Friday, February 27, 2015

the poverty luxe kitchen vol. 3: vegan black bean chili.

jusssstt in case we have any new readers/while were still sort of on the topic of this sort of re-brand happening here i would just like to reiterate: the poverty luxe kitchen is a new recurring segment where i talk about food, recipes, kitchen hacks, etc., and how they relate to the poverty luxe lifestyle. as of right now its still in its baby stages (though you can read vol. 1 and vol. 2 to catch up if you so desire), but im still really, really excited about the direction this is headed in already. 

now without any further ado, lets talk about chili. even though here in los angeles were dusting off the bathing suits and getting ready for spring time, the internet has made me aware that this is very much not the case in the rest of america. so chili seemed like a good topic for this week. 

i like chili. im pretty sure i always have. its spicy, its hearty, its easy, and its total comfort food. the thing is, it usually comes from a can, which can be great for price and convenience, but isnt always so great in terms of nutrition and accommodating my dietary limitations. but it doesnt have to come from a can. you can totally make it yourself and its super awesome and cheap and not even hard. 

this recipe, like the majority of recipes in my mental library, has evolved quite a bit over the past few years since i started making it: first i had a recipe for a blended black bean soup, then i got lazy and stopped blending it, then i started cramming vegetables in it as an attempt to be healthier, and finally, i was like "hey this soup is basically chili" so i added more spices and now its basically always on our meal rotation. 

why? because its delicious, duh. also, its super, super cheap and basically entirely consists of stuff we usually have lying around. also also, this recipe makes a huge ass pot of chili that i can portion and freeze and feed my family a good five or six times before we run out and its time to make it again. also also also, it has the added benefits of not only being gluten/soy free (actually it can be entirely allergen free if you omit the corn), AND vegan. so if youre ever faced with a situation where you have to cook a meal for someone with impossible dietary needs, youre welcome. 

i think ive blabbered on enough, whos ready to make some chili?!

heres what you need: 

(recipe makes 12 + meal sized portions)

1 lb black beans, soaked and cooked (or 4 cans, i wont judge) 
1 can corn (or 1/2 bag of frozen corn, totally optional if you want to make this allergen free)
1 can tomatoes (nope, i dont have an alternative to suggest)
1 bell pepper, any color (also optional)
3-4 carrots
3-4 celery stalks
1 onion
4-5 cloves garlic
1 qt vegetable stock (i make my own)
olive oil
2 tablespoons chili powder (not the hot kind)
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional if youre not into spicy things)
salt + pepper to taste

heres what you do: 

start by finely chopping garlic and onion, and in your biggest pot, sauté those in some olive oil on medium-high heat until they start to soften. 

chop carrots, celery, and bell pepper and add those to the onion/garlic, continue to sauté until things start browning. season with salt and/or pepper as you feel necessary. 

next add your stock, beans, corn, tomatoes, and spices, give everything a good stir and bring it to a boil. 

reduce heat and simmer gently until the carrots are cooked through. 

aaaaannndddd youre done! 

you can eat this immediately, maybe with some cheese on top (in which case it would no longer be vegan, but you know) or some cornbread, put it on baked potatoes, burgers, hot dogs, french fries, anything youd do with chili. and the best part: it freezes beautifully so you can make this once, and keep eating it for a very, very long time. 

hope you enjoy this recipe as much as i have, be sure to stop by and let me know what you think after youve tried it out!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

what is poverty luxe?

so with all this talk about figuring out who i am as a blogger and what i actually want to do here as i start to overhaul my content into something that i feel represents this brand and what i want to do with it, i suppose i should, you know, explain myself. 

at its core, this is a lifestyle blog, not necessarily a food blog or a style blog or a personal finance blog or any other specific niche blog, but all of those things together as they relate to our lifestyle. 

the poverty luxe lifestyle. 

and what do i mean by that? well i mean our lifestyle of learning to live within (or preferably below) our means (whatever they may be at the time, since it tends to fluctuate), and enjoy it. i mean making the most of what we have and making the best life we can, no matter how limited our income may be. i mean cutting out unnecessary crap and cutting corners where we can so we can have nice things. i mean reducing what we have to spend money on so that theres more left over for what we want to spend money on. i mean setting things up so that we can take a chill pill and NOT freak out about every single penny that goes in and out of this house. 

we (and by we i mean james and i together), have worked very hard to build a life that was both financially sustainable and enjoyable. its taken a long time, its been really hard, and for the most part weve been entirely on our own since doing things "by the book" just wasnt right for us. 

i figured if if weve had to work so hard to figure out solutions to make the broke life a good life, then maybe there are other folks out there that could benefit from what weve learned over the past few years: things like managing our finances with a topsy-turvy income (have i mentioned lately that james is a carpenter?), making the most of small-space living, turning even the most meager grocery budget into a week of healthy, delicious meals, and finding ways to turn those spare pennies into the things that we really want. 

and those are the types of things youll find here in my new and improved content: recipes, projects, money saving tips, and a closer look into our life and how we learn to make things work. all with the focus of making a good life out of what we have, not just pinching pennies to pad our bank accounts and buy more stuff, and maybe questioning (or breaking) the "rules" of financial management along the way. 

so maybe youre looking for some help (or a sympathetic ear) with getting your familys budget in check. maybe you want to learn how to feed your family fresh wholesome food without going broke or spending all day in the kitchen. maybe youre trying to keep your family happy and entertained in a tiny house. maybe you want to simplify your life so you dont have to worry about money so much. maybe youd like to slow down and spend more time doing the things that actually make you happy. 

and maybe, just maybe youre a little frustrated with the rigid methods and unrealistic attitudes that seem so prevalent in the finance blogging world, and the seemingly unattainable air of perfection in the realm of lifestyle blogging. 

like us. 

so pull up a chair, pour yourself a drink, and lets learn to love living the broke life. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

a post about unintentional blog breaks, sucking at goals, and big announcements

well hello out there all you beautiful people of the interweb. i have returned from the depths of hiatus to let you know that once again, no, i am not dead. i just accidentally stopped writing for an entire month. again. (oh, and excuse the totally random family photo, i couldnt really think of an appropriate image for this post). 

while my summer break was an "on purpose" break that just kind of dragged on and on into the fall, this one hit me hard right when i was getting back into posting again. i could give you a list of reasons why this happened, school stuff, health stuff, busy life stuff, but really that feels like making excuses. the truth is, i was starting to feel really fake and somewhat insincere about the state of my blog content. mainly i think over the past (almost) two years ive tried to do too many things here and tried to be too many people in terms of who i am/want to be as a blogger. i needed some time to back off on posting things i wasnt so sure about and figure out what kind of blog i really want this to be and how to reflect that in my writing/content/monetization. its really a much more complex issue than i think anyone outside of the blogger circle would expect (though i do think the majority of my blog friends would be able to relate to where i am right now), but thanks to this little writing break and a very, very, VERY patient husband willing to listen to the exact same dilemma over and over again, im getting there. 

but there was another big factor involved in my writers block as well: ive been feeling really, really bad about myself and my abilities after going almost two whole months into this new year and making zero progress on our 2015 goals. none. ok i did try a couple of new recipes, but thats about it. i know this is somewhat expected since the vast majority of this years goals were the slow-and-steady-take-all-year type of goals (and, that as a naturally task-motivated personality, if i had made a list of 400 tiny goals id have a post today about how im halfway done) and i shouldnt beat myself up about the lack of momentum, but at the same time... im having a hard time staying motivated to reach those goals i made back in january. 

but instead of making this a mopey bummer post, i want to take a little time to share a few exciting announcements of whats to come here at poverty luxe: 

1. as i kind of implied at the beginning of this post, im working on a rebrand of sorts. ive spent a long time really considering what type of work i want to do here, and i think ive nailed down a better general direction. which i am absolutely thrilled about, if, maybe a little terrified to shift gears so drastically. but if i want this blog to keep going, i need to be excited about it, so its necessary to make some changes. also, not that i have the skills/budget for a full site re-design yet, i am working on a spiffy new logo, and hopefully i can debut that by the end of the semester. 

2. im leaving etsy. this was a hard, hard decision, because ive been with etsy since the very beginning of my first business (which wasnt all that long after etsy was started), and it pains me to say it, but, its just not a productive outlet for me anymore. i want to focus my efforts with the shop on designing new products and selling at craft fairs. etsy kind of just... gets in the way. for now ill be moving my online presence to instagram (obviously ill talk more about this when it happens), and maybe, maybe ill consider building my own ecommerce site someday. 

3. im no longer offering paid sponsorships. blogging for money is tricky, tricky business. as ive been considering what i want to do with blogging and the best ways to monetize it, ive realized that this avenue is maybe not the best for keeping things consistent and authentic and without distractions. now this has nothing to do with me being against blog sponsorships because (with very, very few exceptions) my experience with them has been nothing short of amazing. its just not whats right for my blog right now. 

4. were having a baby! actually, you may or may not have already been aware of this for a while since its been public on social media, but i feel like pointing this out because 1. i am 20 weeks today and HALF WAY DONE cooking baby #2, which is a huge milestone considering i am just not into this whole pregnancy thing, and 2. as per my last statement, while i do have some pregnancy/baby related post ideas, there will not be weekly or even monthly "bumpdate" posts, or (unless something really, really insane happens) a birth story happening on the internet. sorry to disappoint. but i did make a GIF! and that is very much not disappointing!

so yeah, this blog is still a thing, its just, theres been some major work happening behind the scenes. and be sure to stay tuned because i DO have some great posts coming up (as well as a few posts elaborating on some of my recent business decisions)!