Category: Shopping

Clothing: You Will Love This Beautiful, Modest, Feminine Clothing

I do not subscribe to the Bohemian lifestyle per say, but I do admit that the Boho clothing, as a whole, tends to fit in with what I love to wear: soft, feminine, flowing, romantic, and frequently modest.

Yes, I believe women should dress in a way that is lovely and modest. What that means may differ a bit from woman to woman. For me, it means I always wear skirts or dresses (and they are below the knees). I do not wear low cut tops or tight fitting clothing. If I am wearing something tight fitting, it is usually under a sheer top or under a cardigan. Layers can be quite lovely.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. 

Below are a couple of amazing outfits that I found on Target.com and would buy if I had the budget:

Women’s Ballet Tutu Skirt – Mossimo Supply Co.™ – Even adults like to play ballet!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Women’s Striped Maxi Skirt Green/Grey/Black Stripe – Merona™ – My maxi skirts are the foundation of my wardrobe!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Women’s Duster Kimono – Xhilaration™ (Juniors’) – This is about the Duster, not the jeans…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Women’s Scoop Neck 3/4 Ruffle Sleeve Blouse – Knox Rose – Pretty color

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Women’s Ruffle Top Green – Xhilaration™ – My favorite color!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Women’s Ruffle Front Knit Blouse with Gold Bar – August Moon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Women’s Floral Skirt Belted Sweetheart Maxi Dress – Lily Star – I would wear this with a shrug

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Women’s Cold-Shoulder Maxi Dress Black – Xhilaration – I am not sure if I consider bare shoulders modest enough, but this is really pretty!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clothing: Find Your New Favorite Boho Outfit – Feb

 

Boho Junior and Womens ClothingI love feminine, romantic clothing and this new “Boho” trend tends to have a lot of choices in that area. If you enjoy flowing, beautiful dresses and skirts and tops, you should check out my Top 10 list this month for my favorite Boho finds on Amazon and maybe you will find your new favorite outfit!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. 

Mixmax Women Flowy Sheer Crop Sleeves Loose Chiffon Kimono Cardigan Blouse Top

Mixmax Women’s Strappy Casual Loose Boho Chiffon Pocket Long Maxi Dress

Milumia Women’s Boho Split Tie-Waist Vintage Print Maxi Dress

Milumia Women’s Button Up Split Floral Print Flowy Party Maxi Dress

Anna-Kaci Peasant Maiden Boho Inspired Cap Sleeve Lace Trim Maxi Dress

Urban CoCo Women’s Half Sleeve High Low Loose Casual T-shirt Top Tee Dress

Lannaclothesdesign Women’s Long Maxi Rose Multi Color Skirts Boho Skirts

Sakkas Dina Relaxed Fit Sequin Tie Dye Embroidery Cap Sleeves Blouse / Top

 

On Trend Women’s Paris Bohemian 3/4 Sleeve Faux Wrap Long Maxi Resort Dress

Sakkas Bree Long Embroidered Cap Sleeve Marbled Dress

What is your favorite clothing style?

10 Favorite Boho Outfits

Helping Others: Gifts With A Cause

Many years ago, when I first became a Christian and started learning about the realities of the rest of the world, especially the realities of extreme poverty throughout the world, an idea came to my mind. What if we went into some villages in a country, say Kenya, and, along with telling them about the Lord, we gave them opportunity and invested in their community and businesses. We could do this by finding out what crafts and products they make and what kind of resources they have. We could then help them develop products to bring back and sell to us first worlders… and we would make sure they were paid fairly. The money they made and some of our residual income would then be invested back into their community.

Although I never did start the ministry, I am so happy today to find Gifts With A Cause and have a chance to share them. My goal is to bring Gifts With A Cause to all the mom blog readers, homeschoolers, and Christian groups I can find!

Here is a great infographic about what they do.

JourneyOfHope
World Vision’s Gifts With A Cause

Check out their products today or sign up to become an affiliate and share this business/ministry with your friends.

Disclosure: I am an affiliate of Gifts With A Cause. If you sign up to be an affiliate, please contact me.

Super Simple Menu Plan: One Week Of Meals For Less Than $100

Menu

Our goal for a family food budget is $450 per month. This means that we have $100 or less to shop on each week (since there is 4 ½ weeks to almost every month). We eat fresh, healthy, whole, homemade food, which means very few coupons are useful to us. So how do we do this?

The following is our menu for a week, which I plan Thursday to Wednesday, since Thursday is my usual shopping day:

Thursday –

Breakfast: homemade whole grain waffles with maple flavored agave syrup.

Snack: ½ orange

Lunch: tuna-fish sandwiches on homemade bread (with pickles)

Dinner: Black beans with shredded cheese and tortilla chips

Friday –

Breakfast: ½ banana, oatmeal with non-dairy milk and honey

Snack: store-bought cheesy crackers (with whole grains and real cheese)

Lunch: tuna-fish sandwiches on homemade bread (with pickles)

Dinner: top-sirloin steak, mashed potatoes and carrots, homemade bread, ice cream

Saturday –

Breakfast: grape juice, ½ banana, cold cereal (whole grain, low sugar), non-dairy milk

Snack: store-bought ginger snap cookies (natural, no artificial ingredients)

Lunch: top-sirloin steak, mashed potatoes and carrots, homemade bread

Dinner: mixed veggies and pirogies

Sunday –

Breakfast: oatmeal with berry mix, honey, non-dairy milk

Snack: ½ orange, ¼ protein bar

Lunch: mixed veggies and pirogies

Dinner: Black beans with shredded cheese, tortilla chips, salsa, Panda black licorice

Monday –

Breakfast: grape juice, ½ banana, cornmeal mush with honey and non-dairy milk

Snack: cheesy crackers and peanut butter (no salt or sugar added)

Lunch: veggie salad and tortilla chips

Dinner: whole grain pasta, marinara sauce with ground turkey sausage

Tuesday –

Breakfast: oatmeal with honey and non-dairy milk

Snack: ¼ orange, whole wheat crackers

Lunch: homemade artisan bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar dip, mixed veggies

Dinner: whole grain pasta, marinara sauce with ground turkey sausage

Wednesday –

Breakfast: cornmeal mush with honey and non-dairy milk

Snack:  gingersnap cookies and ice cream

Lunch: homemade artisan bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar dip, mixed veggies

Dinner: veggie stir-fry with rice noodles

If you would like to see any of the recipes, please post a request. I would love to hear your healthy, simple menus – post a link if you have one!

Blessings and healthy eating.

 
YWAM

Simple, Healthy, Cheap! A Healthy, Delicious Dessert for $.40 per Serving!

English: Coconut oil in solid state
English: Coconut oil in solid state (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Leave it to the Mennonites and Amish to have a repertoire of tasty, fairly healthy and very simple and inexpensive foods. Many of their cultural dishes are worth learning to make and then improving upon by substituting healthier ingredients.

This classic dessert is called: Shoo-fly Pie. It is especially good to make if you are wanting a sweet treat and are needing an iron boost. Using organic molasses in the dish provides 20 – 30% of your daily iron value, depending on how large of a piece you eat (1 Tbs of organic molasses contains approx. 15% of your daily iron value plus 730mg potassium).

Cost Per:

Family of 5 – $2.05

Serving – $.40

*prices are approximate and will vary by where one lives and other factors.

Shopping List:

Pie Shell

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour – Fresh ground flour from white wheat berries is best.

½ tsp salt – Sea salt.

¼ cup butter or coconut oil – Coconut oil is one of the healthiest oils available and if kept at less than 77 degrees, will be solid and act similar to butter in making the pie crust. Coconut oil can sometimes be found with other oils or in specialty and health food markets.

1/8 cup water

½ Tbs rice or apple cider vinegar – White vinegar is good for cleaning, but not so good for cooking. Find rice or apple cider vinegar near the white vinegar.

Filling

¾ cup organic molasses – Organic molasses can be found in specialty and health food markets or ordered online (try Vitacost ). Using regular molasses greatly reduces the nutritional content of the desert.

½ cup hot water

½ tsp baking soda – Baking soda is usually found with other baking products.

1 egg – Brown, free range eggs if you can.

¾ cup whole wheat flour – Fresh ground flour from white wheat berries is best.

½ cup cane sugar – Look for sugar in the raw, demerara, sucanat, or cane sugar. They can usually be found near white sugar. White, refined sugar is one of the least healthiest foods on the market and there are so many better options. You could also try making this pie with honey, but would need to cut back on the molasses and water by ¼ cup each.

¼ cup butter or coconut oil – Coconut oil is one of the healthiest oils available and if kept at less than 76 degrees, will be solid and act similar to butter in making the pie crust. Coconut oil can sometimes be found with other oils or in specialty and health food markets.

¼ tsp salt – Sea salt.

Instructions:

  1. Make the pie crust 1 hour before making the filling and baking the pie.
  2. Mix 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour with the ½ tsp of salt.
  3. Measure the ¼ cup butter or coconut oil into a bowl and mix it together with your hands. It should seem like crumbs when you are done, although the coconut oil variation may be a little smoother, depending on how warm the room and your hands are.
  4. Fill a liquid measuring cup with 1/8 cup water, add the ½ Tbs vinegar to it and stir. Then add this liquid combination to the flour and butter / oil mixture. Mix with a spoon or your hands and form into a ball.
  5. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  6. After 1 hour, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  7. Make the bottom layer of the pie: measure ¾ cup molasses and pour into a large bowl, measure ½ cup hot water into the bowl, and then stir in ½ tsp baking soda. Be sure you have a large bowl, as the baking soda will cause the whole bowl of molasses and water to foam up quite a bit. Fun to watch, not fun to clean up if using too small a bowl.
  8. Beat the egg in a small bowl, then beat or whisk it into the molasses mixture.
  9. For the top layer of the pie: measure ¾ cup flour and pour into a medium bowl, measure ½ cup cane sugar and pour into the bowl, then mix in the butter or coconut oil with hands. It should seem like crumbs when mixed.
  10. Bring out the pie crust dough ball from the refrigerator.
  11. Press or roll it out flat between two sheets of wax or parchment paper and put it into a 9 inch pie pan.
  12. Pour the molasses mixture into the pie pan on top of the crust.
  13. Gently crumble the topping layer over the molasses mixture in the pie pan. Don’t press it down / don’t press on it.
  14. Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees, then drop to 350 degrees and cook for another 30 to 40 minutes. Knife test the pie at 30 minutes to see if set (knife should come out clean, not wet).

Do you like what you see here? Did you try the recipe? Would you like more healthy, simple and cheap recipes for your family?

My eBook: Simple, Healthy, Cheap! A Simple Life’s Guide To Home Economics: Beginning Cooking, will be available in a few weeks. This recipe is from the Intermediate Cooking book, which will follow it up a few months later.

Want a healthy cookbook now? I have found a great eBook, Eat Good For Life that is worth a try for only $4.95!

Saving 101: Save On Food Costs

Saving 101 Food Costs

We continue our series on ways to save money by focusing on food costs this week.

Eat In More, Eat Out Less

Savings: $10’s to 100’s

It is a simple fact that it costs a lot less to make something yourself rather than eat it out. Even the bulk food purchases that a restaurant may make, does not offset the cost of running a restaurant (employees, building, overhead, etc…). It also doesn’t offset their profit. If you are used to the rich, flavorful and even exotic foods from eating out, it may be hard to make the change and eat in. If the budget still allows, you can make the change gradually vs. cutting yourself off completely. I will admit, this was a hard one for me. I have learned over the years how to make a lot of ethnic foods, but there are some I can not master. 

Example 1: A young couple with 2 incomes used to eat out 2 or 3 times a week. They were spending about $100 a week this way (about $400 per month). When one of the their schedules were reduced to ½ time, they cut back to eating out 1 day a week. This way, they were only spending about $25 to $40 a week, cutting the budget by more than half.

Example 2: A couple starting a family reduces down to the husband as the sole provider for the family. They were eating out about 1 time a week (about $120 per month) and they cut back to eating out once per month (about $30 per month). 

Compare Store Prices

Savings: $10’s to $100’s

It is pretty surprising how much prices can vary on an item between stores. Even in your favorite discount or bulk store, the price for certain items may not be the best or lowest. Keeping track of the prices of items only takes a couple of minutes after every shop. Then, every time you shop, only purchase the items from the store you are at that has the best price for the item.

Example: Here is a spreadsheet of some items, with prices tracked per store:

  Costco   WalMart   WinCo  
Alfalfa Sprouts            
Alfredo Sauce Mix            
Apples – Fuji 9.29 for 5.5 lb

$1.69

    1.28 per lb

$1.28

Apples – Gala     3.22 for 3 lb

$1.07

4.98 for 5 lb

$1.00

Apples – Pink Lady         .98 per lb

$0.98

Avacado     .78 each

$0.78

.88 each

$0.88

Baby Wipes 15.49 for 704 wipes

$0.02

7.97 for 288 wipes

$0.03

   
Baking Powder – No aluminum         2.51 for 10 oz

$0.25

Baking Soda         1.87 for 4 lb

$0.47

Bananas 1.39 per 4 lb

$0.35

.48 per lb

$0.48

.48 per lb

$0.48

Bean Sprouts         .98 for 8 oz, lb

$1.96

Better Than Bouillon         2.88 per jar

$2.88

Blueberries            
Bread – Bagels 4.49 for 12 bagels

$0.37

2.00 for 6

$0.33

3.48 for 12 bagels

$0.29

Bread – Buns     1.14 for 8 buns

$0.14

.87 for 8 buns

$0.11

Bread – Loaf – No Corn Syrup 3.89 for 2 loaves

$1.95

2.50 per loaf

$2.50

2.28 per loaf

$2.28

Bread – Puglaese 4.49 for 2 loaves

$2.25

    1.68 per loaf

$1.68

Bread – Sandwich Rolls 1.89 for 36 oz, lb

$0.84

       
Broccoli            
Butter 7.69 for 6 lb

$1.28

1.98 for 1 lb

$1.98

1.66 for 1 lb

$1.66

So, when you go to Costco, only get baby wipes, bananas, loaf bread and butter. At WinCo, get your apples, bagels, and buns. You don’t have to go to multiple store in one week if you don’t have the time, just stock up on a couple of weeks or a month supply at the one store each week. Many things can be frozen for weeks at a time.

NOTE: I originally wrote this for my old blog 4 years ago. I don’t maintain this list anymore as it is mainly in my head. Note that some of the prices aren’t available much anymore. 

What is your best way to save on food costs?


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Saving Money 101: Saving By Moving

Saving 101 Save By Moving

If you are just starting out on how to simplify your life and save money, or even if you have been living a frugal life for awhile, the tips in the Saving 101 series are foundational tips meant to help you think about how to save money, and give practical examples, in each area of life.

#1 – Move to a Less Expensive Area – Housing

Savings: $100’s to 1000’s

By moving just 30 to 60 miles / minutes from a major city, one may be able to save $100’s of dollars a month for rent or $1000’s of dollars off of the price for a house.

Example 1: A family moved from an upscale suburb of a major city to a lower scale suburb of the same city, about 30 minutes further from the city. The rent there is $300 a month less on average. The commute cost increase was $60 to $80 per month

Example 2: Another family moved from a very large metropolitan area to a smaller, but still metro area. The commute is about the same (cost wise) and the wage is about the same. However, a comparative house is about $300,000 less in the smaller metro area. This is our example from moving from Seattle to Boise. You can purchase a good house in Boise suburbs for $100,00 / $150,000. Houses in Seattle don’t come under $300,000.

#2 – Move to a Less Expensive Area – Utilities

Savings: $10’s

One lessor know way to save money in utilities is to simply move to a sub-burb from a major city or to move to a less expensive state. There are maps available (just Google or Bing) that show the average cost of utilities by major metropolitan areas.

Example 1: The family that moved from the upscale suburb to the lower-scale suburb saw about a 50% decrease in Water, Sewer, and Garbage. They also saw about a 25% decrease in Power & Heating.

#3 – Move to a Less Expensive Area – Food, Gas, Necessities

Savings: $100’s

Generally, the cost of food, gas and necessities goes down as one moves farther from the city centers and moves more into the rural parts of the country. However, savings can also be achieved, for those who want to stay in the major cities, by making planned day trips to the further out areas and stocking up at the markets in the rural areas. Also, there are many things that may also be purchased online for less than found in the stores in the cities.

Example 1: While still living in a major city on the coast, plan a day trip to do the bulk of the shopping for the month. This could include driving two hours to the local farming community to pick up meat, grains, produce, honey, etc… then driving back towards town 1 hour and stopping at a Costco, Walmart, Discount Grocery Stores, etc… for the needed non-perishable items for the month.

Have you ever moved to save money? Share your story with us!

Subscribe to: A Simple Life Too (see the bar at the top or on the right) to get the next installment in the Saving 101 series.


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Where Does My Stuff Come From: GMO Food

What are you feeding your children?
What are you feeding your children?

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote that we were educating our family about where our stuff comes from, starting with our food.

We were learning that there are “strange” ingredients in many processed foods. Some of these ingredients you can learn about just by reading the labels and Googling what they are on the internet. Others you would not know about unless you ask someone.

So I started an endeavor to ask manufacturers what is in my food. Here are my results so far.

 

 

 

GMO Cut Corn

Hy-Top:

I had a package of Hy-Top corn in my freezer. Hy-Top and the Federated Group provide generic store-brand foods for WinCo, Lowes, and other stores.

Find stores here: http://www.hy-top.com/pages/where_to_buy/99.php

My request to them was a simple note:

“I was wondering if any of the Hy-Top Frozen Corn products were GMO Corn?

Their response was also simple:

Dear April, The Hy Top Frozen Cut Corn is not GMO free. Sincerely, Name Withheld, Federated Group, Consumer Concerns

After taking the photo, the corn went into the garbage. Although I will still shop at WinCo as they are my primary store for many reasons, I will not be purchasing their generic Hy-Top products anymore.

Tastes good, but not worth the risk.

General Mills:

We had a coupon for $1.00 off of General Mills cereals, and our little ones really like the Os. But, since I am committed to learning more about our food, I sent a note to GM that was similar to the one to Hy-Top.

Their response was a lengthy one:

Thank you for recent inquiry regarding General Mills′ position on the use of ingredients that have been modified through biotechnology.

 First and foremost, all food must be safe. It is not only the law, but also an issue of ultimate importance to all food manufacturers. Second, the Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency have all concluded that food using ingredients from biotechnologically-improved crops is completely safe and no different in any meaningful way from other food. For that reason, the FDA does not require special labeling for it. However, if food has been significantly altered in composition or nutrient content, or if biotechnology introduces allergens into food, special labeling is required. None of our products requires special labeling. Accordingly, we do not test them for the presence of this material.

Because of the growing use of biotechnology by farmers and the way that grain gets commingled in storage and shipment, it′s certainly possible that some of our products may contain ingredients that have been improved through biotechnology. We can assure you, though, that every major regulatory agency, as well as independent scientific groups like the American Medical Association, has concluded that these ingredients are safe. For more information, you may wish to visit The Alliance for Better Foods website at www.betterfoods.org.

 General Mills also believes in providing consumers with a variety of food options. Toward that end, we do offer organic products that, by definition, do not use ingredients that have been improved through biotechnology. Please look for organic Gold Medal flour and a wide range of products from our Cascadian Farm and Muir Glen brands. To get more information about our organic products, please visit us at www.smallplanetfoods.com.

 Thank you again for taking the time to contact us. Sincerely, Name Withheld, Consumer Services

They obviously believe what they are saying.

I do not.

Understand that I don’t think that a few bits of GMO food will kill us, but I do believe that there could be issues with GMO food with long-term use. So, the Cheerios did not go into the garbage and we will eat them up, but we won’t be purchasing any GM products in the future.

So what are you thoughts on GMO foods? Have you been eating something you like, only to discover that an ingredient could be bad for your health with long-term exposure (or even short-term)?

Want to know what foods don’t have GMO without a lengthy email campaign? Here is a GMO shopping guide from Dr. Mercola: http://gmo.mercola.com/sites/gmo/shopping-guide.aspx

I plan on continuing this series with other foods that make their way into our home, but the goal is to avoid as many foods with unnatural ingredients as possible. I mostly make that happen by cooking 90% of our foods from scratch. Come back soon for a Super Simple Recipe made from all natural ingredients.

Where Does My Stuff Come From: Food

So you have signed up for a simpler life.

You have your chickens, your garden, your canning equipment and you are ready to go!

And then you realize that this is a LOT of work and you can’t possibly feed yourself and your family on just the food you are growing and raising, at least not yet.

Or maybe your idea of a simple life is purchasing all of your food pre-made and prepackaged.

Either way, you have to go to the market.

You Want Real Food

As you are standing in the market, you know that you want real, fresh food. Maybe you want some convenience foods too, but you want them to be natural, right?

So you start to read the labels of containers of things that say they are natural, and you realize that there are things in here that you weren’t aware grew in nature.

Or maybe you aren’t aware of what is in the food because it is cleverly labeled? I know that I fell for it…

The Article You Don’t Want To Read

My husband shared this link with me the other day. It is just a small list of “Natural Cereals That Aren’t.”

http://eatthis.menshealth.com/slideshow/9-natural-cereals-arent#sharetagsfocus

I read this and wished I hadn’t. I don’t always have time to make homeade granola (seriously) and have opted to purchased some of these cereals on this list in the past.

And then the idea came to me – why don’t I start a multi-part series on my blog about where our stuff comes from. Not just food, but everything – our clothing, our furniture, our electronics. What is in them, who made them, and are they good for us?

My next blog post on this topic will be the results of asking a couple of companies (for which I currently have a container of a food item that they produce) if their food contains any GMO ingredients or other additives that aren’t made from truly natural food.

V8CYEBMDUTTJ
April Schroader is a freelance writer and blogger. She is available to guest post on your blog, write a quality article for your magazine, help with a non-fiction book project, or write quality content for your website. To contact her, visit her portfolio and click on the Hire Me link.

Is “Shop Till You Drop” a Good Thing?

Is_Shop_Drop_Good

So what are the catch phrases these days?

Shop till you drop!

Become a Fashionista!

Do it for yourself because no one else will!

Work hard, play hard!

What is the media trying to tell us and is it a good thing?

 The Reality for Most People

Some statistics say that the average family spends about $1700 a year on clothing, with women spending about $600 of that amount (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Please understand that I don’t decry this amount. But I ask, do we really need to spend even that much per year? And does anyone really need to spend more?

Most of the families that I know now spend a lot less. Many have little or no budget, maybe $200 a year.

That might be hard for you to hear. That might even seem a bit crazy to you.

But what is even crazier is that these families still have plenty of clothing and they are, for the most part, quite content with what they have.

A Full Closet With a $200 Clothing Budget

When my husband and I committed ourselves to Jesus, we walked away from my salary to have children and gave up many things. This included a clothing budget. For three years, our clothing budget was around $200, and 90% of that went towards my husband’s clothing since he was working out of the home.

That is correct – mom, one girl and then a second girl, had a full wardrobe with $20 a year. And no, we did not make our own clothing. God, as He promised, provided us with clothing.

We did not ask anyone for clothing, we only prayed for it. And it came! Friends and family would come to us with bags and boxes over those three years, and my girls had so many dresses that we ended up passing some on to others. We also have a neat Grandma who has given myself and the girls a few new things, which is always fun and a true blessing to us.

And me? Again, God provided. People would say, hey, I got this skirt but it is too long for me, do you think you would like it? And it would not only be something that I liked, but it would match a top I already had! Clothing even came from distant family members that had no idea of our situation.

Just a Little Bit More Now

Although I was happy to make do with what I had, I did get to spend $200 this year on clothing for myself. It was like WOW, I get to spend that much!!! I used to be so ungrateful for what I had so many years ago.

Now I can’t even imagine needing that much over the next few years. I am blessed to have what I have.

 What is your clothing budget?

What if you “fasted” from purchasing clothing for a year, do you think you would appreciate what you have more?

 How do you feel about how the media portrays woman’s shopping habits?