Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Going Beach Camping Super Frugally!

It's been years since the one and only time we've gone camping as a family and my kids have been begging to go. Well, today we finally did it. We were visiting a beach town as we do every year and decided to take a detour and go camping at a nearby beach camp ground that I've known about for a few years.

My kids and I took the city bus to get here and paid $5.30 for the bus and then just walked to the camp site. My husband is coming with some more relatives by car and most of our stuff, all things we frugally bought at a grocery store and other discount stores, none at expensive beach front stores. We could have brought everything with us by bus, no car actually needed to get here. Once here we discovered that there's a large supermarket within walking range so we could have just bought all our groceries there.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Homemade Gluten Free Vegan Snickerdoodles Recipe -- Easy, Frugal, and Delicious

Since I ground gluten free flour a couple of days ago for the first time in months (to be able to make gluten free pizza for the family), I finally had gluten free flour to use in my house, so decided to make cookies for the family. The thing is, I didn't have any special ingredients like chocolate chips, peanut butter, jam, etc... to make the types of cookies that came to mind, so I turned to the internet looking for ideas. They suggested that I make snickerdoodles, a soft and chewy cinnamon sugar coated cookie, and I'm glad I did so! It wasn't easy to figure out how to make it, as so many of the snickerdoodle recipes I found called for butter or cream of tartar, and I didn't want to use either of them.
In the end I based my recipe off of this one, which was both vegan and without cream of tartar, and even though cream of tartar is generally used to get the signature texture, it worked perfectly without them, and they taste just as good as the best store bought gluten free snickerdoodles, at least in my opinion. This recipe, therefore, is a good option for people such as Muslims or Mormons that avoid wine byproducts, such as cream of tartar, or people like myself that simply can't get their hands easily on cream of tartar.

These cookies are absolutely delicious and frugal, made without any ingredients that are "weird" or that I don't have in my house on a regular basis. (Ok, xanthan gum may be "weird" but its a standard in gluten free homes.) So they're the perfect pantry staple recipe.
Additionally, they are free of all the top 8 allergens, and good for vegans and gluten free people alike.
My kids adored these. My husband thought they were great but a little too sweet. So note if you're not a fan these might be too sugary for you.

Homemade Gluten Free Vegan Snickerdoodles Recipe -- Easy, Frugal, and Delicious

5 Benefits of Car Title Loans in Terms of Financial Budgeting

While in general I recommend not taking out loans or going into debt if you have any other option, sometimes there simply is no choice. If you need a loan, here are some thoughts from Allen Brown about why you should consider a car title loan.

Very many people find it challenging when looking for loans. This happens especially to those who have a poor credit rating. Such people are always left out of the brackets and cannot secure a loan in most banks. However, if you own a car, then a car title loan will be easy to get.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Frugality Considerations When Purchasing a Car

Cars are expensive- to buy, to run, to fix. There are frugal ways to have a car, but many of these will depend on what type of car you purchased initially. I do not have a car, but have given this a lot of thought, because from time to time we do talk about the potential of getting a car. However, since I don't have personal experience having a car, to make this post as useful as possible to as wide of an audience as possible, this post is a combination of my own ideas as well as suggestions my friends have given me when I told them I'd be writing this post.

Frugality Considerations When Purchasing a Car

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Healthy Chinese Restaurant Style Pineapple Chicken Recipe -- Paleo, Gluten Free, Allergy Friendly

One of my kids' favorite dishes is pineapple chicken. Sweet, sour, delicious. I certainly love it as well. And pretty easy to make, not to mention healthy. Unfortunately there are too many battles in my house over food, even though meal time is the last thing that I want to make into a battle ground. My kids are just so picky, each kid refusing to eat a different type of food. But pineapple chicken, as long as I make it "right", every single kid will agree to eat, and be thrilled. (Even hot dogs and french fries isn't a sure thing in my house; one kid refuses to eat french fries!) I've also served it to guests and they devoured it.
When I make pineapple chicken, I make mine in a specific way so that my family will agree to eat it; two kids refuse to eat sauted onions, three kids refuse to eat cooked peppers, and my husband doesn't like bits of pineapple in his food (though he does like the flavor of pineapple, as long as its not the actual pieces). Therefore, I keep mine in separate parts. Chicken cooked separately. Onions and peppers cooked separately. Sauce cooked separately. Pineapple added to each person's plate. This is more work, yes, but mainly in making more dishes to wash afterwards. However, if you don't have picky eaters, you can cook it all together and serve it in a more normal way.
My recipe for pineapple chicken is allergy friendly, refined sugar free, gluten free, and completely Paleo. I serve it to my family over rice, but to keep it paleo for myself, I eat it over zucchini noodles, grated then baked potatoes, or cubed sweet potatoes. You can also eat it plain; it's great that way as well.

Here's how you also can make this delicious dish for your family.

Healthy Restaurant Style Pineapple Chicken Recipe -- Paleo, Gluten Free, Allergy Friendly

Miter Saw Buying Guide: How to Choose the Best One

My husband loves to build and make things from scratch. To do so, he has purchased a large amount of different tools that allow him to do as many DIY type projects as possible. I even wrote up a post about the different tools he'd suggest one have if they want to be their own handy person, and yet when I was contacted by Allen Brown with this informative post about how to pick your own miter saw, I was confused and didn't know what that was, and asked Mike if he did. "Of course," he answered. "We have one," and then proceeded to show me which of the tools in his collection was a miter saw. Now I realized that I was mistakenly calling a miter saw a circle saw, and it is something my husband regularly uses. I also see that had we had read this post before the purchase of our first miter saw, we would have been better off, because we didn't follow tip number one, and ended up needing to buy yet another, large enough to cut the wood we regularly cut.

A perfect miter saw is a staple item that could make your work easier. Woodworking is a field that helps you to create a variety of styles and most of this work entails making cuts, which is why you should get the WEN 70716. With a top-rated miter saw, you will be able to do your work with perfection. Buying a good miter saw is a challenge if you don’t know what to consider because each brand brings different functionality.

Here are some ideas to help you choose the best one for your workshop.

Monday, July 23, 2018

A Free Homemade Rope Dog Toy Upcycled From Old T-Shirts

When I was a kid, my family would regularly go to our local pool in the summer. After swimming, we'd head over to the nearby park where there'd be free crafts available to do. There I learned to make many different things, but what stuck with me the most were the lanyard key chains we made. First it was with the simple box stitch and then it got more advanced and we learned how to twist it and make it with more than four strings.
Why bring that up?
Because I had a bit of nostalgia about that when making this project.
Our new dog, Snickers, is a cutie. She really loves to play. One of her favorite games to play is tug of war. Or rather, she likes to play fetch, and then when she brings back the toy, she loves holding on to the toy and not giving it up, but rather playing tug of war with it until one of us wins. I love playing that with her; it really brings a smile to my face seeing her play tug of war. I picture these little wolf cubs playing together with a scrap of raw meat when I play with her; I can't think of any more natural game for a dog to play.
The thing is, tug of war is a little bit hard on toys. The first toy I gave her to play with, a stuffed animal (that my kids no longer used) ripped apart quickly from these games. I tried to think of some other toy ideas that would be a little more durable for tug of war and other games involving chewing, and I found quite a few ideas online. One involved the same stitch we used for our lanyard projects all those years ago, but with heavy duty ropes. Others were made of old t shirts, and then braided. I decided to combine those two ideas and made this dog toy for tug of war and chewing, and my dog couldn't be more thrilled!

And of course it was completely free because I used two t-shirts that I found in the trash for this.

Here's how I made it, and how you can too.

A Free Homemade Rope Dog Toy Upcycled From Old T-Shirts

Keep your Child Safe with These 7 Low-Cost Parenting Hacks

Parenting and keeping your kids safe can be really scary. A little life in your hands to protect. Even when you take many precautions, and when you think your kids are past the danger zone, they pull stunts and surprise you and scare you... Here's some suggestions from Allen Brown with things to do to help keep your kids safe.

Parenting is akin to a roller-coaster ride. You experience the happy moments, the worried moments, the unforgettable times, and the moments you want to delete from your memory. Irrespective of the nature of your experiences, your duties as a good parent never change. While no parent is flawless when it comes to carrying out the duties, striving to be better is a huge step in the right direction. One of your responsibilities as a parent is keeping your kids safe and being ready to deal with potentially dangerous or unanticipated situations.

Every parent should know that every child is unique – some kids climb, others enjoy opening drawers and throwing everything out, and a few others have mastered the art of opening any door. Although all these practices are ideal for good development, they can also lead them into trouble or result in injuries.

Read on to equip yourself with 7 inexpensive parenting tips that will help you protect your baby or toddler from getting hurt.

Homemade Jerk Flavored Fish Jerky Recipe -- Paleo, Frugal, and Easy

One of the harder things about being on a healthy diet is following it when you're out of the house. Cooking and preparing food to bring along adds more to the to do list before you leave, and isn't always possible when you're rushing. Buying food when out is usually possible, but pricey, but buying food that conforms to your special dietary needs is much more difficult. It is nearly impossible for me to find and buy Paleo friendly ready to eat food when I'm in the city (unless I go to a grocery store that has lox and/or cooked liver) and when I can find it, it certainly isn't budget friendly. Produce is generally easier to find, but protein is where it gets difficult.
I made a few different versions of homemade jerky before my trip to Belgium in December, this being one of them. I got inspired by my homemade jerk seasoning that I made, thinking that it would be an amusing play on words to have jerk jerky. Typically the jerkies that I see are made with beef, but beef is much more expensive for me to buy than fish, so I went with fish. Yes, it took many hours in the oven, but amount of actual hands on work to make this was very minimal, so I'll put this in the super easy to make recipe category. It is allergy friendly, relatively low carbohydrate, Paleo, and delicious.
I made extra, not just as much as I needed for my trip, to have some to keep in my cupboard to have on hand to grab for something quick and easy to take with me on my excursions and errands to the city.
Highly recommend it.

Homemade Jerk Flavored Fish Jerky Recipe -- Paleo, Frugal, and Easy

How To Save Money When Dealing With A Lawyer

Lawyers. In an ideal world, most people want to not need to have anything to do with lawyers and avoid all that stuff. However, there definitely comes a time in most people's lives where they do have to deal with lawyers, and everyone knows that they can be quite cost prohibitive. Here's some suggestions from a reader about how to keep down the costs when legal issues arise.

Legal fees can be quite costly. The good thing is that there some things you can do to reduce money when getting lawyers. It is essential to get a good lawyer if you want to stand a chance of winning your case. In this article, you will get to learn how you can save money while looking for a good lawyer.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Is Mental Health Counseling Frugal?

Since I started posting a few times recently about therapy and mental health counseling in general, a few people asked me to write about the frugality or lack-thereof of mental health counseling. To be honest, it is a topic that is really near and dear to my heart, because two things that are really important to me are being able to live within your means, as well as taking care of your mental health.

For many years, I realized I needed mental health counseling, but it was just so expensive. For years and years, therefore, I buried my feelings and ignored my mental health issues, while they just compounded and got more and more debilitating. Finally, it got to a point where I was not managing, and I knew therapy was something I needed to do, no matter the cost.

So the first question, "is mental health counseling frugal?" needs to be answered with the question "is it frugal to not go to therapy?"

Why Therapy Can Pay Off Financially

Our Frugal Short Trip to Craiova, Romania

Last week my oldest son and I went on a short weekend getaway to Craiova, Romania. It was the first time my son ever left the country, and he was so excited about being able to go on the plane, and to see what a new country is like. His excitement was palpable as we counted down the days until the trip, packed our bags, and prepared for the trip. We were there from Friday noon until Monday early morning, which was a whirlwind of a trip and didn't leave so much time to do so many things, but I do think that was the perfect amount of time for Craiova itself, and the perfect length of time for a mother son bonding trip too.

We had planned on going to a free tour of Craiova, as well as to some gorgeous parks, but the weather really didn't cooperate with us. Friday was sweltering hot. Saturday and Sunday had on and off rain storms. And the tour guide simply never showed up to the meeting spot for the tour. So Lee and I had no guided tour, but we just wandered around the city on our own and discovered it for ourselves.

The first thing we discovered about Craiova is that transportation is really cheap! We took a bus from the airport to the city center, and paid 2.9 RON, or 73 cents. There were no transfers, but at 10 years old, I was told that Lee is free on public transportation there. We ended up taking a taxi one day after walking far to the grocery store, and then getting on a bus trying to head back with our groceries, and getting lost and going the wrong direction. The taxi back from there was only 4 RON or $1, making it really worthwhile to take a taxi!

Side Hustles for Busy Moms that Can Be Scheduled Around Family

One of the biggest challenges I had a few years back was that we were very short on cash, and I needed to find a way to bring in money, while staying at home with my then infants and toddlers. I ended up doing a few different side hustles, from babysitting, to telephone marketing, to cleaning homes, and they made a big difference for us financially, while still allowing me to be with my children. Here's some more ideas from a reader with suggestions of side hustles you can do as a busy mom.

If you feel like in your home there is more month than money, it may be time to make a change.
But instead of taking a traditional part- or full-time job, you might be able to find a family-friendly side hustle that you can do from home—or at the very least around your kids’ schedules. For example, check out the following ideas:

Monday, July 16, 2018

Homemade Harissa Recipe, Tunisian Hot Chili Pepper Condiment

I love spicy food, and when it doesn't come already spicy, I enjoy adding a kick to it with hot sauce or some other spicy condiment. This is evidenced by the fact that I have no less than 8 different recipes for homemade hot sauces and condiments from around the world and suitable to different diets on my blog. (Refined sugar free Thai sweet chili sauce, sweetener free Paleo sweet chili sauce, refined sugar free sriracha sauce, probiotic green Tabasco sauce, nightshade free Paleo hot sauce, zhug- Yemenite hot pepper paste, horseradish and beet khrayn, and white horseradish khren.) That can't possibly be enough variations of spicy condiments for one blog, so let's add another, harissa, Tunisian hot chili pepper condiment, which is used as a staple in North African cooking, and added to many of their dishes.
I rarely use actual cookbooks, but this recipe happens to be a combination of two different harissa recipes in one of the few cookbooks I have, Saffron Shores, by Joyce Goldstein. I tend to make different varieties of hot sauces when I get past prime hot peppers and bell peppers, so I like to roast my bell peppers first to make them last longer. I don't generally roast my hot peppers, but feel free to do that if you want.
This recipe is suitable to nearly every diet, from vegan to Paleo to low carb, other than nightshade free diets.

Homemade Harissa Recipe, Tunisian Hot Chili Pepper Condiment

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Welcoming the Newest Addition to our Family

My youngest child is nearly 4.5 years old. My kids have asked me when we'll have another kid. I've constantly been asked by people when I'm due because my belly protrudes.
Well the thing is... Today we added another member to my family. But this time I didn't have to go through 9 months of hell and labor to have this baby. No, this baby is a fur baby, and to have her join our family the only labor was taking a long bus to and from another part of my country to bring this baby home.

Meet Snickers, our new puppy. Well, puppy is a relative term, as she is approximately 15 months old. She had been living with a family that didn't have the ability to give her enough attention and hence looked for a family that can give it to her.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Homemade Easy Apple Chips Recipe

Unfortunately, within the last week, our spare refrigerator/freezer that we keep on our back porch completely died, and all the stuff in the freezer spoiled. Luckily, the stuff in the fridge survived, but got to the point where they needed to be used up right away. And with half the freezer space I originally had, freezing produce to preserve it was not an option.

One of the things I had in the fridge was a large amount of apples that I got for free, because they were past prime.

I divided up the apples, and the ones in worse condition, I cut out the bad parts and made the rest into applesauce which I then water bath canned. And with the rest, I made apple chips. Super easy. And of course frugal, paleo, vegan, gluten free, and allergy friendly.
Here's how I made them.

Homemade Easy Apple Chips Recipe

Budget Too Tight? The Importance of Creating Wiggle Room

Every frugal person knows how hard it can be when there isn't wiggle room in your budget. Nancy Evans here explains the importance of creating wiggle room, as well as suggestions of how to achieve it. 

Does your household presently live on a tight budget? Do you balance out every month with nothing leftover? It’s great that you’ve developed a system that’s allowed you to financially cover all of your expenses, but having a budget without a buffer could backfire. Unfortunately, life isn’t predictable and you simply never know when you might need additional funds to get something done.
A budget with no wiggle room doesn’t leave you with many choices. You can take the money you had set aside for something else and throw off your budget, sacrifice something you may have needed or wanted, or go into debt by borrowing the money or charging the extra expense.

Why You Need Wiggle Room

As none of the above-mentioned solutions seems to benefit you, it would be best to start creating some wiggle room - a few hundred or thousand dollars set aside. Here’s a closer look at why it pays to build a buffer in your budget.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Replacing My Broken Suitcase Wheel With a New Homemade Wheel

Last year when I decided to start traveling frugally on my own, I purchased a small suitcase that fit the dimensions allowed as carry on for most budget airlines. I tried to spend as little as possible on my suitcase, but even so it wasn't so cheap. Unfortunately, though, I guess it was too cheap to be well made, and after just one trip one of the wheels started giving me trouble. In the middle of my second trip the wheel completely died on me, stopped turning at all, and was completely unusable. Because it stopped turning, it ended up being dragged, which caused it to completely disintegrate, making it look like this..

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Helpful and Money Saving Travel Hacks

In the past I would have said that I'm not a frequent traveler, but now that I think about it, ever since I've been married my husband and I have traveled at least once a year on vacation with our within our country, and then five years ago I traveled to the US once for work, and then within the last year I flew abroad twice very frugally and am preparing for another trip (I'm leaving tonight in the middle of the night to the airport), and I have to say that I'm getting this traveling thing down pat, and have figured out some tips and hacks that make traveling go smoother, as well as saving money. I use these tips when traveling abroad, but many are also useful when traveling even within your country.

Most of these travel hacks and tips are things you need to prepare in advance, which is why they're on my mind now that I'm getting ready to travel in just a few hours. However, if you get these things ready in advance, it can make the difference between making your trip enjoyable and relaxing, or stressed out and financially taxing.

So, in no specific order, here's my helpful and money saving travel hacks:

Tuesday, July 3, 2018


Yesterday evening I walked into my kitchen and slipped on some water on the floor (no idea why it was there) and hit my head really hard (imagine like in the movies, I went splat). I had my husband call a doctor who paid a house call. He diagnosed a concussion, but not bad enough to need to go to the ER, and gave me warning signs of what to look out for if it should worsen, for me to need to go to the ER. Fortunately had none of those. But I did have a nice "healthy" panic attack. Which is hard, because symptoms of panic attacks can also mimic concussion symptoms. But the doctor took that into account and helped me calm down and fortunately it's not so bad.
Today I'm still in pain but less than yesterday. I'm going to be taking it easy, because my son and I are supposed to be going abroad on Friday and I needed to be all rested and mostly healed by then. I've spoken with a few doctors and am taking their advice. No need to worry, I just wanted to update you on what's going on.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Preparing For My Next Frugal Trip Abroad To Craiova, Romania

People might have wondered in the past why I decided to go abroad twice in the last year, and yes, part of it was because I discovered that I could, once I discovered a way to get really cheap airfare, so that I could even afford to travel abroad. But now that I came clean about my mental health struggles, perhaps you'll understand a bit more, that this was something that I literally needed. I needed a break. Parenting and not getting a break for 10 years straight takes a big toll, even when your kids don't have special needs, but at least 2 of mine do. Add to that the fact that I was homeschooling more or less until the start of this past school year (and one even this past school year) meant that I never got a break, and my brain screamed out that I needed a break desperately. What I needed was a good heavy dose of self care, and time without children, time that I could take care of myself and do what I needed to do to get me in a happy head space. And it worked, and it really, truly helped.

But my children really wanted to come abroad with me. Each time I traveled, they were sad about being left behind. They wanted so desperately to come, but I myself knew that if I were taking my kids, it would not be a vacation. It would be a stressful burden (as much as I love them) and it wouldn't qualify as the self care I so desperately needed.
One thing I did agree to, though, was that the summer after each kid turned 10 years old, I'd take them abroad. By the time the kid is 10 they're old enough and responsible enough that we can actually do things together, without too much whining.
And specifically the summer because my husband generally works less in the summer, making it easier for him to take care of the kids while I'm gone.

Unfortunately the summer is also the most expensive time to travel, meaning the trip can't be as frugal as other trips I went on. (No 10 euro each way airfare like my trip to Belgium in December.) But I looked on SkyScanner.com and plugged in July and August and the cheapest trip I found was to Romania. Not Bucharest, but a small city, Craiova. Ok, there was a cheaper trip to Poland, but since I was there last summer I decided to pay slightly more and go someplace I haven't already been. Of course it is more than "slightly more" since I'm now paying airfare for two instead of one, now that I'm taking my nearly 11 year old son, Lee.

For this trip, I paid round trip airfare $192.60, or $96.30 per person, which included a 25 on time arrival guarantee fee, which I decided to pay for my peace of mind. (If the flight gets delayed for more than an hour, we'd get 232 dollars, which is more than we paid for the flight.)