Sunday, February 28, 2021

Beet Chutney Recipe -- Gluten Free, Vegan, Paleo, and Delicious

I love Indian food. It is so chock full of flavors and nutritious and delicious, but the best thing about it is it's generally very cheap to make. Not only that, it's quite versatile as well, and you can make it with nearly any ingredients you have on hand. 
I made up this recipe when I was trying to see how frugal of a meal I could make- I picked some mallow from my overgrown yard and made mallow chutney (yes, this recipe has been sitting in my drafts box for almost a year by now) and some red lentil dal and rice, but I wanted something else to go with it. And I had some beets sitting in my fridge, so why not that? That's why I love Indian food- whatever you want to make curry or chutney with, you can- I even made banana peel chutney once. 

Chutney is basically an Indian condiment. It can be sweet or sour or spicy, but usually, it is a mix of two or three of them. 

This chutney recipe is vegan, gluten free, refined sugar free, and paleo, as well as mostly allergy friendly (though it does have nuts).

Beet Chutney Recipe -- Gluten Free, Vegan, Paleo, and Delicious

4 Easy Ways to Be More Frugal in the Kitchen

Want to save some money in the kitchen? These ideas sent to me by a reader might help.

A lot of money goes into maintaining your kitchen. From the appliances you buy to the food you stock your pantry and fridge with, there are a lot of expenses to account for.

With that being said, there’s also a lot of room to pinch some pennies. Check out these 4 ways to be more frugal in the kitchen.

5 Christmas Gift Ideas for Kids; 5 Cost-Efficient Christmas Gift Ideas for Kids

It's never too early to think of Christmas. If you think of Christmas only in December, your pocketbook might be hurting, but if you think about it in advance and budget for it all year long, you can get some great things without affecting your finances negatively. Here's some cost efficient Christmas gifts sent in from a reader- and most would make great birthday gifts as well.

Christmas is a great time to spend time with family and to appreciate the important things in life. It's easy to lose sight of the true value of holidays amid the glittering lights, Christmas carols, and beautiful decorations. And it's easier to lose track of your budget, and many try to justify this because 'tis the season, right?

Friday, February 26, 2021

Tteokgguk or Ddukguk Recipe -- Korean Rice Cake Soup -- Gluten Free, Allergy Friendly

I feel like such a slacker, because I shared my recipe for homemade garaetteok (pronounced karatok) that are Korean rice cakes, and two different recipes that use them already in May of last year, and I never got around to actually posting this recipe, which has been sitting in my draft folder, mostly written, since then. But today I wanted to share a recipe and I looked back to see which I still didn't do yet and saw this one!
This recipe is one of the most traditional Korean recipes using rice cakes. Tteokgguk is generally eaten on the Lunar new year, one of the most important Korean holidays. It is symbolic, as the white disks represent money, wishing people a prosperous year. This dish is so traditional that one of the ways of asking people how old they are, in Korea, is to ask them how many times they had this soup.

There are many different ways of making this soup, both in types of broths as well as additives, but I chose to make mine with beef which is the most traditional, and left out the additives. This recipe also generally has egg in it which makes the broth white-ish which is also symbolic for purity, I think, but I kept mine allergy friendly and mine is egg free. So it's not white but that's ok.

This recipe is gluten free and allergy friendly- the only common allergen in it is soy, but you can make it with coconut aminos as well.
Tteokgguk soup is both delicious and comforting and a fast favorite.
I based mine on a bunch of different recipes I saw online but Maangchi's is the one I was mostly inspired by.

Teokgguk or Ddukguk Recipe -- Korean Rice Cake Soup -- Gluten Free, Allergy Friendly

Tips For Running a Successful Blog

I'm on my eleventh year of running this blog, and I'll admit, it's not always so easy to do so. Often I'm exhausted, but I know I need to keep at it if I don't want it to die. Here are some tips from a reader on how to run a successful blog.

Blogging is becoming more and more popular and new people are starting blogs daily. Blogging is extremely fun and if you have a passion for it, it’s great to share your thoughts and watch your readers grow. Plus, a side benefit from running a blog is that you can potentially make a side income from it, with some people running one as a full-time job. That said, running a blog isn’t easy and shouldn’t be done for just money. Below I have put together a guide of several tips that will help with the running of your blog.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Korean Style Roasted Fennel and Sweet Potatoes Recipe

Not all my recipes are masterpiece show stoppers. Sometimes they're super easy, simple, and good. And that's all right. This recipe is more than just good, but it's a very easy recipe. What I'd call an I'm too exhausted to cook but need for anyhow recipe. Which makes this really suitable for now, because all I want to do now is take a nap, but I'm a grown up with responsibilities, so I'll just share here how exhausted I am... and then get back to work.

This recipe was created when I had no energy, but tastes wonderful. It is chock full of flavor, and takes maybe 5 minutes total, if even, to get it into the oven. (Probably would take me 2 minutes.)

I love fennel and roasted it has this creaminess to it. Sweet potatoes are also wonderful. And I love Korean food and Korean seasonings. So I just mixed them all up and got this wonderful result.

This is suitable for most diets- gluten free, vegan, paleo, and allergy friendly as well- only contains sesame and possibly soy from the top 8 allergens.

Korean Style Roasted Fennel and Sweet Potatoes Recipe

What Couples Can Expect from a Trial Separation?

As a person going through the divorce process, it took me a long time to realize that I needed to end my marriage, but once I did, I made my decision and there was no going back. For other people, it is not so cut and dry, and a trial separation might be in order to decide if divorce is the next step they want to take, or to try to work on the relationship. Here's more on the topic. from Veronica Baxter, a writer and legal assistant working for Philadelphia divorce attorney, Lee A. Schwartz. 

A marriage is a long-term commitment to another person that asks a lot of you. It is not surprising that you may face some issues along the way. Perhaps you are having problems, and you’ve both agreed that you need some space to process how you are feeling.

This article will go into what couples typically experience during a trial separation and how to make the most of it if the couple truly wants to work on the relationship, from the office of Philadelphia divorce attorney Lee A. Schwartz.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

My Response to an Article on Men Being Abused by Women

Warning- this post is probably very triggering for people who have been through abuse. It contains details about abuse and also talks about suicide and murder. Read at your own discretion.

I was at a friend’s house this past weekend and was looking through a magazine that is popular in my circles. It had a piece written by two men entitled “We’re Only Addressing Half the Problem” that talked about the abuse men go through, especially during and after divorce, and said that while society helps women who are abused, it ignores the other half of the problem, men that are abused. 
It cited a few studies but misrepresented them, and then they made an internet survey of 199 divorced people from a divorced group, and then asked them leading questions about whether or not they were abused and what the abuse was like. Of the respondents, only a quarter of them said they were abused, and of those that answered, more men than women responded that they were physically abused. Which made me realize, even more than I did at first, just how problematic this piece was. As I read it, I got more and more incensed.

This is an edited version of my response that I sent to the magazine. There’s very little chance that this will ever be published, because of its length, but it's too important a topic to not be shared, so I’m sharing it here with you to right a grievous wrong and to correct some, unfortunately too common, misperceptions about abuse.

Understanding Law: What Does Family Law Cover?

Before I filed for divorce, I used a lawyer one time. To buy a house. I have had very little experience with lawyers thankfully, and I'll admit I'm fairly uninformed about things having to do with law. This piece from a reader explains what types of things a family lawyer may be involved with.

People usually aren’t aware that there are different fields in law. Like doctors, legal professionals can specialize in certain subjects such as criminal law, corporate law, intellectual property law, and more. So if you were a business owner who wishes to merge with another company, you would have to hire someone with corporate law expertise rather than criminal law.

But what if you’re facing legal battles such as divorce and child custody? The three legal fields above wouldn’t suit that kind of conflict. So what kind of professional legal representation should you seek? The answer to this is easy. You need to hire a lawyer who is an expert in family law. But to understand exactly how they can help, you need to know what Family Law covers. 

Monday, February 22, 2021

Easy Honey Butter Brussels Sprouts Recipe

I hated brussels sprouts as a kid. But that's because the only time we ever had them was at our Thanksgiving dinner with another family, and apparently the host didn't know how to cook them well. As an adult, though, they became one of my favorite vegetables, which is unfortunate because they are one of the more expensive vegetables locally. So I keep them for special occasions. For my birthday I decided to make some, and chose to do a honey butter type recipe. 

This time I remembered what I did wrong the last time I made brussels sprouts and made sure to roast mine before adding the rest of the seasonings, so that they could actually get browned, and I'm glad I did. Since I used frozen, they still didn't actually get crispy, but that's ok with me. 

These brussels sprouts are so good, they're addicting. I highly recommend them. They're pretty allergy friendly; other than the dairy they contain none of the common allergens. They're gluten free, vegetarian, and did I mention quite easy to make?

It's also pretty fuss free. You don't actually have to use measuring spoons- feel free to eyeball the amounts in this recipe. And depending on the prices of brussels sprouts where you live, can be pretty frugal as well.

Easy Honey Butter Brussels Sprouts Recipe

How Reading Can Help Speech Development in Kids with Delayed Speech

My kids didn't have any speech delays in their first language, English. But when it comes to the local language, they've all struggled to acquire the language. Quite a few people suggested that I read them stories in the local language, that that's the best way to help develop speech. A reader who is also a speech therapist sent in this post about why reading helps children with their language skills.

Children reach certain milestones in their lives at their own paces considering that every child is unique. However, if the child does not react to sounds, their parents’ verbal interaction, or they do not articulate themselves, that could indicate a delayed speech. If this is something you’ve been noticing, you should consult an expert professional for an evaluation. It's one sign to determine if your child needs to start speech therapy. Depending on their recommendations, make an appointment for online speech therapy. While the sessions are immensely helpful for your child's development, as a parent, you can help by reading and using books to encourage them to pick up ideas and words.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Making a Quick (and Very Imperfect) Zebra Costume For My Daughter

I had a hard day today, and that sucked because it was my birthday. I had no energy for pretty much anything. And then I was reminded that my daughter Rose needed to have a costume to wear for a costume party next week, and she's leaving to her dad tomorrow and I won't be seeing her again before the party. To be honest, I did know about this need for a costume a few days ago, but first stores that sold costumes were closed because of the lockdown, then once they opened we were having bad weather and then snow, and everything was shut down, so I couldn't go out to buy her a costume even if I wanted to.

I had an idea to make her a costume with a silver dress she had and make her into either the tin man or an astronaut but she nixed those ideas. She also didn't want to be a fairy or a mermaid which I had good clothes for her to use for those costumes. So we decided to go through my clothes and see if there was anything I could use to make her a costume, and I rediscovered my black and white striped dress that was ripped (and I wasn't super thrilled as to how it looked on me).

 I asked Rose if she wanted to maybe be a zebra, and she said that was a great idea. Her sister had some animal ears and a bow tie and a tail that were black and white striped as well (probably intended to be a cat, to be honest) and she said she could use that together with the black and white striped dress for her zebra costume.

Why it’s Extremely Important to Teach your Children the Basics of Personal Care

Good habits are important to instill in our kids. But sometimes those habits aren't so easy to instill and are met with some resistance. Here are some useful ideas from a reader on how to teach your young children important habits.

Life skills are all part of your children’s essential learning. They form the foundation of their understanding of the world and help them discover good, healthy choices.

Like many things, personal care starts at home. From teaching your little one to brush their teeth to exploring nature as a family, there’s a lot you can do to ensure your child’s wellbeing. Forming good hygiene practices in their early years will have a positive effect on their growth and development.

Not sure where to start? Here are a few simple tips to help you on your journey:

How to Scrimp and Save to Support Your Children With Their Studies

Are you sending kids off to college soon, or thinking about their future? This can come with a lot of worries about how to afford their college. Here are some ideas about how to save money in order to be able to pay for their education.

Studying at college is not a cheap endeavor. While creating a college fund for your children to access when they are old enough is the ideal, many people cannot do so for a number of reasons. If that sounds like you and you are beginning to worry about how you can financially support your children with their studies, be sure to continue reading for some advice.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Korean Style Cold Noodle Soup Recipe Inspired by Mul Naengmyeon -- Gluten Free, Allergy Friendly, Pescetarian

Sometimes I make a dish and I follow the recipe exactly so even if it's not something I've ever tasted before I have a good idea what it is supposed to taste like. Other times I have eaten a dish (or something very similar to it) before so even when experimenting with a recipe and changing it up to use ingredients I have on hand I am pretty sure that my reproduction is close enough in taste to the original.

And then there are recipes like this. This Korean soup recipe is made chilled, usually in slushy form/half frozen, and it's nothing I've ever had before, nor have I ever eaten anything similar. But the recipe used ingredients I didn't have or couldn't eat, so I played around with it, using similarly flavored ingredients as much as possible, and reading carefully about what the flavor is supposed to be like. I used Maangchi's Mul-naengmyeon recipe as the base for mine. I have frankly no idea if my recipe tastes anything like hers, but I'm guessing it does since I did use something similar to one of the broth variations she mentions as options in her recipe.

Ok, let me talk about the changes I made:
  • I used anchovy and shitake mushroom broth instead of powdered broth
  • I used dijon mustard instead of mustard oil
  • I used bean thread noodles instead of buckwheat and wheat based naengmyeon noodles, because bean thread noodles are a bit chewy
  • I used an apple, pear, and a bit of sugar instead of the Korean or bosc pears, and I put the fruit itself into the soup instead of just its juice and using some for a garnish
  • I put in all the liquid from the marinated cucumbers
  • I added some soy sauce
  • I left out the egg
  • I served mine chilled, not slushy
  • I added bean sprouts to some servings of mine
  • I left out the sesame seeds
With all these changes I have no idea if I can actually call this dish mul naengmyeon, but I'm going to guess that it's close enough still that I can say it's inspired by it.

I made this dish for my Korean feast and it was quite delicious and refreshing and enjoyable to eat. The end result is a little bit sweet and sour, but with a well rounded umami flavor. There's some nice little crunch in it if you add bean sprouts, and the combination of textures is just wonderful.

This recipe is gluten free and pescetarian and relatively allergy friendly- the only common allergens in it are fish and soy.

Korean Style Cold Noodle Soup Recipe Inspired by Mul Naengmyeon -- Gluten Free, Allergy Friendly, Pescetarian

Providing Your Kids With the Best Upbringing Possible

Parenting is no easy thing. If you're about to become parents or are in the early stages of parenting, here are some ideas from a reader about how you can help your kids have the best upbringing possible.

Raising little ones will prove to be a journey. As soon as they are born, we want to provide them with the absolute best that we can. We want to make sure that they are always as healthy and as happy as possible. But this doesn’t always come of its own accord. Instead, we have to make the effort to ensure that they’re leading the best lives possible. But what can you do to provide your little ones with the best upbring possible? Here are just a few different areas that should top the list of your priorities!

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Tasty Gluten Free Sorghum Flour Vegan Bread Recipe

I've wanted to try gluten free recipes with sorghum flour for a long time but I never was able to find it locally. Then when I did find it it was in a specialty shop and quite expensive. So it never became a staple in my house. However the other night a friend gifted me with a few packages of Bob's Red Mill sorghum flour and I knew that I wanted to try making bread with it.

I found this recipe and tweaked mine to suit my needs, and it came out decently. Unlike most gluten free homemade bread recipes it tasted fine even when it wasn't fresh out of the oven, but I will admit, the next day it already was less good, but perked up beautifully and was delicious made into toast. 

Since I didn't have a loaf pan, I took two pieces of parchment paper and put dough on each one, and then put them next to each other in a wider rectangle pan with the parchment paper pulled up around each loaf, so that they'd each be approximately the shape of a loaf of bread, and then baked it that way. But a loaf pan probably would be best, I just currently don't have one.

Tasty Gluten Free Sorghum Flour Vegan Bread Recipe

5 Tips to Take Care of your Mental Health

As someone who deals with mental health issues, I am always trying to find ways to manage my depression and anxiety, etc. There's some things that can help. Here are some of them.

It is just as important to take care of your mind as taking care of your body. Anybody with depression or anxiety issues usually ends up finding it difficult to do anything in life. Here are a few simple steps you can take to ensure that you’re mentally healthy and happy at all times.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Amanda's Cheddar Beer Soup Recipe- With Gluten Free Options

I mentioned the other day that my friend Amanda passed away. One of the things she was known for was sharing her love of good food with people, as well as delicious memories. A dish she talked about regularly was her cheddar beer soup that she made for special occasions. I never had a chance to make it before she passed, but once she was gone I wanted to honor her memory by making her family's favorite meal. 

Her recipe was based on this one, but she made it vegetarian and with a few other changes, and I decided to make mine with even more changes, keeping it gluten free, not using cow milk in it (since that type of dairy hurts my stomach) and using ingredients I had on hand (I'm out of Worcestershire sauce right now and didn't want to wait 2 weeks for it to be ready, and the store didn't have either, so I used the basic ingredients from my recipe to give it a similar flavor). But even with the changes, I'm still calling this Amanda's recipe since it was completely in her honor and I'm sure it kept the same basic taste.

I loved it. My sons loved it. My girls weren't fans, but they don't really like cheese, and the soup has a slightly bitter aftertaste which they didn't appreciate. 

I will definitely be making this again, but probably for special occasions since the amount of cheese in it makes it somewhat more expensive than my average dinner. But totally worth it.

This recipe isn't the most allergy friendly compared to my other ones, but it is vegetarian and gluten free and egg free, so there's that.

This recipe is especially wonderful eaten with crusty bread (ideally toasted). That's how Amanda always served it. I made some sorghum flour based gluten free bread to eat with this that I'll be sharing the recipe of soon.

A note about the beer in the recipe- I learned recently that certain brands of beer made with barley are considered gluten free and even safe for celiacs since they have less than 20 parts per million of gluten in the final result- Corona beer is one of them. I used that for this, but if you have celiac make sure you use a beer that is celiac safe, and check with your doctor about that. (There are gluten free beers made with other grains out there.)

Amanda's Cheddar Beer Soup Recipe- With Gluten Free Options

Step Away from the Traditional and Try Gentle Parenting in 2021

I used to call myself a crunchy mom. Or a "natural mom". And then I learned about the term called attachment parenting. Over time my parenting style evolved, but I'd say that I lean towards what is now called gentle parenting. This post by a reader gives some insight about this method of parenting; hopefully you'll learn something wonderful and new.

“Children should be seen and not heard” is a 15th-century trope that has lived on through the ages—traditional views of parenting sort of fit into the same mould. From “taking back your life” to pureed foods, some ways of thinking are better left in the past.

Parenting in 2021 couldn’t look more different. Not only will you hear phrases like “baby-led weaning,” “attachment parenting” and see Dad’s taking up the “stay at home” role, but our approach has also changed. We are raising confident, happy children ready to take on the world.

Here’s how to step away from the traditional and how to embrace 21st Century gentle parenting:

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Korean Style Spiced Fried Tofu

I found a new favorite fish recipe that was quite delectable, and restaurant worthy when I was making an Asian feast for myself. It also was relatively frugal to make and not too much work to prepare. I wanted to make it for my family for supper but I have a son who doesn't eat fish, so I decided to see if I could recreate it with tofu.

Let's just say that it was a roaring success. I highly recommend this for anyone who is vegetarian, vegan, or just likes meat free meals. If I had to compare this and the fish version side by side, I'd say they are equally delicious. The only negative thing I have to say about this version is that the starch falls off more easily than on the fish. Not a big deal at all.

This Korean fried tofu probably isn't an authentic Korean recipe, but I can assure you that the flavors are diet is allergy friendly, with the only top 8 allergens it contains being soy. It's also gluten free, dairy free, egg free and easily corn free

Try it out. You won't regret it.

Korean Pan Fried Tofu Recipe - Gluten Free, Vegan, Allergy Friendly and Delicious

Tips for Keeping Everyone Happy on a Family Vacation

When I saw the title of this post that a reader sent me, I literally sighed deeply and said "Ohhh boy..." because I knew just how much of a challenge this was. We had our first trip abroad the last month of 2019 and already the first day of our vacation I realized that I knew nothing about traveling as a family, and I needed to rethink my entire plans. Here are some tips to keep in mind if you want to have your family vacation go as smoothly as possible.

One of the best ways to create memories and enjoy time as a family is to go on a vacation. Planning and anticipating the trip generates excitement, and it can be a fun way to get everyone involved. Putting together an excursion everyone will love can be a challenge, though. Family members of different ages will have particular ideas about what is considered fun. You'll need to consider their needs, too. Young children usually require a midday nap and time in the evening to settle down. Teenagers might be bored with a vacation geared toward young children. Grandparents may need to keep a slower pace, and parents may just want a little time for themselves.

With so many wants and needs in the mix, what's a family to do? Fortunately, it's not impossible to plan a trip everyone can enjoy. Keep reading for some tips on preparing a memorable vacation.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Waking Up Is Hard to Do, But You Can Make it Easier

This post was written with me in mind. No, it actually wasn't, its a post sent in by reader Reachel, but it is so incredibly relevant to my life. I have such a difficult time waking up in the morning. It is one of my biggest struggles in life right now, to be honest, and I need all the help I can get. Hopefully these tips will help, and hopefully I'll remember to actually apply them to my life instead of just reading and moving on.

For many people, waking up is the most challenging part of the day. Sometimes, you feel so groggy, unrested, and unmotivated that you literally have to force your body to get up so you can start the day. But what makes waking up so difficult? 

Waking up can be tough for various reasons; factors such as lifestyle, mental health, medical conditions, and medication can significantly impact your sleep quality and ability to sleep for enough hours. Without sufficient sleep, you won't have enough energy for the day, and you'll struggle to get out of bed.

Your body has an internal clock that tells it to anticipate sleep at night, awaken in the morning, and then stay awake during the day. If that circadian rhythm is disrupted, a sleep annoyance can, in time, become a sleep disorder.

Though having a couple of nights of poor rest is usual, chronic inability to sleep can signify more serious issues. You could be suffering from a sleep disorder like parasomnia, sleep apnea, sleep deficiency, or sleep deprivation. Parasomnia manifests in sleep behaviors like sleepwalking, sleep talking, or experiencing night terrors. Sleep apnea disrupts breathing during sleep and can be dangerous if left untreated.

If you find yourself having difficulty getting out of bed in the morning and want to prevent a more serious condition from developing, don't worry. There are many ways to take control and improve your sleep, including the following.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Throwing Money at Problems, Take Two. Is More Money a Solution to Problems?

I realized after I wrote my last post about how I threw money at the issue I was having with my broken freezer, which ended up being cheaper than taking care of the otherwise might have been, that the title of the post promised a lot more than it did. I talked just about my freezer and paying my son to help with part of it, but didn't go so much into the concept of throwing money at problems, which is a topic worth discussing.

I'm trying to think about the best way to start this post because have so many ideas. I hope therefore that I can write it in a way that doesn't sound so disjointed while I try to piece together all the different thoughts about this going through my head.

I run a local frugal Facebook group where I share lots of frugal ideas; many others share wonderful money saving ideas. There is a similarly themed group called "Living Financially Smarter in [My Location]" and in the past when I'd share frugal posts in that group, I'd often get comments like "It's not financially smart to cut your costs on this- the real financially smart thing is to make more money so you can spend normal amounts of things and not need to cut corners on things."

To be honest, I would always get annoyed when people would make such statements. How could they? Of course being frugal is financially smart! Of course what I was doing was the smart thing to do! How could people be so blasé about saving money and think that the only answer was making more money.

You know what? I think that the answer to whether it is smarter to earn more money or spend less money is a complicated one. There are people that earn more money than most people, supposedly wealthy people, who are dealing with financial problems. Having more money doesn't mean you're financially smart. 

When Do You Know A Foreign Love Should Stay?

As a travel lover, in many travel groups I hear about people who meet their partners while they're traveling around the world. If one does this, at some point this couple will have to make a decision about whether one of the two will be settling down in the other's country. This is a big decision to make (and I say this not lightly at all as someone who moved to my current country because it was where my ex lived). 

How does someone make such a big decision like this, if they should stay where their partner is living? Here's a few hints from a reader that give suggestions as to how one knows that their partner has successfully acclimated to local life. Of course, this is only the first step and one should have many discussions about whether this is a change you both are ready to deal with.

Are you in a relationship where you are in love with someone who is foreign? They might not know the language fully yet, they might not feel at home in the culture and they might not feel as if they are in the right line of work. On the other hand, they might be totally at ease, love the country, love you, everything is happy and brilliant. 

The question is, when do you know when your foreign lover should stay long-term? It's something that has been on the minds of many people as they don’t know when they should ask their lover to take a very difficult decision. They will be staying with you and this can make them feel vulnerable as they might not have a space of their own.

Throwing Money at Some Problems or Fixing Them Myself?

I generally enjoy grocery shopping. But for some reason I generally find unpacking and putting away my groceries to be a daunting task.

I went grocery shopping on Monday, and quite a large and expensive one, and within an hour or two of getting home all my perishables were put away in the fridge and freezer. The dry goods, I must confess, were still out on Wednesday though. The house a mess, I was overwhelmed, and sapped of all energy. And I noticed that the fridge wasn't as cold as it should have been. It was still cool but felt off. And then I noticed that something that I made on Friday was growing mold in my fridge, and that was quite quick for that to be happening. Then my son came home from school and told me that the cottage cheese sandwich I sent with him spoiled. That confirmed it. The fridge was definitely not cooling enough.
I checked the freezer and everything was frozen solid. So that confirmed that the cooling unit was working but it wasn't managing to get the cool air into the fridge.

I knew immediately what the problem most likely was. There must have been frozen ice blocking the opening between the two compartments. I dealt with this repeatedly with my last freezer but never had this issue before with this one, only four years old.

I was dreading the solution. I knew it entailed emptying out the fridge and the freezer to be able to access the inner workings of the unit but I had so little energy. Beyond no energy. I confessed to my friend that I had such little desire to do that that I was even contemplating if spending over a thousand dollars on a new fridge was worth it. Why not just pay a repairman? Because even if I paid a repairman I'd still have to do the emptying and filling of the fridge /freezer and the actual fixing was the easy part, and it would be throwing away money.

But I thought about it. The fact that this issue was so daunting for me that I'd be willing to throw large sums of money at the problem to fix it. So I thought if there was a way to throw less money at the problem and take some of the stress off my shoulders.

Let The World Know The Twins Have Finally Arrived With Custom Birth Announcements

I apparently was supposed to be a twin. My mom had vanishing twin syndrome with me. I had have a fascination with twins and wanted to have twins... that is until I saw just how difficult a singleton pregnancy and a single baby was. But for those that are starting on the journey and got the happy news- twins are a really special thing. Twice the work but also twice the fun, twice the joy, and twins tend to have really wonderful relationships with each other. If you were looking for a way to share this special news with your friends and loved ones, here's some cute ideas from a reader that you can use for your twin baby birth announcement.

If you are pregnant, congratulations! You know that twin baby birth announcements come in two flavours. It doubles the joy and can also be double the fun. The best baby born announcement is the one that appears to be genuine to the couple. It's a way for you to express yourself as parent-to-be and impart your happiness to other people. Don't overthink your twin's pregnancy announcement. Do not overdo it and make sure you do things your way, whatever that makes you happy. Mentioned below are some ways for you to announce your pregnancy or at least get a small gist of it.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Korean Style Steamed Zucchini Side Dish Recipe -- Gluten Free, Paleo, Vegan, and Easy

I'm tired and exhausted but told myself I'd get a post done today, so this is a quick one before I go to sleep. This recipe is based off one from Maangchi's site for an eggplant based side dish but I didn't have any eggplant at home. What I did have was lots of zucchini and I assumed that it would work just as well in this recipe. I made a few more changes, such as veganizing it as well. It was spectacular and was a great addition to my Korean feast.

This recipe is not only easy and super quick to make (less than 10 minutes start to finish), it is also frugal, vegan, paleo, gluten free, allergy friendly, and just plain old yummy. You can eat it both hot and cold.

Korean Style Steamed Zucchini Side Dish Recipe -- Gluten Free, Paleo, Vegan, and Easy

Navigating Financial Uncertainty During a Divorce

Divorce can be pricey. Divorce can wreak havoc on finances. Sometimes things get really rough for people post divorce (though it isn't always the case- sometimes after divorce things really improve for people financially). Regardless of that, its a time of upheaval and its very important to make the right decisions financially when going through divorce. Here's some tips from a reader on how to navigate this difficult financial situation.

Unfortunately, 50% of all marriages in the United States end in a divorce. Although this number is devastating and heartbreaking, it is the reality that we live in. With this in mind, it’s important that families suffering from a divorce have the resources they need to navigate the emotional and financial burden of this decision. In this article, we will share five ways that families can navigate the financial uncertainty of a divorce.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Easy Roasted Asian Style Brussels Sprouts Recipe -- Paleo, Vegan, Gluten Free, and Delicious

I have an embarassing confession. When I read recipes, I usually just read the ingredient list and don't look at the instructions, and then I start cooking the food and sometimes realized that I completely flubbed the instructions. Oh well. Usually it works out ok anyhow, and this was one of them, but other times it flops.

I was looking for a recipe for brussels sprouts to make for my Korean feast, but Maangchi didn't have any recipes for them, so I found this recipe instead which I based mine on. Only I completely botched up the instructions so mine aren't crispy like the original. They're still extremely tasty and probably one of my favorite ways I ever had brussels sprouts. I made mine from frozen, but I'm sure this would work just as well with fresh, but the cooking time probably will be different.

This recipe is gluten free, allergy friendly, paleo, vegan, and absolutely the bomb. Did I mention easy? The hardest part was waiting for it to be ready.

Roasted Asian Style Brussels Sprouts Recipe -- Paleo, Vegan, Gluten Free, and Delicious

What You Need to Know Before Buying Living Room Furniture

There's nothing quite as special as having a home that feels nice and makes you smile, because it is according to your taste. However, designing a home to your taste can be pricey, and there are some common mistakes people made. Here's some tips from a reader on how to get the most bang for your buck when designing your living room.

How Are You Making Your Space Your Own?

Whether you’ve recently made the move into a new home or are just looking to spice up your decor, it can be really difficult to know where to start.

Your living room is where your household will likely be spending the majority of their time and having the perfect backdrop to your forever memories, is the added cherry on top of fully enjoying your home.

However, there are few things you should consider about living room furniture before you make the vision in your head a reality.

Monday, February 1, 2021

Poverty Induced Trauma and Judging Myself About My Expenses

I just went grocery shopping. I needed to go desperately. While my grocery stockpile still is decently stocked with some things, some of the dry goods we use regularly have run out and we were virtually out of all produce and refrigerated items. I hate having an empty fridge and my fridge today was bare, bare, bare. (Really, the only thing in it was a package of cheese, half a bottle of shelf stable milk that I opened because we were out of other milk, some condiments, half a cabbage, some oranges, a few apples, and a few beets.) So it was obvious that I needed to do a big shopping.

I made myself a shopping list, keeping in mind what things we were using regularly, and to make sure that we also had ready to eat things for the kids, so that even if I didn't have a chance to prepare something, they would have what to eat. 

I went through my shopping list at the store, price comparing every item before I bought it. Weighed if it was something that we'd use, if there was a better priced item. The only things I purchased that weren't on my list were some other items that I should have put on the list and were on sale.

When I went to the register to pay, my head just had this phrase on repeat "let it be under $285, let it be under $285". (I know that sounds weird, but the local equivalent is a round number. I wasn't really saying "$285".) By the end of the cashier ringing it up, what do you know, it was over $285. And I felt like a failure. I felt shame. I felt yucky. Like I can't call myself a frugal person if I spent that much on just one shop.

And I know this is silly. I know that there is really no purpose to eat myself up over this shop.

This was a good shop.

It was a smart shop.

It was a well thought out shop.

It was money spent on things that were important to me, money being spent where my values lie. It wasn't $285 thrown in the trash.

But yet... the guilt.

You see, I used to be really poor. Like totally broke. Like being really frugal, extremely frugal, and still somehow our expenses were more than we were bringing in.

And back in the day, I was able to have our monthly grocery total be $230 some months. When I would be "spendy" I'd spend $285 in a month.

And whenever I'd be at the register with my super frugal shop, and someone else would have their shop cost over $285 I'd look at them and judge them for being money wasters, for having their priorities wrong. For being spendthrifts. 
Because I knew a family who had no money, wasn't surviving financially, kept on having their electricity being shut off due to lack of payments, and yet each time they went shopping for the weekend they spent $285 or more, not to mention all their shops throughout the week.

That number, in my head, became synonymous with extravagant people who aren't being responsible with their money and are hopelessly in debt and its all their fault because they don't know how to live within their means.

And I know now that that isn't true. I know that there are perfectly reasonable reasons to have a grocery shop cost that much. And probably a big reason I judged them was because I was jealous of people that could spend that much on groceries when we were struggling so much. But because I was judging people then, I judge myself now. Am critical of myself now. Even though it makes no sense.

There's no way in hell I could spend $230 on groceries for a month for my family now. We'd starve. Then our family was much smaller, with only a baby and a toddler, not 2 teenaged boys and 2 elementary school aged girls. Then, my whole life, by necessity, was seeing how little I could spend. My whole focus then was see where I could cut corners. What could I make from scratch to save a little bit more money here. Those months that I got my grocery bill that low, almost all the veggies I got were either foraged or nicked from the dumpster pile at the open air market. Everything else I bought was from the reduced rack store at the open air market. Our diet was heavily legume based, and I made everything from scratch. Every. Little. Thing.

And honestly, it wasn't good for me. I neglected myself. I negated myself. I negated my needs and emotions on the alter of trying to survive. And it wasn't a pretty sight. Yes, I might have blogged about how awesome it was, but really that was me trying to convince myself of that, and beneath that all, I was suffering. I have trauma from that. Trauma from needing to live extremely frugally. So much so that I get triggered by ridiculous things that shouldn't trigger people, but they trigger me because they remind me of how much of a wrung out sponge I was then, doing everything I could to survive, and never thinking about me.

And to be honest, I think my kids are a little traumatized too. They can't handle the taste of lentils, and I think in large part because of how much they associate that with the times when we had so little and lentils were our protein staple.

My situation now fortunately isn't anything like that. Things have improved financially for us for a variety of reasons. And I still live frugally, but a very different type of frugal.

And my monthly grocery budget was $715 a month but because of lockdown and everything stressing me out I allow myself to increase my grocery budget to $850 if need be and wiggle other things in my budget to allow for that

The last few times I went grocery shopping to the store I shopped at today, my bill was over $285. But not once have I gone over my monthly grocery budget, and I think only once did I even need to go over the original $715 amount.

Its just that my grocery habits have changed. Because of lockdowns, I don't leave my house as often. I go shopping much less frequently. When I do shop, it is big shops that will have enough food to last a while. So even if this shop is more than 1/3 of my monthly grocery budget, that's fine, because I'm not spending this all the time. This is just the big shop of the month, and the other shops at the local store will be significantly smaller.

I realize quite clearly that I am judging myself unfairly. That I set myself an impossible and ridiculous goal, that has no basis in my reality. There is no reason to aim to get under $285 in one shop. The only goal is to stick within my budget, and however that works is fine.

This post isn't really a how to or instructional thing or even to teach anything specifically, but as I write about frugal living, I wanted to share what I go through. Sometimes we need to reassure ourselves that yes, we are allowed to spend money. We shouldn't judge ourselves for spending money. We shouldn't judge ourselves for taking care of our families' needs. And sometimes we will anyhow, and that's when we need to remind ourselves that even if our automatic reaction is to judge ourselves, those emotions don't fit the facts, and we need to give ourselves slack.

And yes, a reminder that needing to live extremely frugally can definitely cause someone trauma. I have money trauma. A whole heck load of money trauma.

But I'm working to heal that.

And part of that is saying yes, I spent over $285 today on one grocery shop, and its ok, its ok, its ok. I need to repeat it to myself and hopefully it'll sink in. But even if emotionally it doesn't yet, at least intellectually it is.

5 Online Dating Tips for Single Parents

Since my divorce isn't finished yet, and I have a lot of healing that I still need to do before I could even think of starting to date again, this isn't so relevant to me. But I know many people reading this are single parents and may be in the dating scene. Here are some tips from a reader on how to navigate online dating when you're a single parent. 

Being a single parent is certainly a full-time job as children require our undivided attention, especially while they are younger. Yet, after a few years of focusing on nothing but your children, you might realize that it’s time to put some focus on yourself as well. This might mean that you want to engage in some fun activities or pick up a hobby or two, but it can also mean that you want to get back out there and start dating again.

You might feel all excited about this decision, but you’ll probably quickly realize that things might not run as smoothly as you might have expected them. As if being a single parent weren’t difficult enough all on its own, now you have to spend your free time socializing in an effort to find that one person who might be right for you. Okay, nobody said that this will be easy, but it’s definitely worth a try, since there’s no need for you to go through life all alone.

There is, however, a much easier option than the one that would require you to go to bars and attend a huge number of social gatherings in order to find someone you like and someone who will be ready to date a single parent without being weird about it. I’m talking about joining one of those dating sites for single parents and trying to find that person online. This is easier in so many ways.

For starters, you don’t need to go to those events and visit bars and clubs while your children are with a nanny if they are not old enough to be left alone. I suspect that no parent would feel rather comfortable doing this. But, you don’t need to wait for them to grow up either in order to get back out there and find yourself a person that’s willing to share his or her life with you. Instead, you can just meet people online from the comfort of your own home and then organize a real date only if you are sure that you and the other person could work well together.

If you are worried that you might be the only single parent out there engaging in online dating, then let me immediately assure you of the wrongfulness of that statement. There are actually quite a lot of websites that basically specialize in bringing single parents closer together and I’m sure that you would love to meet another parent determined to do what’s best for his or her children, while also struggling to meet a like-minded person to spend some time with. While I’m sure that you can do it all alone without any troubles, the truth is that things are definitely much easier when you have someone by your side and all the parents on these sites feel the same way.

Now, when you decide to give these sites a try, you might not be completely sure about how to do it or how to behave upon making your profile. That’s perfectly fine. You have probably been out of the dating pool for quite a while and all you have to do is brush up on your skills and you’ll be ready to get started in no time. In order to help you, I have prepared a few useful tips on how to date online as a single parent. Hopefully, you’ll use those and find a great person for you pretty quickly.

Korean Style Seasoned Pan Fried Fish Recipe- Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free, and Delicious

After five weeks without having even a moment at home without any kids present, I finally had a weekend to myself when the kids went to their dad. While they were gone I made the decision to make myself a Korean feast, not considering before I made each dish if my kids would like it, but just picking out what I wanted to make and eat. 

I spent a long time on Maangchi's site perusing recipes and eventually decided on a menu. Almost everything I made for my feast was inspired by her recipes but as usual for my style of cooking I didn't follow even a single one of her recipes as is, but I changed them to suit my tastes and available ingredients, while trying to stay true to the authentic taste. This recipe for example is based off of her recipe using fried fluke slices, but I chose to use tilapia /st Peter's fish fillets, and adjusted the sauce ingredients as well. 

I usually try to include the name when making a recipe from another culture, but since I changed the recipe I'm not sure if Maangchi's name Gajami yangnyeom-twigim in Korean still applies here. 

It tasted heavenly freshly made but still maintained its deliciousness as leftovers. As much as I enjoyed every dish I made for my feast, this recipe by far was the star of the evening. I highly recommend it. 

This recipe is suitable for many different diets. It is gluten free, egg free, dairy free, pescetarian, and can be made soy free as well. While I used sugar, feel free to use any other sweetener you prefer.

Korean Pan Fried Fish Recipe- Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free, and Delicious

7 Original Wording Ideas To Add To Your Save The Date Card

Are you or a loved one celebrating a wedding soon? If you want to DIY wedding prep, you might be thinking about making your own save the date cards. Here's some wording suggestions that you might want to use.

How you announce your plans to marry the love of your life, to your family and friends, is important if you want to guarantee that they will prioritise being in attendance on your wedding day. To give each guest on your invite list sufficient prior notice, it’s good wedding etiquette to send out save the date cards.