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As I’ve mentioned before, we are on a pretty tight budget over here at Casa de Crunchy because we want to hit some fairly significant savings goals (short-term sacrifice for long-term gains, amiright??).  My favorite family finance blog of all time is MoneySavingMom.com. So, in typical fashion, I headed there for advice first.

I found some great ideas! I always read the comments because I find several more ideas there, and this was no exception.  One mom talked about how her grocery bill in NYC was really low, even though they get mostly organic!  Another post from MSM suggested writing to companies.  I think somewhere in the back of my mind I knew this was an option, but hadn’t thought about actually doing it.  I wrote down a list of my favorite companies and emailed them all.  Within a few hours, I had emails back from 3 companies, all saying they will send me coupons!  And guys – I picked the companies with the special things that have been missing from our budget due to not being a necessity.  I am so excited for coupons coming soon for hemp milk, full-fat yogurt, and grass-fed butter!

Have you written to companies for coupons before?  What was the response?

 

My my, it’s been quite awhile since my last visit with you all!  I have to admit that I have missed blogging something awful and am anxious to get back to it.  So as a return, here’s what I haven’t been blogging about recently:

1) Doing my own laundry.  

We purchased a portable washing machine a few months back and I realized how much I enjoy doing laundry.  Especially cloth diapers. It’s oddly satisfying to have a clean and dry load of diapers.  My fellow cloth diaper moms understand me though, so maybe (hopefully?) it’s not just me.

Tristan is fascinated by the spin cycle.

Tristan is fascinated by the spin cycle.

2) A budget that works.

After a year and a half of marriage, we (actually it was totally Mr. Crunchy) finally settled on a budgeting system that works for us! We are so excited that it works for both of us, and thanks to his forethought, we came in significantly under budget this week!

3) Watching our baby grow!

Baby Crunchy is now scoot-crawling, saying “mama” (which currently means “I need something,” “I want something,” or “someone please pay attention to me right this instant!”). Still teething, though not at all miserable about it.  Working on sitting and can manage for a bit on his own.  He has his own little scooter chair that he rolls around the house in and he feels like such a grown up.  We have given him some mashed up blueberry and banana so far and both times he has acted thoroughly insulted so solid foods aren’t really a thing for him yet.  I can’t believe he will be 7 months old on Sunday!  Father Time, please slow down.

Our sweet big boy!

Our sweet big boy!

4) A new routine.

I worked my way through Money Saving Mom’s Makeover Your Mornings course {affiliate link} and LOVED it.  I can’t recommend it enough.  For one, I learned that I actually enjoy waking up at 6am.  Whodathunk?? I get more accomplished and my household has been running better now that I am not waiting for the last minute to do things like dishes, laundry, and baking.  I downloaded a free app called Wunderlist and now have a running “to-do” list of things – organized by day for necessary tasks and then another master list of things I would like to do eventually for when I have spare time.  Download it, use it, thank me later.

5) Personal development.

I just started Chalene Johnson’s free 30 Day Push, and though I’m only on day 3 I’m really enjoying it!  I’m excited to work through the rest of it and see how implementing what she says influences my life.

Bonus! (because I can’t stop)

6) My morning shake.

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This morning I made a vanilla chai shake for breakfast and I can’t get enough.  And now I get to experiment with different flavors. I’m thinking about compiling a short ebook of shake recipes to share with you all!  Let the creative juices flow!

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When I first moved out of my parents’ home, I lived on $27 every two weeks for groceries (except for eggs and raw milk, which I purchased from a farmer every other week for $13 for a half gallon of milk – from which I made yogurt, a pint of cream – from which I made butter, and two dozen eggs). I primarily shopped at a local farmers market, where I based my meals off of the available produce that I could get for the cheapest price.  The leftover money went to flour to make bread, oatmeal for breakfast and homemade granola, and the occasional meat purchase at Whole Foods.  Yes it was tight, but it made me creative.  Mornings usually involved eggs and a smoothie, lunch was a large salad with several fresh veggies, and dinners were usually sautéed vegetables with some meat and a sweet potato for a side. I ate very well and enjoyed the challenge.

When I got married, I tried to continue this, but my budget didn’t increase to accommodate two people.  Suddenly vegetables didn’t fill us both up, especially my athletic husband who needed significantly higher caloric intake than I.  We started living off of potatoes, pasta, and lots of white sauce because it was mostly flour.  Again, I got creative and some meals were tasty, but nowhere near nutritious.  Our bills were high so we went down to one car to save on gas and insurance.  His job had him working 60 hours a week, so going to the farmer’s market wasn’t an option because they weren’t open when he was off work.  We had to rely instead on what we could find in the grocery store, and that money didn’t go very far.  We aren’t and never have been on food stamps, but we do have a tight budget and know how hard it is to make those dollars stretch.

The point of these two stories is to show that it is possible, but only when you have options.  Unfortunately there are food deserts all around the country, and $29 goes a lot farther at McDonalds than it would at a Whole Foods.  If you live in an area with just those two choices, there’s not much you can do.

Last week Gwyneth Paltrow infamously posted a picture about her $29 “food stamp” challenge.  She was, of course, congratulated by the rich and famous for bringing awareness to the way in which food stamp dollars don’t stretch.  In contrast, those actually on food stamps (or those who don’t qualify for food stamps but still have trouble affording food) railed against her for her food choices (read the twitter posts), because those numbers could potentially work for someone if they don’t buy things like avocados, scallions, or seven limes (even if they were cheap, Gwyneth, every penny counts and one lime would have been a luxury!).  Their argument was that instead of stretching the dollars effectively, she focused on the vitamin content of food to make sure she ate nutritiously.

THIS IS WHY I AGREE WITH HER.

The problem isn’t that people don’t get enough food stamp money.  The problem is that the food that is readily available and affordable has no nutritional value.  This leads to our growing obesity problem, our growing health problems (children as young as 12 are now being prescribed cholesterol medication!) and subsequently, our need for health care reform to allow us a safety net for our inevitable health collapse.  But with health care changes causing a drastic budgeting crisis for health care facilities, we know that this practice is not sustainable.

Those of us who live in an apartment because we can’t afford a house don’t have access to land to plant gardens and grow our own food.  We have a shared patio, with no room to put a Tower Garden.  There is one window that gets minimal sun, but not enough to grow food in the kitchen (besides perhaps a head of lettuce here or there, nothing that can consistently feed a family).

The point isn’t to call attention to the need for an increase in funding as much as it should be to call attention to the fact that the healthier choices aren’t available to the average person.  Why is a head of organic cabbage the same price as a McDouble?  Why is processed food, that requires several pieces of machinery to process, preserve, package, advertise, and distribute, cheaper than buying a tub of salad greens?  If someone’s main focus is entirely on making sure they don’t go hungry, their focus is going to be “how can I use this limited money to fill me up” not on “how can I make sure that my vitamin intake is well balanced this week so I can avoid the preventable diseases?”

Gwyneth Paltrow’s experiment pointed to the main problem – that quality food, REAL food, is not easily available to anyone but the elite.  This is where the conversation needs to start.  We have to get to the problem so that we can fix it from the ground up (pardon the pun), instead of just chasing the effects of a poor system.

Here are some things we do to make the food money stretch:

– Use spices.  Rice and beans is a lot more palatable if properly spiced and or wrapped in a tortilla (making your own tortilla is a pain but can be cheaper).

– Barter.  I wrote about bartering for meat when times were especially tough here.

– Ask the local co-ops if they have an offer for a trial basket to see if you like it before you commit.

– Use websites like Pinterest and allrecipes.com to plug in the ingredients you have to find new recipes.

– When buying produce, buy things that will be filling (so don’t stock up on tons of lettuce).  Mushrooms are a great investment for our family because they can be filling while also helping our meat stretch, or bulking up our breakfast eggs. They are frequently on sale at Aldi for $0.59 cents a package.  One package typically feeds us for two meals.

Given that I had never given birth before, I’m not quite sure how to write a birth story.  But it was an amazing birth and our little guy is so precious, so I had to share.  Bear with me.

The Stats:

Tristan Amadeus Elihu was born on December 19th at 5:14am.  He weighed 7 pounds, 5.5 ounces, and was 20 1/4 inches long.  He also had the largest feet I’ve ever seen on a newborn.  Even after feeling him kick me for so long, I wasn’t expecting such massively long feet.  This child will be tall.


10 minutes old.  So precious!

10 minutes old. So precious!

The Details:

I spent Thursday December 18th sitting on a yoga ball because it made my legs feel better (I developed hip flexor tendonitis during the last few months of pregnancy which made walking sometimes painful).  I was due the following Tuesday, but because this was my first baby I was expecting to go overdue, so bouncing on a yoga ball was not a means for me to induce labor.  I had had one or two mild contractions a day since Sunday.  Nothing about that day was abnormal, maybe 3-5 contractions but nothing painful or regular.  I went to bed around 10pm.

Mr Crunchy woke me up at 11:50pm, feeling guilty that he had just finished watching the entire 3rd series of Sherlock.  As we were talking, I felt a contraction in my back (babe was facing the wrong way, so I was anticipating back labor).  I mentioned that I felt it and we continued talking.  About 3 minutes later I felt another one, so I pulled out my phone and opened the “time my contractions” app and Mr Crunchy and I started timing.  Yep, 3 minutes apart, lasting a minute each.

I read a Native American Proverb that said “if a woman lies down during labor, the baby will not come out.”  That’s enough to scare anyone into being mobile.  I got out of bed and walked around the bedroom for an hour.  Around 1am I knew this was the real deal, and finally convinced Mr Crunchy that it was time for him to head out to Walmart to get the last of our needed supplies (thankfully our birthing kit had just arrived that afternoon).  We talked on the phone while he was gone and I started getting things ready for the birth and recovery.  As he ran around WalMart trying to find graham crackers and coconut water for me to snack on during labor, I was mixing oils for my recovery spray and getting out the first few things we would need from the birthing kit.  I called our friend who was going to attend the birth for moral support and let her know, but at this time I was still walking and talking through contractions.  She told me to call her back when I felt like I wouldn’t be able to cross the street during a contraction.

MC got home and we put the big pads on the bed and the new sheet.  It took me about 10 minutes because by this time contractions were every two minutes and lasting a minute each.  They were strong enough that now I wasn’t able to walk through contractions, they were more comfortable if I squatted and leaned against the bed.

My water broke around 2am and contractions came faster and stronger.  I massaged Deep Blue and black pepper essential oils into my back and MC helped with some counter pressure massage during contractions.  I asked him to blow up my yoga ball so I could carry out my original birth plan of laboring in the living room on a yoga ball with my face in a diffuser of Balance essential oil while watching Disney movies.  The plug for the ball was missing, so we tried to duct tape it closed.  It didn’t work.  Plan B: move the diffuser to the bedroom to labor in there.  Only problem was the only open outlet was on MC’s side of the bed.  This meant he got a much stronger effect from this oil, and he became *very* relaxed. I tried to lay down and get some rest, but the contractions were so much more painful laying down.  No wonder so many women get epidurals!  If I had to lay down the whole time I would get one too.  It was SO much better to be able to move and walk and plié through contractions.

I, however, was waddling to the bathroom so frequently  that I just decided to stay there. A sweet friend from Facebook was messaging me since she had seen our hint that I was in labor. Her mom had been a birth attendant a long time ago and she herself had just had a home birth a few months prior.  She texted me all throughout labor.  Finally I decided I didn’t want to labor by myself any longer but was now stuck in the bathroom.  Mr Crunchy was so relaxed from the oils that I called for him (somewhat frantically) six times before he stumbled into the hallway, fell into the door and laid down on the floor.  Methinks I put too much oil in the diffuser.  Anyway, he perked up and found some relaxing music to play on Youtube.  He got the towels that we had reserved for birth and laid them under me.  When the contractions became so intense and I had trouble relaxing through them, he asked me what I wanted to do for our anniversary, “since obviously I’ll be cooking it this year.”

That was just what I needed, because the next contraction Tristan was born! I had relaxed enough that my body knew what to do and I only pushed once or twice.  He came so quickly we were both surprised.  MC jumped up and ran into the kitchen as I yelled “oh my god it’s a baby!” (not really sure what else I was expecting) and Tristan commenced his screaming.  He cried for 6 minutes straight.  I told MC “it’s a boy!” and he quickly grabbed his phone and called his family (at 5:20 in the morning) and yelled “I HAVE A SON!” I did a full ICU assessment on him while I admired his little self (and his large feet).

I called our birth attendant friend (oh yeah, I finally forced myself to call her again around 4:30) and she answered with “so boy or girl?”.  She arrived around 6:30 and helped get everyone cleaned up, oiled up, and settled.  We anointed Tristan with Frankincense on his soft spot and Balance on his feet and along his spine.  I used helichrysum and clary calm on my abdomen before doing the “uterus massage” (i.e., pushing your fist around the belly several times every hour to help the uterus go back down to size.  Pleasant).  MC’s mom arrived around 7 and after she held Tristan she took MC out to our favorite coffee spot (and they brought home a big latte for me and a new mug I had been wanting!).

The Conclusion:

It was a beautiful birth and extra special because it was just me and my husband there.  I was calm, focused, and in the moment so much that our friend was laughing at me as just two hours after birth I was taking pictures of Tristan being held by his daddy (the one below is my favorite!) and calmly rescheduling meetings with people (hey, I was expecting to go overdue!).  I believe the proverb was right, movement in labor is KEY!  Since I only attempted laying down the once, the majority of the labor I was working with gravity, not against it.  My labor and delivery with my first baby was an almost unheard of 5 1/2 hours!

Tristan was so excited to meet his daddy!

Tristan was so excited to meet his daddy!

Also, I have no idea how women go through labor, delivery, and recovery without oils.  They are amazing!

first family photo!

first family photo!

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this picture of me and Mr. Crunchy at the pumpkin patch this weekend!  We had a wonderful fall day on Sunday….slept in, relaxed, went to a pick-up soccer game where Mr. Crunchy got to play for 2 hours and I got to sit and chat with an adorable older woman named Joan who walked across the parking lot from her house because she saw people playing soccer and she loves watching soccer.  Then we went to Rombach’s pumpkin patch.

Rombach’s is this wonderful pumpkin patch (celebrating 100 years this year!)  with lots of Halloween decorations and pumpkins galore.  We wandered around for awhile, amazed at how much it’s grown in popularity since we were kids.  Oh, right – apparently it was tradition in both of our families to go to Rombach’s!  How fun is that?  Anyways, we loved it and we saw so many parents wearing their babies.  It made us look forward to next year when we can bring Baby Crunchy to the pumpkin patch!

Fall is my favorite season.  I just wish St. Louis would hurry up and decide that it’s fall consistently instead of this back-and-forth weather nonsense.

Happy Tuesday!

Woo!  It’s been a beautiful, rainy, fall-ish, busy busy week! Here’s what’s happening in Crunchy-land recently:

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– Mr. Crunchy enjoyed a day off, so we started our day with some sausage, orange juice, coffee, and homemade crepes filled with Nutella (that I got using a “free jar” coupon for submitting a recipe a few months back).  Growing up, most of my breakfasts were cereal, oatmeal, or something of the sort.  Big breakfasts like this always remind me of going out to eat, and even though I’m 25 I still associate breakfasts that include both orange juice and coffee as being on vacation. So days off work generally involve big breakfasts with both orange juice and coffee. :)

– 30 weeks (31 on Tuesday!).  Commence constant nesting.  Except with no car during the week, no craft skills to speak of whatsoever, and a house that takes approximately 1 hour to clean from top to bottom (and that includes dusting the baseboards), there’s not much to do.  Baby is moving a TON this week and I swear I can feel my stomach expanding by the minute.  Mr. Crunchy is thoroughly entertained now that Baby Crunchy’s dancing is visible from the outside.

– A competitive training program for our oil business started on Monday. It’s going really well!  I’m learning a lot and I’m loving the daily checklists that make sure I’ve done everything possible that day to build my business effectively and strategically.  Who would have thought this former nurse would be just as mesmerized by business and leadership books as by biology textbooks?

– I have taken Swagbucks MUCH more seriously this past week and my efforts have paid off in $25 worth of Amazon gift cards so far just this week!  Plus, since I hit my daily goals each day for 7 consecutive days (easy once you learn how!), I got a bonus of 25 points.  I’m keeping this up for a month straight, because I want that 300 Swagbuck bonus.  That in itself is almost a full $5 gift card. Score! Plus, did you know that if you order on Amazon through Swagbucks you earn 3 points for each dollar you spend? Revolving door of Swagbucks and gift cards, my friends. Making every dollar count!

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– Mr. Crunchy and I have taken up reading to each other as a pastime, and we very much enjoy it.  I am not much for reading aloud usually, but I’m getting more comfortable using emphasis and getting involved in the story.  So far we have read The Hunger Games and are halfway through the sequel, Catching Fire.  Mr. Crunchy has read all the books before, but I haven’t.  We used a free red box code to rent Catching Fire the other night as an inexpensive date night (we have seen both movies together already, but I wanted to watch again after reading the books!).  I’m so excited for the next movie, Mockingjay, to come out next month.  We will probably order Fandango tickets through Swagbucks (you get 10 swagbucks per ticket!). I’m probably going to borrow Mockingjay from the library so we can read it before we go see the movie.

This weekend we plan to do what we like to call “la purga,” which is when we go through the house and find everything superfluous and get rid of it.  Our closet is a little out of control, and I have big plans for my kitchen utensil drawer.  I also think that we will splurge on some apple cider during our grocery trip and take a walk with a mug of warm apple cider.  I’ll need to dig my fuzzy boots out of storage (one must be properly dressed for fall-themed walks, you know).

What are you up to on this fine fall weekend?

 

Note: This post may contain some affiliate links.  If you choose to use my links, thank you for supporting Crunchy Hippie Life! 

If you give Amanda an Instagram, she’s going to want to post pictures.

If she’s going to want to post pictures, she will want to make them interesting.

It will probably involve coffee.

If she’s going to be making coffee, she might as well try that new recipe she found for blueberry crisp (since she actually has all the ingredients).

If she’s going to be making blueberry crisp, she might as well clean up the kitchen while it bakes.

If she’s going to be in the kitchen for that long, she should probably plug in the speakers to the computer and get in some personal development time.

 

Instagram…helping you achieve your ultimate productivity.

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So as you know, Mr Crunchy and I got promoted in our doTERRA business in September.  We have big goals for October, and I’ve started teaching webinars to help me reach more people (especially since we have team members in Missouri, Iowa, Maryland, Georgia, and Tennessee).  I recorded the webinars and wanted to post them here (there’s lots of science involved!).

Medicine Cabinet Makeover – what’s wrong with the standard medicine cabinet and how do you fix it?

Autoimmune Disorders and Essential Oils - what’s the real cause of autoimmune disorders?  Is there any way to heal naturally?

At the end of the autoimmune disorders webinar are our specials for October!  And here’s a hint, our specials go over and above this awesome doTERRA October special:

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Today I earned 144 Swagbucks!  My goal was just to earn 30, but after a few minutes when I had earned the 30, I wanted those extra bonus points!  Before the hour was up, I had 144!  Here’s how I did it:

– Toolbar (1 point daily!)

– Daily poll (1 point)

– Surveys

– SwagTV

– Read book excerpts

– Daily Crave

– No Obligation Survey Option

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I am using Swagbucks to earn gift cards to help us pay for Christmas.  I can’t wait to get my husband something special that I earned and paid for with gift cards!!! Shout out to Crystal Paine from MoneySavingMom.com for the re-inspiration for signing up for Swagbucks!

 

Disclaimer: These links are my affiliate links.  If you choose to sign up for Swagbucks through these links, that will help me reach my gift card goal!  If you do, thank you so much!  If you would rather not, please sign up for Swagbucks here

Baby Bump!

Baby Bump!

Wow, only 11-ish weeks left until we meet our sweet Baby Crunchy! A few fun things:

According to my app, Baby Crunchy:

– is roughly 15.2 inches long and weighs about 2.5 pounds.

– “may” start moving around more and be strong enough to wake me up at night.  Considering this is the child who made sure I was awake at 4am to feel him/her move for the first time at 14 weeks, I’d say Baby Crunchy is already an overachiever.

Last week, Baby Crunchy decided that my liver was a comfy pillow and nestled right up to it.  I had a shoulder sticking out of my stomach. Thankfully, this position was apparently only cozy for about an hour.  Meanwhile, I was contorted in all sorts of fashions trying to be comfortable myself.

So far, Baby Crunchy enjoys classical music and Led Zepplin, interacting with Mr. Crunchy via excited kicks when he/she hears Daddy talking, and lounging in utero with an elbow resting on one of my kidneys.