Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Gluten Free Vegan Oreos or Chocolate Sandwich Cookies Recipe -- Easy and Frugal

A little while back my family was gifted with a bunch of free Oreos.
Only they're gluten, and 4 out of 5 members of my family don't eat gluten, so my eldest, Lee, got them all to himself. My other kids were envious, and I told them that I'd make them gluten free Oreo's instead. To be honest, when I told them I'd do that, I wasn't quite sure how I'd do it, but had confidence that I'd figure it out.

Every day when they came home from school the kids asked me if we could make Oreos today, but my life was too hectic and it was hard to find time to do that.

However, finally I got around to making them, and the kids really enjoyed them.
You'd think they'd be super hard and complicated to make, but they were pretty real world. Not only were mine gluten free, they were also naturally vegan. You can make these with gluten if you eat gluten.
Ok, I will admit, they don't taste identical to Oreos. But they are certainly delicious, and pleased my Oreo deprived kids. They also pleased our gluten and junk food eating house guest.

When trying to figure out what type of cookie to make, I knew I wanted something thin and crispy, so went with my thin mint cookie recipe as the base, just leaving out the mint, and with some other adjustments. It worked beautifully.

Oh, and note that the only special ingredient here was coconut oil. The rest are all standard kitchen ingredients, so it is very budget friendly.

Gluten Free Vegan Oreos or Chocolate Sandwich Cookies Recipe -- Easy and Frugal

3 Ways Parents Can Find Extra Cash

We all know what it's like to be tight on cash. But how can you bring in extra cash if you're a busy parent? Here's some good suggestions from a reader. Hope they help!

Image via Flickr by Homedust

Are you looking to add a little extra income to your household? Bringing in more money can ease some of the financial burden of covering expenses for your family. You might even be able to use the additional income to save up for something important, such as college education funds, family vacations, or home upgrades. Here are some of the top ways parents can find extra cash.

Pick Up Extra Work

Taking on a bit more work can pay off if you're able to fit it into your schedule. Ask if overtime is available at your job, or pick up a part-time job on the side. For more flexibility in your schedule, try contract work that you can do at home (such as freelance writing, taking online surveys, or building websites). The gig economy also presents lots of opportunities for flexible part-time work with options such as Lyft and TaskRabbit.

Remember to carefully report any income you make from a side gig, especially if it's done on a contract basis. You'll have to pay taxes differently for some of these jobs. Set aside part of your earnings for tax payments, or set up an installment agreement with the IRS to avoid straining your family's finances. If you're not sure how to pay taxes on your freelance work, ask a professional for guidance.

Cut Back on Expenses

If it's challenging to find extra time in your busy day for more work, consider cutting back on your expenses to come up with the extra cash you need. Plan each meal carefully, and use coupons to make the most of your grocery budget. Review your bank accounts and credit card statements to look for regular purchases you could cut from your monthly budget, such as streaming services and subscriptions.

Ask about discounted rates on your utility and cell phone bills. If you or your kids need new clothes, shop at a thrift store first before you head to the mall. When you make lots of small efforts to spend less, it can add up over time.

Sell Stuff Online

Do you have a knack for making cool or stylish items, such as artwork, jewelry, or clothing? If so, you might as well make money off your hobby by selling your creations online. Websites like Etsy make it easy to put products up for sale and reach a large audience.
Another option for selling things online is to get rid of the things you no longer need or want around the house. From furniture to electronics to toys, you can sell just about anything online. Craigslist, LetGo, and OfferUp are three user-friendly options that help you sell stuff locally. Depending on what you're looking to sell, you might want to look into apps or websites that focus on a specific type of product, such as Poshmark (clothing) and Gazelle (electronics).
Making extra money is a great way to support your family. And with strategies like the ones listed here, it doesn't have to mean sacrificing your lifestyle or spending less time with the ones you love. Try these tips to earn additional income this year.

See my disclaimer.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

All About Our Recent Family Trip

I posted before about our planned family trip and now that we're home, recovered, and back to normal life (or at least as normal as can be when one kid has a broken finger and stitches), I wanted to share how wonderful our trip was.

When planning our family trip, my first goal was looking for a place that was bus accessible and had things to do indoors in case there was bad weather, and was someplace we hadn't previously been on a trip. I narrowed it down to a few different cities and then searched for suitable accommodations for our family, looking for a place that looked pleasant but wasn't too pricey. Of course all the places I checked out were quite expensive since nothing that can host a family of five is actually cheap. I ended up finding a stunning vacation rental apartment on that wasn't too badly priced, and booked it for two nights, planning that we'd be on our trip for three days and come back before bedtime on the third night.

Luckily for us, the rental apartments owners said that we could bring along our dog, which meant we didn't have to find or pay for a dog sitter.
However, because I wanted to go to places where dogs weren't allowed, I wasn't sure it was the best idea to leave Snickers in an unfamiliar apartment alone for many hours, so i asked a friend who lived in that city if we could leave her with them while we went out, and they agreed. They have another cute dog, Melody, who snickers got along with beautifully, so Snickers had a lovely doggy play date each day while we went out.

Top 10 Affordable Vacation Destination Trips for the Spring - Fun Tips

Planning a vacation this spring? Here's some budget friendly suggestions from a reader.

Planning a spring destination escape, whether for a week or just a few days is easy especially with tips on affordable destinations with cool weather. Here are 10 affordable spring to-go destinations for you to consider.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

How to Look More Fabulous Even On A Tight Budget

If looking fabulous and stylish is important to you, here's some suggestions from a reader how to do that without breaking the budget.

The year started on a high note. The only downside is the financial crisis that has hit everyone's pockets. Living on a budget is not easy, but you don't have to look poor while at it. You can wear cheap clothes, shoes and accessories, but still look fabulous.

Here are tricks to help you look good on a simple and inexpensive budget.

Our Trip to the ER

Today I had planned on writing about and sharing about our family's 3 day trip, after we got home late last night.

But the universe had other plans.

My sons were fighting, and in the process a heavy metal door slammed open, crushing my 9 year old son, Ike's, finger between the door and a cement wall. It was bleeding and looked so horrible and I knew it needed immediate medical attention.

Immediately I rushed out with him to attempt to go to the local doctor, only to discover that the clinic was closed. So we walked to the bus stop to take a bus into the city.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Our Upcoming Family Trip

A picture of the apartment where we'll be staying

Right now I was supposed to be getting ready and packing my bags for a trip to the airport. A few months ago I booked tickets for a vacation for myself. I was to fly in to Frankfurt Hahn Airport in Germany tomorrow, take a bus to Luxembourg and stay there for the weekend at a a hostel, after which I was going to continue by bus to Paris, stay at my friends' house in nearby Versailles, and spend the next few days touring Paris, before heading back by the airport next Thursday.

Alas, because of many reasons, all divorce related, this trip is no longer an option for me to take. And unfortunately, my airfare (fortunately not too much) is non refundable. And my hostel still needed to be paid, as there was a non refundable deposit.

I was really down about not being able to go on this trip, especially as I really get excited about planning my trips and my itineraries, and I felt that just staying home and living my life like normal when I was supposed to be on my trip would be too painful, so I tried to figure out some alternative options.

Budgeting for Baby: Spending Tips for All Your Baby Needs

While I'm not currently in the baby raising mode, with four children, I went through that multiple times and I know that there are many potential expenses and also many more ways in which you can be frugal. Here are some tips to keep down the costs for your baby from a reader.

According to a report from the USDA, the average middle-income family with kids will spend between $12,000 and $14,000 annually on child-related expenses. Babies aren’t cheap, we all know that. But there are a few things you can do to lessen the burden so that you’re not struggling to make ends meet when baby arrives. In this guide, we’ll help you determine how much you need to raise baby in her first year and provide you with some useful tips you can employ throughout baby’s life to help make your dollars go further on baby clothes, food, diapers and more.

Pre-Baby Spending: What to Budget for Baby’s First Year

Monday, January 14, 2019

Giveaway Winners!

I'm really excited to share the winners of last week's giveaways!

We have two lucky winners!

One winner, to celebrate my ninth bloggaversary is for my cookbook, Penniless Foodie in the Wild; Adaptable Recipes for Foragers and Frugalistas!

7 Small Changes That Promote Big Budget Savings

Sometimes to save money, it takes a lot of time. Sometimes, though, there are simple changes that can save money. Here's some tips from a reader.

The new year has arrived, and that means that people from all around the world are looking for positive ways to make a change to their daily routine. Since money is an issue that we all deal with on a somewhat regular basis, it makes sense that you might want to make one of your resolutions about your finances.

The good news is that if you do want to make a big difference to your budget this year, that doesn't necessarily mean making huge changes to your life. Although working an extra job or selling your unwanted items can lead to great results, there are a lot of little things that can make an impact too. Here are some of our favourite options.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Easy Paleo Chili "Cheese" Fries Recipe with Chocolate Chili and Dairy Free Cheese Sauce

A few months back I went out with friends to eat, and I ordered chili "cheese" fries (with non dairy cheese sauce), and it was so delicious. Since then, I've made it so many times at home; it's become a bit of an obsession here. The reason for that is it is super easy to make, relatively frugal, my kids all enjoy it, and it tastes amazing.

I was in a rush yesterday and I made the chili portion of this recipe in under 20 minutes start to finish (yes, including cooking time). Making the french fries and the fake cheese sauce takes longer, but I like to have the fake cheese sauce on hand in my fridge to pull out as needed, and if you don't have time to make fries for this, the chili and cheese sauce also is amazing as chili "cheese" toast.

The chili can be eaten however you like; yesterday my kids had it over pasta. It's great with cornbread, rice, or even plain. Just one thing to note; because I eat this on other foods, it's got a bit of a strong flavor. If you want to eat it plain out of a bowl, I suggest adding approximately half to one cup of water, or to taste, to thin out the strong flavors.

I know, the concept of cocoa powder in chili probably sounds weird, but chocolate chili is a thing, and you don't taste the cocoa per se, it just makes it a much richer and even more delicious flavor.

Feel free to play around with this recipe. I usually don't even measure things and just throw it all together. I use grated zucchini in mine to add veggies that are more hidden, and because my kids won't eat cooked peppers, but feel free to add any vegetables you like to this, and just chop them instead of grating if that's how you prefer this. If you prefer fresh onion and garlic, use the equivalent of that instead of dried.

I haven't tried this yet with ground turkey or ground chicken, but I'm sure it would also be great with that.

If you didn't get around to defrosting your ground beef before you started, you can even do this with meat that is frozen solid. It will just take longer. Stick the beef in the pan with the zucchini and a drop of oil, and put it on low, and as it cooks and defrosts, break it up into smaller pieces.

Easy Paleo Chili "Cheese" Fries Recipe with Chocolate Chili and Dairy Free Cheese Sauce

How to Stop Getting Sucked Into Sales

It doesn't matter how good of a deal something is. If we don't need something and buy it unnecessarily, it's a waste of money. Here's some suggestions from a reader how to stop getting sucked into sales.

It’s fair to say we all love a bargain. With the rise of Black Friday, Boxing Day sales and January sales, it’s easy to be tempted into splurging. This year, American shoppers spent a record $5 billion in 24 hours on Black Friday. While there are some great deals to be had during sales, a lot of us get sucked into buying items we don’t need in the heat of the moment, putting a strain on our finances. Here are some top tips that will help you avoid over-spending during retail sales.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Farewell to Homeschooling

It is with a heavy heart that I write this post. After 11 years of homeschooling, it's time to say farewell.

In light of that, I wanted to write up a post chronicling and summing up our family's homeschooling journey, something I've written a lot about on this blog.

I was homeschooled for a year in high school in a very intense academic way. I was so turned off by the idea of homeschooling and never would have done the same if not for the inspiration from my friend Avivah, who homeschooled all of her 11 children at some point or another. I was so enamored by the way she was raising her children and the positive effects homeschooling had on her family that, when I eventually decided to homeschool my children, I was very excited by the prospects.

Originally I got into homeschooling because of the lack of what I felt were suitable schooling options in my area for our family, but the more I learned about it, the more I cherished being able to teach a child in a way that is suitable to their unique nature, to specialize their schooling for them. I also got excited about the concept of unschooling, where you follow a kid's interest and teach them in a way that they enjoy and when they want to learn, so they retain a love of learning.

Cheap Ways to Protect Your Kids from Germs this Winter

This winter hasn't been the easiest one for our family. First one kid and then another has been sick, and so have I been. Just today Ike got diagnosed with Strep throat when I took him in for an ear infection and puking. I need to listen to this advice from a reader on how to not keep on getting sick!!!

Winter is a special time, especially for kids who like building snowmen, learning how to skate, or going on ski resort vacations. But winter is also a popular time for germs and diseases.

As parents, we want to keep our children safe and happy. To avoid illness as well as exorbitant healthcare costs, here are some frugal ways to protect your kids this winter, from lowering your heating bill to exploring cheaper treatment options from an international or Canadian pharmacy referral service like Rx Connected.

First Things First: Cold Temperatures Do Not Cause the Cold

Cold viruses do. There are hundreds of different cold viruses and adults get 2-3 colds per year on average while healthy kids can get 8-12 colds per year. Chances are, you’re exposed to these viruses every day.

…But Do Stay Warm

Friday, January 4, 2019

Our Holiday Season This Year

As the holiday season is wrapping up, I wanted to reflect upon how it was for our family this year and what we did. December is such an awesome time of year with so many holidays, some for pretty much everyone, no matter what religion you are, and even if you don't celebrate any religion, with the holiday spirit in the air and the beautiful lights and happiness all around, it is still amazing. So I just wanted to stay Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukka, Happy Kwanza, Happy Solstice, Happy New Year, and Happy Holidays, whatever else you celebrate. I hope any time off you had was meaningful and spent with people whose company you enjoy.

I think more important than any gift is time spent with people we love. Money is a little tighter because of being a single mom, so my children didn't get loads of gifts this year. Instead, I tried to spend as much time with them as I could, making memories.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Happy Ninth Bloggeversary and a Giveaway!

I am really excited to share that as of yesterday this blog is 9 years old, and I'm now in my tenth year straight of blogging!

Last year in June I wrote the blog post that I intended to write on January 2, but life got in the way, reflecting on the evolution of this blog, but I must say that even since then so much has changed.

I wanted to do a quick sum up of how my life and my blog evolved since I first started it. I'll talk about the stages.

5 Ways to Keep Your Kids From Having to Take Sick Days This Season and a Giveaway!

We've been sick far too often this winter! Here's some tips from a reader on how to keep from getting sick! Make sure to check out below for details about and to enter the giveaway!

No one likes to take sick days, but during the winter and holiday season they almost seem inevitable—especially for our little ones. During this time of year, schedules seem to get busier and the germs seem to spread easier than ever. Here are some easy, natural ways you can help your kids stay healthy at home and wherever else they’ll go.