Monday, July 30, 2012

Real Food ANXIETY!!!!!!

Money is a precious commodity in my house.

Not that it's not in yours, I'm sure that it is.

Once we get caught up, things will be easier. We'll have a budget and I can plan. But right now, we are working with half paychecks and overdue bills, so things are still stressful.

Today my husband got his 100 dollar bonus from coaching wrestling last year.

I almost cried.

It was like Christmas. Or like some Guardian Wrestling Angel had come to visit.

I was fully expecting to try and get us through the week on 20 bucks and the food we already had.

And I could have, too.

But this 100 dollars was an amazing surprise.

So off I went to Walmart.

I had a mental list of things I needed. I kept a running tally in my head, rounding up, of course to compensate for taxes and whatnot. As I crept closer and closer to that fateful 100 dollar mark,  I started to panic.

Like things went blurry, my mouth was dry, and I felt like throwing up.

I'm no stranger to that sensation, it happens nearly every time I go grocery shopping. I send at least an hour, wandering up and down and up and down and up and down... trying to decide what it is that I REALLY need.

CONFESSION: I am a habitual put-backer. And I don't put it back in the right place. If you work at Walmart, I apologize. Profusely.

Normally, when grocery-panic strikes, I look at my heaping cart and reassure myself.

This time, I looked at my cart, not even half-filled with INGREDIENTS to make other things.

My heart about stopped.

I wanted to scream. I wanted to grab my purse and run out of the store and try again another time- when I was thinking clearer. I wanted to start over and return to the safety of poptarts and cheeze-its and frozen pizza and soup and lunch meat and hot dogs.

Instead, I told myself:

SELF! You are fine. You bought this stuff on purpose, and you DO know what you are doing. Trust me.

So I did. I went to the checkout and stared at the tally, my insides writhing with fear.

I am not exaggerating.

The cashier asked me "How are you today?" and I said "I hate grocery shopping!"

So I watched, as the items went across, switching nervously between the total on the register and the items left on the conveyor, mentally, frantically adding up the remaining items until finally, it was over.

$97.80.

I made it.

I half-reluctantly-half-elated handed over my 100 dollar bill, got my sad 2 dollars of change, and left the store.

When I got to the car I still felt sick. Loading the groceries. Unloading the groceries. Carrying them into the house. Putting them away.

Each step brought a new wave of nausea as I looked at my small haul.

My husband got up to go to work, and he looked in the fridge... then the freezer... then the pantry.

"Did you even go shopping?" he asked.

Be tough. I told myself.

"Trust me." I said.

Then I started to freak out. I ranted. I gushed. He doesn't eat like I do. I love a piece of bread and cheese and olive oil. A caprese salad. A bagel crisp with cream cheese and sun-dried tomato. A pita and hummus. Whole-wheat tortilla and cheese.

But still after all this time, I can't ever come up with healthy food snacks that he'll partake in.

That's HARD for me.

It is MY JOB to take care of this family. And yes, he's a grown man, but him too! Especially with him working so much, I want to make sure he is eating.

But he laughed at my rant and said, "Don't worry."

At least he thinks my paranoia is cute.

But for me, it's a deeply-rooted demon, stemming from years of not enough money and trying to provide meals for my family.

I think about food constantly.

When we have it, I'm scared to eat it- to waste it, because then will be gone.

Of course none of them know that, and we always do have enough to eat, thanks to my careful planning and creativity.

Now that you think I'm COMPLETELY nuts...

The moral of the story is jumping into "Real Foods" has been scary for me. I know what I am doing, but it took a leap of faith in my ability to effectively manage our food supply.

Of course, buying the basics is always more expensive. Once my supply is stocked and I only need to buy supplemental food items for the week, it'll be a lot easier.

I'm excited.

A little terrified...

But mostly excited.

Let the Real Food Journey begin!!

<3
Mariah

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Goal: Eating Healthy on a PMW Budget

One idea I have been toying with for the past year or so is cutting out processed foods.

Healthy living on a small budget- very small.

I was on a big couponing kick for a while, but honestly, the reason I can't get super into it is because of the kinds of food you can get while couponing. They are for the most part, processed pantry stuffers and freezer fillers. You CAN find coupons for more natural brands, and you CAN be a smart shopper- it's just something you need to be conscious of.

Even a year or two ago, before I really got into any of this, I knew that I did not want to stock my freezer with 25 hot pockets or my pantry with fruit snacks and unhealthy cereal bars.

The problem is, it is HARD to feed a family of 6.


This blog is entitled Poor Man's Wife. And I'm seriously not kidding. We are just coming off of a summer of my husband being unemployed. Well- he had (has) 2 jobs, the first took weeks to process paperwork for, and he won't be able to keep it once his new job starts- teaching at a middle school!!

Yay!

We have sacrificed for years to make this a reality.

Don't get me wrong- teachers don't make a lot of money. We'll still be poor. But we WILL have a consistent paycheck, and that makes it a whole lot easier to budget.

I found this new blog- 100 Days of Real Food and it was exactly what I was looking for- a guide on how to eat healthy, "real" foods in a realistic way.

She allots  a weekly budget of 125 dollars to feed her family of 4.

And I'll tell ya- right now, 125 dollars a week sounds AMAZING.

Another idea I am toying with is Paleo- it's another form of "Real" food lifestyle, which you can read about at Everyday Paleo

(That's pronounced "pay-lee-oh" not "puh-lay-oh"... just in case your brain decides to play possom like mine did!!)

I'm still unsure as to what route I want to take, and how strict I can be. I am leaning toward the whole food route because seriously I don't think I can live without carbs.

I'm pretty sure cheese and crackers or Italian bread are the base ingredients in all my favorite meals/snacks

In any case, I am for sure excited to start cutting out the processed foods.

Even more so- I am excited that our life is finally in order! I am so happy I will finally be able to pursue these dreams I have of making a happy, healthy homestead for my family.

Happy Life as a Poor Man's Wife!!



Thursday, July 12, 2012

Lavender Love All-Purpose Cleaner

My Easy-Peasy {Orange} Cleaner is an awesome all-purpose cleaner. It's just Orange-infused-vinegar and water- pretty great stuff. I love to use it in the kitchen and watch my appliances get all sorts of shiny!! And in my shower- it's totally amazing.

But sometimes, YA JUST DON'T WANT TO CLEAN WITH VINEGAR.

I get that. Been there!!

Sometimes, I just don't want to smell vinegar- even with orange. Sometimes, something else works better!!

So I searched and came up with a new cleaner, based on the things I had and what I have learned.

It's my Lavender-Love All Purpose Cleaner.

I have to get creative- it motivates me to clean!

Here's how to make it:

 2 TBSP Liquid Castile Soap (I used Lavender Dr. Bronner's- hence the name. You can use whatever smell you want)
1TBSP Borax
1TBSP Baking Soda

and if you want

1/4c hydrogen peroxide or vinegar.

Mix them all up in a spray bottle, and fill the rest with water.

Here's a cool thing:

I like to use the peroxide version on my clothes as a stain pre-treater. Or along with my stain-treater stick! 

I also really like this for cleaning the walls and doors and all that! Plus it's got a nice relaxing smell.

<3
Mariah







Easy-Peasy {Orange} Squeezy Cleaner- Revisted

A little while ago, I posted about my Easy-Peasy {ORANGE} Squeezy Cleaner.

I thought of some new things since then.

Like how to make it last longer!!

I go through this stuff like crazy!!

Let's Recap:

Peel an Orange. Or two Manderin Oranges, since they are smaller.

Fill the mason jar (quart size, I have) the rest of the way with vinegar.

Let orange peels and vinegar sit overnight.



When the vinegar is nice and orange-y, funnel it into an empty spray bottle.

Throw the peels in the garbage disposal. They smell soooo good!!

Then you'll have like a quarter of a bottle of spray. Bummer.

To make up the rest, I like to add another jar of Orange Vinegar.

Then from there, add water.

Or... you can add One Jar Orange Vinegar, One Jar Regular Vinegar, and water from there.

It's up to you. and your preferences. For me, it's not an exact. I just make it up as I go.

You can also do this with lemon, or even grapefruit! Citrus all around rocks!

I use my Easy-Peasy {ORANGE} Squeezy All-Purpose Cleaner mostly in the kitchen. It makes my counters and appliances happy and shiny!!

Plus, vinegar is a natural disinfectent. I'm going to do a post on that another time.

Remember to make your bottle pretty- PMW style!!


<3

Mariah







Liquid Castile Soap Homemade Laundry Detergent

So I'm a HUGE fan of my homemade laundry soap. You can read my other post to find out about the health and safety reasons I felt compelled to make it. Basically, the commercial stuff has a LOT of bad stuff in it!!

My Original Laundry Soap was adapted from many other recipes floating around out there. It involves grating a bar of laundry soap (I used Zote) and "cooking" it together with Borax and Washing Soda and water. Ta Da!

I loved it! It made 2 gallons of soap, which has lasted me over a month- and I still have about half a gallon left.

 I go through laundry soap pretty fast with a family of six.

Plus, I'm a habitual product over-user, so while I read 1/4 a cup is enough, I probably used more.

I don't know...

I'm bad with measuring ;)

Anyway, my clothes were clean and smelled fresh. (I use vinegar as a rinse aid and Purex crystals to add some yummy smell- they probably aren't the BEST for you, considering they do contain fragrance, and fragrance is bad, m'kay. But, they are 87% natural, and I need my laundry to smell nice. And I don't have any essential oils.)

Happy camper!

The Downside:
A) Time consuming and Messy to make
B) It's THICK!!

Also, I wanted to try a batch with castile soap- a soap made from olive/vegetable oils rather than animal fat (like Zote and Fels Naptha) to make an even more "pure" laundry soap.

I splurged a while ago and bought a bottle of Lavender Dr. Bronner's 18-in-One Magic soap.

Fancy name for liquid castile.

It was SIXTEEN DOLLARS for 32 oz.

GASP!!!! GAG!!! UGH!!!

But many of the things I wanted to experiment with called for it, so... I went for it. That turns out to be roughly .50 cents and ounce- however, you dilute it a lot. It's ultra concentrated.

I could NOT find a recipe that used liquid castile soap and borax and washing soda- I found some that called for salt and vinegar... but I wanted the same cleaning power I found in my previous homemade version.

So I made up my own.

I found a site by Lisa Bronner- Dr. Bronner's granddaughter. It's pretty cool! It's called Going Green with a Bronner Mom. And on her site, I found a comparison of liquid vs bar castile soap. The two soaps are essentially the same- the bar being a bit more moisturizing than the liquid.

One 5oz bar of soap, which is what the original laundry soap recipe calls for, is equal to 1 1/2 cups of liquid.

Mind you- I almost CRIED pouring allllll that soap into my pot. That's like $4.00 worth of soap. That's A LOT to a Poor Man's Wife.

I sucked it up, and kept my eyes on the prize.

But I'll tell ya, I'm glad I did! Not only was it SO much easier, but it solved my problem of gel-like laundry soap.

Not that the original is hard to use, it's not. But I didn't like how it didn't dissolve fully in the wash- I would open the lid (come on, am I the ONLY ONE who opens their washer and stares at the clothes??)and there would be pieces of soap floating on top- unless I remembered to put it in FIRST, which I never do.

There we go!!

The only thing I DON'T like is it does cost more to make it.

The borax and washing soda costs are the name, and both super cheap (they both run about 3 bucks, and you only use a cup of each- about 40 cents worth!) but $4.00 Dr Bronner's s $0.97 Zote is a huge difference.

But, considering it cost me a high estimate of $6 to make 2 gallons, or 256 oz, and you only use 1/2 cup or 4oz per load, (you can actually use less) that's about 64 loads at about 9 cents a load.

Another way to compare:
 I used to buy All brand laundry soap when it was on sale for about 3 to 4 dollars.

At $3 (which is pretty good sale price, also requiring couponing time!) a 50oz bottle (which is what I would get) cost 6 cents an ounce vs my liquid castile version at about 2 cents an ounce.

So, I'm still saving money.

Plus I'm gaining convenience and the added peace of mind of using castile soap- the most natural soap you can get!

So here's my LIQUID CASTILE SOAP LAUNDRY SOAP RECIPE:

1 1/2 cups Liquid Castile Soap (like Dr. Bronner's)
1 cup Borax
1 cup Washing Soda
About 2 Gallons Water

2 1-Gallon Jugs (like milk containers)




1) Heat 1 1/2 cups Liquid Castile Soap and 2 cups water in a pot.

2) Add one cup each Borax and Washing Soda.

3) Stir until dissolved.

4) This step is up to you. Basically you just have to split the mixture equally between two 1-gallon jugs and then fill them with water.

I added a gallon of water to my pot, the scooped it out with my glass measuring cup and funneled it into the two gallons. Then I added water to each gallon til it was full enough.

That's it! I use about 1/3- 1/2 cup per load. You can probably use 1/4, but like I said, I'm a habitual over-user. 

I read some places that people though Dr. Bronner's was too harsh for their clothes. I'm not really sure what that is based off of.  My clothes are fine. You probably should use vinegar as a rinse aid to help get any residue out, but I've done 3 loads without any (I'm out, and laundry duty calls!! Plus I was super excited to try it out!!) and my clothes are still fine.

I hope your clothes are fine too!!

Happy Washing!!

<3
Mariah

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Information Overload!! Putting the Pieces Together!

The internet is an AMAZING invention!!!

Unfortunately, my mind is a labyrinth, whirling and swirling with questions and ideas... and new questions... and new ideas...

So while the internet IS amazing, my crazy mind leads me on all sorts of wild-goose-chases, scouring page after page trying to find the exact right piece to the puzzle I feel I am missing; meanwhile opening the doorways to countless other twists and turns I hadn't expected.

Right now I am on overload!

But in a good way.

An exciting way.

My house will attest to that.

I might be being slightly... lienient with the housework :)

But I can't help it. There's just so much to discover. And then once you discover, you have to actually LEARN.

That's the thing.

I've said from the beginning, in order for something to be meaningful enough for you to stick with it, you have to understand WHY. And then truly, deep down in your heart believe it.

These are life-altering changes. It can't be just a  fad or a bandwagon, or else what's the point?

Luckily for me though, since the internet IS such an amazing place, and since Natural Living is making a resurgence in a BIG way,  there are plenty of bandwagons for me to jump on :)

The point is, I'm not doing it because the bandwagons exist. I'm doing it, because I feel the need- the idea has already sparked, I'm just trying to find somewhere to light it on fire.

Is that what you are doing too? Or maybe just reading my crazy journey. Or maybe it's just me on my own.

 I started out just trying to eke out a happy life for my family, using the limited resources I have available. I LOVE that it blossomed into this road of discovery. Slowly, but surely,  one by one, I will put all those pieces together.

Happy Life as a {Naturally Living} Poor Man's Wife

<3
Mariah

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Couponing Woes: What is Lurking in That Free Hand Soap?!



As a Poor Man's Wife, I am well-versed in the art of couponing.


Well, maybe not WELL-versed. You won't see me on any extreme couponing shows in the near future... but I can save a pretty penny at the grocery store.

This week, hand soap is on sale for a dollar, and with the coupon, it's FREE!!!

Yay!!!

Free Hand Soap!!

Oh wait. I promised myself I am only buying "natural" products from now on.

Me and my damn ideas.

So I thought to myself-

Maybe hand soap isn't that bad after all...

It's just... soap.


So I did some research and hit up a few of my favorite resources, Care2.com and livestrong.com.

As it turns out, yes hand soap is indeed BAD FOR YOU.

I can't say I was really surprised.

**Now I want to say that I realize not everyone who uses hand soap will get cancer. Not everyone is going to experience hormonal imbalances or skin irritation. HOWEVER, I am concerned about my family's safety, and the accumulation of these products on our skin day after day, year after year simply cannot be good for us.


With that being said, here's WHY hand soap could be harmful to your health.


1) Synthetic Fragrance:

Synthetic fragrances are chemically made. Therefore they have potentially life-threatening, toxic ingredients. My article at care.com stated:

The National Academy of Sciences reports that 95 percent of the chemicals used in fragrances today are petroleum-based synthetic compounds, including known toxins capable of causing cancer, birth defects, central nervous system disorders and allergic reactions. So while our brain is registering ‘lavender’ our bodies are absorbing petroleum—isn’t that a nifty little trick?!
Read more: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/bar-soap-easy-greening.html#ixzz1yqJbVYaL



2) Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

A surfactant that helps provide the lathering in soap we are so used to. While it is not carcinogenic, it may have carcinogenic properties byproducts when combined with other substances in soaps and cleaning products. (You may remember this from my Laundry soap post)

It's the same ingredient used in industrial garages and it's main job is to lather away grease. It’s also regulated as a pesticide

It's also a skin irritant, and while they deem it safe in small quantities, it is one of the top products used to harm skin to test the heal powers of products.

3) Triclosan

There are tons of articles out there stating the dangers of Triclosan. It is the antibacterial ingredient in antibacterial soaps.

First of all, antibacterial soaps have not been proven to be any more effective at fighting germs than pain ol' soap and warm water. Proper hand washing techniques are what keeps germs at bay. In fact, they may CONTRIBUTE to super-strains of viruses, like MRSA.

Triclosan, is a pesticide, (like Agent Orange) and closely related to dioxin, which is super toxic. It also can combine with chlorine, found in our tap water to form chloroform gas- which IS a probable carcinogen. Studies have shown up to 75% of adults had Triclosan in their urine, meaning it is absorable through the skin. It is also related to endocrine disruption and hormonal imbalances- lowered testosterone rates, mimic estrogen and stimulate cells that cause breast cancer, and contribute to poor thyroid function.

You can read more about Triclosan and Anti Bacterial soaps at Livestrong here and here.

4) Parbens

These are shelf stabilizers that are found in many products.

They are hormone disrupting chemicals that can also mimic estrogen and lead to the advancement of breast cancer cells.

There are more harmful ingredients, but instead of me listing them all

GO READ THIS ARTICLE!!!!

http://parentingtips365.com/2010/04/27/11-toxic-ingredients-to-avoid-in-hand-soap-and-sanitizer-and-safer-options-for-your-family/

It is short, concise, and perfect for explaining the dangers found in your soap.

It also will help you lean to recognize the ingredient names, of you are aware what to avoid and make smart shopping choices.

So Let's Recap.

I'm not a conspiracy theorist. I don't think the government is trying to kill us and if you use soap you will die.

I DO think, that here are dangerous chemicals in many of our common household products. And if I can choose a SAFE, natural alternative, then I am all for it.

So... sad Poor Man's Wife- no free soap for me!!

Luckily, I bought a big container of Dr. Bronners Magic-18-in-1 Liquid soap, and can't WAIT to start experimenting with it!!


<3

Mariah