Monday, August 31, 2015

the poverty luxe kitchen vol. 22: spinach + chèvre salad.

fun fact about me: im not a huge fan of salads, and i never have been (even while i was vegan, i never ate salads). james could eat a huge salad with every meal if i made one (actually, he frequently makes his own to accompany whatever it was i made), but for the most part, salads just dont do it for me. partly because they tend to be a lot of work, partly because most salads have some kind of thing i dont like in them, partly because i dont like my foods all mixed up and touching, and mostly because every single time i eat a salad (unless its like, tuna salad) i end up even hungrier than i was before i started eating salad. 

so i just never made salads. 

but then last semester i had a bit of a sticky situation for lunch: i had an awesome 20 minute break between my classes to eat a real lunch, BUT my school doesnt really have any gluten free options to buy, and there arent any microwaves available so bringing leftovers (which is what i usually eat for lunch at home) was out of the question. at first i tried to load up on snacks (fruit, cheese, crackers, granola bars, etc.) but that took a lot of prep and frankly, wasnt a real lunch. 

so then i gave in and decided to bring a salad, which was probably just a big container of spring mix with some balsamic vinegar on it because thats basically the only "salad" i ever made. and that wasnt really a real lunch either (especially considering last semester was basically the entire second half of my pregnancy). after that i decided i would figure out a salad that would keep me full at least till the end of class, and that i would actually like. oh, and it had to be easy to make, because no way was i getting up extra early to chop veggies OR adorable layering a weeks worth of salads in mason jars. 

heres what i came up with: spinach (heartier and more nutritious than the salad mix i was used to using), goat cheese (my favorite), and some simple toppings (no peeling or chopping at all!), and the simplest dressing ever. overall, its very satisfying. for a salad, i mean. 

spinach and chevre salad. 
(note: im not using any specific quantities so that way you can decide exactly how much salad you want to make. see also: i have no idea how to write a recipe for salad)

heres what you need: 

goat cheese (plain or herb flavor)
roasted pumpkin seeds (very inexpensive from the bulk bins at sprouts)
dried cranberries (preferrably unsweetened)
toasted pumpkin seed oil (from bluff cove olive oil co.)
balsamic vinegar
black pepper

heres what you do: 

place desired amount of spinach in a large bowl, topping with goat cheese, pumpkin seeds, and dried cranberries. 

drizzle with pumpkin seed oil and balsamic vinegar, adding black pepper if desired. 

normally i eat this salad by itself when i pack it for school or an outing where ill need my own lunch, but it also makes a great side dish, especially with salmon or mac and cheese)

im curious, what are your favorite kinds of salads? 

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Friday, August 28, 2015

alice in wonderland nail art tutorial (a guest post by taylor of posh polish nails).

Hi everyone! It's Taylor again :) I am back to share another fun nail design with you! As I mentioned in my first post, I came up with this design thanks to Victoria's daughter Alice! Side note : Can I just say how awesome Alice is? From what I read in Victoria's tweets and posts, she is a hilarious little girl. Can a three year old be my role model? Anyways, back to the reason I am here :) Today's nails are inspired by Alice in Wonderland! I have been wanting to try this design out for a while, and I thought this was a perfect time to do it! So without further ado, here are my nails!

  Alice in Wonderland NailsJust like my previous design, I will give y'all a step by step tutorial for each nail! Let's get started!

Index finger (Alice):

Polishes used:

Sally Hansen - White on and Lemon Shark Orly - Liquid Vinyl The nude is a Bolivian polish :)


Start with a base of white. Paint a small portion of the tip with a nude polish. This doesn't have to be precise, you just need to make sure you have enough nude for her forehead. It is better to overdo it than not have enough because you will be covering up the excess in the next step! Using a yellow polish, paint two strokes above the nude, one to the right and one to the left. This will be Alice's hair. The next step is to outline her hair and add a bow, I recommend using a black polish for this step. Side note: I am awful at painting faces, which is why I chose to paint the top of her head instead of her face. Would you have guessed it was Alice? I was told it looked like a duck XD

Middle finger (Eat Me Tag):

Polishes used :

Loreal - Club Prive Sally Hansen - White on and Black Nail Art Pen And the grey is Bolivian :)


Start off with any color base, I chose Club Prive because I love teal/turquoise polishes. This next step is optional, so feel free to get creative on this one! I chose to add grey polka dots to the base of Club Prive. Want stripes instead? Or would you rather it be plain? Go for it! Next paint the base of the tag with a white polish. I don't know why I made mine so small, especially since it was the only thing on the nail. I recommend making it bigger to at least fill half the nail, because it makes the next step so much easier. Now it is time to add the writing, see why it would be easier to have a bigger tag? I used a nail art pen by Sally Hansen because I find it makes it so much easier to write with than a nail art brush. The final step is to outline the tag to make it stand out against the background!

Ring finger (Pocket Watch):

Polishes used:

Orly - Liquid Vinyl Sally Hansen - White on The grey and gold are Bolivian as well :)


Start off with a base of a dark color. I chose to use grey, but black or any other deep color would work. The next step is to paint the base of the watch. I recommend using a metallic color, as you can see I used gold. You can either use a nail brush or the polish brush to paint the base, use what is easier for you! Then using the same metallic polish and a dotting tool, add a big dot to the top of the watch, and slightly smaller dots to form a chain. The next step is to add smaller dots over the chain dots using your base color, to finish the chain. Using a white polish, paint the base of the face of the watch. The last step is to use a black polish to add all the small details, such as the hands of the clock.

Pinky (Cheshire Cat):

Polishes used :

Loreal - Hint of Lavender and Violette


This nail is the easiest of all the designs. Start with a light purple/pink base, whichever you have that is closest to the Cheshire Cat's lightest color. This next step can be done two different ways. The first is to hand paint the stripes using a nail art brush. The second way is to use nail striping tape, which is what I used. If you have the striping, I recommend using it because you will achieve much cleaner and precise stripes than simply hand painting them. But if you don't have tape, no worries! Hand painted will still look good :) I finished all of these designs by using NYC Matte Me Crazy top coat. I wanted a matte finish, but if you prefer shiny nails, you can use a regular top coat! It is all up to you! 

There you have it! What do you all think? If you recreate this mani, I would love to see! Tag me on Twitter or Instagram so I can see! I want to thank Victoria for letting me share not just one, but two design's with you all! I had a lot of fun putting these together, I hope you guys enjoyed them!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

gluten free mango ginger cupcakes (guest post by stacie at housewifes whimsy)

hey everyone! stacie from Housewife’s Whimsy is back with another guest post, this time with a recipe for gluten free mango ginger cupcakes. as if a cupcake recipe wasnt awesome enough, shes here today with one thats not only gluten free, but with a totally unique flavor AND a mascarpone icing, are you excited? cause i am. lets let stacie take over so we can get to the actual recipe:

A fresh fruit base is a departure from my typical cupcake recipes. I personally love anything and everything chocolate but I really wanted to embrace the flavors of a California summer for this cupcake. So thanks to Poverty Luxe for inspiring me to bring these bright flavors to North Iowa! The mango and ginger flavor combo may not be the first thing you think of, but you will definitely fall in love once you try it.
If you’ve ever made gluten free cupcake recipes before you know that they can tend to be on the dry crumbly side. I’ve been able to change and refine this recipe over time so it is now perfect! I have a fabulous chocolate version on my blog to complement this vanilla based version.  The texture of the cake is just as good as any “regular” cupcake you might eat. It is light and fluffy without any hint of dryness. By using both xanthan gum and cream of tartar you get the best cupcake texture possible.
This recipe uses fresh fruit throughout the entire recipe. It also has the added benefit of no refined sugars in either the cake or icing. Because of this, the cupcake is not overly sweet. It has a hint of sweetness due to the honey, but mostly it relies on the mango and ginger flavors to shine through. The mascarpone provides the perfect vehicle for the bright summery California flavor combination. The hint of lemon added to the ginger syrup really creates a complex flavor blend throughout the entire cupcake.
I typically use piping bags and tips when I ice my cupcakes. This gives them the professional look and feel that really impresses those eating your cakes. If you’re not familiar with how to do this, I have a short tutorial over on my blog that walks you through how to get that bakery look. If you’re short on time though you can ice these cupcakes with a spatula or offset knife. I chose not to garnish these since I felt they were far too pretty with the clean lines, but you could feel free to finish the tops with a chunk of mango or candied ginger if you wish.
Gluten Free Mango-Ginger Cupcakes
For the Cakes:
1 Cup Gluten Free Flour
½ Cup Raw Honey
¼ Cup Salted Butter
¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 Eggs
½ Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Teaspoon Xanthan Gum
1 Teaspoon Cream of Tarter
½ Cup Mango Puree
½ Teaspoon Ground Ginger
¼ Cup Milk
For the Icing:
½ Cup Mango Puree
¼ Cup Chopped Fresh Ginger Root
½ Cup Water
1 Tablespoon Raw Honey
Splash of Fresh Lemon
16oz Mascarpone
2 Tablespoons Arrowroot Starch/Corn Starch
To make the cakes:
Preheat the oven to 350 and grease a twelve cup muffin tin or line it with paper liners.
In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the honey, butter, olive oil and eggs on high until well mixed and free of lumps.
Add the mango puree, vanilla extract and ground ginger. Stir until mixed.
Once the mixture is well combined stir in the xanthan gum, cream of tartar and gluten free flour. Beat on high until slightly elastic and the xanthan gum has been activated.
Add the milk and slowly mix until incorporated.
Using a ¼ cup measuring cup spoon the prepared batter into the lined muffin tin.
Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean. Let cool completely before icing the cupcakes.
To make the icing:
Place the fresh ginger, water, honey and spritz of fresh lemon in a small saucepan over medium heat. Let boil until reduced by half. Strain and let cool before moving on.
In a small bowl place the mascarpone, mango puree, ginger syrup and arrowroot starch. Use a spatula to stir until all the ingredients are well combined, adding additional arrowroot starch if the mixture is too runny.
Spoon the finished icing into a piping bag fitted with an icing tip if using. Pipe the icing onto the cooled cupcakes and enjoy!

Stacie LaMoore has been blogging at Housewife’s Whimsy since November 2014. Her blog contains a variety of topics including Gluten Free recipes, natural body and home ideas, and most importantly, cupcakes. She lives in northern Iowa with her husband, dog and cat where there isn’t much to do other than bake and watch the corn grow. She loves reading, kayaking and everything related to baking.  She’s very excited to have this chance to share a little of her life with you!

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Monday, August 24, 2015

the poverty luxe kitchen vol. 22: red beans + rice.

one of my big personal goals for this year was to try out more recipes and to get more comfortable and creative in the kitchen. the main reason i made this goal is because i have a bad habit of settling into a routine and just making the same four or five dinners over and over again, which makes me really sad because everyone here is actually pretty adventurous with food and i feel like were missing out on SO many great new things because i just make the same recipes over and over again. another lame side effect of this habit is that sometimes a meal slips off the rotation, gets forgotten for months and months, before i remember how great it is and start making it again. 

this is one of those recipes. 

i used to make red beans and rice pretty frequently, and there was ALWAYS a jar (or three) of them in the freezer for when we needed a super fast and easy dinner. i guess its simplicity is what made me forget how great it is, but with the last few months being so crazy with work (for james), school (for me) and having a new baby, red beans and rice are officially back on the rotation. why? because its a dinner thats not only super healthy and dirt cheap, but also takes zero effort in the crock pot. 

you know those crock pot recipes that are so complicated you might as well actually cook them? this is not one of those recipes. theres some chopping, some putting things in the crock pot, some button pushing, and then you get to do whatever for a few hours. all you have to do at dinner time is make rice. actually typing this reminds me that i need to go get some kidney beans...

red beans and rice. 
(makes 8 servings)

heres what you need: 

1 lb dried kidney beans, soaked overnight. 
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 onion
3 ribs of celery
2 tablespoons creole seasoning
salt and pepper to taste

heres what you do: 

place soaked beans in crock pot and cover with 1 inch of water. 

finely chop garlic, onion, celery, and bell pepper and add to beans. 

add creole seasoning and season with salt and pepper to taste (i add lots of pepper but no salt because the creole seasoning i use already has salt)

cook on low for 4-6 hours. serve over steamed white rice. 

to be completely honest, i dont use my crock pot a whole lot, what are your favorite crock pot recipes?

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Friday, August 21, 2015

adventure time nail art tutorial (a guest post by taylor of posh polish nails).

Hi everyone! My name is Taylor, and I am so excited to be guest posting for Poverty Luxe! Victoria has kindly given me the opportunity to write not just one, but two posts to share with you all! Before I begin, here is a little bit about me :) I am a nail blogger, I run a blog entitled Posh Polish Nails! I am currently living in Bolivia, and I love using inspiration from the world around me for my nail art! I will be sharing two different nail designs with you guys, one today and another on the 28th, and each will have a brief tutorial so that you can recreate it! Today's design is inspired by one of my favorite shows, Adventure Time! I recently discovered that Victoria and her family are also fans of the show, so I thought this would be the perfect design for this post! Here is what I came up with :)


For those of you who haven't heard of or watch Adventure Time, it is an animated show on Cartoon Network, and it is not just for kids! I chose to paint the two main characters (Index and Ring fingers) and two of my favorite reoccurring characters (Middle and Pinky). I will list the products used by finger, along with the tutorial! Let's get started!  

Ring finger (Finn):

Polishes used:

Sally Hansen - Brisk Blue and White Out Orly - Liquid Vinyl The nude is actually a bolivian brand, but any nude would work :)


This design is probably the easiest out of the characters. Start with a base of white polish. Paint the tip blue, using either the polish brush or a nail art brush. Using either the polish brush or a dotting tool, paint a nude oval towards the base of your nail, above the blue. The last step is to use a black polish and a nail art brush to add Finn's facial features, and to clean up the line between the white and the blue. I didn't do such a good job with the last step lol

Middle finger ( Lumpy Space Princess):

Polishes used:

Formula X - Outrageous Sally Hansen- White Out and Lemon Shark Orly - Liquid Vinyl


Start off with a purple base. Lumpy Space Princess has a very iconic star on her forehead, so I chose to start off with that, since I feel it is the most important part. Paint a star at the base of your nails, you can go ahead and use yellow polish but I chose to use white first to give the yellow more vibrancy. If you chose to use white first, go back over it with yellow after the first coat dries. Next use a large dotting tool and a black polish to paint her eyes. Using a nail art brush, paint her mouth and eyebrows using black as well. LSP has many facial expressions, feel free to paint her smiling, smirking, or another emotion if you'd like! It is up to you! Since I chose to give her a sad expression, I added small white dots in her eyes to convey emotion!

Ring finger (Jake):

Polishes used:

Sally Hansen - White out and Lemon Shark Orly - Liquid Vinyl


Start with a yellow base. Lemon Shark isn't exactly the right yellow, but it was the closest I had to Jake's actual color. Once your base is dry, use a dotting tool and black polish to create his eyes. This next step is pretty tricky. Using a nail brush, paint Jake's nose and mouth. This is a bit difficult, even I didn't get it exactly right. The final step is to use a smaller dotting tool to add white dots to his eyes. I think Jake is the hardest design out of all of them, he definitely has distinct features.

Pinky (Marceline):

Polishes used:

Zoya - Megan and Demetria Orly - Liquid Vinyl Sally Hansen - White Out


Start with a light grey base. Using a black polish and a nail art brush, paint her hair, leaving a decent space in the middle for her face. Her hair frames her face, so I chose to let the hair define her face in this design. While it might be easier in theory to paint your nail all black and then add her face, I find it easier to start with the lighter color as my base. Using a small dotting tool, paint her eyes! Adding her mouth is the next step. I chose to paint her mouth red, but you could use black, grey, or any other color you think fits! Since Marceline is a Vampire, she needs some fangs! Paint them using a small brush and a white polish! This last step is completely optional, if you don't have space don't worry about it! The red dot on her neck was not a mistake, she has two bite marks on her neck (I only had room to paint one), so if you want, go ahead and add them using a small dotting tool! There you have it! What do you all think? If you recreate this mani, I would love to see! Tag me on Twitter or Instagram so I can see! I had so much fun putting this design together for you all! As mentioned above, I will be back to share another design and tutorial with you on the 28th! It was inspired by Victoria's daughter Alice! Any guesses about the theme?
-Posh Polish
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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

housewifes whimsy hand + body lotion (a guest post).

today i have another wonderful lady taking over: stacie from Housewife’s Whimsy is here with a recipe for some homemade lotion with essential oils! this recipe looks absolutely fantastic and i hope i can get the spare time to make a batch sometime soon. but this is her recipe, not mine so ill let stacie take over now:

One of my favorite things to do is make homemade lotion. I’ve been doing it for some time now and I just love the way it feels when I put a fresh batch on my hands. This lotion recipe I’ve created is super silky, soft and luxurious. You will be in heaven once you try it out!
If you’ve made homemade lotion before you know that it can tend to be on the greasy/oily side. I’ve actually fixed that problem with this recipe! By adding a little bit of Arrowroot starch (or corn starch) you can actually make the lotion less greasy when you first put it on. It will absorb quickly into your skin and keep it soft throughout the day. The lotion has a thin consistency so it is perfect for spreading all over your body.
This recipe has been created exclusively for Poverty Luxe, but it is based on my favorite Honey and Shea Lotion. However, I have not included any coconut oil in this recipe since I know some people have allergic reactions.  This lotion is perfect for anyone with very sensitive skin. If you have trouble with fragrance or any essential oils you can simply omit this from the finished product. You will then have a wonderful unscented product to work with.  I’ve listed a few ingredients as optional, however if you omit them your finished product will not be as hydrating as this version. I also highly suggest using all organic ingredients since then you will only be putting only the very best on your body.
While I have a variety of essential oils on hand, I realize you may not. You can use any combination of EO’s you wish, you will simply need about 80 drops for this recipe. I’ve created a blend specifically for Poverty Luxe and this recipe below. It is a bright citrus based fragrance with notes of eucalyptus and clove bud.  This is one of my favorite EO blends to date, the only other one that even comes close is the blend for my Eucalyptus Citrus Body Butter. Depending on what you prefer, or any allergies you need to consider, use whatever blend works for you.
Homemade lotion will last for about three months at room temperature. If you keep it in the fridge you it will have a slightly longer shelf life, but not by much. However, this recipe makes the perfect amount of lotion, one for you and one for a friend! It is also a great way to reuse those mason jars you have laying around from other projects. Just simply make sure they have been sterilized before you use them for lotion, otherwise it will cut down on the shelf life. I personally like to glue some decorative paper to the tops of the lids to make them a little more beautiful.
Housewife’s Whimsy Hand & Body Lotion
1/3 Cup Grapeseed Oil
1/3 Cup Sunflower Oil
1/3 Cup Sweet Almond Oil
¼ Cup Beeswax
3 Teaspoons Organic Honey with Honeycomb
4 Teaspoons Vitamin E Oil
4 Teaspoons Shea Butter
6 Tablespoons Distilled Water
4 Tablespoons Arrowroot Starch
80 Drops Essential Oil
Special Poverty Luxe EO Blend:
20 Drops Lemon EO
20 Drops Sweet Orange EO
10 Drops Tea Tree EO
10 Drops Clove Bud EO
10 Drops Eucalyptus EO
5 Drops Frankincense EO
5 Drops Myrrh EO
Combine the oils, beeswax, honey, vitamin E oil, and shea butter in a medium saucepan, set over low heat.

Gently stir until the beeswax has melted.

Remove from heat and pour into a large bowl. Pour in the distilled water and arrowroot starch.

Using a hand mixer, mix together the oil and water until it resembles lotion.

Let cool to the touch then gently stir in the essential oils.
Once the lotion has completely cooled, spoon it into clean jars. (This recipe will make approximately two 8oz containers.)

Spread liberally over your hands and body and enjoy!

Pro tip: Have a specific saucepan, mixing bowl and mixer to use for making lotion. It is incredibly difficult to get these items completely clean so having ones specified for this use will prevent cross contamination with food.

Stacie LaMoore has been blogging at Housewife’s Whimsy since November 2014. Her blog contains a variety of topics including Gluten Free recipes, natural body and home ideas, and most importantly, cupcakes. She lives in northern Iowa with her husband, dog and cat where there isn’t much to do other than bake and watch the corn grow. She loves reading, kayaking and everything related to baking.  She’s very excited to have this chance to share a little of her life with you!

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Monday, August 17, 2015

the poverty luxe kitchen vol. 21: gluten free mac and cheese.

today im bringing back another recipe from the old days of poverty luxe: good old gluten free mac and cheese. well, not exactly an old recipe because while i have posted about mac and cheese before ive had quite a long time to perfect the recipe even further. also, now that im a lot more experienced with this gluten free thing and its gotten much easier to find decent gluten free products, my (already pretty awesome) mac and cheese recipe is now somehow even better than before (not that i thought that was possible at all). 

generally speaking, i make this mac and cheese on a weekly basis. even though its not exactly a quick dinner and it does get an absurd number of dishes dirty, its the perfect real-food version of comfort food and everybody loves it. i mean, how can you not love mac and cheese? i am only a tiny bit embarrassed to admit that every time i make this, we eat the entire thing without a single morsel left over. but its just that good. we usually pair it with these honey glazed carrots, for what i like to call "everyones favorite dinner night". 

alright, ill stop rambling about the magical mac and cheese and get to the recipe now...

gluten free mac and cheese. 
(serves 4)

heres what you need: 

1 12 oz package of gluten free noodles (i like the barilla GF noodles from target because theyre great and also $1.39 a box)
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons sweet rice flour (available here but i get mine at the local mexican grocery store for 99 cents a bag)
1 1/2 cups milk
approximately 2 1/2 cups shredded cheese (i typically use cheddar, jack, or a blend of the two)
salt, pepper, garlic powder, and italian seasoning to taste

heres what you do: 

preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

boil the noodles according to the package directions, drain and put them in a large casserole dish (note: watch your noodles VERY closely and drain them while theyre still a bit firm, gluten free noodles have a tendency to get mushy if you boil them too long). 

next, melt the butter in a small pot over medium/high heat, add the rice flour and stir until a smooth paste is formed (about one minute)

now slowly whisk in the milk, and stir in some salt, black pepper, and garlic powder to your preference.

stir the sauce until it thickens and starts to boil, then remove from heat and stir in about two cups of the shredded cheese. 

pour the sauce over the noodles and mix until everythings evenly coated. top with remaining cheese and italian seasoning. 

bake at 400 until the cheese on top browns (approximately 15 minutes). 

like i said earlier, i usually make this with cheddar and/or jack cheese, BUT this recipe is ALSO great with, well... any cheese that melts. ive made it with everything from smoked gouda to pepper jack to truffle cheddar and every time its been amazing. but, you know, i just really love cheese (i mean, it was the theme of my birthday party). 

what's your favorite kind of cheese? (its hard for me to pick just one, but im a big fan of dill havarti and goat cheese). 

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Friday, August 14, 2015

twice baked potatoes. (guest post by sonya of sea salt and caramel)

today we have another great guest post, our friend sonya from sea salt & caramel is back, this time with a recipe for twice baked potatoes! 

  1. Rinse, wrap in aluminum foil, and bake 4 Russet potatoes in the oven at 400F, for 40 minutes. 

  2. Once cooked, cut the top off the potato to create a flat surface. Carve out the inside and place it in a bowl. 

  3. Mix potatoes with 1/2 lb of grilled canadian bacon, cut into bits, a handful of chives, and 3/4 of a tablespoon of sour cream for each potato. Season and fill each potato shell. 

  4. Dust with grated cheese and place back into the oven. Let grill for 10-15 minutes
  5. Tips:
  1. You can bake the potatoes the night before to save time. 
  2. If you pierce the skin of the potato while carving it, don’t worry you can wrap the potato in aluminum foil for support. 
  3. You can even make the mixture before hand and save prep time.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

you cant take it with you: what it means to downsize (guest post by j.h. moncrieff)

im still on my baby-break so today we have  j h moncrieff guest posting with her story about downsizing: 

photo credit

Not so long ago, I was the girl with over 170 pairs of shoes.

Yes, you read that right. Over 170 pairs of shoes.

What was I thinking? Instead of being a source of shame, this in-your-face conspicuous consumption was my trademark, even something to be proud of.

Coworkers challenged me to wear a different pair of shoes every day. I took pictures of my latest acquisitions and posted them online, to a flood of positive comments. Having the right accessory for every occasion became part of my identity.

To say this wasn't healthy is an understatement.

My giant shoe collection, as beautiful as it was, was also a symptom. A symptom of a much bigger problem. My long-term relationship--a relationship I was sure was going to end in marriage--was on the verge of collapse, and I felt very alone a lot of the time. For an extrovert, that has to be one of the worst feelings in the world--the feeling that no one else really gets you, not even your partner.

My shame of being unable to make yet another relationship work was so great that I couldn't even turn to my friends. In fact, my best friend had no idea things were as bad as they were until I asked her to go apartment-hunting.

Rather than deal with all these painful feelings and the fact that I was probably going to lose one of the most important people in my life, I turned to a welcome distraction--online shopping.

It started innocently enough, searching for just a simple pair of white sandals, and built from there. It quickly became an obsession, and soon living in my house was like celebrating Christmas every day, with new packages arriving all the time. Sometimes I didn't even bother to open them for weeks. It wasn't the shoes themselves, but the thrill of acquiring them that interested me. Somehow, having a lot of possessions made me feel safe.

But of course I wasn't safe. The inevitable happened. The relationship ended, and the little line of credit I'd been meaning to pay off just as soon as I got around to it exploded into an unmanageable mess as I struggled with being solely responsible for all of the household bills. I was in over my head.

Getting out of debt was one of the happiest moments of my life, but it required a lot of sacrifice, and online shopping was the first thing that had to go.

When I realized it was time to make my dream of moving to an island a reality, I knew I was in for some serious downsizing. Yes, you can take it all with you, but why would you want to? Why would anyone want to start a new life bogged down by so many possessions that they can barely move or breathe?

As I looked around my home, I realized I owned many things that I didn't really need or even like that much. Well meant but unneeded gifts from family and friends, letters and cards from people I hadn't spoken to in years, instruments I no longer played, and too much of pretty much everything.

A shopping addiction is hard to break, but I think I've come a long way. When I fill my virtual shopping cart with things I don't need these days, I'm a lot better at shutting down my computer and stepping away. 

I've spent the money I've saved on something I've always wanted to do more of--travel. Thanks to my shoes, I've seen Curacao, Bali, Lombok, China, and Maui. And those experiences are worth more to me than any pair of heels.

 Have you ever downsized? What was the item you had the most difficulty parting with? Have you ever used shopping as a way to avoid dealing with an issue or problem?

Thanks for reading!
J.H. writes scary stories that let her readers escape their everyday lives. She blogs about unsolved mysteries, the supernatural, haunted places, and spooky true stories—when she’s not busy being a journalist, editor, book doctor, and publicist. In her “spare” time, J.H. loves to travel to exotic locales, advocate for animal rights, and muay thai kickbox.
 J.H. Moncrieff: Website | Twitter | Facebook
The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave: Amazon | Samhain | Kobo | B&N | Trailer

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Monday, August 10, 2015

the poverty luxe kitchen vol. 20: black bean chipotle hummus.

for the (wait for it...) twentieth edition of the poverty luxe kitchen, i have a very, very special recipe for you: the black bean chipotle hummus that i have been meaning to post on here for literally an entire year. yeah... obviously im really on top of things. but better late than never, right? 


because this hummus is awesome. i mean, not to toot my own horn or anything and we all know that hummus in general is awesome, but this goes beyond regular hummus into fancy-six-dollar-for-a-tiny-thing-at-the-farmers-market-why-cant-i-make-this-at-home hummus territory. except, that you can totally make it at home and a huge batch costs less than the little 8 ounce tub you buy at the farmers market. oh, and its totally easy. 

are you ready to get started with the recipe? here we go: 

black bean chipotle hummus. 
(serves 6-8)

heres what you need: 

4-5 cloves garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1 can (or two cups cooked) garbanzo beans
1 can (or two cups cooked) black beans
3 tablespoons lime juice
2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (save the rest to make chipotle aioli!)
heres what you do: 

finely chop garlic and place in a small dish with the olive oil and let it sit for 15-20 minutes. 

in the bowl of your food processor, combine the oil and garlic with the remaining ingredients and pulse until smooth. if the hummus is too thick, add water one tablespoon at a time until it reaches your desired consistency. 
transfer hummus from food processor to an airtight container and store for up to a week in the fridge. 

im a big fan of eating hummus with carrot sticks and cucumber slices, how do you like to eat it? 

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