Monday, March 23, 2015

Frugal Five - Homemade Repairs and Returned Ice-Cream

From Katy's wonderful website:

One of my absolute favorite bloggers, Katy of the Non-Consumer Advocate has a series of weekly posts entitled "Five Frugal Things." I LOVE these posts from her because they share little things she does throughout each week that help contribute to her frugal, non-consumer lifestyle. It's the little things we choose to do everyday that help make a big difference in the overall picture. I've learned a lot from those posts.

I've been keeping track of little frugal things I do every week just to keep myself on the right track, to remind myself why I'm trying to save money and use less "stuff": mainly to pay off debt, live more simply, and produce less trash for a happier planet. My hope is to try to start sharing some of those frugal achievements here on the blog, as it's something that's a big focus in our life right now.

Another important lesson lately is that you can be frugal with more things than just money, you can also be frugal of your own resources by using your time wisely and your energies mindfully.

Frugal Five 3-23-2015

  1. Cooked 3 meals on Sunday so we would be less tempted to eat out later this week. This not only saves money on future meals, but saves me valuable time later this week. I'm not always able to do this, just depending on our Sunday schedule, but I was thankful I had the time and energy to get it done this week.
  2. Spent 2 hours last night repairing the bottom sheet of my favorite set of queen size bed sheets. They are about 11 years old, soft and super comfortable, but had lately developed a few very small tears. I patched the pairs and I'm crossing my fingers this sheet set will last another few years, as they are quite pricey to replace. 
  3. Was frugal with my time on Sunday... along with making a few meals ahead of time, I also did all of our laundry from the past two weeks. It was a lot of work at the time, but will give us a lot more time to relax when we get home from work this week. 
  4. We rented a redbox movie on Saturday when Michael's parents were visiting. Redbox DVD's cost $1.60 (with tax) for a 24 hour rental. We used to rent most of our movies from Amazon streaming service, but streaming the movies can cost anywhere from $2.99 (cheapest) to $6.99 for a 24 hour rental. It's definitely cheaper to drive (or walk) the 2 miles to the local Dollar General instead (presuming you always return it on time!)
  5. We also planned on having a simple dessert of ice-cream after a homemade dinner on Saturday with Michael's parents. I bought a box of ice-cream for $3.99 + tax. When it was time for dessert I opened the ice-cream and found that it was really old and gooey and I was just mad. At first I just tossed the ice-cream in the trash and went about trying to find something super quick instead (we had chilled, sliced bananas & strawberries drizzled with chocolate sauce - that had been intended as a TOPPING for the ice-cream! Oh well! It was healthier anyway! lol) -- After thinking about it later though, I realized just tossing the ice-cream was not in my benefit. I pulled the old ice-cream out of the trash and placed it back in the freezer and returned it the next day. For $3.99 + tax, it was worth the very short drive back to the store for an even exchange. 

Is anybody else super lazy and generally not up to returning bad items back to the grocery store? (Shopping is not my favorite...) Trust me, from now on I will be more willing to do returns... (Especially if the item is heading towards the $5 mark! lol)! 

What frugal things have you accomplished this week? 

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Monday, March 9, 2015

Review: Sprouted for Life Gluten-Free Vegan Flax Bread

Sprouted for Life: Gluten-Free Flax Bread

Food for Life graciously sent me two loaves of their newest breads to try. I don't accept many pitches for food reviews these days, as I've become rather picky. I want foods that really nourish my body in addition to being gluten-free and soy-free. I also want them to be plant-based, whole foods. I'd prefer as little added oils, sugar, and salt as possible. Which means most packaged products don't fit this criteria.

However, Food for Life has created a brand new line of healthy, hearty GLUTEN-FREE, VEGAN breads that are really good. Now if you're looking for plain white sandwich bread, don't buy this. I doubt this will appeal to children or those who do not enjoy breads with distinct texture. However in my gluten-eating days, I LOVED Ezekiel bread. I've always been a bit hippy dippy... and whole grain, sprouted Ezekiel bread was my favorite. I loved the dense, rich texture and the grainy goodness!

These two new gluten-free, vegan breads from Food for Life are wonderful. They are great toasted or just warmed in a pan or in the microwave.(I'm not sure I'd enjoy them straight from the package -- a bit dry for that).  I have enjoyed toasting two slices and loading them up with veggies and hummus, it makes a delicious sandwich. It's also great toasted and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon for an evening treat. And the cinnamon raisin variety makes a killer peanut butter & jelly sandwich!

Sprouted for Life: Original 3 Seed Gluten Free Bread

I think one reason I always enjoyed the Ezekiel bread is I felt good about eating it. I felt like I was feeding my body well and enjoying whole and nourishing foods. And that's what I'm enjoying again. Having the convenience of a packaged food, yet also feeling like it's healthy and nourishing my body.

This bread would be excellent for stuffing, for a vegan toast on Sunday mornings, for individual pizzas, etc... I'm going to be asking one of my local stores if they can carry this for me. I'd love to be able to purchase it on a regular basis.

Another nice thing about this loaf, it's a NORMAL sized loaf of bread. It's not tiny, and the slices are actually big enough for a sandwich. Win. Win!

Were you a fan of hearty whole grain breads like Ezekiel before you went gluten-free? Why did you enjoy them? I have a feeling you'd miss them a lot less with this bread in your freezer! 

GLG Disclosure: 
The product samples were sent to me by Food for Life to review on my blog if I CHOSE to do so. 
This is NOT a sponsored post and I did NOT receive monetary compensation. 
The opinions in this post are completely my own.
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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Year of Reading -- Books Read in February

The 2015 Reading Challenge. I'm starting now!

February has come and gone (where did it go?)...  and our book group's reading challenge for February was to read a book on the best seller list. My online book group chose to pick a book from the New York Times bestsellers list for February and many of use became so engrossed in the books that one book became three (or four, or more!)

The first book I chose for the month was The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. This was a mystery/suspense/thriller and I was completely taken in from the first page. I think I finished the book in 3-4 days, which is record time for me. The main character/narrator is Rachel... a beautifully sensitive, ironic, and deeply flawed (yet completely lovable) young lady. She rides the train every day to work and you learn about "stories" she makes up about people and places she sees along the way every day. 

I loved this aspect of the story so much, because it's something that I also do... but before long Rachel gets involved in a story about two of the people she sees and she gets wrapped into a mystery that she unwillingly becomes a part of. It's hard to say too much about this story without giving anything away, so I'll leave it up to you to read more. I will say, this was my absolute favorite book of the month and I'll be reading/listening to it again soon and I look forward to reading more books by Paula Hawkins! (The aud*ible version of the book with the three different narrators including Louise Brealey of "Sherlock" fame was one of the best narrations I've listened to in a LONG time... who needs a movie!) 

For another great review, check out the write up on NPR. As soon as I finished the book I couldn't help but make a date with my husband to watch 'Rear Window' which has similar thriller/suspense storytelling!

Gone Girl (Flynn novel).jpg

The second book I read was Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Several friends had read this book in the past year and they either loved it or hated it, especially the ending... so I was intrigued. Of all the books I read this month this was the one that "stuck" with me in terms of thinking about the overall themes and outcomes of the book. It was by far my LEAST favorite as far as story line and content... but it was a bewildering book in so many regards. If there is a book that has ever thrown me for a loop throughout the story, this one takes the cake. I was shocked, horrified, inspired, and awed. I don't know exactly how to categorize this book, but it definitely has major elements of suspense and mystery.

This book will truly leave you thinking. I think in some aspects I would coin it as a very brave book from the hands of the author. You will not leave this book liking the characters, truly enjoying the story, or learning/having any big moment of self-awareness or realization... what you will leave with is an utter sense of shock and bewilderment... and it will leave you thinking about people you know, about circumstances in life, and who knows what else... I imagine it will be very different for every reader. I recommend the book if you are okay with a lot of language, sexual scenes... however if are a victim of sexual violence or trauma, this book could may cause emotional triggers.

The third book I read was Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. This book was full of surprises. I wasn't really sure what to expect from the book since it was centered around parents of children that go to a small elementary/primary school in a small town in England. I don't have children, so I'm not involved in the parental politics of dealing with the local PTA, cliques, and mommy wars... so I wasn't even sure if I would enjoy this book. However, it was a really fun and surprising read. I enjoyed how the book was written, and the characters in this book are extremely likable and relate-able.

This book is again part mystery/part suspense (my personal favorite genre!). The main character Madeline was definitely a favorite of mine throughout the entire story. As a parent who tries desperately to fit in with the group of moms surrounding her, yet also trying to take new friends under her wing, she's a truly realistic and fun character with a great family. She's constantly dealing with her past as well as trying to shape her future as a wife and mother of a blended family and as a good and loyal friend to those around her. There are many challenges and and frustrations she faces throughout the book, especially when it comes to the mystery within the book. I can't really say much about the mystery without giving away plot lines, but as with many in this genre, someone dies... just this time... at a PTA meeting... you know, the regular type of setting!

The intertwined friendships of Madeline, Jane, and Celeste are so relate-able and their narration throughout the book is intriguing and continually makes you want to read more. I'd definitely like to read this book over again, because in some ways I went through it so quickly (because I kept wanting to find out what happened), I missed out on a lot of great details.


Big, Little, Lies was my 2nd favorite of the month after The Girl on the Train. I would highly recommend both of these books as unique mysteries, enjoyable dialog and writing, and great characters.

Gone Girl is in some ways much more literary than the other two books, but also a fascinating read and a great study of some aspects of human psychology and psychopathic tendencies.

Our book group's choice for the March theme is "a book you've been meaning to read" ... if you'd like to join our little group on facebook please shoot me an email (gingerlemongirl at gmail dot com) and I'll send you the link so you can ask to join. We'd love to have you!

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