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Benefits of Having a Side Gig for Extra Money

Posted by Angela Diaz on May 21, 2016 at 2:10 PM Comments comments (0)

     When it comes to being frugal and making my dollar stretch, I'm an expert.  Sometimes though, it's nice to have a few extra bucks for a number of reasons.  For me those reasons are as follows:

1. More money to apply towards my student loan debt (my goal is to have my student loans paid off by January 2017)

2. More money to put into emergency savings (for real emergencies, not fashion sale emergencies)

3. Summer trips or weekend family fun activities (frugal trips such as discount movies, local pool, rollerskating rink, etc)

4. Things I want, but don't really need (my wallet's zipper is broken. My stuff still stays in my wallet, but I'd like a new one)

5. Grocery budget cushion (I do sometimes go over my grocery budget by a few bucks)

     Every one has different priorities.  For some, they'd like to save for a large purchase such as a car, house, boat, engagement ring, etc.  It's good to have a side gig to help you reach your goals faster, or just to have a few extra bucks to have fun with that won't come out of your original budget.  Don't get me wrong, being frugal does not mean you can't have fun, but it's nice to splurge every once in a while. For example, my daughter passed her medical assistant certification test last week and I was able to treat her out to lunch to celebrate. She'd been wanting to go to this specific restaurant for a long time, so I took this opportunity to take her.  The money I used for the lunch came from my side gig money and I wasn't worried about this affecting my budget at all. 

     So what is a side gig? It's anything you do on the side (apart from your full-time job) to get more money.  There are so many ways to make extra money and it's so easy to find a side gig.  I have three now and I found two of them within a week browsing through Craigslist.  Craigslist is an amazing place to look for side gigs.  I found all three of my side gigs from Craigslist.  Here they are: 

1. Baby-sit guinea pigs for a pilot.  I found this gig on Craigslist while I was browsing the pets section looking for guinea pig bedding, hay, or food.  I thought this guy couldn't be serious when he posted he'd pay $8/day for someone to watch his guinea pigs while he traveled.  Long story short, I've been baby-sitting these guinea pigs for a few years now and since he does travel about 95% of the time, the money adds up quickly and I love having these critters at home.  I don't have to leave my house for this amazing side gig. I mostly use this money for my student loans.

2. Cleaning crew.  I found this ad on Craigslist under part time jobs.  All I do is clean a business office for two hours on Saturday and two hours on Sunday.  The job is super easy and it's super flexible.  I just have to show up anytime after 12:00 noon  (no matter how late at night), do my cleaning and leave. I like this gig because I can do what I need to do on the weekends and not be tied down to a start time.  I can take a day trip to the beach, drop the kids off at home, and then go clean for two hours. It's not bad at all. It doesn't pay much, but I get paid every two weeks and I can tell ya, for being a super easy and flexible job, it's nice to have that extra little check show up in my mailbox.  I've used that check for lunch with my daughter, pizza and a Redbox movie night, trip to our favorite ice-cream shop, tickets at the discount movie theater, car wash, etc.

3.  Ghost Tour Guide.  I found this side gig on Craigslist under the Gigs section.  This one is interesting because I can tell them my availability for the month so they won't schedule me for tours on the days I can't do them. A tour is only an hour and a half long (from 8-9:30 pm) and it pays pretty decent.  This is an interesting topic of conversation when I tell people I do ghost tours. I like this job because it fits my schedule and it's really fun.  I have enough time after work to cook dinner, eat, relax for a little bit, then go do a tour.  I also love interacting with tourists who are just there to have a good time and listen to stories.  I also learned a lot about the history of our town and am eager to share it with visitors. I use this money for our summer trips and also for paying off my student loans.

     One other gig I do from time to time is cleaning for my mom. She owns a cleaning business and when she goes on vacation, I do her cleaning for her and she pays me.  It's nice because the cleaning is super easy (mostly medical offices) and it's only for a week usually. 

     As you can see, there are plenty of opportunities for making a few extra bucks.  It can be baby-sitting, house cleaning, helping a disabled or elderly person run errands, pet-sitting, house-sitting, etc. I would not recommend getting a typical part-time job.  If you are a busy person and have a full-time job, I wouldn't necessarily go for part-time jobs.  These are usually low-paying jobs in restaurants or stores and they usually schedule you for more hours than you'd like to work. They're not really enjoyable or flexible jobs, and you're more likely to feel stressed out by them rather than feeling like they're contributing positively to your life.  I've tried a part time job three different times and they all had the same outcome.  I felt burnt out, stressed, underpaid, and overwhelmed.  I currently have a full-time job and three side gigs, along with a sporadic side gig that happens once or twice a year and I do not feel any of those negative things.  These gigs are enjoyable and not a huge time contribution on my part.  In a full week, across my three side gigs, I might work 9 hours, that's it.  Four hours on the weekends cleaning, 4 1/2 hours that week for tours (3 tours a week on average), and about a half hour taking care of the guinea pigs (Cleaning their cage once a week. My youngest daughter usually feeds and waters them). 

     Everyone can benefit from a side gig no matter how small it is.  It's important to find one that is flexible with your work schedule and family schedule, one that is enjoyable, and one that isn't a huge time drain.  Again, Craigslit is chocked full of gigs. Everything from driving someone to work every day for $10/day, to baby, pet, house-sitting, to reading to a blind person every Saturday afternoon.  It's all there. I even saw someone post that they'd pay someone to wash their dishes every day because they hate it so much.

     I cannot stress enough the importance of being safe when responding to a Craigslist Ad!!!  Please, please, please do your research.  If this is for a company, look it up and see if it's legit.  Always meet someone for the first time in a well-lit public place.  Talk to someone over the phone first before meeting them in a public place.  Always let someone know where you are going and if it's a non-traditional interview, bring someone along.  When I responded about the guinea pig sitting ad, I e-mailed the owner.  After a few e-mails, I spoke to him on the phone a few times.  We then met in person at a pet store during day light hours.  The first few times he dropped the guinea pigs off to me, we met at the pet store. After about a year, I was more comfortable with him and I gave him my address to drop them off at my house.  I looked up the ghost tour company and spoke to a woman on the phone about the job before we met in a well-lit public place. Same with the cleaning company.  I once responded to an ad someone posted who wanted help with yard work on the weekends.  It seemed legit, but when I spoke to the person on the phone, I immediately felt uncomfortable.  I paid attention to that sixth sense, that instinct that something's weird.  I did not proceed with meeting up with this person for the gig. 

     I hope this helps you open your mind to explore some non-traditional money-making options.  You can make money using your talents. You can play your instrument downtown for a few bucks now and then.  You can sell your crafts on Etsy.  You can groom horses and muck stalls on the weekends.  Also look at your hobbies and interests as a way to make money and have fun.  If you like doing magic tricks, post your skills on Craigslist for parties.  If you like doing hair and make-up, you can do that for weddings and special events. If you love animals, you can offer to walk dogs or pet-sit.  You never know, some of these fun side-gigs can open up doors of opportunity for other things.


Five Ways to Get Free Haircuts

Posted by Angela Diaz on April 16, 2016 at 2:20 PM Comments comments (0)

     They say there is more than one way to skin a cat (PETA don't send me hate-mail, it's just a saying).  There is also more than one way to get a free haircut.  I'll name a few and anyone can feel free to post any of your own ideas.  

1. Let your family cut your hair.  Look, for years and years I let my kids, yes, my kids, cut my hair.  Lucky for me I have curly hair so if the bottoms weren't even, it didn't matter a whole lot.  At first I sat on a chair with wet hair while they trimmed the ends with some hair scissors that I probably bought for less than ten bucks about 5 years ago.  As my hair grew, I had to stand up so they could trim it.  Next, I had to stand on a small step-stool, then I was standing on a chair to keep my hair eye-level and make cutting the ends easier.  While my coworkers were spending 20 bucks or more every other month getting their trim, I was getting mine done at home for free.  No appointments, no driving to the salon, no smelling gross chemical salony smells, no paying for the cut, no tipping the hair dresser.  WIN!!!

2. Barter for a free cut.  Do you have friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, or acquaintances that have barber or hairdressing skills? Maybe you can barter.  My friend went to beauty school and she'd be willing to trade a night of baby-sitting for a free haircut.  I had a male friend that owned his own clippers and so I cooked him dinner and helped him with errands in exchange for cutting my son's hair.  If you know of someone, it never hurts to ask.  Just make sure it's a good exchange. Don't offer to to knit them a sweater in exchange for a cut or anything crazy like that.  Make sure it's fair and doesn't take too much of your time. You could also barter items like offer to make them a home-made peach pie, or some jars of your home-canned spaghetti sauce. 

3. Cut your hair with the vacuum.  That sounds so funny even while I wrote it! LOL!  What I mean is there is a contraption that you can hook up to your home vacuum cleaner and it will cut your hair! Anyone who grew up in the eighties might remember the Flowbee.  You can still buy one of them!  You basically turn the vacuum on, put your hair in the contraption and once it gets to the cutting area, it cuts your hair and sucks the cut strands into your vacuum bag or container.  I've never tried this since I don't own a vacuum, but I'd seriously love to hear about anyone who has tried this! This sounds awesome. Free Haircut and No Mess to sweep up.  Win-Win!

4. Ask a salon or barber shop for a free cut.  Sounds crazy, but this goes along bartering.  See if there's some chores you can do to earn a hair cut.  A frugal friend of mine cleans the barber shop's windows inside and out every week and gets a free hair cut for it.  He makes sure he does a good job, does the job when he says he's going to do it, and is very professional about it. He doesn't show up in ripped up shorts and filthy shirts when he's working on those windows. He wants to make sure the barber shop feels good and comfortable with the transaction and that he's a welcoming person to the customers.  It's now been three years and his deal with this barber shop is still going strong. Even when he was deciding to grow his hair long, he still showed up and made sure those windows were squeaky clean.  

5. Donate your hair to Locks of Love.  I did this recently.  Every 7 years or so my hair is long enough to donate to Locks of Love.  I think you need at least 12 inches of unbleached, undyed, and unprocessed hair.  Find a salon in your area that participates in the Locks of Love program and offers free cuts for those that donate. The only time I get fancy layers in my hair is when I get that free hair cut.  The process is easy. Here's me before they cut:

First they braid your hair, putting a rubber band at the top and bottom of the braid. Then they simply cut the entire braid off: 

Then they cut your hair according to the style you want and that's it! They send off your lovely locks to the Locks of Love charity to be made into wigs for people who've lost their hair due to illness.  Free haircut and benefiting a charity. Win-Win!


     I'm sure there are more ways than this to get free haircuts and keep some money in your pocket.  I'd love to hear more ideas and what others are doing to reduce their beauty costs.  

10 Ways/Resources to Learn New Things

Posted by Angela Diaz on April 9, 2016 at 1:55 PM Comments comments (0)

     I'd like to write breifly about learning.  Learning new skills, hobbies, new ways to do things, etc.   Learning should be neverending for us.  The world is so big and there are so many things to learn and do.  Nowadays one doesn't have to commit to going  back to school to learn things.   It's easy to acquire new skills outside of the structure of a classroom.  I am always learning and researching about any new thing that interests me and I pay little to nothing for the education/information/skills I gather in the process.  Recently I took to knitting.  I don't have close family or friends that knit.  I have always wanted to learn to knit beautiful sweaters. I've crocheted since I was a child in elementary school, but some items just look more professional when they're knitted (at least in my mind).  Since my adventures in knitting are very recent, I will use knitting as an example of how I've used various resources to acquire this skill, but these resources can be used for anything from carpentry, learning new languages, learning new instruments, cooking, etc. 

1. Library- FREE- The library is a valuable resource to learning.  I've borrowed books and DVDs on the topic of knitting and used their computers and free internet to look up more information.

2. YouTube-FREE-  YouTube is excellent.  Type in anything you want to learn and you have probably hundreds of results, enough to keep you busy for a very long time.  There are so many How-To videos.  I even used YouTube searches when I struggled with something specific. For example, I didn't know how to hold my string and control tension, so I looked that up specifically.  I didn't know how to put my stitches on a holder, so I looked that up when I was stuck on a project. 

3. Meetups/Groups-FREE (depending on the group)- I joined a free knitting group that meets the first Saturday of every month and is located in a local retirement community.  The schedule works perfectly with mine and not only am I surrounded by women who have been knitting for decades, they even throw in free coffee, tea, and snacks!  The group is open for all ages and I bring my young daughter who recently learned to crochet.  We bring the projects we are working on and share ideas, projects, patterns, and knowledge.  There is also a free knitting group/class that meets every Monday evening in my local library.  When I'm stuck on a project, I don't have to wait a month or 3 weeks until my monthly group meets, I can go on Monday evening and get the help I need, or just for a relaxing evening of knitting and socializing.

4. Workshops- FREE or Registration Fee-  Look in your local Craigslist, newspaper, craft shop, etc to look for classes or workshops that are being offered in your area.

5.  Craftstores-FREE or Cost of Purchases- This pertains to learning new crafts.  Go to a place that specializes in what you are interested in learning.  If it's gardening, hang out in a garden nursery.  Talk to the employees or the customers that look like they know their stuff.  I have gotten into great conversations with people in these places. If I see an old lady near the knitting needles aisle, you bet I'm going to talk to her!

6. People/Mentors-FREE-  Look for people who are skilled at what you want to learn.  I found a coworker that knows how to knit and she helps. If you want to learn Spanish, find someone whose first language was Spanish and hang out with them, practice with them, and maybe see if they can mentor you.

7. Trial and Error- FREE (Sometimes)- You can't forget to actually practice what you want to learn.  Want to learn to play the guitar, try, fail, try and fail again.  Carpentry? Try. Make some crooked cabinets. Try again and hope they don't fall off the walls this time.  Nothing beats the process of hands on learning. 

8. Writing-FREE- Doesn't make much sense now, but write about your new interest or passion.  Keep a log of your progress.  Read what others have written on this topic. Take Notes.  Writing is important because you have a better chance of retaining what  you've learned if you write it down.

9. Blogs-FREE- Subscribe to blogs and read what the professionals are writing.  Blogs are great because they are not just How-To sites.  They are personal.  Bloggers share their struggles, their passion, their projects, new things they've learned, etc.  You really feel like you have a comrade in this field.

10.  Books and Magazine Subscription-Cost- This may seem the same as using the library, but there is a slight difference in how we use our own books, isn't there? If you borrow a library book multiple times and it is a great reference tool that you can use over and over again, buy it. Buy it used if you can (that's the frugalness in me talking).  Highlight important areas of the book, make notes in the margins, put sticky notes or tabs so that you can quickly get to the pages of importance.  Make that book yours. Same with magazines. Rip out the article you want to keep and add it to your notebook.  Make notes and mark pages.  Make it worth the subscription cost.

     I am daily researching new ideas, new skills, new interests. Whether it's traveling, brushing up on a language, learning a new craft, or even just learning how to unclog my bathroom sink.   I never want to stop learning and growing.  I am a better person every day and every year as I learn and grow and become a better, wiser, more interesting, and more skilled person than I was a year ago. 

I Learned How to Make and Can Jam!

Posted by Angela Diaz on July 25, 2015 at 12:20 AM Comments comments (0)

     I learned how to make and can jam this past Wednesday.  Supposedly one of the first things people learn how to make and can, but I never learned.  My reason for this delay is because I don't eat jams, jellies, preserves, or marmalades.  I never have. I was the one kid that hated PB&J sandwiches.  I wouldn't eat a jelly filled donut.  I would shudder at the thought of jelly on my toast. Blech! So why on earth did I use a whole vacation day to do this? Here's why:

1. My kids actually like the stuff. So it's not like I'm making something that will go to waste or have to be given away. They'll eat this and I would be saving money because I currently buy this weird substance at grocery stores.

2. Seems like a good and practical way to use up and preserve in season fruits.  Canning peach halves and freezing berries for smoothies gets old and tired after a while.

3. I want to broaden my canning skills.  This is a new skill requiring new ingredients (pectin).

4. I figured this might turn out like applesauce. Not literally, but it might turn out to be the same as my apple sauce canning experiment. I don't generally eat (or buy) applesauce.  It's a jar of weird mush. I just don't like it much. I don't detest it like jelly and jam, but I don't prefer it.  I made a few dozen jars of apple sauce (quite by accident actually. I was trying to make apple juice).  Anyways, this apple sauce had to be the most amazing apple sauce I had ever tasted. The texture was perfect, the sweetness was perfect, and I knew exactly what was in it. I didn't think that we would eat all those jars, and so gave about a dozen of them away.  Lo and behold, I ran out of apple sauce. We scarfed them all down within a few short months. I most definitely will be making a few dozen jars again this year (but not giving any of them away). So what's to say that I wouldn't like jam if I made it myself? It's worth a shot, eh?

    So here's what I did. On Tuesday night I went to a local farmer's flea market and purchased a bunch of fruits (and some veggies like green beans for canning as well since they're in season).  I took a personal day on Wednesday to make sure I could focus and concentrate my efforts to this new experiment.  I watched You Tube videos Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. Pulled out my Ball Book of Canning along with some other canning books that I borrowed from the library to compare recipes and whatnot.  I found the easiest method for me and went to work.

     The result? I canned up 24 half-pint jars of different jams. I made red raspberry jam, blueberry jam, strawberry jam, and cherry jam.  Wow.  I've never had that many jars of jam in my house at once!  I was so proud of how beautiful my jars looked that I cleared out a whole shelf in my cabinet just for these lovely jars.  I figured these should last about a year, no?  Well, that's what I thought until my 8-year old daughter asked me to open a strawberry jam jar for her.  I obliged of course, being very proud of myself for making this and someone actually requesting it.  I opened it up for her and went back to cleaning up the kitchen.  When I peaked in on her in the living room a short time later, what I saw made the blood drain out of my face.  She was sitting in the couch holding an EMPTY strawberry jam jar. She ate the whole thing in one sitting! Right out of the jar! With a spoon! I slaved for hours all day in the kitchen making what I thought was one year's worth of jam, when in actuality I only made 24 days' worth of jam for my 8-year old!  Well, needless to say, the cabinet I cleared off for jams is the highest cabinet in the kitchen. If she doesn't know they're there, I can make them last for a year. I'll just take down one jar every two weeks (and supervise the usage of that jar's contents, lol).

     I'd also like to note that during the canning process, I had to taste test the batches I was working on and to my surprise, I very much enjoyed them.  Crushed fruit, sugar, and a few tablespoons of pectin.  I controlled how much sugar I added (I used the no sugar needed, or low sugar pectin).  I went this route because all other recipes used way too much sugar (5 cups of crushed fruit to 7 cups of sugar?! WTF!?)  My ratio was about 3 cups of crushed fruit to 3/4 cup of sugar. I can see me enjoying these jams a little bit.  I won't eat a whole jar in one sitting and I probably won't spread it on every piece of cracker or toast that I find, but I will have some from time to time.  Taste the fruit of my labors.

Frugal Summer Tips

Posted by Angela Diaz on July 13, 2015 at 10:15 PM Comments comments (0)

     I learned something this summer. Kids don't need you to spend loads of money to have fun.  They just want to do something. Bonus points if it's outside. If I keep them away from money suckers (festivals, malls, amusement parks, etc) and keep them busy with other things, they won't even notice. Here are some things we've been doing on our weekends that are either free, or pretty cheap.  

1. Cray fishing at the local county park.  It's a 10 minute drive (if even that). Bonus points if we ride our bikes there. Seriously, we were there two hours last time when I finally talked the kids into going home. All we had was an old bucket (It was an old compound bucket from some home repairs), and gloves (my gardening gloves to be exact).  They had so much fun wading in the water and putting their caught crayfish in the bucket.


2. Swimming Pool.  I bought a family pass to the county pool (same park that has a river and we crayfish in).  Having a pool pass is awesome because not only does it save us money, but it saves me from having to spend the entire day at the pool. We sometimes go there for only an hour or two to swim, play and cool off and then we're gone.  We don't have to pack huge coolers full of food and make a big day of it. We went to the pool after church on Sunday and only took one water bottle, three bananas, and a bag of pretzels.  

3. Library.  This is always at the top of my list.  We usually go on Saturday early afternoons.  We all pick some movies to borrow for the weekend. My son plays computer games and my daughter plays with the Legos.  I peruse books and magazines and catch up on some blogs.

4. Ice Cream Shop. We walk or ride our bikes to our favorite ice-cream shop. It takes about 30 minutes walking to get there, so that's usually the best way to go. It becomes more of an event when it takes us longer to get there. Like we're on some kind of ice-cream trek. 

5. Camping. This is cheap because we already have all our camping gear and we like to camp at a state park about one hour away.  We usually only camp for two nights (Friday through Sunday).  Tent camp sites are cheap per night and all I have to spend money on is food for the weekend. 

6. Fishing.  There are a few spots very close by that are great fishing spots.  All I have to buy is worms. Bonus frugal points if we dig them up ourselves. Bleh!

7. Bike Rides.  My 10 and 7 year old ride bikes very well.  We all take out our bikes and I let one of them lead and we follow. Where they go doesn't matter. Where we end up doesn't matter. It doesn't matter that they don't know their way around the city well. We never get lost, but often find new places.  This activity is a win-win for me. We usually ride for one to two hours.  I love riding my bike and I get my exercise in.  

8. Movies. We have a discount theater that we visit sometimes. You know the type. They show movies that are no longer showing in theaters, but not on DVD yet.  It's only $2.50 for a matinee admission. For $10 (less than the price of one full-price adult ticket at a regular theater), I can take a family of four to see a movie. Sometimes we rent a movie at Red Box for $1.50 and we pop some popcorn over the stove and watch it.  Sometimes we just watch the movies we borrowed from the library as part of a movie night. Watching movies is great for those rainy days or when it's so hot, humid, and muggy that no one wants to go outside. 

9. Game Night.  Bring out the board games and play.  A fun after-dinner activity. We like to play Uno, Life, Trouble, Rummikub, even charades. 

10. Go play with the neighbors.  We've lived here 8 years now and know our neighbors and the neighbor kids.  My kids will spend hours and hours outside with their bikes, scooters, sidewalk chalk, and toys just playing with the neighborhood kids. They ride their bikes up and down the sidewalk from one corner to the other.  They always stay on our street where we can see them.  Sometimes I have to call them inside for dinner. They scarf their food down and go right back outside to play.  I love those days. I get so much done in the house and have some time for myself. 

How to Make a No-Sew Tie Fleece Blanket

Posted by Angela Diaz on July 12, 2015 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (0)

     I was invited to my favorite cousin's baby shower a few weeks ago.  She lives in New Jersey (about a two-hour drive from here).  Her registry was on the invitation, but I wanted to make something myself.  It would be so much more special making something for her first-born.  I decided to go with a large, no-sew fleece blanket.  Here's why:

     When I was pregnant with my first son, the pastor's wife from the church I was attending at the time gave me a large, tied fleece blanket for my son. It was made by one of the women at the church that I didn't even know.  On one side it was blue with teddybears wearing red sweaters all over it. On the other side, it was plain red.  I loved that blanket.  It was large enough that my son didn't grow out of it in a few months like most baby blankets.  It was super thick since it was two layers of fleece tied together.  It was his day-care blanket, it was his pre-k nap time blanket, it was the blanket we took to picnics to sit on because it was so comfy and thick and you couldn't feel grass poking through the blanket.  My son is now 10 years old and we STILL have that blanket and still use it frequently. 

     Sooo....I headed over to the store and purchased 1 1/2 yards of two different patterns of no-sew fleece.  One was a plain lime green color, the other was a pattern with little frogs on it. My cousin in expecting a boy so I thought little froggies would be cute.  I You Tube'd some videos on how to make these and they are so simple to do.  It did take a little time and I had to clear out a little floor space in my room.  But basically here's what I did:

1. Lay the fabric that you would consider the back piece of the blanket on the floor with the right side facing the floor (some fleece patterns don't have a right or wrong side).  In my case, the lime-green piece of fabric I had was the same on both sides so I just laid it out flat on the floor.

2. Lay the front blanket fabric piece on top with the good side facing you and the wrong side of the fabric touching the back piece.  (Both wrong sides of the fabric are facing each other).

3. Smooth out both pieces of fabric. Make sure they are completely open and spread out. Now trim the entire blanket's edges so that all edges are even with both pieces of fabric.

4. Cut a 4" x 4" square in each corner.

5. Cut strips about 1" to 1.25" wide and 4" high all around the blanket.

6. Go around the entire blanket tying a double-knot with the two strips together. Tie them tight, but not so tight that they eat up the blanket. The first time I did this I tied the knots so tight, that the blanket basically shrunk to a very small size. I had to un-do the knots (that was so hard and time-consuming to do). I re-tied them so that they were secure, but not pulling on the body of the blanket. 

The blanket came out beautifully, was appreciated by my cousin, and only cost $11.00 to make.  I would have spent much more had I tried to purchase some things on the registry for sure. I didn't even spend money on wrapping paper.  I made her one of my re-usable cloth bags and put the blanket inside.  Basically the bag was for her, the blanket was for the baby. 

Minimalist Beauty

Posted by Angela Diaz on July 8, 2015 at 12:25 AM Comments comments (1)

     In an effort to declutter/simplify my life, I decided to address the horrid condition of my bathroom counter.  Loads of makeup products everywhere and all sorts of odds and ends that rarely get used, but always seem to find themselves back out on the counter.  I rarely have time in the morning for taking extra measures for primping myself anymore (even if I did have the extra time, I'd do something more productive with it like journaling).  I decided to see what I can do without and embrace my natural beauty. 

     One thing I've noticed in my effort to reduce the amount of beauty products I use is that no matter what, as long as my skin looks good, then I look good.  I looked at my skin care products and I had loads of them. Most of them I rarely used and some weren't even opened yet.  I had eye wrinkle serums, buffing cream, cleansers, toners, moisturizers, anti-aging products, etc.  I looked at all of these and threw out everything except two that I use on a daily basis.  I use Pond's cold cream cleanser and Pond's moisturizer.  I used to use other more expensive products, but when I started looking at ways to cut back, Pond's won the "expensive facial products replacement experiment".  I get a lot of product for the money (I think I spend maybe 10 bucks total on the cleanser AND moisturizer), it works very well (very soft and clear complexion), and it's easy to find (most major pharmacies, grocery stores, and big chain stores. 

     I've decided to do away with all make-up that won't fit into one small make-up bag.  I use the make-up bag that I made some time ago. It's about the size of my hand.  I kept a few things that I use on special occasions: a lip liner, eye liner, mascara, lip stick, one small eye shadow compact, blush, a small tube of foundation, and a few lip glosses.   My new morning make-up routine consists only of cleansing, moisturizing, and adding lip gloss.  On special days when I want to look extra special, I can bring out my small make-up bag and add a few extras to finish my look. 

     Simplifying my make-up routine made me think about simplifying my hair routine.  Now I have some really long, curly hair.  I hated fussing with it in the mornings. Sometimes it looked nice, sometimes it didn't. Some days the curls were beautifully pronounced, other days it was just frizzy.  I've decided to go with a classic, easy hair style that compliments my facial features and is a win-win every single morning. A bun.  I wear my hair in a bun almost every single day now.  It's very easy to brush my hair out, put it in a bun with a hair tie and a few bobby pins and go.  It's a classic looks that works with every outfit, no matter where I go.  Along with my simple make-up, the simple and classic hairstyle just seems to go together.  It's especially nice right now during the heat of summer. My hair is out of my face and off of my neck and back.  I also break out in pimples or hives a lot less from having my hair irritating my face and neck.  Some might ask, then why not cut my hair? My hair is my veil.  I love it and it means something to me. I like having the option of letting my hair out every once in a while. Cutting it is so final. 

     I'm glad I took a look at the waste and clutter that primping can create in my life.  My bathroom is cleaner, my purse is cleaner, my time is more open, my wallet is thanking me, I can feel good about myself and who I am without hiding behind a mask of make-up.  I actually think I look a lot better, kind of refreshed all the time.  It's very nice. 



Healing Diarrhea Naturally- Update

Posted by Angela Diaz on July 8, 2015 at 12:20 AM Comments comments (0)

     Quick update (as promised) on whether my daughter's stomach pains and diarrhea went away after a week's worth of natural healing.  I'm very happy to announce that it worked!  Starting from day one her symptoms began to subside.  She woke up the next day for the first time in weeks with no complaints of stomach cramping.  She is now off of the yogurt, pretzels, chamomile tea, bananas, probiotic, etc. although she did take a yogurt with her to camp to eat with her breakfast and she still enjoys drinking her chamomile tea every evening at 8:30.  It's become a sort of ritual for us now. 

    From  now on, I know what to do when someone in my household is plagued with persistent diarrhea and stomach pains.  I'm also looking forward to discovering other home remedies for other ailments as they arise.

Healing Diarrhea Naturally

Posted by Angela Diaz on June 29, 2015 at 10:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Today I took my daughter to see our family doctor.  She has had rumbly tumblies and diarrhea off and on for a few weeks.  Small doses of Pepto Bismol would help alleviate her upset stomach, but she didn't get better. This morning her stomach was cramping up more than usual and she spent a long time on the toilet.  I needed to find out what was going on.  

At the office visit, the doctor checked her out, asked some questions and didn't know off the top of his head what was going on. He gave me two plastic containers to collect stool samples in and paperwork to get lab work done to test for different strands of bad bacteria.  He also gave me paperwork to schedule an ultrasound of her abdomen to see if there was anything odd going on in there. He said if both tests come back with no findings, we'll do bloodwork and then if nothing still, he'll refer us to a pediatric gastroenterologist.  Wow.  I went back to work and discussed this with my co-worker.  My co-worker said that his two daughters had a mouth swab test sent to the lab to check for the flu virus.  His out-of-pocket cost (AFTER insurance) was $750!!!  His wife also had stomach pains and had an ultrasound done. HIs bill...$140.  Now we have "great" insurance at our job.  What the mess is going on? I am not up for paying hundreds of dollars at this time when I don't feel like my daughter's life is in immediate jeaporady, so I took to the internet to look for holistic/natural remedies.  I looked up the lab tests they had ordered to see what they were looking for and based my internet search on that.  There was loads of information on how to treat these things that won't cause hundreds of dollars.

After work I set off to the grocery store with a list of things to get to battle this issue my daughter is dealing with.  Here's what I have her taking:

  • 1 serving of yogurt with live/active cultures per day to help feed the good bacteria in her intestines and help fight off the bad bacteria
  • 1 banana a day (good for the intestines, digestion, and bowels)
  • Chamomile tea with honey (both good for soothing upset bellies)
  • Salted pretzels (to help with restoring lost salt from the diarrhea and the starch in pretzels to help sooth the belly)
  • Pedialyte (to help restore lost liquids and electolytes)
  • 1 capsule of Probiotic (again, to help the good bacteria and restore order to the intestines)
  • Potatoes (made mashed potatoes for dinner to help with her symptoms as well)
Now this seems like a lot, but it isn't.  I'm not giving everything to her all at once. When I got home, she had a serving of yogurt and a banana for snack before dinner (I put the capsule of Probiotic in one of the spoons of yogurt so she could swallow it easily).  She had one cup of Pedialyte with her dinner (mashed potatoes included in the dinner).  Before bed she had a cup of chammomile tea with some honey in it.  I didn't give her any pretzels today, but will be packing them in her snack box for camp tomorrow (along with a cup of yogurt and a banana).  So far, she has not complained once about stomach pains or has gone to the bathroom with a fit of diarrhea. I'm going to keep this up for one week and see if she isn't completely better.  
This is a prime example of what's wrong with our medical system and I'm reminded about reading about this very type of situation in my favorite book Radical Homemakers.  You need to check that book out. Seriously. Go check it out.  Check it out from the library, order it on Amazon, buy it on Ebay. Do whatever is necessary to get that book and read it. Then read it again.  Then read it again with a highliter and a pen for making notes in the margins and highliting important points. This book is that serious and good to read.  It's changed my life so much.  
I think I'll post again next week on how this experiment worked on her rumbly tumbly problems. Fingers crossed that this works because our medical system is so far out of control that anything I can do to heal ourselves outside of the system is so much better in every way possible.  

How to Dry Zest for Tea

Posted by Angela Diaz on June 5, 2015 at 9:30 AM Comments comments (0)

     One thing I've become interested in lately is tea.  Teas have so many different medicinal benefits and healthy qualities.  I've been experimenting with different flavors of teas over the winter.  I got to thinking...I wonder if I can Make my own tea?  I started looking at the different ingredients in teas and found many are repetitive in different teas (lemon grass for example is found in many teas).   It seems teas can be made from just about anything herbal (such as raspberry leaves and even dry onion skins!).  I've been drying and keeping in mason jars various items to mix and match to make teas (dandelion heads, spearmint, peppermint, orange and lemon zest, etc).  

I'm going to share what I've been experimenting with as far as drying orange zest for teas. 

1. Clean the orange well

2. It's easier to zest it while the orange is intact rather than peeling the orange first and then trying to grate or zest the peels.

3. If you don't have a citrus zester (which can be found in many stores for a few bucks), a cheese grater works fine. 

4. If using a cheese grater, the side that one would normally use to grate mozarella or cheddar for pizza or lasagna is the best size.  I've found that the one size smaller gratings were very sticky when they were drying and would stick together in weird clumps.  

5.  After grating or zesting the peels (being careful not to get the white part of the orange in the gratings), I lay the shreds on a plate or bowl and cover with a paper towel (keeps dust from getting in there).  I stir up the shreds every day or every other day to make sure all sides are drying.  After about three days it should be dry.  You'll know because the skins will be hard and crunchy and won't stick to the plate or each other. I put them in a mason jar with a lid and keep in the cabinet (dry, dark place).  

Below are some pictures.  The second picture shows the difference between the small gratings, the better larger shreds, and then some freshly zested strands.  

1. Zesting with box grater

2. Difference between three different zested sizes

3. Using regular zester tool (best option in my opinion)