Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Stocking Up and Filling My Freezer -- My Large But Frugal Grocery Shop (Part 2)

I have a freezer, I have a freezer, I have a freezer! I want to sing giddily over and over again. You have no idea how long I've wanted a spare freezer: pretty much from the first second I started learning about and beginning to stockpile. I could stockpile dry goods, but all those fresh goodies that I found on sale, I couldn't buy in advance, and I couldn't buy more than the bare minimum of frozen foods I found on sale either. I really wanted a spare freezer, but Mike wasn't on board, especially in our old tiny place.

 When we moved to our current place, our old fridge was broken so we bought a new nice fridge, but then we managed to fix our old fridge. We kept it in the backyard, but it broke repeatedly.

Additionally, though the plug was covered, every single time the weather changed, it would cause the electricity to short and the food in the fridge and freezer would spoil. But when it worked, it was amazing to have more freezer space than just the freezer portion of our fridge. I'd fill it with gluten free bread, frozen veggies, some foods I made from scratch. It was nicely sized but not as big as a a complete freezer would be, but because of the frequent outages I realized I couldn't put anything expensive in there, so it was only marginally useful.

But then that totally died, and I ended up back with one freezer, which meant that I barely had any space- because if I bought a few packages of frozen bread, I had room for maybe a few packages of meat and that't it.

I looked into getting a spare freezer, but it seemed really expensive, and then once I'd have to figure out transportation it wasn't worth it. However, when I went to Ikea, a friend and I rented a van together, and the night before we went, I found a perfect condition tall and narrow freezer with 7 drawers being sold quite cheaply, and I am really exited about it. But not long after I bought it, we went abroad, so I didn't really have a chance to use it.

Yesterday, though, when I went to the supermarket and decided to pay for a delivery, I decided to use that time to buy things on sale and actually take advantage of and stock my freezer.

7 Reasons to Go Vegan in 2020

I'm not vegan and have no intention of ever being vegan, as that type of diet does not work for my body. I do however make many vegan recipes because of my specific dietary needs and know that I have many vegan readers. However, if you've toyed with the idea of going vegan, here's what one reader has to say about why they think you should go vegan.

With 2020 nearly here, many people have been declaring their New Year’s resolution – to practice and live as a vegan! But what is a vegan?

A vegan diet or ‘Veganism’ is a way of living or a lifestyle that excludes all forms of animal cruelty and exploitation. It means no consumption of foods and products that are from or made of animals, in part or whole. Being a vegan means taking advantage of the healthy side effects of eating vegetables and consuming non-meat products.

For someone who is not familiar with the ‘vegan diet’, why should you go vegan this 2020?

Here are seven reasons to consider!

Easy Okra and Tomatoes Recipe -- Gluten Free, Vegan, Paleo

So apparently okra is known for being slimy, but I never knew that. Because my mother always made okra the same way, and it never was slimy, and just was yummy with a nice texture. So now I'll share this recipe with you, which is pretty simple, to be honest, but can be changed up by adding whatever spices you want. Usually I add nothing and eating it as is, but this last time I made it, I topped it with zaatar spice mix, and it was absolutely amazing, probably my favorite way I've ever had okra.

I made this for a friend who was ambivalent about okra, and she said that this was her favorite way she ever had okra, and that I need to post the recipe. So here it is.

Easy Okra and Tomatoes Recipe -- Gluten Free, Vegan, Paleo

The Benefits of Having a Generator For Every Home

Where I live, we have far too many blackouts. We have power outages in the summer when everyone is using their AC and the electric company is overloaded, so they shut down. And we have power outages in the winter, when everyone is using their heating, and then we freeze. And then there's all those times that I'm trying to work but am unable to because of a blackout. So yes, having a generator is something that I've considered (especially since locally our heating is electric). Here's some more ideas why getting a generator is a good idea.

Many of us don't really think about it, but generators are a great addition that every home must have. You'll only understand their importance in emergency situations that completely disrupt your life, but you shouldn’t wait until the worst happens to be prepared. There are many reasons why generators can be considered necessary, and here’s a quick overview:

Monday, December 30, 2019

My Latest Giant, But Frugal, Grocery Shop (Part 1)

So today I had a dilemma. My fruit and vegetable drawers were empty. The produce I had at home amounted to a few potatoes, onions, celery, 2 fennel bulbs, some carrots, and half a butternut squash. Zero fruit, and no quick to eat produce either. But it was 2 days until the end of December, and I had 42 dollars left in my grocery budget for the month (out of the original $714) and that included having used my regular grocery budget while shopping in Bulgaria on vacation with the family. (We only ate out once on our 10 day trip.)

I had a few options of what to do- I could go to a local store that is more expensive and buy produce with those 42 dollars, I could take a short bus to a nearby cheaper supermarket and buy 42 dollars worth of produce... Or I could just go to the further cheap supermarket and just do a regular shop, using part of my January budget for this.

As a single mom who is working and quite busy, and as someone who knows that the more trips you make to the supermarket the more you end up spending overall, I decided that instead of being a stickler for rules and missing the forest for the trees, it would make most sense from a logical and even a frugal perspective for me to just go to the cheaper grocery store and do a shop there using my grocery budget from January.

And shop I did. Because I decided to pay for a delivery from the store, and figured that if I'm anyhow paying for a delivery, I might as well make my life easier and get all the heavy things I need from that store, where it is cheaper anyhow, and have it all delivered at once. I mean, I could go back to the supermarket again to do smaller shops, but time.

Basically, I went from "Should I just do bare minimum, or a regular shop?" to "Lets do a massive shop and stockpile". Because you gotta work with what's in your life, and being a stickler for rules that don't make sense for the situation isn't the best thing to do. For the record, I wasn't spending money I didn't have, I just decided to spend some of the money allocated for the January grocery budget, because lets face it, there's just one more day of December, this food will be for January (and probably beyond as well).

So I started off in the produce section, therefore I'll start with that here in this post as well.

The first thing I saw was red bell peppers being sold for a great price- for 49 cents a pound- its usually around twice that, and the yellow and orange peppers right nearby were not nearly this cheap. My kids love bell peppers of all types (as long as its not green) and they don't care what color, so might as well go with the cheaper. I got 3.3 lbs for $1.65.
I also got 2 eggplants for 35 cents a pound, for $2.10.
Got a head of cabbage for 36 cents a pound, for 88 cents.
Zucchini wasn't as cheap as I can get it in some places, but it wasn't bad either, at 62 cents a pound, so I got 3.5 lbs for $2.17.
Tomatoes were decently priced at 35 cents a pound, I got $1.22 worth.
Cucumbers were the same price, I got 79 cents worth.
And, forgetting I already had 3 bags of carrots at home, got a bag of carrots at 35 cents a pound, for a total of $1.04.
Potatoes were also 35 cents a pound (have you noticed how much this grocery store likes that pricing?!?!?), I got a bag for $3.
Onions were 31 cents a pound, I got $1.07 worth.
I got 2 purple onions for a specific recipe, 61 cents a pound, for a total of $1.15.
I nearly forgot to get hot peppers, but I'm glad I did, since I needed them for a recipe. They were $1.01 per pound which isn't so cheap, but honestly, they go really far and weigh so little, so the bag that I got was only 45 cents.

Fruit was something we needed desperately (we had absolutely none in the house) so then, of course, apples.
None of them were terrifically priced, all of them were 87 cents a pound, so I didn't want to get a bunch, but still wanted some in the house for quick snacks. I bought 6.2 lbs for $5.40.
Oranges in a bag and clementines were nearly the same price, at 48 cents a pound, so I decided to go with the oranges, 2 bags for $5.23.
I saw avocado in a bag being sold for $1.01 a lb, which was between 1/3 and 1/4 of the price of avocados not in a bag, so of course I got a bag for $6.63.
Lemons were something on my to buy list because I wanted to make quick pickled lemons for a dish I'm making. They were 62 cents a pound, so I bought $1.79 worth.
I got a few sweeties for 88 cents a pound, not so cheap, but hey, I like them. Total $3.23.
I love that bananas are in season; I got 2 bunches at 48 cents a pound for a total of $3.64!

I just love mushrooms and saw them being sold by the pound in addition to by the package. In the past when it was by the pound, it ended up being more expensive than buying packaged. However, this time I thought they were less per pound than the last time I checked. So I took the packaged stuff over to the scale and saw that it ended up being much more per pound than the loose mushrooms, so went with those this time, and got portobello instead of just button mushrooms! Yay! These were being sold for $2.58 a pound, while the packaged were $4 for a double pack. I got $4.60 worth.

I wanted to get cilantro, and I saw that 3 bags of greens, if bought together, were on sale for $3.40, so I bought a package of lettuce, a package of cilantro, and a package of dill for that price.
Last but not least, I got a package of bok choy which isn't so cheap, but is one of my favorites for making "Chinese takeout at home" so I bought it for a total of $3.69.

Total for all my produce?


Yes, my trip was originally going to be for produce, and what I got was 11 dollars more than what I had budgeted for the rest of December.

Totally cool.

I think I got an amazing price for the amount of produce I got.

I was going to write up my entire shop in one post, but do you know my receipt is 3.5 feet long? I think this is enough for this post, I'll be writing more about the rest of the shop in another post. (And no, its not just the bottles in the picture, I have two other pictures. It didn't nearly fit in one picture!

Got any good deals lately? The produce that I got, how much does it cost where you live?
If you'd had 40 dollars left of your monthly budget 2 days before the month was up, what would you do?

Want to Achieve That Retro Home Design? Here's How

Some people are fans of the retro look, and I'm... decidedly not. But I am a fan of making your home suit your taste on a budget, so that your home is a place where you love being and are proud to call your own, and if retro is how you want to do it, here's some tips from reader Beth.

There’s something about walking into a retro themed house that makes it not only feel so warm and inviting, but is also appealing and super cool. You might think it requires a lot of work, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to achieve. So, if you’re looking to transform your home into a retro home design, here’s what you can do to get that vibe:

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Healing Back Pain, Hopefully Healing My Body?


I share my accomplishments here, but sometimes I think it's also worthwhile for me to share my struggles, the things that don't go so well.

One thing that I don't really talk about here is how often I get injured or my other physical limitations.

Some of you may have heard of SPD, symphyisis pubis dysfunction, commonly occurring in pregnancy (1 in 50 to 1 in 300), when, because of pregnancy hormones, ligaments loosen, and a woman's pelvis gets out of alignment. This can cause tremendous pain, also in the front by the pubic bone, and in the lower back and in legs. Fortunately, for most people, it goes away as soon as they give birth. Other, less lucky people, have it continue throughout the duration of their nursing, but as soon as those hormones are no longer circulating in their body, it also goes away.

And then there's me.

Yup, I'm the extra extra lucky person who fits neither of those categories.

Why Parents Should Look into Smoked Meat

For foodies like myself, you might get bored of making the same foods over and over again and want to look for some variety. You might want to look into smoking your meat; here's some reasons why.

Prepping breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day for young ones is admittedly a drag. Kids are notoriously finicky eaters, and no matter what you do to make them more open to different flavors and textures, they’ll still give you a hard time. It’s also difficult to keep troubleshooting and thinking of new foods to keep them nutritionally sated while also appealing to them. And, as many other parents will tell you, finding clever ways of sneaking broccoli into their foods gets tired after a while.

So, what’s the utilitarian food that will keep your kids interested and satisfy their taste buds while also making sure that they get enough protein? Smoked meat! Yep, you read that right, and it’s not as crazy as it sounds. No, you don’t have to spend hours curing and somehow “smoking” your meat and setting off all the fire alarms. Nor does it mean that you perpetually stick your kids with just bologna or chicken fingers for convenience’s sake. There’s a way to treat them to something new, healthier, and exciting.

Here are a couple of reasons why you should look into the unfairly neglected culinary delights of cured meats.

My Frugal Accomplishments the Past Week

This has been one of those weeks where I don't have a tremendous amount of frugal things to share with y'all, but accountability and all... And you know what, its totally fine that there are weeks like this, because what isn't shown is that in addition to just being frugal sometimes you end up doing things to make more money, and this past week with my pre Christmas rush at work, I worked triple or quadruple time, staying up till 3 am many nights to work, so even if I did less to save money, I did more to earn, and overall my bank account was still happy with me...

So here's what I did to save money this past week:

The Only Times You Should Get A Loan

Debt is no good. It can cause a lot of havoc for people financially, not just in their present life, but down the road it can really get people into a hole. One should avoid going into debt if at all possible, saving up money for expenses that come up so that you don't need to take out a loan to cover them. However, sometimes life happens and that isn't possible; here's a few times when taking a loan might be advisable, even if it usually is not.

Life happens, and at some point, you find yourself in the need to borrow something. Unlike a few years back when acquiring a loan used to be a bit of a hassle, you can get approved for a personal loan these days within just a few minutes. But with this ease and convenience, also comes the risk or getting tempted to borrow for the wrong reasons or at the wrong time. The truth is, regardless of your reason to get a loan, it can benefit you greatly provided you’re keen on making your payments and stay committed to the course. If one is not careful, however, a loan could be the start of your financial disaster.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Swiss Chard, Potato, and Blue Cheese Pancakes Recipe -- Gluten Free, Egg Free, Vegan Option

I wanted to make some potato pancakes today... but it was raining heavily and it made me think of my garden and everything growing there, and the wild swiss chard that currently has huge leaves, and I thought to myself that potatoes and greens are a match made in heaven, so decided to do swiss chard potato pancakes. Only then as I was making it, I remembered the blue cheese in my fridge that I wanted to use up, and it immediately clicked in my brain- potatoes, greens, and cheese- sounds amazing!

This recipe did come out wonderfully, so wonderfully that I wanted to share it with you. And if you're vegan, feel free to leave out the blue cheese and put in a drop of miso instead to give it that similar umami tang. Or just leave it out entirely and it'll still be great.

This recipe can work with any non bitter foraged or store bought green, whether mallow, chickweed, or dethorned milk thistle, among many others.

They taste extra scrumptious with a dollop of sour cream on each one.

Hope you like these!

Swiss Chard, Potato, and Blue Cheese Pancakes Recipe -- Gluten Free, Egg Free, Vegan Option


3 potatoes
3 large swiss chard leaves
2 tablespoons ground flax
1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons gluten free flour (or wheat flour if you eat it)
1 tablespoon crumbled blue cheese or 1 1/2 teaspoons miso (optional)
1/2- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (use less if using blue cheese or miso, more if not using either)


1. Grate your potatoes. I don't bother peeling mine first.

2. Chop up your swiss chard, including the stem, very finely.

3. Mix all the ingredients together, massaging the chard so it softens and releases its liquids, and ensuring there are no clumps of anything.

4. Fry in oil until browned on one, side, flip and then fry until browned on the other.

5. Place on something to absorb the oil before eating, if desired.

Are you a fan of potatoes? Swiss chard? How about them together? Do you like blue cheese? Ever have something like this before? Does it seem like a recipe you'd try?

Parenting 101: How to Keep Your Kids Safe Inside and Outside Your House

We all want to keep our kids safe. This post sent in from a reader is chock full of ideas on how you can keep your kids as safe as can be, while still giving them healthy freedoms.

A parent’s primary concern is their child’s safety. It’s a scary world out there, and a lot can go wrong, but with the right tools, you and your children can be ready when something’s amiss! As parents, we naturally want what’s best for our children, and we owe it to them to keep them as secure as reasonably possible. You love them more than anything, so here are some major ways to keep your children safe inside and outside of the house.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Homemade Gluten Free Sfinge -- Moroccan Donuts -- Vegan and Easy

Sfinge! Oh, these delicious lumpy bumpy crunchy bits of delight are something that I'd heard about for years, but only tried for the first time today. These Moroccan donuts are extremely delectable, and even tastier than your typical donut. I've made so many different types of donuts over the years, and these are officially the easiest, which is why I think this will now be my go-to recipe.

I made this recipe gluten free, using this one as a base for it.

Most times converting yeast based gluten recipes to gluten free ones isn't so easy, as gluten strands is what holds the carbon dioxide bubbles that the yeast forms and allows it to rise. Gluten free bread dough needs to be much looser than gluten dough or it won't rise. Therefore, when I clarified with friends that sfinge is made with a loose dough, whose texture is close to mashed potatoes, I realized that its something that can easily convert to gluten free.

And I was right.

These are amazing. Light and fluffy on the inside, crispy on the outside, these are best eaten hot and freshly made. They have very minimal ingredients and are really cheap to make.

Definitely try this.

Homemade Gluten Free Sfinge -- Moroccan Donuts -- Vegan and Easy

5 Good Money Management Tips for the New Year

These financial management tips sent to me by reader Jack can help your credit score. Hope they help you!

Your credit score is one of the best metrics gauging your financial health. It lets you know whether a financial institution sees you as a prime or subprime borrower and why.

That’s because your score comes with a broader report itemizing the way you’ve used a personal loan or line of credit in the past. And these details reveal a lot about you.

Your score is a sensitive number that fluctuates every time you check it. This is partly due because there may be no difference between hard and soft credit checks depending on where you get this report. Both kinds of inquiries may show in your report and affect your credit history.

But there are many reasons why your score moves up and down on the scale. Here are some good money management tips that may help you prevent it from dropping down again.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

How I'm Gifting This Year For the Holidays and Anneleise's Birthday

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm always changing up how I do gifting for the holidays with my kids. The one thing that always stays the same is I never do a million presents, I always keep things on a budget. Yes, presents are nice, but no need to go overboard. If giving lots of gifts is what you want to do, whatever floats your boat, as long as you budget for it. But personally, I do find that when my kids get a bunch of gifts at once, they don't even appreciate them, and they definitely show more appreciation for less, but well thought out gifts, than a ton of gifts given at once.

So, here is what I actually am doing about gifts and gifting this year.

First of all, I just took my kids on an amazing trip to Bulgaria. We did so many fun things, like go karting, trampoline parks, playing in the snow, ice skating, and skiing! And then we came back to our country and we went on a glass bottomed boat, saw corals and fish and dolphins up close. So my kids knew that even though I did this frugally, this was an expensive trip, and they understood that that trip was the majority of their gifts for this year. I'd much rather gift experiences than things, because things break, but experiences last forever in our memory (and pictures definitely help)!

Speaking of experiences instead of gifts, Anneliese turns 8 on December 26, and she requested that for her birthday we go ice skating. Yes, we just ice skated 2 weeks ago in Bulgaria, but she loved it so much that she requested that we go again. And I won't just take her, I'm taking all the kids. Yay for fun experiences! Yes, it is quite a bit more expensive than in Bulgaria, but birthday girl gets her birthday wish and everyone else gets to have fun!

Lots of municipalities in our region have free holiday events that they are throwing for families. I plan on taking my kids to them for more fun experiences that don't cost money and don't clutter up a home.

For Anneliese's actual present for her birthday, I bought her a beginner's purple sparkly telescope that comes with a kids activity book, glow in the dark space stickers, and a lunar chart. I also got her a space game. To be honest, these are a little on the pricier side, but I really want to encourage my daughter to like science, it's a very highly rated gift, and I know many girls who loved these, so after suggesting it to her, she was excited about it and I decided to go for it.

About 2 months ago I posted that I was looking to buy a low cost version of the game Ticket to Ride and a friend told me that she had the game that her kids no longer used and she offered to give it to me for free. When I came to her house she saw how excited I was about that game that she decided to give me a bunch more games they no longer play, some which they never used. I gave my kids Ticket to Ride that day, but hid the rest without telling my kids that I had them. They'll be gifted them soon. I have the games Sequence, Killer Bunnies (with a few different expansion packs) and a Settlers of Catan Expansion pack (we have the original)

And last but not least, yes, each kid also got an individual gift via the Secret Santa we did. This great game is fun for the giver as well as the receiver, and makes sure that each person ends up with a great gift!

Other than them, I didn't get anyone gifts other than a Lord of the Rings mug for my coffee and Tolkien loving best friend, Michelle.

What are you doing about gifts for the holidays, if at all? How do you try to do it on a budget?

Reasons Why Parents Should Teach Their Kids Money Management

Start em young! If a kid never hears of the concept of money management or budgeting, when they need to start doing this for themselves as an adult, they will have a hard time. Here's some reasons why you should teach your kids how to manage their money.

Children are great at spending money, but do they understand its value? Kids, like any of us, enjoy shopping and want to grab this and that all the time! However, they don't understand how much the items they are getting are actually worth. They simply still don't grasp what "money" means, where it comes from or how much work it takes to make it.

So, here are some reasons why you, as a parent, should teach them money management.

Decorating Tips For A More Functional Living Room

While I'm sure many of us (other than the tiny house lovers among us) would love to have larger houses, this usually costs a lot more money, so many of us end up with smaller homes than we might ideally want. For that reason, space is often at a premium in our homes (I know mine certainly is!). These tips from Jim Shaw are wonderful ideas on how to maximize the space in our home, and specifically your living rooms so that way you won't wish you had a larger home. 

With today’s average houses and apartment-sized getting smaller, the idea of having each room more functional is getting more popular, says RCPM Solutions. A living room solely for the purpose of one function, such as watching TV, is pretty much a thing of the past even in homes that aren’t too small.

Together, let’s step into your living room area and see how you can make it more functional and multi-purpose, yet still, keep it chic and comfortable to be the room you can relax after a long tiring day.

5 Facts About Pool Care Every Homeowner Should Know

It's really hot where I live in the summer, and public pools are really expensive to go to. For this reason, ever since we bought our house I've wanted to purchase an above ground swimming pool for my family, as I've discovered that they are much more affordable than I used to think. This summer hopefully I will be buying one, so these pool care tips by Tom Frank are definitely appreciated!

Once you set your eyes on someone else’s pool in the backyard, you probably start dreaming about owning one too. The thing about pools is that at the first glimpse, it’s almost impossible to see the work and money required to keep them in check. Having a pool can be a very exciting turn in your life, from parties to simply swimming in it on the hot days of summer. When pool maintenance is done wrong, it could make you start regretting the decision of ever getting a pool. Using chemicals, cleaning the pool liner, and removing bugs are all activities that you probably don’t enjoy doing.

However, if you manage to set up the right plan for pool care, you’ll get to enjoy it to the fullest. An improperly maintained pool can have the life span of half or even a quarter of a well-maintained one. Taking care of your pool won’t just save you money, but also make the pool experience much more convenient.

Here are the top 5 facts about pool care you should always keep in mind.

Monday, December 23, 2019

A Fun Family Secret Santa Game

I feel like every time Christmas comes around, people are so unsure what to do about gifting. Especially if you have many kids, what will you do? How many gifts will you give each kid? Will kids give each other gifts? How much will this add up to financially?

I've long known about the game Secret Santa and have participated in it many times, but I never thought about doing it with my kids until my friend N recommended it and said that she does it every year with her family for the holidays.

For those of you who haven't heard of this game, the way it works is each person is assigned someone else to be their "secret Santa". When you do this, you're supposed to secretly do nice things for your assigned person without them knowing who is doing it for them, and also get them a gift, again secretly, and then after the period of the game, you reveal yourself.

I was recommended that when doing this with my kids, I give everyone a certain amount of money to spend, and then let them go around a mall buying things that the other person would enjoy. I knew my boys were old enough to do this, but knew my girls would need help.

4 Easy Ways To Create A More Eco-Friendly Home

If someone cares about the environment and wants to make a difference, there are some simple things that you can do that can make a big difference (much bigger than just cutting out plastic straws... which of course you can also do by replacing yours with reusable ones like we did). Here's some ideas how to make your home more green.

As education spreads around the world about the delicate balance of our natural world, more people are interested in adopting eco-friendly habits in their lives and their homes. Sustainable lifestyles have become the norm in many parts of the world.

If you have the desire to work to reduce your carbon footprint on the planet it takes dedication and lifestyle changes. Becoming eco-friendly can start with changing your attitudes about consumption and conservation. It’s important to preserve the natural world as it is, but it’s also vital to protect it for the future.

Parenting Tips: How to Get Your Kids to Take Care of Their Teeth

Getting kids to take care of their teeth is like pulling teeth. (Ok, that pun was very much intended and it works beautifully here!!!) It is something that I and many other parents struggle with. 

On top of that, some kids are born with weaker teeth and a predisposition to get cavities, and it makes it even harder, because you are fighting against their body. 

But it is possible to help your kids have strong healthy teeth. Here's some tips that were sent to me that I will try to implement, and hopefully you will be able to benefit from them too.

Kids like to eat a lot of candy and don’t like brushing their teeth. Perfect combination!

Because they’re tired from work and their children tend to be uncooperative when told to go brush their teeth, many parents take consolation in the fact that they have baby teeth which are going to fall out anyway so maybe they can skip the arguments and negotiating.

Unfortunately, that’s not a very good reason to not insist that your kids learn how to properly take care of their teeth.

What Every Moms Must Have After a Long Day of Work

Self care. Super important. As parents, we often go, go, go, and especially if you're a working mom, you need to also take care of yourself, because otherwise you'll burn out, either emotionally, or physically, or both. Or your kids will end up dealing with your stress. Here's some ways to help busy working moms take care of themselves and their mental health.

Whether you’re a stay at home or a working mom, they both come with their endless responsibilities, and it’s difficult to understand how hectic it can be if you’re not a mom yourself. But you have a pretty good idea! Moms are always doing things for the family and for work, always on the go, always non-stop.

This is why it’s so important that as a mother, you have something to look forward to at the end of the day, and just in case you’re too tired to think of what it might be, we’ve gone ahead and made a list for you!

Four Important Tips for Teaching Your Teens Safe Driving

My oldest is nearly a teenager (and honestly, from the way he acts and is independent, it really is already a teenager even if by age he's still a preteen). The thought that soon he'll be old enough to drive is honestly pretty scary. Because teens who drive can make serious and even deadly mistakes. If your teen is learning how to drive, here's some tips on how to keep them safe.

Part of me is kind of glad getting a drivers license is so difficult and expensive locally, which means that my kid won't start driving at quite such a young age, so I have more time to breathe.

Seeing your teen learn to drive can be a bit scary at first, but it’s their first step on the way towards independence. However, it’s important to understand the statistics to help your teen have a better and safer journey to and from home each day. For instance, according to the Centers for Disease Control’s Teen Driver Fact Sheet, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among teens. Of course, this isn’t a very optimistic approach to handing over the keys to a car. And while you don’t want to scare them with statistics, knowing the facts can help you be a better teacher and help your teen become more aware of the road and their place on it.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Delicious and Easy Mushroom Gravy Recipe- Gluten Free, Vegan, and Paleo

I love a good mushroom gravy. It's good on just about everything, from rice to mashed potatoes to chicken to veggies to blintzes, you name it, it'll be good together.

The thing about gravy is everyone assumes that it needs to have animal products (usually meat drippings or broth) in it, and/or gluten. But this recipe for mushroom gravy eliminates all that, without lacking in flavor. It is both gluten free and vegan, and easily can be paleo as well.

Oh, and did I mention how easy it is to make?

Definitely make this.

Delicious and Easy Mushroom Gravy Recipe- Gluten Free, Vegan, and Paleo

Things You Need to Know About Modular Homes

I find the concept of modular homes to be fascinating, but at the same time, will admit that I don't know so much about them. Here's more about them, sent in by a reader.

When the average individual starts looking into the home and real estate world, the term “modular home” gets tossed around. Now, people outside of the industry might not know what a modular home is, or what it can offer. Modular homes are homes that are built offsite from the location it’s eventually going to be on. It’s perfect for people who are looking into customization, but haven’t found the style or type they are looking for. They’re perfect for the young creative and for the luxury aficionado alike.

If you’re new to the idea of the modular home, here are some things you need to know before jumping in.

Why Don't I Shut Up... Or Why I'm an Activist

I have had lots of well meaning people telling me that I need to learn to keep my mouth shut. That I need to lay low and keep a low profile. That especially when I'm going through divorce, I need to stay under the radar, not do anything or say anything public that can jeopardize anything.

But you know what? As well meaning as people are, and as well intentioned as their comments are, its not advice I plan on taking. I don't plan on shutting up.
At all.

Because I am an activist.

How to Save Money While Co-Parenting

Being divorced can be expensive. However, if you and your ex are able to cooperate and work as a team, there are ways you can certainly save money. Here's some ideas how.

Divorce sucks. Nobody gets married thinking that they will end up in divorce down the line. It is especially hard if kids are involved as they often end up in the middle. Some couples, for the sake of their child’s welfare, agree to co-parent. However, co-parenting can still be financially challenging.
We all know that raising a child is expensive. That said, couples need to divide expenses so they can still maximize their savings effectively.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

How to Handle and Protect Your Assets

While I know a decent amount about how to save money in your day to day life, I will admit that I am clueless about things such as protecting your assets, which is why I'm always glad to have a contribution like this from someone more knowledgeable than myself.

While people have different priorities in life, and we all have our own version of what’s important and what’s not, none can argue the fact that the money is right up there in terms of importance. In fact, it might just be the most relevant of all the other things like family, having a good boss, getting married, and so on. The assets you own as you grow older are how you ensure your financial security, and more importantly that of your family. Sure, health is integral and finding love is fulfilling, but without funds, you will not be able to enjoy any of those things. This is why it is important to protect your assets over the years. Here’s how you can do that.

Cheater Spiced Apple Pie Recipe- Gluten Free, Paleo, Vegan, and Easy

I love apple pie.
Ok, I take that back.
In theory I love apple pie, but I don't like pie crust. I don't really care what it is made from, the pie crust basically just holds the food together, and then I tolerate it to be able to eat the rest of the pie.
Add to it that pie crusts, especially when gluten free, are just a lot of work to make.

So this recipe has got the perks of apple pie, the taste, the filling, the apples... but none of that icky crust.

And of course it's super easy to make, gluten free, paleo, and allergy friendly.

My Frugal Accomplishments This Week

Whoops! I said I would do this weekly but its been just over two weeks since the last time I did one of these roundups. To be honest, I was on vacation for most of that time, and just writing up about the frugal things I did on vacation seems kinda weird, but ok. So now that I'm home, here's the frugal things I did in the last week.

How to Get the Best Prices on Chic New Furniture

I used to live in a house that felt like a dump to me. It was too small, and everything in it was second hand or dumpster dived. And I didn't like it. Once I finally moved out into a larger place, I tried to make my home into a place that I loved, and on a budget. That meant some new items, but that doesn't mean you have to pay full price. Here's how to get great prices on new beautiful furniture.

New furniture creates a fresh, chic element and feel to your home. When you have an entire house to design with new furniture, saving money may be high on your priority list. Some furniture stores help you save money by offering free home delivery and including long-term warranties on new furniture pieces.

Contrary to popular belief, buying used, second-hand furniture isn't the only way to save money designing your new home. You can find beautiful, chic new furniture of any style for your home at steep discounts if you know where to look. Here are three tips to get the best prices on furniture you love:

Friday, December 20, 2019

Fennel and Orange Salad Recipe- Easy, Vegan, Paleo, and Delicious

This salad has got to be one of my favorites ever. It's got the perfect combinations of flavor and texture, and it's a hit every time I make it. Fennel is cheap here in the winter, as are citrus fruits, making this a staple on my table in the winter. And if I can get pomegranates, it brings it up an extra notch, beauty wise and tastewise, but it is great without it as well.

This recipe in addition to being easy and cheap to make is also gluten free, dairy free, paleo friendly, allergy friendly, vegan, without any sweeteners. Just an all around great recipe. Hope you enjoy it as much as my family and guests do.

Fennel and Orange Salad Recipe- Easy, Vegan, Paleo, and Delicious

How To Prepare Your Home For The Freezing Winter

I love winter! I got a little taste of it already by going on my trip to Bulgaria, where we got to spend time in the snow. But it also reminded me of the things you need to do to be prepared for winter. And things you forget, like needing to warm up the car. Here's some tips on how to prepare your home for this season.

Most of us yearn for winter. It is the time when we curl up by the heater with a cup of hot chocolate and a book. Winter means Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year. If it means a lot of family gatherings. However, let’s not forget the freezing cold temperature, the snow, the flu, and the list goes on. While snowy days look so pretty, you won’t really enjoy them if your home isn’t prepared to handle the freezing winter.

Here are a few tips to help you enjoy the winter at home without freezing:

Baby Proof Your Home in 7 Easy Steps

A baby needs to be protected in the home. There are a million and one things a baby should not be able to do in the house. Think of the last possible thing you would want your baby to do, and we can guarantee they will do it. There are so many areas from the bathroom to the bedroom where a baby can run into trouble. To make it easier for parents Bettercleans of Milwaukee have created a guide for baby-proofing your home in 7 easy steps. Follow the guide and ensure you are aware of the dangers and that you put protections in place for your baby.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Final Thoughts on our Family Trip to Bulgaria (And Why You Should Visit it Too!!!)

I just came back from Bulgaria. I arrived there on Monday, December 9, and came back to my country Monday December 16, arrived home yesterday... And, I want to go back.

This was an amazing trip. It was the first time I ever took my kids abroad.

And I loved Bulgaria. Every second of it. Even the inanities of getting a boot on my rental car because I didn't have a Bulgarian SIM card and therefore couldn't even pay for parking. All part of the adventure.

I wanted to share some final thoughts on the place, and my trip there.

No Time For The Gym? Do Workouts As You Do House Chores!

Exercise is important, but I'll admit that finding the time is a challenge for me. Here's some ideas from a contributor on how to add exercise into your daily routine.

The human body needs some exercise so that it can be kept healthy and strong. However, not everyone has the time or money to go to the gym. Many of us are mothers who are tied up at home, tending to the needs of our kids and making sure that the house is well-managed.

But if we really think about it, the exercises that the body needs can be done as we go about our daily routine. Many of our chores makes us perform actions that mimic the major movements of some of the most common exercises.

Day 8, Last Day of our Family Vacation -- Our Day in a Resort Town

On Monday we flew back from Bulgaria, to an airport relatively far from my house and quite near a resort town. I had never been to this resort town before, other than once in the middle of the night on the way to the airport on my way to Belgium. It's a decently long way from my home- by bus it is 3 buses and between 5 and 6 hours of travel, and I was told by many that it is ridiculously overpriced, too touristy, and cheaper to go abroad.

So I've never been there as a tourist. But then we were flying back from Bulgaria and landing at around 4 pm, and I figured instead of making the journey home and getting back late at night, I'd extend the trip and take my family to this resort town for the first time. But, of course, try to do it on the cheap.

I found a cheap place for our family to stay, but as I wrote in my previous post, it was far from high end, and after 7 days "in the lap of luxury" in Bulgaria, it was quite the let down for myself and my kids. I had some ideas about what I wanted to do in that city, since it is known for its beaches with coral reefs and beautiful fish. I had the kids pack their bathing suits, hoping that it might be warm enough to swim (as it often is in December) but while we were there it was too chilly to swim.

I did, however, want to view the marine life there. There is a unique aquarium with good views of the corals and marine life, and I thought that that would be something great to go to, and put it on my potential to do list, but to be honest, I didn't even bother checking out the prices, but just checked now, and it would have been $120 for the family.

A Comprehensive Guide To Saving Money While Eating Out

I will admit, I enjoy eating out. But it can definitely eat away at your budget. For that reason, here's a post from a reader on how to save money while eating out.

There is a popular notion that does the rounds regarding fast food. We have all grown up learning that fast-food is the arch-enemy of our health. Gorging relentlessly on all the crispy chicken and cheesy burst pizza that various food outlets have to offer to us might provide comfort for a while. But in the long run, they severely impair our metabolism and give rise to several diseases. However, hold that thought! Do not go by how you have been conditioned to think about a particular thing since a young age. It is important to view things in shades of grey rather than definitive black or white. Fast-food might give rise to apprehensions regarding health and the amount of money we spend on them. But, there are a few dimensions that elude our senses. Human beings tend to form judgements without proper analysis and insight, which further leads to them making terrible decisions. Speaking of judgements, we have endeavoured to put together an article that shall furnish ways in which you can enjoy fast-food and eating out to your heart’s content, with as less money as possible.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Day 6 of our Family Vacation -- Skiing in Bansko, Bulgaria

Posing with the wonderful instructors, Janet and Peter

This family trip we just took for the last 9 days has been splendid, but I must say the absolute highlight for me, and most of us too, has been the skiing.  I found it, but even with the cheaper prices, the ski day was the most expensive part of our trip, by far. I wrote already about how I found a place with a ski school for cheaper than anywhere else, but even so, it was pricey.

However, as I wrote, I am choosing to share about it anyhow, for the reasons I wrote in this previous post. And I'm not going to fudge any numbers about how much it cost.

I am not including the cost of the warm clothes that I bought for our ski trip, because those came out of our clothing budget and will be in our regular winter wardrobe.

So in addition to the regular travelers insurance I got, I paid extra for our ski day, because the regular insurance doesn't cover winter sports. That cost an addition $35.

Our ski lessons and rental were at a discount since we were the first clients of the season. We paid 200 lev ($113.70) for private lessons for 2 hours for my four kids. We paid 40 lev ($22.74) total for the kids skis, and 15 ($8.53) for mine. We paid 10 lev ($5.69) each for snow pants.

Total to SankiySki was 305 lev, or $173.40.

Then there was the cost of the lift pass. This involved the 20 minute gondola lift ride to the ski area at the top of the mountain, as well as ski lifts within the ski area. This cost 150 lev ($85.28). (There was an extra 25 lev deposit which we got back when we returned our lift passes.)

Gorgeous view from the lift!

Total therefore for the day was 455 lev and $35 dollars or $293 dollars.

This was more expensive because of paying for lessons. Without the lessons it would have cost $179 dollars.

5 Ways To Make Your HVAC More Cost-Effective

Heating your home in the winter and cooling it in the summer can end up being quite pricey, especially if you live in an area with more extreme climates. Here's some tips on how to lower the cost of running your HVAC unit.

Having an HVAC unit is a convenient way to stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Taking care of your HVAC unit is important to ensure that you can keep your house comfortable all year long. Knowing these HVAC tips can save you time and money:

Feeling Guilty About Sharing

I have to admit, I've held off on posting about our family's skiing day for a few reasons. Number one is that I am still quite tired and I want to do it justice... But secondly, is that I have a lot of guilt. Like majorly. Like that is something I am working on in therapy, but I feel guilty in general for living my life, but posts about vacation make me feel guilty, and posts about more expensive things on vacation even more so.

I don't want it seem to be like I'm flaunting things, like oh my gosh, look how awesome my life is, aren't you jealous of me, don't you want to be me? If my posts make people look on their life and say that it sucks, and makes it harder for them, I'd feel extra terrible. In fact, one friend of mine did mention that it was hard for her to see my vacation posts, and it's made me uncomfortable.

So why am I posting these posts anyhow? Why do I feel like it's the right thing to do?

Why You Should Clean Your House Everyday

Keeping a house clean and tidy is not something that comes easily to me at all. This post from a reader is a good reminder of why I should make this more of a priority.

In the hustle and bustle of your daily life, the last thing you want is to clean your house every single day. It’s true that regularly cleaning your house is a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to be; as little as 15 minutes of daily cleanups will go a long way in keeping your home clean, comfortable, and healthy.

The following are some of the many invaluable benefits that you stand to gain by regularly cleaning your house.

Monday, December 16, 2019

End of Part 1, Beginning of Part 2 of Our Family Trip

Where we're staying now. No, that door doesn't move, and it doesn't have any glass in it anyhow.

Today was... quite a day.

Last night I ended up going to sleep quite late, as we had to leave this morning to get to the airport in time for our flight home. I ended up doing the laundry that was in the machine, hanging it to dry, washing all the dishes, and went to sleep really late after an exhausting day.

This morning, then, I served everyone breakfast, packed up my stuff, washed the rest of the dishes, washed the rest of the laundry (the dirty tablecloths, towels, etc...), emptied out the fridge, packed lunches for today, took out the garbage, packed up everyone's clothes and bags and made sure we had everything from the apartment, and finally got everyone into the car on the way to the airport. We were supposed to return the rental car at 10:00 am, but I only managed to leave the house around then.

Help Your Family Eat Better Thru These Tips

Healthy food is great, builds up and strengthens your families' immune system, but feeding a family a healthy diet isn't always so easy. Here's some tips from a reader.

As a parent, one of your biggest responsibilities lies in taking care of your family’s health. You always make sure that the house is properly cleaned. If they fall ill, you rush to see a doctor. You’re sometimes overprotective of them; placing strict regulations on the way they play and perform their activities. With all of your efforts towards developing them into the healthiest versions of themselves, you place a great deal of focus on their nutrition as well. However, healthy nutrition can be really tricky and difficult to maintain. With all the unhealthy food choices tempting every member of your family, it can become an almost impossible feat to achieve.

But you don’t have to despair yet! We have some helpful tips to make your job much easier. Here’s what you can do to help your family eat better:

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Easy and Delicious Hasselback Salami Recipe

My family had an amazing but exhausting day today. I want to share more about it with you, but it'll have to wait until tomorrow. In the meantime, I wanted to share this absolutely delicious dish I made for supper once we got back.

I had some salamis that I wanted to prepare for dinner. I had about half a bottle of ketchup and part of a bottle of maple syrup that I can't bring with me on the plane due to liquid restrictions. So I decided to combine those and make this delicious hasselback salami, like hasselback potatoes but with salami instead.

Feel free to use whatever type of uncut salami you have; I used turkey salami, but I've made this before with beef salami. This works great with even the cheapest salami.

Though my kids made funny faces when they heard how I was planning on making it, even the biggest skeptics decided that it was so awesome that I have to share it on my blog.

I apologize for the quality of picture; I only took it after the kids already devoured about half.

Easy and Delicious Hasselback Salami Recipe

Hedge and Shrub Trimming Tips Advised by Experts

Growing up we had hedges between my yard and my neighbors', and I remember watching professionals come take care of it. But what if you wanted to take care of it yourself? Here's how you can save money by DIYing your hedge trimming.

Shrubs and hedges are arguably the most underrated and overlooked of all the landscape plants. Which is a shame because they possess a natural beauty that can effortlessly enhance the curb appeal of your home, while complementing the rest of your yard landscape.

When they’re neatly trimmed, most varieties will stay green and vibrant all year round and can even increase the resale value of your home. Misshapen, overgrown, or unkempt hedges and shrubs, on the other hand, will reduce the overall value and appearance of your home. Fortunately, trimming these landscaping beauties is fairly easy if you know what you’re doing. If you’re overwhelmed by the process, here are a few pro tips to help you out.