Monday, April 30, 2018

Chocolate Balls Recipe or the Poor Man's Chocolate Truffle -- From Repurposed Chocolate Cake Crumbs

I hate food waste. And it's a big problem around my house, because there's a lot of food that I make for my family that I can't eat, and if they don't want to eat the food, I sometimes end up throwing it out if I don't figure out a clever way to repurpose it.
I had this chocolate cake that I made a while ago and unfortunately when I made it, I made a triple batch and I overcooked it somewhat, so that it ended up being too dry and crumbly. My kids ate it, but it ended up making a big mess, and a lot got left over. And it just sat out. I was loathe to throw it out especially as there was so much of it, but no one wanted to eat it either.
So it just sat there.
And I tried to figure out what to do with them, to think of a clever way to repurpose it.
Some people suggested using it as a topping for ice cream or as a way to decorate a frosted cake. Another suggestion was trifle. Other people suggested mixing it with heavy cream and make an oreo pie.
But the simplest idea, the one that I knew I'd go with, was chocolate balls. Also sometimes referred to as the "poor man's truffles".
How do you do it?


How to Stop Wasting Money on Toys for Your Child

When someone is living a frugal life, they often try to go with the cheapest items, often bad quality, which ends up broken and in the trash far too often. This is especially true with toys, because kids want so many toys and toys are expensive, but as the writer of this post shares with us, spending money on good toys is often a far better investment and saves you money in the long run.

Most parents spend far too much on toys for their children over a number of years for them to ultimately end up at the charity shop. If you want to stop wasting loads of money on toys for your kids, it is a good idea for you to read on for a few tips to keep in mind. These tips can go a long way towards helping you to save a substantial amount of money while still getting your children what they want.

Friday, April 27, 2018

How Therapy Can Change Your Life -- An Interview

I'm a big proponent of self care, because if you don't take care of yourself and your mental well-being you won't be able to live a happy and productive life, and even from a frugality stand point, you won't be able to be as functional and do frugal things if you're miserable, depressed, or an anxious mess. One of the biggest and most important ways to do self care, in my opinion, is through therapy. I know many people are skeptical about doing therapy for a variety of reasons, especially when money is tight, because it's hard for people, especially moms, to justify spending money on themselves when there are so many other expenses.

Some people manage to get therapy paid for through their health insurance, which is a certainly a frugal option. For those that can't get it through their insurance, another option is online therapy like through places like Lastly, there are training programs for therapists that already have degrees and already have practiced, but are learning additional modalities. In such cases, the therapists work with a mentor who guides them to learn even more therapy skills, and to do so, they need to see clients; these places offer therapy at much discounted rates, and are a great option for people low on cash but who would benefit from therapy.

But for some people, the reason they don't start therapy isn't just about finances. It's because they aren't sure if therapy would help them, or why therapy is even important. For that reason, I arranged an interview with my friend, Daniella Levy about her therapy experiences, as she has written a lot about her mental health struggles and her experience with therapy and writes an awesome blog, the Rejection Survival Guide, which talks about how to cultivate resilience in the face of rejection and criticism, something that we all need to hear. I'm pointing out that she is not a professional when it comes to this, just someone who wants to help others by sharing her life altering experience with therapy.

What made you decide to begin going to therapy?

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Must-Have Tools For a DIY-Type Life; Tools To Be Your Own Handy-Man or Woman

I can't even count the amount of times I've written here about the DIY projects my husband and I have done around the house- it is one of the most useful money saving skills that we have, especially in the long term, because each time we do something we save hundreds to thousands of dollars, which is a large chunk of money saved by being able to do things from scratch.
But like with your kitchen, you can't do DIY money saving stuff without tools. Just as I wrote a post about which tools the frugal kitchen needs to have to be able to save money, people have requested that I write a post about which tools you need to have in your house if you want to be able to start doing things yourself to be able to save money.
As with my kitchen post, I'll order it so that, depending on how much money you have available, you can invest in the necessary tools to be able to fix things yourself.
I will add that I am not the expert DIYer in the family. That's my husband's role. Much of this post is based on things that I use or have used myself, or have learned from my husband after seeing him use them repeatedly. I also sat down with him and discussed his thoughts on what is necessary to be a DIYer and the order in which to prioritize them. Keep in mind my husband is not a professional, just a hobbyist who is very good at what he does, so what he recommends isn't necessarily what a professional would recommend.
For each tool mentioned, I linked to Amazon's cheapest version of the item I was referring to. I don't get kickbacks from any companies for this post, but I do want to mention that nearly every power tool my husband has is Stanley Fatmax or Worx brands and he is very, very happy with their quality. They are more pricey than the ones I linked to below, so if you have the money to invest, he'd recommend this brand. I do get a cut if you buy anything after clicking one of the links in this post, even if you don't buy exactly what I linked to.

Must-Have Tools For a DIY-Type Life; Tools To Be Your Own Handy-Man or Woman

Affordable Kids Birthday Party Ideas

I'm very big into birthday parties for my kids- I want my children to know that I cherish them and their birth and celebrate their life, and I find a birthday party a terrific way to do that. Of course we keep birthday parties low cost around here; here's some suggestions from a reader as to how to do that.

For kids, birthdays are a big deal and they will want to celebrate with their friends. While you will want your child to have an unforgettable birthday, this can be stressful as you will need to come up with something fun and look after dozens of very excitable youngsters. In addition to this, it can be challenging to organize a good birthday party if you are trying to squeeze the pennies. However, you do not need to spend a fortune to show a group of kids a fun time, so here are a few ideas for cheap birthday party ideas that will ensure your little one has an unforgettable birthday with their pals.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

My Recent Incredibly Frugal Grocery Shop

Y'all know how much I love a frugal bargain, and I usually am successful at getting them, but sometimes my frugal shops are even more frugal than my usual ones, and they excite me so much that I want to share them with you! This shop of mine was no exception. Unfortunately I lost my receipts so some of it will have to be from memory, but I do know the exact total because I track my grocery totals to know how much I spend per month. 
So everything pictured below- $127.85 dollars. And that was with stocking up on a lot of stuff. I can't even begin to imagine how much it all would have cost if I paid full price.

So where did I buy these?

First thing I did was go to my favorite store- the scratch and dent store. It is hit or miss there, but it's always worth popping in to see what they have- I might just be very thrilled, and believe me, this time I certainly was.
They had shelves and shelves and shelves of gluten free items at rock bottom prices.

Let's start off with the pasta.
I usually pay $2.57 per bag of Sam's Mills gluten free corn pasta. When I can find it on sale, I buy it for $2 a bag, and sales are rare. This time they were selling this pasta for 71 cents a bag. I think I got 10 bags. (That was literally all they had on the shelves. If they had more I would have taken more.) One time I bought gluten free pasta from the scratch and dent store and discovered it was buggy. (They gave me a full refund, of course.) Fortunately I've figured out how to tell if pasta is buggy before buying it, and I checked all these bags and all were good to go.
I also buy rice pasta a lot- it's great for Asian dishes, and doesn't need any cooking- just pour boiling water over it and let it sit- and I can typically get the rice vermicelli for $1.11 a bag, but my kids prefer the wider linguini rice noodles, which cost $2.57 a bag and never go on sale. The scratch and dent store was selling it for 71 cents a bag, so I bought 6 or 7 packages.
They had lots of other specialty gluten free pasta like gluten free lasagna noodles, and black bean noodles, but I decided to skip those, because the lasagna noodles were still pricier than other noodles, I can make gluten free lasagna noodles easily enough (it's the easiest type of homemade pasta to make because it just involves rolling out a whole sheet, no cutting it, no pre-boiling it, etc...) and I didn't think my kids would like the other specialty pastas.

My kids prefer either basmati rice or sticky rice, not the cheaper Persian rice that I can buy at $1.40 per 2.2 lb package, or 64 cents a pound. Basmati rice generally costs $2.85-$3.42 per 2.2 lb package or $1.30-$1.56 per pound. Occasionally I can find it on sale for $2.28 per 2.2 lb package or $1.04 per pound, and I try to stock up then. Imagine my excitement therefore at finding basmati rice also for 71 cents per 2.2 lb package- or 32 cents a pound! I literally bought all the packages they had of the basmati rice- 4, and would have bought more if they had more.

I really enjoy canned hearts of palm. When I'm trying to lose weight, I love them even more, as they're a great snack food, low carb, low fat, and it still feels like I'm eating a treat. Usually I can find them at $2.85 a can, and if on sale, anywhere from $1.71 to $2.28 per can. The scratch and dent store had them for 95 cents a can, so I bought 6. 
Canned corn, another family favorite, usually sells for $1.71 per can, and they were selling them for 71 cents a can, so I bought 4.
Additionally they had a giant 1 kilogram- 2.2 lb container of tahini for $2.85. Usually I buy a container half that size for $2.85, so that was an awesome price for that.

Lastly, they had a nutella spread knock off, for only $2.14 per jar, which seemed like a good price to me. Yes, it's junk but the oils in it weren't hydrogenated, so that's already a big plus for me. I also bought 12 packages of gum for $2.85, or 23 cents a package.

That whole shop cost me 35 dollars. 

Something I didn't mention is that when I'd left the house, I hadn't actually planned on going to the scratch and dent store, so I didn't even have a backpack with me, let alone my typical stainless steel foldable shopping cart. Getting all this home was going to be a challenge, so I decided to buy a small foldable cart from the store to carry it home. They had more expensive options, but the one with the store brand on it only cost $7.14, and even though I spent that much on carrying it home, it was worth the investment, because of how much I bought and how cheap it was compared to its usual prices.

After that, I went to the open air market. Bear in mind I had very minimal room to carry things by this point, but I was looking for fruit. My only stop was to my favorite shopkeeper, Gideon. He gave me 2 punnets of star fruit and 1 of apples for $2.85, and 3 perfect purple cabbages for $1.42. The apples all had stuff that had to be cut out- they were a little yuckier than the standard apples I buy from the reduced rack, but at this price it was worth it, and I cleaned them and froze them to use for desserts.

After that, I went to a large chain grocery store that is known for having cheap prices on gluten free bread. My kids take sandwiches to school every day for snack, and we go through a lot of bread. At the prices I pay for the stuff from the store, it's not worth the money or time to make bread from scratch for them. (And yes, that's what the nutella spread was for. Their snack. Not healthy, but we switch it up. Sometimes cheese sandwiches, sometimes peanut butter, and sometimes nutella.)

At that store, I paid a total of $88.57. 
What did I buy?
I bought a bag of oranges, I don't know how many pounds, for 38 cents a pound. 
I bought a bag of zucchinis and a bag of cucumbers, I don't remember how much they cost or how much I bought.
I bought 2 large butternut squash at 38 cents a pound- an amazing price no matter where. 
I bought 3 large bags of frozen green beans at $3.11 per 2.2 lb bag- this is a standard price at this grocery store but much lower than any other store. 
For my kids' school sandwiches, I bought 2 2.2 lb packages of cheese for $8.54 each. This is a pretty standard pricing for this store, but much cheaper than buying locally.
I also bought 2 4 packs of msg free hot dogs. Typically the 4 packs go for $6.85 each or $1.71 a package, but they were selling them for $5.68 for the 4 packs so $1.42 a pack.
I got 2 giant packages of rice cakes for $4 each, the lowest price anywhere I can pay for rice cakes.
And I bought 10 packages of gluten free bread for $1.40 each.

Just as I went to the checkout, I saw a display filled with bubbly pear and apple cider as well as bubbly pineapple apple cider. The bottles were the size of a standard wine bottle, and cost only $1.40 each! I bought 6!

Now, can I remind you that I went grocery shopping without a backpack and without my regular shopping cart? Yes, this is all without a car either, all traveling via public transportation. When I got to this store, I already had my new small cart filled to the brim with heavy things, and 2 shopping bags filled with the lighter pastas and such. 

I then had everything I bought at this store, and to be able to take it home, I purchased 3 strong bags for $2.85, and packed them and 2 more shopping bags...

And then I was in trouble.

Because there was no way on earth I could carry all my stuff at the same time. 

I got a little too carried away with the good prices, and the logic of how I'd get it all home escaped me.

Fortunately the bus stop was only 500 feet away from the store, so I ended up moving my cart and a few shopping bags a 100 feet, then going back to get the other bags, in 2 more shifts, moving 100 feet or so at a time this way. Eventually I made it to the bus stop, then got directly onto the bus there, and took it to a stop where I could catch my bus home directly from there, so no more lugging heavy things.

Once I got off the bus near my house, I had people who were in my house come out to help me get my stuff home.

Remind me never to do that again, even if I get great sales! Because I have a limit to how much my body can carry at once, even if I am strong.

A Room-By-Room Guide to Keeping Your Household Baby-Safe

Fortunately, I'm out of the stage where my house needs to be kept baby proof, so right now my house isn't exactly. But sometimes we have guests over and their kids are young, and I realize just how not baby proofed my place is. I also remember when my kids were at a younger age and we'd go to relatives' homes that were not baby proof and how nerve-wracking that was. Here's a post from a reader on how to baby proof your home, whether because you have a new baby, or because you're getting a visit from people with a young child.

Image source.
Our homes are a personal footprint of where we have been, who we are, and where are going. Like a second skin, navigating your home is as easy as putting one foot ahead of the other with the dangers avoided or kept outside. But when there is a baby on board? Those dangers find a way of creeping in, and sometimes they’re disguised as the couch you have had for a decade.

There’s only two things to be sure of with babies; they are adorable, and they will find a way to put themselves in harms way if given half the chance. But before you sell your prized possessions, make these small tweaks and start sleeping easy knowing your home is ready for the bub.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Akki Rotti Recipe and Technique- Indian Flatbread from Leftover Rice

As a frugal person, there's a few parts when it comes to lowering food expenses. One big part is making sure to get the lowest prices for what you're buying, and sticking to lower cost meals. But another big part of frugal living is making sure that the food that you already have doesn't go to waste. The first part, I'm quite good at, if I may say so myself, but the latter is actually a big struggle of mine. Because I buy a lot of past prime produce, some of it goes off before I can get around to using it, but I'm ok with that because of how little I pay for it, and still overall my grocery bill is decently low.

But what bugs me more, the type of food waste that is most rampant in my house, is leftovers. You know how it is when you specifically make more food than is needed for one meal, because you want to be able to relax a bit and not live in the kitchen, so you make a larger amount to be able to serve at another meal as well? And then your kids decide that they had enough of it; one meal was enough for them and they have no interest in eating another meal with that item.
Tell me that doesn't just happen in my household.

Because leftovers go to waste far too often here, and it's just so frustrating. I don't want to have to fight with my kids "Eat this!" nor do I want to have to cook new meals when there's perfectly good food sitting in the refrigerator that will go in the garbage.

On top of that, I don't eat the same diet as my kids, so there's often things that I made for them leftover that I don't eat myself. Rice is a big one of them. I try to stay away from rice (I'm not perfect about it though) because it makes me gain weight, makes me bloated, and makes me exhausted, among other things, but when I have so much rice leftover that the kids are refusing to eat, it makes it hard for me to watch it spoil instead of eating it.

When I have plain white rice, that's easiest, because I can repurpose it into rice porridge, something my kids will happily eat any day (and request often). This last time, though, I had rice cooked in chicken broth and tomato juice, which therefore couldn't be repurposed into rice porridge. I made most of it into a soup, some blended with leftover sweet potatoes and leftover tomato soup and some unblended, and fortunately my kids all enjoyed the soup. I still had a decent amount of rice left and I knew if I made it into soup again I'd get kids complaining.

Then I had an idea, and googled to see if there was such a thing as Indian flatbread, made with cooked rice (dosas were what came to mind at first) and I found this video for akki rotti- exactly what I was looking for, with the added bonus of it being frugal, vegan, gluten free, etc!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Our Cheapskate Fun BBQ and Homemade BBQ Stand Made From Pallet Wood

My family loves barbecues! Who doesn't? (Ok, other than maybe vegetarians and vegans...) The other day, we just had a barbecue with nearly my entire family (siblings and siblings in law, parents, nephews and nieces) and my dad. My dad- remember him, the insanely frugal shopping guru that I interviewed for my blog? Well, was the one who supplied most of the food for the BBQ, and what he didn't supply, I did. You combine my dad and myself and what you get is an awesome barbecue for 18 people that cost less than 50 dollars, and had a lot of food left over afterwards!

Because for most families, barbecues are expensive affairs, I wanted to share how we did this barbecue so frugally, to maybe give ideas about how you can do it too.

But before I talk about what we served at our barbecue, I wanted to show you this awesome barbecue grill that my husband, Mike, built himself out of... you guessed it- pallet wood!

Check Out Shopkick- Make Money While Grocery Shopping

Some frugal people do extreme challenges, where they literally do not buy anything, ever. They just barter, make things from scratch, dumpster dive, etc. But for most other frugal people, even though we are trying to save money, spending money is an inevitability. Wouldn't it be nice, then, if while we're spending money on the things we would be buying anyhow, we could get money back?

Shopkick is revolutionizing how people shop, by giving them kicks, or points, for the things they are anyhow buying. You get kicks for checking into stores, scanning specific products, and buying stuff either offline or online. You do this via their app that works either on Android or iOS.

Once you have enough kicks, you can trade them in for a variety of different types of gift cards, from Amazon to Walmart, Target and many others.

Yes, it is legitimate. So far $64 million in gift cards have been given out to date. Why not save money on groceries, learn about cool new products, and have fun shopping? If you're going to be spending the money anyhow, you might as well be betting something back from it?

You can also get kicks by watching some videos online.

Just a note- you don't get points for every item you buy; there are specific types of items that will give you kicks, but by check them out you might learn about new products that you will love, or you might already be buying those items, so why not get money back for it?

To find out more about Shopkick and download it, check out this website.

See my disclaimer.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

My New Frugal Wardrobe Makeover that Hides my Mummy Tummy

I have a confession to make. I currently weigh more than I've ever weighed in my entire life, other than perhaps when I was 9 months pregnant. And even then, I maybe weighed one or two pounds more than I do now.
There's a bunch of reasons why I weigh what I do now, and those reasons aren't as relevant as the fact that I am about 40-45 lbs overweight and most of that weight is in my central region. I am attempting to lose the weight again, via exercising and eating better than I have been, but I accept that this is not going to be a quick fix, and I'm trying to learn to love my body, and I'm not actually upset about how much I weigh now, however...
I'm kind of sick of all the comments about "my pregnancy". Usually its innocuous comments, like the person on the street who stops me and blesses "me and my baby". Or the person who asks me when I'm due. And while it doesn't offend me, because honestly, I do look pregnant (about 5 or 6 months along, depending on the day and outfit), and I know the people asking me aren't being malicious, at the same time, I do find the comments annoying.

Basically, it comes down to this. I have a belly. Partly due to a mostly healed diastasis recti left from giving birth, and part simply from fat situated on my belly. And because I have a belly, I have the uncomfortable luck that when I wear tighter clothes, people assume I'm "showing off my belly" and therefore must be pregnant, and when I wear things looser on my belly, people assume it's maternity clothes and I must be pregnant. It's a "lose lose" type situation. Most of my clothes fit one of these two categories, which is why I get pregnancy comments on an almost every day basis.

In the winter, I did manage to figure out one type of clothing combination that worked really well at drawing attention away from my mid section, and therefore it stopped the pregnancy comments- knee length pencil skirts, shirts, and long open cardigans (especially with vertical ribbing), and I feel really good in those types of outfits and get lots of compliments on them.

The problem though is that summer is nearly here, and it is too warm for me to be wearing cardigans, even lighter cardigans, on a day to day basis. And all my summer clothes fall under the aformentioned categories of too tight-must be showing off my belly, or too loose-must be maternity clothes.

I took to the internet to ask style advice from fashion forums, what is the best style of summer clothing that minimizes attention to the belly area, that won't make me look pregnant, and won't be too hot.

I got suggestions to go especially with long shirts, so they won't stop directly at my belly, which therefore calls attention to the area. People suggested T-shirt dresses, peplum tops, wrap shirts and dresses, and loose drapey tops.

Your Complete Guide To Diversified Investing

Dave Ramsey talks about many stages of smart money management. It starts with building up an emergency fund, paying off debt, and then building up 3-6 months of living expenses as savings, and then investing. Unfortunately we're not at the investing stage yet, but for those that are, here's a guide from a reader about how to do diversified investing.

With the health of the economy in question, more and more consumers are seeking out different alternatives to supplement their income. Some individuals have even looked to the stock market, whereas others have took on part-time jobs. Neither option is a bad one, but with the right investment strategy and know how you can make a bundle of money with half the work. Unfortunately, the only problem is that the stock market is risky and it can take years to develop the perfect strategy. Luckily, this is where diversified investment can come in handy.

What Is Diversified Investing And How Does It Work?

Friday, April 13, 2018

Crispy Salmon Skin Bibimbap Recipe- Gluten Free, Easy, and Delicious

Recently, I was cleaning out my freezer, and discovering all sorts of goodies that I had stashed away there, like the containers of cooked fish that I deboned myself from free fish bones I got at the market. And I also found lots and lots and lots of salmon skin that I got free from the market. 
I brought home the salmon skin because I know just how delectable salmon skin can be. I mean, hello, they even sell salmon skin sushi in fancy restaurants, so obviously it is good.
Anyhow, as I defrosted my salmon skin, I turned to the internet looking for ideas of what to do with it, and honestly, I came up short. Even a hunting and fishing group that I'm in, that usually has terrific ideas for what to do with such "food scraps" wasn't helpful, and they suggested using it as bait to catch something else. 
Not helpful. (They also suggested a recipe that involved first dehydrating it and then frying, but that was more work and time than I was looking for.)
But then I found this idea for crispy salmon skin rice bowls, which they called a "poor man's sushi roll" (avocado is far from what I'd call "poor man's food" especially with how much it currently costs locally), but my brain took that idea and flew immediately to bibimbap. 

Bibimbap, as I've written about before, is a Korean rice bowl filled with pretty much anything you have on hand, and why not crispy salmon skin?

The Coddling Couple - A Guide to Safely Introducing Your New Baby to the Outdoors

Image Source
As soon as your baby is born they become the most important thing in your life. Being so tiny and fragile, you vow to do everything in your power to protect them. For this reason, many parents are hesitant to initially take their newborns into the outdoors. However, by taking a few simple safety precautions, you can all enjoy what nature has to offer.

Avoid busy city streets and crowds, your baby’s immune system will take a while to develop and you don’t want them getting sick from being around highly populated areas. Instead take them to parks, reserves, national parks, and on bushwalks. It’s not natural for a baby to be cooped up inside, so rug them up, take them out and let their senses enjoy all the beauty of the great outdoors. They may just teach you to appreciate it more as well.


Thursday, April 12, 2018

Video and Review of My Biolomix Blender and Dry Jar

I've written a few times already about my brand new high powered blender, the Biolomix blender that came with a dry jar, to be used as a grinder, and is much cheaper than the name brand equivalent- the Vitamix.

Many people have been skeptical about buying something like this that is from China, questioning whether you can trust the electronics, etc... So here I'll give my full 100% honest opinion of it, no holds barred. Keep in mind I make nothing from anyone buying this, no commission, didn't get this free or anything, so it's not biased at all. (While I would love to get a kickback from sales of this, Aliexpress has an affiliate program but it doesn't cover this blender, unfortunately.)
I just like to help you save money and get good deals.

So first, I want to say that it was a pleasure working with the seller; I got my order very quickly.

Secondly, I don't live in the US; my plugs and voltage of my electricity are quite different than that in the US, and I really like that Aliexpress gives you the option of choosing what type of plug to order, what voltage, etc... so I don't need to use a converter or transformer for this like I do for the rest of my heavy duty appliances, which makes using it a breeze (not to mention cheaper, because if I didn't have a transformer, I'd have to buy one if it ran on American electricity, and transformers are really expensive).

Thirdly, I like that there are many options when it comes to ordering it- you can choose the color, you can get just the blender, you can get an extra blender jar, you can get an extra blade and socket, you can get a dry jar, etc... I ordered a dry jar, which is meant to be used for grinding grains to make flour.

Determining How To Choose A Doctor

I have been very lucky when it comes to doctors for my family. At first, I used one physician who also saw kids and also saw adults, and he was very respectful of my family's less conventional health care choices (he was totally chilled out about my homebirths and even saw my infants before I could get them covered by medical insurance, without charging me for a private visit), but unfortunately he stopped working locally. Then I switched to another doctor who was also great and respectful, but he moved away. Luckily though, not long after, I switched my kids to a new doctor who is beyond amazing, friendly, caring, responsible, thorough, respectful, etc... My husband and I see another doctor who has been spot on with many diagnoses and coming up with good solutions. Fortunately, we're lucky in this sense; not everyone has as much success with doctors. Here's a post from a reader with her suggestions on how to chose a doctor for your family.

Many Angles To Consider

My Astonishingly Cheap Recent Grocery Shop

I love getting cheap groceries; I get this extreme excitement when I feel like I'm beating the system, getting groceries for so much cheaper than the standard price. I usually manage to get great prices, but sometimes the price I pay for what I get astonishes even me. This last grocery shopping trip actually was about 2 weeks ago, but I was so busy and didn't have a change to write up about it since then, but it was so amazing that I couldn't skip it and just had to share with you.
I feel like what happened on my shopping trip highlights not just that knowing certain skills about how to shop frugally, and knowing where to shop, are only part of the picture, but another useful part is becoming a regular at these cheap places, building up a relationship with the shopkeepers, which in turn allows you to get extra special deals for their steady clients.

Renting Vs. Buying: What are the Costs Associated with Both?

Having recently bought our first home, and before that, renting for about 10 years, I've had many discussions with people about whether or not it is a good investment to buy a home vs renting, and here are some points that a reader sent in, about the costs of owning vs the costs of buying. I'd add a few points to what they cover. For example, when you are renting, your landlord is responsible for taking care of any repairs, but when it is your place, if something happens, you're responsible to pay for it. Yes, hopefully you have home owner's insurance and this won't come out of your pocket, but that is an extra expense that home owners pay. Another thing is the instability of renting- you may be stuck with a hellacious landlord who doesn't pay for repairs that they are responsible to pay for, and you'll end up with the repair costs yourself, despite being a renter. Alternatively, you may be forced to move, and moving costs are quite a lot. We ended up moving in the middle of our lease because it was such a bad apartment, and ended up paying double rent for a few months. 
So far, we've only been home owners for 1.5 years, and I find home owning to be vastly preferable, not only emotionally, but also financially. But here are some other points to consider.

Given the upfront costs associated with buying your own home, millennials prefer to rent. However, as they build their careers, start families, and save; most of them are choosing to buy homes. People who are nearing retirement are also choosing to sell their homes and rent or downsize to smaller homes.

Here are the costs of buying and renting that will help you to make your choice:

Monday, April 9, 2018

Swiss Chard and Strawberry Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette Recipe- Paleo, Vegan, and Easy

While, in the past, I've posted very complex recipes that take many steps, my life more recently has become more busy and I've been turning more and more to quick, easy, and delicious recipes. Fortunately, people have shown an interest in these simple but yummy recipes, so even though the part of me that likes to make fancy and impressive dishes is sometimes loathe to share such "easy" and "basic" things, here's a recipe that has been requested by readers- Swiss chard and strawberry salad with balsamic vinaigrette. 

While it's written as Swiss chard and strawberry salad, this recipe is so incredibly versatile and I just use this as a base. In the past I've shared my formula for making the perfect salad from just about anything, and this recipe is based on that. It has the leafy chewy texture from the Swiss chard, has sweet and sour and a soft texture from strawberries, the crunch from the nuts and from the Swiss chard stems, etc... 

Based on that formula for making salads, you can see that you can just as easily replace the strawberries in this recipe with other fruit and it'll still come out amazingly. 

Recently I've been making this with pomegranate arils instead of strawberries; it works terrifically with mangos and peaches and apricots, clementine segments, etc... Essentially whatever sweet (and sour but not essential) fruit you have in season can replace the strawberries here, preferably if it's a soft fruit. 

Similarly, the Swiss chard (honestly, I don't even use real Swiss chard in mine; I use sea beet, the foraged wild ancestor) can be replaced with a variety of non bitter salad greens, such as spinach, lettuce, beet leaves, chickweed, lambsquarters, milk thistle (with the thorns removed), etc...
And while I used sliced almonds in mine most of the time, that's simply what I purchased on sale and have a lot of. You can use pecans or walnuts in yours, or sunflower seeds, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, etc... or even leave it out entirely- it'll just be without that extra crunch element that I find makes a salad great. However, if you include red onion slices, that'll also add that crunchy element, so the nuts may be superfluous.

If you want to make this suitable for the auto-immune paleo diet, simply leave out the nuts/seeds and the black pepper and you're good to go.

Swiss Chard and Strawberry Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette Recipe- Paleo, Vegan, and Easy

How to Keep Your Recipes Organized

Recipes... its what I'm known for. And I'm also the queen of disorganization when it comes to recipes, and that is with my recipes being posted here on this blog. You have no idea how often I am looking for recipe suggestions, and friends suggest certain dishes to me, and when I ask them for the recipe, they remind me that I have that recipe posted on my blog. Ridiculous, I know, right? I've gotta use these suggestions given to me by a reader to learn to keep my recipes organized!

When you’re a penniless parent, you watch the pennies with everything. This is no less true with cooking where you look for delicious recipes that can be reproduced to affordably feed the whole family.
If you’re good at finding new recipes or creating them yourself, then you’ll quickly have trouble keeping up with where all your recipes are stored. There’s also the risk of losing them. It’s a good idea to both protect them and keep them organized so they’re easy to sort through to find what you’re looking for.
Here are some ideas about how to keep your recipes better organized and safe.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Foraging, Foraging, Foraging...

I've been a super busy lady the past few days! It's now spring break where I live and that means everyone is on vacation and looking for things to do with their family, which means that I, the one who has fun teaching people on their vacations, have been super busy teaching class after class about foraging.

Yesterday I had a foraging class in the town where my sister lives, and after that had a BBQ with my siblings and mom at my sister's house.

Today I taught a private foraging and cooking class in the morning for a group of cousins looking for a family get together, and though they're not adventurous eaters, they all loved learning how to make cheese and then enjoyed the Indian curry we made and the salad.

After that, I had a break for about an hour, then taught another foraging class, this time to a large group, where we learned about a variety of edible wild plants and how to use them. After that, we had a picnic with my husband's family in the forest where I taught the foraging classes.

Tomorrow, I have yet another foraging class in another city, and I'm looking forward!

And then, we have relatives pushing us to go camping at a free beach. I still don't know if we'll end up going camping... however, suffice it to say that I'm exhausted but having a great time!

Have you done any foraging lately? Do your kids have spring break soon or now, or did they have it already? Are you doing anything fun for spring break? What is it?