Tag Archives: Family

Cash Flow

It feels funny to be writing this at 34 years of age. Long ago, I thought that by 34 I would have my life “together.” Our family would be financially stable, with money to spend on small luxuries, vacations and home improvement.

But here we are, still struggling. Not near the poverty line, but certainly not able to afford the luxuries we dreamed of. Like many 30-somethings, we’re working on paying off a student loan. We’re WAY ahead than we used to be, but not quite there yet. Luckily, we’ve managed to stay consumer debt-free (phew!)

I had heard of the TV show “Til Debt Do Us Part,” but recently discovered the comprehensive blog and website run by the show’s host, Gail Vaz-Oxlade. I decided our family would try the “cash budget” – when you use cash to pay for variable expenses (all of our fixed expenses still get paid online or by credit card).

We’re almost 6 weeks in, and this budget has been a game changer. We’re much more careful in our spending, and I no longer make last-minute grocery shops on the way home from work (when I’m hungry, and more apt to throw expensive/yummy food in my cart). We try to drive less to cut down on gas costs, and we’re finding innovative ways to purchase the things we need. Later this week, I’ll share all of our tips for living on a tight budget.

Go check out the website and the budget, and tell me - have you put the credit cards away? Do you live on cash?

Getting Sick: Before and After Kids

Getting sick in my pre-kid days was a simple, three-step process:

1) Get sick

2) Lie in bed. Moan. Coerce loved ones to take good care of me, bringing cool cloths and ginger ale.

3) Get better.

Getting sick with kids is slightly more complicated:

1) Feel the onset of sickness. Panic slightly.

2) In anticipation of sickness, rearrange all plans – find alternative rides to school, reschedule appointments and cancel all extracurricular activities.

3) Get sick.

4) Keep taking care of kids and cleaning house, despite horrible sickness. Lie on the couch only when children are occupied by the television, lest they try to destroy the house. Carry plastic bags with you for school drop-offs, just in case of sudden bout of vomiting.

5) Husband stays home and lets you lie down. Baby needs to be nursed every 2 hours, and 3 year old bursts in on you several times throughout the day asking for random stuff. “Where is that pink shape I cut out yesterday?” To which you answer, “I don’t know, jerk, go away!” Or if you’re a really Good Mother like I am, you say “I’m not sure, sweetie, why don’t you go ask Daddy?”

6) Continue to nurse throughout the night, while running out of the room several times to get sick. Wake baby more often by running out of room.

7) Begin to feel slightly better.

8) Get a sore throat instead.

9) Get woken up in the night by vomiting 3 year-old.

10) Seven days later, your family is finally healthy…

Until next week of course!

Hoping your family is happy and healthy this Spring Season!

 

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Kid Approved: Recipe for Non-Dairy Yogurt

We’re doing a food experiment in our house. We’ve long suspected that our daughter has some allergies (or, at least, intolerances – these are not life threatening). But we’ve been too tired and lazy to change much, other than limiting the amount of cow’s milk that she drinks. She still consumes most other dairy products.

We recently embarked on a strict diet with her, cutting out all dairy and any trace dairy in other foods (including casein). Lo and behold, we saw an improvement.

Despite the positive changes, I was finding the new diet a struggle. Our daughter’s favourite foods include: cheese (all types), yogurt, sour cream and butter. She eats fruit, veggies and protein as well, but not with the same gusto.

So, my challenge has been to find some alternatives that are both tasty and don’t break the bank. So far our one success has been fake butter. And no, I’m not talking about chemically-laden margarine laced with milk products; I mean this stuff – Earth Balance. Dairy-free AND soy-free, and given the thumbs up by picky kiddos everywhere!

Other products have been a giant failure. She hates Daiya “cheese,” although we haven’t tried to make pizza with the shredded variety yet. Another score for the garbage was coconut “yogurt.” Blech!! It was jelly-like, a weird pale grey colour and FULL of sugar and additives. She also shunned my homemade almond milk, and still prefers the store-bought variety.

The holiday season arrived. We gave up for a couple of weeks and let her eat whatever she wanted, because food was everywhere, and I was tired of having nothing to offer her for snacks and/or lunch. There’s only so much fruit, nuts and vegetable with hummus you can offer a kid before they ask for cheese and crackers.

Christmas day came, and Santa surprised me by leaving a big wrapped box under the tree. Inside I found a Blendtec blender, a kitchen gadget I’ve been swooning over for a while now. Other people spend hundreds of dollars on hair treatments, gym memberships, Ipads, Iphones and giant TVs. My weakness is kitchen gadgets.

Can I just say, this blender has truly changed my culinary life. Things that I’ve always dreamed of doing, I can now do in a matter of minutes!! I can make amazingly healthy smoothies, without all the floating chunkies that my hand-held blender used to leave. I can make all my own coconut milk and almond milk, and I can even blend up my favourite drinks (mmmm pina colada!!)

I’ve also discovered CASHEWS!! Almond milk is totally yummy, but a bit of a pain to make because you have to squeeze it through a nut bag (no, I’m not making this up). But cashews don’t take any time at all. You soak them overnight, whiz them up with water, and voila!! Yummy, creamy, awesome milk. And the more digging I did, the more I discovered what I could make out of cashew milk.

In this post I’d like to share my successful Cashew Yogurt, adapted from this recipe at The Spunky Coconut.

First Step

Make the cashew milk! Soak nuts in water overnight, and then drain and rinse. Put them in your food processor or blender. Add 4 cups of water, 1/2 tsp vanilla and 1tsp honey. Blend until smooth and frothy.

Second Step

Bring the 4 cups of cashew milk to a simmer in a saucepan.

Third Step

Whisk in 2 tsp of Gelatin dissolved in boiling water (one packet of Knox Gelatin worked for me). The instructions of how to dissolve the gelatin are on the packet. The Spunky Coconut mentions a substitute for vegetarians, but I haven’t tried it, so not sure if it would work.

Fourth Step

Let the milk cool until it reaches about 90-92 degrees F (having a good book nearby to wait while it’s cooling is a good idea, or just put the whole pot in the sink with cold water)

Fifth Step

Whisk in 3.5 tsps non-dairy probiotic. I used Inno-Vite DDS Original powdered probiotics. Basically, you need about 30 billion colony forming units, so just read the label on your favourite probiotics.

Sixth Step

Put the yogurt into a yogurt maker, oven with the oven light on (I have a “proof” setting on my oven), or in a cooler with something to keep it warm in there….hot water bottles etc. I’ve heard the yogurt maker is the easiest, but it’s one gadget I don’t own. Leave the yogurt overnight.

Seventh Step

In the morning, pour the yogurt (it will still be quite runny) into a container and refrigerate. When it is completely cool, it should have set and be thick and yummy. Sweeten with maple syrup, add fruit, vanilla, whatever!! Enjoy!

Misty Pratt is a mother of two girls, 1 and 4 years old. In her spare time she is a doula and childbirth educator. Follow her on Facebook or find out about her services here.