3 Tips for a Frugal Christmas

Tis the season! It’s Christmas! I love this holiday! It’s my favorite time of the year. There is only one thing that has really bummed it out for me as an adult and that is the cost. I had no idea how expensive Christmas is for adults. I just thought Santa took care of everyone. Bummer that he isn’t real. But is there a way to make Christmas not so expensive? Yes there is. Here is my list of ideas to make more joy in the season while everyone else around you is going crazy.

  • Everyone Loves Handmade

There is nothing wrong with a handmade gift. It’s not cheap looking and I have found that people appreciate them more. I have made Christmas gifts many years in a row and everyone has loved them but here is the beauty of doing things by hand. The supplies are not expensive since you are doing the blunt labor. So where you are saving money is the time.

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For example, I made embroidery portraits for the people on my list. The supplies costed under $10 for all of them, but it took me two months to make them all. So I saved a ton of money, but I had to take more time in making each gift. So there is a trade off, but if you are trying to save money, isn’t it worth it?

  • Do Secret Santa

Another money saving option is to do secret Santa! I love secret Santa and both of my family sides does it so I only have to buy two gifts for family. But isn’t there always a person who misses out on the fun because they have to be keeper of the list? There is an awesome site called www.elfster.com. It assigns the people for you so that there is no one person who has to facilitate and not participate. So if you are looking for a secret Santa site check them out.

secret santa

  • Cook For People

People love food. My husband would take a plate of cookies over a gift any day. There is no bad time to give people food and there are so many ideas on Pinterest for mason jars meals and such. There’s cookie mixes, cake mixes, hot chocolate mixes, and soup mixes. Pretty much anything you can think of can be found online so feel free to have fun while looking!

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So there are some ideas to help with making this Christmas a little more affordable. If you have any others, please feel free to leave them in the comments, but above all have a very Merry Christmas!

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How to Make Vegetable Broth

Living life can get busy. Yeah, really busy. But I have to make time to what I love. Jam and homemade veggie broth and soup are my new obsessions right now with the colder weather setting in. They are supper easy and there is little you can do to mess it up, which works for a busy mom like me. But today I want to share with you my secret on making the best veggie both for soups.

Things needed:

  • 1 Gallon Zipper Bag
  • Veggie Scraps
  • Big enough pot
  • As much water as needed to cover scrap
  • Cheese Cloth
  • Strainer
  • 1 Tbsp Salt
  • 1 Tbsp Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Garlic Powder
  1. First you need to collect your scraps. Depending on how much veggies you eat this could take a couple of days or weeks, but get enough to fill a zipper bag.
  2. Once the bag is full, get out a large pot and fill it with water just enough to cover the scrapes with water.
  3. Put on the stove to a medium boil for thirty-forty minutes.
  4. Let cool until broth is workable.
  5. Place strainer in a large bowl or another pot to catch the broth, and line with cheese cloth.
  6. Pour broth into the lined strainer.
  7. Squeeze remaining broth out of the veggies by wrapping them in the cheese cloth. Throw cheese clothed item away.
  8. Return broth back to the stove and add the seasonings. I like as strong so add the seasonings in 1/2 teaspoon at a time until the flavor you want is there. You can also add spices like cumin, cayenne, and oregano if desired. Let the broth boil another ten minutes.

And you’re done. You just saved yourself a lot of money and this veggie broth will taste better than anything you will fin the store. Happy cooking!

 

 

5 Tips: How to Live Without Dairy

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If you are reading this, then you are one of the many that have been told they cannot have dairy. I am sorry in one way because, as an avid lover of all things dairy, it was hard when I was told that I couldn’t have dairy. But I have some great news! Your life is actually about to change for the better. I thought that not being able to have dairy was going to ruin my life, but I am happy to say that isn’t the case. Here are my 5 tips to make the transition to becoming dairy free and living without it.

 

Tip #1: Get It Out of Your House trash can

Throw away all dairy in your house now. Don’t just think that you can slowly eat through it. I know that you spent money on it and that is important. You can check out my blog on saving money here, here, and here as a couple of examples. So I totally get the money part, but your health is more important. So throw out everything now that has dairy in your house.

Tip #2: Go Out and Buy Things You Can Have

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Now here is the fun part – Shopping! I was nervous at first when I had to switch since I thought that I would have to live without so much but these days are the best days to be dairy free because there are so many options! There’s vegan butter, cream cheese, cheese, and alternative milks. I can still bake, have a bagel and a grilled cheese relatively easy with all the alternatives that are out there.

My favorite place to shop in my are is Sprouts due to the fact that they have the best selection for dairy free items. One brand I love is Daiya. They have the cheeses covered. Earth Balance has the butter. And SoDelicious has many milk options. So there shouldn’t be much fear in feeling like you are missing out on anything. There is a slight taste difference but after a few tries you won’t be able to tell the difference.

Tip #3: Learn to Cook

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This tip is one that wasn’t hard for me since I loved cooking anyway. “But Gracelyn you just said there are so many options out there. Do I really need to cook from scratch?” The answer is yes. I still have to make many things from scratch since I have alter recipes on a regular basis. There are a lot of options out there, but much of it has to be pieced together so learning cook will be a skill you will have to gain if you don’t have it already.

Tip #4: Learn to Make Things Yourself

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This goes beyond cooking. Making things yourself means making your own coconut milk like I show you in this video here and making your other alternatives like butter and cream cheese since eating all the alternatives from the store can get expensive. So to cut the cost down, it’s time to awaken that DIY person inside you and find recipes that will help you stay true to your restrictions, but save money as well.

Tip #5: Hit Pinterest!

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I didn’t really understand the glory of Pinterest at first. Then I had to be dairy free, and a whole new world opened up for me. I have found many dairy free things that I thought were going to be lost forever. You can find recipes for ice cream, like I said butter and cheese, soups, and even Alfredo sauce that even my dairy loving husband said was amazing. So, if you don’t have one, get a Pinterest account and start searching. You will be surprised and relieved at what you will find.

Yay! 5 easy tips on how to be Dairy free. I hope these helped and comment below on any goodies you know on your own journey of being dairy free. Have a great day! 🙂

 

Why You Should Homeschool? Let Me Tell You!

It’s coming up. That time where you as a parent have to decide what is the best schooling option for your child. It’s hard that’s for sure. I am looking into that right now with my little one getting ready for kindergarten. Public? Private? Homeschool? It can be too much at times. But then I stop and take a deep breath. What is the most important thing here? It is that my child gets a good education.

One thing I have learned though is that the more I look into public and private schools, the more I want to do what family and my husband’s family did growing up – homeschool. Why? I’ll give you some examples.

Scheduling and Location

There is nothing better than the homeschool schedule. Why? There literally isn’t one. You can school your child when you are able or their activities allow. For once your life can run itself and the school system doesn’t. I remember road trips in the middle of February to see my grandparents and it didn’t matter because we were able to take our school with us.

With homeschooling the whole world is the classroom. The parents are free to teach their kids the skills they will need in life and not what the school system they have to only learn. You can teach math while cooking or changing the oil on the car with your kids for example on top of the state required material. They have the chance to engage in activities that other kids don’t because they aren’t in a classic classroom all day.

I was able to compete on my horses and train during what would be considered “school time”. But since I was homeschooled, I was able to get a jump start on everyone else. My schedule was get up at 5:00am and school until 10:00am. Then I would have the rest of the day to train my horses, play, read, or do whatever I wanted since I would have all my studies done before most kids had first recess.

Teaches Children Self Regulation

One thing that I loved about homeschooling was the fact I was in control for most of it. We had a program that all my teachers were on DVD. Check out the program here! So I would just watch them, do the assignments or tests, and my mother would grade them via their rubric. But that wasn’t always the case. When my mom first started schooling us, she was the teacher, but in many ways we were still in control based on our efforts. If I understood a concept then there wasn’t much discussion needed or we were able to move ahead. It puts that feeling of “you get what you put in” for the child.

Now I could have made it difficult on my mom and schooling would take forever and in the beginning it did until I learned the secret. Once kids learn they are responsible for how the day goes then they are quick to get their school done and out of the way for the day.

Because self regulation is a skill children will need in the real world when it comes to college and work. My classmates in college would look down on me as if I didn’t know anything because I was homeschool but I was my professor’s favorite student. I was able to time mange, get my assignments done, pay attention, and be self motivated to do well in the class. I never had to tell my professors that I was homeschooled because they all guessed, and they were always impressed.

Curriculum Freedom

The number one reason that families homeschool has to do with what is being taught in the schools. It is the number one concern for me. There is so much with Common Core that I am just not thrilled with and I don’t want to teach my daughter the concepts that way. But with homeschooling, you have the freedom to pick the curriculum that works for your child.

The child will have the chance to thrive because the parent can take the time to search and try new things that a public or private school teacher can’t. Could you imagine a public school teacher trying to teach a concept twenty different ways? No that is nuts, but a homeschool parent can because they only have one (unless you are blessed with twins or more) child in a certain grade at a time.

For example, I did go to public school for kindergarten but they missed that I wasn’t strong in math. I missed a concept back in kindergarten that I faked until I got to fifth grade and failed long division. My mom couldn’t understand why. Something was wrong but she didn’t know what. So she took the time to have me go through this new program and sure enough they found the problem all the way back to when I was learning basic subtraction like 1-1=0. (If you are interested, here is the program)

Now I wasn’t dumb. Math still isn’t my favorite subject, but since I was homeschooled, my mom was able to take that time and go back to where I missed the mark. A public school teacher can’t always do that. They have too many kids to worry about that many kids, like me, just have to fake until they make it, and aren’t able to be invested in like a homeschool kid.

More Summer Vacation

This was the bet part or homeschooling. Believe it or not the school year is only 180 days. that’s the amount of school time a kid needs to do in a year. Why in the world the school year goes from August to June I will never know. I always started the day after Labor day and was out the end of April. Here’s why – national holidays. There are so many national holidays that the kids don’t need to take off. The other thing is that sick days don’t matter. If anything we always used sick days as an excuse to  get more school work done so we could get out faster. All we have to prove is that we did 180 days worth of work. Sounds pretty good huh? So the kids might not get the national holidays as much but they will get a longer summer and I would trade a five month summer for two weeks off at Christmas.

Did That Help the Decision?

I hope that helped with your decision on whether or not to homeschool. Every family is different and so is very kid. I may end up putting my daughter in a public school for her first couple of years but she is a singleton and social is important. Actually in homeschool it it VITAL! The most vital part. If the kids don’t get the real world exposure then all the things they learned at home is void. They might be able to balance a budget and work a computer enough to be an executive assistant but they have the people skills of an ant then it’s all for nothing. The point of school is to give an education to children so they can succeed in life.

So to all parents who are looking to homeschool DO NOT FORGET SOCIALIZATION. It’s important. Get them into recreational sports, animals like horses, 4H, youth groups, music like orchestra, book clubs, chess clubs, motorcycle clubs like dirt bikes, BMX and any others you might think of. Learn what your kid likes and do that. Because the kids do need to be well rounded.

The good news is that, if you homeschool right, you won’t just have a well rounded kid, but one that surpass others around them. So have fun and enjoy homeschooling!

*Disclaimer – the links are unaffiliated and no payment was exchanged in their use. I just really love the programs.*

 

 

 

Miscarriage One Year Anniversary

It’s hard to believe but a full year has gone by since losing my little one. I don’t know about you, but it has been a crazy one full of emotions, stress, confusion, and lots of tears. It has been a year that in many ways I want to forget, but I can’t. I can’t erase the image of the ultrasound where there was no heartbeat. I can’t forget my husband taking me in for the D&C. I can’t forget having to tell people that I lost the baby. And I can’t seem to heal my heart all the way.

But I have learned a lot about myself and those around me. I have learned who my true friends are and how strong my family circle is. And my relationship with my daughter and husband are stronger than ever. Without this year I wouldn’t have that. I hope you have seen those types of blessings too, Dear Reader.

Are you like me and just celebrated your one year since your tragic loss? Sometimes you don’t know what you want to hear, but this was how it went for me.

My family went to a theme park on the day of the anniversary and it was a blast. We had such a great time as a family and I didn’t even cry once the whole day. It wasn’t until a few days later that it really hit me when my sister went in for her twenty week ultrasound. That was when I felt a piece of the scab over that hole in my heart flake off and a few drops of blood leaked out.

I thought that I was going to be okay with other people having babies, but I guess I personally have some healing to do. That scab is still very tender and fresh, and, when it flakes off, that pain in my heart of hurt, loss, and desire come back. Do you get what I mean?

Many people have tried to tell me that the pain will go away, but they have never lost a child. Only people who have lost a child and a miscarriage specifically know the that the pain doesn’t go away, but you just get really good at hiding it. After a year you are probably just as fet up as I am with the sad looks and the ‘I’m sorry’ messages to last a life time. I just want to be able to be normal again. I want to be able to enjoy other people’s babies and not be jealous because I miss my own.

It is not a fun feeling, but you do learn to live through it and hopefully I will be able to overcome it. I hope so. I know I have come such a far distance from where I was a year ago and I am still moving forward day by day.

I know you will too, Dear Reader. You are strong and can do anything. How do I know that? Because you are still standing here today after the most devastating experience. If you can live through this then you can live through anything.

God has a plan for all of us and I pray that His hand of fertility stays on you even though it did not stay with me. I have my miracle and am thankful for her. She is why I live and my husband too. He is my rock on this earth and the arms of Jesus when I need it most. He has shown such strength and vitality when I know he just wanted to break down and cry most days. I am so thankful for him as well.

So hold tight to what you do have and see the blessings around you. I know that sometimes sounds hard but I know if I can do it, so can you. Take care Dear Reader and God bless.

Diva Cup Review

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The Diva Cup is great idea. It can save a lot of money and is good for the environment. Since it is made of silicone it can be better for you too since who knows what is in a tampon or pad? But that’s about all that was good for the Diva Cup involving my use of it.

   *Disclaimer* This post is of graphic material and may not be suited for young children. I have also not been paid for this review and hold all rights to post it.

So, how did I like the Diva Cup? I loved the idea behind it. I mean bye bye tampons and pads. What wasn’t there to like or to go buy one? For one they are expensive. Mine was $40 and it took me months to finally justify spending that much when money was tight. The only way I could justify it was because it promised to save me money.

I looked at the packaging and saw that I would need a size 2 since I had had a vaginal delivery and everything seemed pretty easy. I get it home and read the cleaning and use instructions. Seemed pretty straight forward. So I cleaned it according the instructions and inserted it per the instructions. What happened?

Well first, the thing leaked horribly. I took it out and reinserted it many times but no position made it work. I looked for help from the company and all the advice was I was doing something wrong. Some help. (More on their customer service in a minute.)

It was also very uncomfortable when inserted. I could feel the whole thing so I once again took it out and put it back in. I tried the C-fold, the single fold, put the thing tipped back toward my tailbone, not toward my tailbone. I think you are getting the point. It was like having four tampons in and then having them expand. That alone was making it not worth it.

Not only did the thing leak, but, the first time I used it, I got a bladder infection right after. I had only used it one day and it cause me to have a bladder infection. The second time I used it I got a nasty yeast infection that my doctor said only comes from using these cups. I assured her I boiled and cleaned the thing after using it per the instructions and she assured me that it is because of the silicone there is no way to get it fully clean. So I am just too sensitive to use the cup due to the fact that any bacteria will give me some kind of an infection. None of which is on the label as a warning that something like that can happen.

My last issue with the Diva Cup was with the company. Being discouraged, I went to their website for help. Turns out I am not the only one who can’t seem to get the thing to not leak or be comfortable. That made me happy, but what didn’t was the reply from the company.

On every single cry for help it pretty much just said, “there is nothing wrong with the product. The problem is completely with you”. Seriously? There is no way on God’s green earth it could be the product?

According to that statement, all their frustrated and discouraged customers are just dumb and incompetent to use the cup. I was rather offended since there is no one size fits all for people even though the company does make two sizes. Not every vagina is the same, and there is no way a company can just say that if a customer (paying customer by the way) is saying they have tried all the tips and nothing is helping that there is nothing wrong with the product. It should say on the box “may not be suitable for everyone” because it did not work for me. I am jealous for those women who they do work for because the cup would be a real money and earth saver.

So I would suggest that you look at another menstrual cup company and not try the Diva Cup. Go online and find another company who understands the woman body a little better and cares about its customers. Don’t waste your time trying to make the Diva Cup work.