots of money and energy and calories on something that just doesn't do the trick, since you can't come up with what you're really got a hankering for.

So, what do you do if you can't come up with ideas to cook?

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Book Swap Treasures!

Last night I went to a book swap with friends and made some new friends there too. I came home with so many books!

Yes, this many!

Total cost? 0.

I should mention that I love reading. And that the library system in my country is nothing like the library system with which I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. There it was free to join, and we had access to so many books, well catalougued, and what they didn't have they'd order with inter-library loans. 
Locally, even the local language's books are much more limited than how it was in my hometown, no interlibrary loans, and membership costs. Our closest library is open only a few hours a week and has just a smattering of English books.

So when I want books, I have to buy them, mooch them off friends, borrow them, trash pick them, etc... When I saw some English speaking locals planning a book swap in the nearest city, I decided that I'd be there, come hell or high water.