Viva Harris

+Viva Harris writes The Daily Citron, a fun blog about setting goals, saving money, staying organized, and enjoying life in the process. Don't want to miss any tips? Sign up for the free Daily Citron Weekly Newsletter.

Jul 252014
 
Image courtesy of Be More With Less

Image courtesy of Be More With Less

If you’re interested in working from home, Kiplinger put together a list of “10 Great Work-at-Home Jobs” that is worth a look.  They list potential employers for each job and vetted them to make sure none of them were scams.

Traveling this summer?  Needing some inspiration on how to pack light?  Check out this short video by the Minimalists, in which they reveal how little they packed for their 10-month road trip.  I am picturing them standing in their underwear at the laundry mat while they wash their one pair of pants.  I love that one of them (the one with the cool hair) actually found room for a blow dryer in his tiny little suitcase.

Not traveling? Staying home and wishing your house was less cluttered?  Check out 10 Uncluttering Tasks You Can Do In 5 Minutes Or Less from The Unclutterer.  Or visit Be More With Less for inspiration on minimalist living.

And on a financial note, this article by Get Rich Slowly goes through the benefits of buying a car within your budget instead of taking out a car loan or leasing a car.  I would just add that whether you pay cash or take out a loan, it’s important to factor the car’s depreciation into your budget when deciding what car you can afford.

Jul 232014
 

stack of coinsOne of the biggest criticisms of a frugal lifestyle is that it involves too much time “pinching pennies”- that any savings gained by frugal choices are insignificant, and in any event are nullified by the amount of time expended to obtain the savings.  I take exception to this criticism on two grounds:

  1. The savings gained are rarely insignificant, because they add up over time.
  2. Many frugal choices involve very little extra expenditure of time

I’ll give you an example of how a “penny pinching” choice earned us $72, plus interest, over the course of a year, without any extra time expended.

Giving Up Coffee for 30 Cents/Day

In 2012, I announced to my husband that, in an effort to be frugal, I was not going to drink anymore coffee until I had used up the backlog of teas that had accumulated in our pantry. He looked at me, unimpressed by my declaration.  “That’s only going to save us a couple cents a day. Just enjoy the coffee,” he said with an amused smile.

I’m nothing if not tenacious about this whole frugality thing, so I wasn’t dissuaded by his lack of enthusiasm.  But it did get me curious as to just how much money I was saving.  Here’s how the calculation worked out:

We were buying ground coffee in bulk (3 pounds for $7.99), so one serving of coffee was only 17 cents. But, I also used 13 cents of cream in each cup of coffee.  So the grand total of a cup of coffee was 30 cents a day.

That works out to $9 per month, or $72 plus interest over the course of a year.  Now, if I had previously been buying my cup of coffee at Starbucks every morning, then I would have saved $3 a day (approximately $90 per month) by switching to tea.  $90/month is definitely worth giving up coffee- there are many things I’d love to spend $90 per month on other than coffee, like a date night, or a weekly box of farm fresh vegetables, or gymnastics lessons for our daughter.  But, alas, I had been making my coffee at home, so I was only netting 30 cents a day in savings.

Was it worth it to me to only save 30 cents a day?

Yes, and here’s why. First and foremost, I find that consistency is paramount to maintaining a frugal lifestyle. Making exceptions (i.e., “I’m frugal, except I don’t bother to save 30 cents”) creates a slippery slope: pretty soon, I’m making exceptions for larger things: “I don’t need to bother saving $2 on those groceries, or $10 on those tickets, or $500 on that car, because it’s… [fill in the blank: too much of a hassle/takes too much time/too embarrassing to negotiate a deal].  Making too many exceptions threatens my ability to limit our spending. That’s not to say that I believe in saving money at all costs- certainly there are situations where the amount of time incurred is so disproportionate to the money saved that it could validly be called a bad choice by even the most frugal person.  An example would be driving 30 minutes round-trip to a second grocery store just to buy an item that costs 25 cents less than the first grocery store you went to.  In that example, not only is 30 minutes an enormous amount of time to spend on saving 25 cents, but the fuel costs and wear and tear on your vehicle might actually nullify the savings entirely.

But in most instances, a frugal choice does not require a large expenditure of time.  In my case, it didn’t take me any extra time to brew the tea instead of coffee, so it was just a matter of me making a conscious decision to pick the frugal option.  Yes, it only saved us 30 cents, but I gained something more: the habit of being frugal.  I find that consistently making frugal choices helps my mind develop this habit, as opposed to maintaining a general attitude of, “well, it doesn’t matter if I save money here and there, I just want to do what I want…Developing frugality as a habit then helps me make frugal decisions in situations where a lot more money is at stake.

And in all honesty, an extra 30 cents a day, when added up to $9 a month, really was useful to us. As it turned out, the stockpile of tea only lasted 4 months, but I continued to forego coffee for almost year after that, so we ended up saving $72, plus interest, which we used for toys for our daughter. I eventually returned to drinking coffee, but I didn’t feel guilty about it- I was happy that I had made a temporary change that yielded a great benefit.

Do you think 30 cents a day is worth it, or was I taking frugality too far?

Jul 202014
 
AIP Paleo roasted root vegetables

Photo Copyright Mike Harris

This recipe for roasted root vegetables is yummy, and pretty to look at, and is Paleo and AIP friendly (“AIP” stands for “Auto Immune Protocol,” a set of standards for eating non-irritating foods as a method of treating auto-immune diseases).  It’s also a great go-to recipe for using up root vegetables that are hanging around from my weekly CSA farm box.  You don’t have to use the exact vegetables listed here- you could sub in turnips, beets, or sweet potatoes, and you could leave out vegetables, too, and still have a great dish.  Roasting brings out the unique flavor and sweetness of each vegetable, and at the same time mellows out the flavor of stronger vegetables like radishes and turnips.

AIP Paleo Roasted Root Vegetables

What You Need:

  • 4 carrots, trimmed of stem
  • 4 parsnips, peeled and trimmed of stem
  • 8 radishes, trimmed of stem
  • 2 lbs potatoes, peeled
  • 1 lb small onions, peeled and trimmed of stem
  • 2 bulbs fennel
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp tallow or fat of choice (vegan- use coconut oil)
  • 1 tsp rosemary leaves, chopped or crushed
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper (omit for AIP)

What To Do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.  Choose whether to use baking sheets or roasting pans (roasting pans have a higher lip, so the vegetables won’t get as browned- personally, I prefer browned edges so I use sheets).  Optionally, you can line your sheet or pan with foil or parchment paper for easier clean-up.
  2. Chop the carrots and parsnips into 1 inch chunks.  Chop the potatoes and fennel into 1 1/2 inch chunks.  Cut in half any onions that are larger than 1 inch around.
  3. Toss vegetables with fat and garlic, and spread in a single layer on baking sheets or roasting pans.
  4. Sprinkle with rosemary, salt and pepper.
  5. Roast for 30-45 minutes, until vegetables are tender to your liking.  If you are using more than one rack in the oven I recommend using the convection mode if you have it, for even cooking.  Our oven has a “convection roast” mode which works great, but regular convection works just fine as well.
AIP Paleo Roasted Root Vegetables
Servings
8servings
Servings
8servings
AIP Paleo Roasted Root Vegetables
Servings
8servings
Servings
8servings
Ingredients
  • 4 carrots trimmed of stems
  • 4 parsnips peeled and trimmed of stems
  • 8 radishes trimmed of stems
  • 2 lbs potatoes peeled
  • 1 lb small onions peeled and trimmed of stems
  • 2 bulbs fennel trimmed of stems
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 tbsp tallow or fat of choice
  • 1 tsp rosemary leaves chopped or crushed
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper optional
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Choose whether to use baking sheets or roasting pans (roasting pans have a higher lip, so the vegetables won't get as browned- personally, I prefer browned edges so I use sheets). Optionally, you can line your sheet or pan with foil or parchment paper for easier clean-up.
  2. Chop the carrots and parsnips into 1 inch chunks.  Chop the potatoes and fennel into 1 1/2 inch chunks.  Cut in half any onions that are larger than 1 inch around.
  3. Toss vegetables with fat and garlic, and spread in a single layer on baking sheets or roasting pans.
  4. Sprinkle with rosemary, salt and pepper.
  5. Roast for 30-45 minutes, until vegetables are tender to your liking.  If you are using more than one rack in the oven I recommend using the convection mode if you have it, for even cooking.  Our oven has a "convection roast" mode which works great, but regular convection works just fine as well.
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Jul 172014
 

When I see storage organization ideas in magazines they generally come with a hefty price tag for the beautifully decorated storage containers.  This tutorial from Gathering Beauty teaches you how to decorate magazine holders from IKEA so that you can have a color-coordinated look without hurting your wallet.

Crafty Thursdays are an ongoing feature of The Daily Citron.  I picked Thursday because it leaves just enough time for busy people to collect their supplies for doing the craft over the weekend.

Jul 152014
 


Urban Gardening: The Urban Farmer Handbook – How to Grow Beautiful Fruits, Vegetables, and Plants in Any Space by Dane Alexander is free right now on Amazon.  It’s an Amazon Kindle ebook, but even if you don’t own a Kindle you can still enjoy it by downloading it to your computer (PC or Mac), iPhone, or iPad. The instructions for doing so are included under the “Buy Now With 1 Click” button.

PLEASE BE AWARE that the price could change at any time, so always check the price before clicking Buy Now.

Hurry, these promotions don’t last long.  Let me know what you thought of this book!

This post contains affiliate links from which I might receive a commission.  

Jul 132014
 

I don’t post weekly meal plans because I think that our meals are particularly impressive (they aren’t, hate to admit it), or creative (not really, eek).  For me, it’s a matter of giving an example of how a fairly ordinary (now Paleo) family plans out their week of meals.  I’ve always been a big proponent of weekly meal planning, and I hope that by showing you how we do it, you might be inspired to try it yourself.

Paleo Weekly Meal Plan- July, Week 3

Dinners

  • Monday- Merguez Meatballs from the Well Fed 2 cookbook (pssst, you can also find the recipe at the author’s website)
  • Tuesday- SimplyRecipe’s Poached Salmon (same as last week- it’s that good)
  • Wednesday- PaleOMG’s Sriracha Cod
  • Thursday- Entree Chicken Salad, which is basically a big salad topped with grilled chicken breast, and finished with a drizzle of olive oil and apple cider vinegar
  • Friday- Rotisserie Chicken from New Leaf, one of our local health food stores.  Unlike Whole Foods, they make one without soy or gluten.
  • Saturday- Crispy Garlic Curry Chicken Drumsticks from PaleoMagazine/AncestralChef
  • Sunday- Beef Stew by NomNomPaleo

Dinner sides are mix-and-match as usual, and include sautéed spinach, sautéed chard, oven-roasted cauliflower rice  by Melissa Joulwan, roasted sweet potatoes, roasted winter squash, steamed new potatoes, Michelle Tam’s braised red cabbage, sauerkraut, and fresh salads.

Lunches

Lunches this week are the leftovers from the dinners, plus fresh fruit like melons, peaches, strawberries and blueberries from the farmer’s market.

Breakfasts

Paleo Chunky Monkey MuffinBreakfasts include Berry SmoothiesBanana Walnut Smoothies, PaleoParents’ Chunky Monkey MuffinsBanana Faux-tmeal, and sweet potatoes sautéed with apples.  Plus protein on the side- usually sausage, bacon, sardines, or kipper snacks, and usually extra fresh fruit, too.

Have you tried weekly meal planning yet?

This post is linked up at Musings of a HousewifeSassy Moms In the City, and I’m an Organizing Junkie. This post contains affiliate links from which I might receive a commission.