How to “travelight” :a month in Guatemala with only a standard carry-on duffel bag??

Yes! finally! a post on how to minimise and frugalise your next long trip abroad!

After spending a month in Guatemala voluntouring, I feel like a total pro on the subject of light traveling- or travelighting”.

*I am sure many have other- perhaps more exciting tips- I promise to put my ego aside for a moment and I will gladly share for the benefit of the universe-so don’t hold back-comment.

But first- why travelight ?

Surely the airplane can carry my suitcases and the cab will get me anywhere- why skimp on clothes? Why narrow my options as to toiletries? Why do you need to turn a fun vacation into a working process??

Ok –no need to get worked up about this- like everything else in life- feel free to do whatever you want.

Want to carry your whole house with you so as not to leave your comfort zone not even for a moment? Enjoy yourself.

Want to waste precious time waiting for your suitcases +pay extra with many companies+ carry heavy suitcases around crowded airports? Great idea.

But- if you wish to learn some tricks on how to manage a whole month abroad with only a standard carry-on- than continue reading.

#1: Get a good travel bag.

This bag is going to carry all of your assets for a few weeks- and might sometimes happen to become overcrowded…(mm it might have happened that I forgot I had a space limit and purchased one too many gifts…).

20181215_133417.jpg
Here is my duffel bag- did a great job

*Now as to the old debate –duffel or rucksack- well I think it depends on the nature of the trip.

If you are planning a hike or camping –during all- or most of the trip- well than there isn’t really a question, right? The dilemma starts when most of your trip is staying in one place- but- you are planning a hike or 2 –something around 2-3 day hike max.

Well this is a dilemma –and I think the hike component will win this time, since there is no way you will be able to carry both bags, and no way you can go camping or hiking with a duffel or a trolley.

*If most of your trips are like this case, I think it is better to consider getting a front load rucksack that complies with standard airline carry on regulations (55*35*25 cm/ 21*15*9 inches).

*I searched on line and I think the bag that meets most of the criterias is the Osprey farpoint 40.I don’t own one yet since neither Osprey nor Amazon ship to where I live but I am not losing hope thet 2019 will be the year for me to meet the osprey.

This picture is from their site.

Again- I get nothing from any company-I simply read several reviews online, and this review made a very good impression on me- but as usual-judge for yourselves.

This guy has great advice on many other issues concerning traveling light so just read and learn.

the link: great article from “the carry-on guy “

2.packing cubes!

20181215_134151.jpg
These are my packing cubes- got them on ebay a few years ago- still doing a great job. I get nothing from this company-they met my basic criterias – good reviews – good price- so I bought them. turned out they are heavy duty material too!

Yes these are life savers-and cost only a few $ online. Not only do they save (a lot of ) space, but they also keep the clothes from getting wrinkled–and keeps your duffel in order so you can find anything you need in seconds.

Divide your clothes to sections –according to the cube size, and roll like a pro!

I admit I love those cubes so much I even bothered to roll my dirty laundry into them on the trip back. (Yes of course I washed the cubes afterwards- are you serious? It washes so easily and dries in a few minutes)

The reason I bothered repacking my dirty laundry was simple. I tried throwing it to a laundry bag-it wouldn’t fit into my duffel…the only way I could get every thing- including the gifts I bought- into the duffel- was if I rolled my used clothes neatly back to the pack.

20181201_075436.jpg

3. Tsa fluids zipper bag: the 3-1-1 rule.

1: person.

1: bag-1 liter size- use a zip lock back- it gives a few inches more –you will need them.

3: 3.4 ounces (100 ml) size container of fluid

*Fluid, by the way- is not only shampoo or night creams, but also toothpaste and lipstick.

I used 5 small containers, which I divided like so:

1. Night cream

2. Natural toothpaste

3. Natural deodorant

4. Facial soap

5. Body lotion

6. I even added a tiny facial mask container- well it was a month-long trip and I enjoyed pampering my face every few days there…

20181215_133513.jpg

I also managed to include my day cream-50 Spf sun screen: this double duty enabled me to close the zipper in my zip lock bag and have everything I needed-now that I stopped wearing makeup.

4.Mix and match + quick dry –easy wash clothes only!

All my clothes were easy hand wash and dry on their own in the room while I am at school with the kids. and all of them were basic mix and match solid colors. this meant that no matter what- I had something to wear.

I took my clothes to a close by laundry twice during my 1 month stay- a week after arriving- couldn’t take off that “sitting 24 hours in an airplane ” kind of smell, and the other time after the 2 day Acatenango hike- to take off the “camp fire at 1 am watching a volcano errupt” smell.

My clothes came back shining and smelling great all for 10$.

Between those 2 times, I simply washed my clothes in the sink, with a simple bar of local soap I bought in “la bodegona”.

20181124_072809.jpg

If you are wondering why I didn’t buy or bring proper laundry soap- I don’t like hand washing my clothes with powder laundry detergent- It doesn’t dissolve well in cold water -and the Tsa rules about liquid prevented me from bringing my laundry shampoo. at the supermarket I saw no reason to buty a special soap when I liked the smell of this washing soap + I used the other bars in the pack for washing- once my Dr bronner’s soap bar vanished.

5. Bring a refillable water bottle!

Think environmentalism+saves a lot of money !

Now about this Tsa liquid rule at the airport…..

I cannot board a flight -or go anywhere outside my house for that matter- without my water bottle.

But airport regulations make it very difficult to board a plane with more than 100 ml in your bottle.

So- what I found out is that many airports have water coolers after security checks, and those who don’t- well check out if you can fill your bottle from the water tap in the toilets.yes I just wrote toilets.

I did that in schiphol- Amsterdam (great water! cold and tasty!) in Ben-Gurion air-port in Tel Aviv and in Panama , and I am sure many other airports , once you inquire- have that option.please make sure the water is clean and clear for safe use beforehand.even if you are thirsty.no joke here.

6. Orientation at your destination- includes a must trip to the local supermarket.

First of all- this is an interesting place to see local people and local customs. can’t help it- people all around the globe like to eat.

Second- you can try new and different food- in a safe environment. If you are a bit hesitant of trying out street food food, (I am), than the local supermarket can provide you a glimpse at local food and produce without many of the hazards.

Thirdly-this is your oppurtunity to stack on fruit and snacks for just in case situations- and provide food options for situations you feel like staying in and having a light meal.(Introvert anyone?)

7. Walk -walk-walk!

Instead of using taxis- try to get the real feel of the new place you arrived at- and walk around. try going out without your phone-shocking yet possible!

Antigua- by foot!

8. Make a copy of your VIP (very important papers)

put it in your travel bag. and save it in your Gmail account. a copy of your passport, your travel insurance, your E ticket’ your stay voucher, you get the drift.

Enjoy your holiday! the cooliflower.

Vegan and frugal in Guatemala-my month in antigua (and a side note on traveling alone).נ

As I already told you, I volunteered for a month with NDG -in antigua, guatemala. here is a link to my previous post – Volunteering with Ninos De Guatemala -the whole truth. 

During my stay, I was provided with 3 meals a day at my homestay, except on sundays, so basically I needed to provide for myself only on the 4 sundays I spent in antigua. 

But- being a health enthusiastic vegan, I realized quickly that my homestay-although being super nice and cooperative, were used to serving meat and dairy , and I would have to eat the “sides”. 

Well I am not a “sides” person. I love food. I love to eat.  food is a super important aspect of our lives, and I prepare my meals with a lot of thinking put into the nutritious aspects as well as respecting my tastebuds. 

Where there is a will- there’s a way- I refuse to believe it is difficult to eat healthy vegan food on a budget even when you are out of your comfort home and kitchen, in a foreign and non-vegan enthusiastic country. (non enthusiastic is an understatement- many  dishes consisted of meat or dairy products and the rest were gluten abundant- and I try to avoid gluten if I can. 

MY SAVIOURS WERE THE FRUIT- OH SO WONDERFUL FRUIT OF GUATEMALA. 

Guatemala has great pineapples, bananas, papayas, apples and melons, and this plate was my breakfast every day for a month. 

simply wonderful.

But- at around 10 am- I began to feel hungry again-enter snacks from the antiguan supermarket-la bodegona.

my vegan snacks- 3 bags of almonds, bananas, raisins, prunes, mixed nuts, coffee. total sum- 10$. 

 For lunch – again- la bodegona saved my  a** , I bought 3 packs of red beans, a pack of lentils and a pack of chickpeas, and simply brought it (along with a generous tip) to the lady in charge of cooking in the homestay , and politely asked her to prepare them for me as almuersos (lunch in spanish) from now on.

yay ! lentils! 

On sundays- the first two sundays I was away climbing the pacaya volcano and the acatenango volcano -so I ate my snacks.

on the third and fourth sundays- well…

 I searched on line, and I did find a few places that got good reviews- one called “la bruja”, which is supposed to have great vegan burgers, and the other called “Samsara”, and I swear I started walking towards “Samsara”, but suddenly I realized I walked too far and I am near the lovely “la bodegona” supermarket….

So I got in and decided to have a picnic lunch in my room. 

20181125_161817.jpg

tortillas, avocado, bean spread, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, garlic salt, organic apples, grapes.

This is my picnic spread- i spread avocado and bean spread on my tortillas, added tomatoes and sprinkled some garlic salt- and had myself a tasty borrito -like roll. for dessert I ate some grapes. I was left with apples, tomatoes and grapes for the next 3-4 days, and all for 100 Q- about 12 $, the cost of one lunch. 

I realized I didn’t “accidentally find myself near the supermarket”. 

I already told you I am an introvert, and all the while I was searching the web for a good vegan place to eat, I was concerned about sitting in a restaurant on a sunday lunch in a foreign place, and eating .alone

I’m not much of a restaurant person on regular terms, let alone on these terms….

I think I felt so uneasy, I subconsciously led myself to the supermarket, where another option- a great option- was open for me. 

I don’t mind eating alone in my house-office.

I actually prefer it. I love food, I appreciate tastes, textures, colors, visuality, everything that has to do with food. I love eating. I don’t read or watch anything while eating, and prefer to eat alone and fully soak in the complete pleasure to all senses that food brings about. 

What I was concerned about was sitting with no filters- such as a friend or family member-  in a restaurant full of strangers- all sitting with their families or friends. 

I am fully aware this could have been a great experience , but again- since I prefer not to eat out even when I am not abroad, the awkward feeling was intensified. 

This picnic was such a success that I repeated it on my last sunday there.

This is a good opportunity to discuss traveling alone.

I have been traveling alone for a few years now, and I love it. 

I know many people prefer traveling with someone- be it spouse-other family member- friend- group. 

traveling alone is a whole different concept.

When traveling alone- all decision- for better or for worse- are yours- and yours alone. 

You need to take care of everything , deal with every mishap , eat your meals alone- unless you hook up with people along the way- and have only yourself (and Instagram, of course) to share your adventures with.

This means- you have total freedom, and this freedom- can be frightening. 

*I will most definitely not be the first to acknowledge that freedom is a frightening concept. I strongly recommend this book- a classic in my opinion.here is a link- erich fromm escape from freedom ( please try to get this at your local library first- read and then decide if it is one of the “keepers” that need to belong in your home library).

Try traveling alone once- maybe a short trip, maybe not abroad , but try to plan your trip-and execute it- all by yourself. maybe you will make mistakes, maybe not everything will work like a swiss clock- and maybe it doesn’t really matter- because that sense of doing it on your own is intoxicating. 

In my experience- locals are much nicer to you when traveling alone, you are more likely to meet new people, enjoy museums (think about going to a contemporary art museum with a spouse that doesn’t appreciate art. what a  disaster. think about the reverse situation -a disaster nonetheless. when alone- you get to decide if and when you go anywhere, what and when you will eat, sleep, and see. awwww freedommmmmmmm). 

Give it a try. 

So- if you are a vegan -frugal -introvert like me- I hope I gave you some ideas in this post. even if you fall into only one of these categories- or none of them- I hope you enjoyed reading.

It is possible to travel and enjoy healthy nutritious vegan food- in a frugal way! 

the cooliflower. 

Continue reading “Vegan and frugal in Guatemala-my month in antigua (and a side note on traveling alone).נ”

Volunteering with Ninos De Guatemala -the whole truth.

I am a skeptic.

I do not take anything anyone tells me for granted, I always check- and double check every fact.

When I decided to travel to Guatemala and volunteer with NDG -Ninos De Guatemala- I was skeptic too- and after spending almost a month in Antigua-Guatemala- volunteering and touring (AKA voluntouring), I can give you my own private  skeptical point of view on volunteering with NDG  .

THE WHOLE TRUTH AND NOTHING BUT IT.

First- why volunteer? why not just fly to central america and hike-sight see- enjoy good hotels and sit in coffee shops ? enjoy a proper vacation- I mean -If you are spending time and money and the flights aren’t short either- you should enjoy yourself, right?

I agree- you should enjoy yourself. 

The question is- are you happy with the usual way you travel , or are you looking for something else. I dare say- more meaningful than the usual way I used to travel abroad: shopping-museums- sightseeing- hotels- restaurants. 

And please don’t get me wrong- there is nothing wrong with relaxing, having a good time, sight-seeing and museum strolling. actually you can add hiking and other self-enriching experiences to this list.

I am definitely not giving up on these kind of  experiences . 

This post has 2 purposes as I see it: the first is to suggest another way of traveling- after you have read all about the lessons I’ve learned from my month in Guatemala, and the second purpose is to give you my full and true opinion about this specific NGO- should you consider voluntouring in Guatemala .

I want to start by stating a few obvious and yet perhaps overlooked notions: 

  1. voluntouring in my opinion is as selfish as every other trip. the fact that I decided to dedicate the money (and time) I would have otherwise spent on fancy hotels-a thrilling hike or other adventure-interesting meals -fancy museums-to an organization focused on helping others-  is definitely very nice of me- but I still believe that if I level with myself   I will  agree that the giver- in this case me- profited from giving just as much as the recipient of the gift, maybe even more. many studies show that volunteering fills you with good energy, a sense of accomplishment, and overall happiness. 

 

this is Victoria. I mean- isn’t it obvious that playing with her is a gift to myself?

2. Be humble . you will not change the world-cure hunger- or cure anything else for that matter- in the few days-few weeks-few months you will volunteer. 

Maybe if you were a millionaire and were to give millions of $ to charity -you would make a significant difference. but most of us aren’t, and I believe it is important to be realistic about your true ability to impact other people’s lives, otherwise you might end up thinking you wasted your time &money, only because the change isn’t visible.

3.The extent of your sense of accomplishment and making a true difference is totally up to you.

I started volunteering not knowing any Spanish. well maybe  basic level acquired on “duolingo”- which is a good app -but when you need to speak to locals -you find out it’s a bit more complicated than writing your answer in an app….

So basically I didn’t understand a word the kids- or the teacher- said. 

This led to very funny situations involving a lot of hands, drawings, running around and misunderstandings.

For a very verbal person like me- this was a revelation. 

I ended up helping the teacher (wonderful vanessa- I hope all teachers were like her- such patience, quiet handling of the class that consisted of 20 very energetic young kids …I was privileged to help her!) cut cards, glue paper, wrap yarn, draw, help the kids with lunch, clean the class, watch over their free play , participate in soccer games , brush their teeth, and basically- just sit down and hug whoever was in a need of a hug at that moment.

And after the first day- when the kids got used to me- they took turns sitting on my laps- all the kids by the way- even the most shy ones- felt at ease with me after a few days- and whenever one of them was feeling a bit down or lonely or sad- he was immediately hugged and comforted, without many words involved.

So I didn’t end up thinking I saved the world from hunger , and I didn’t find a cure for cancer, nor did I save anything else.

Maybe, just maybe- a few kids had a better time in summer school because of me- and maybe- I was the only one that had a great time. 

I don’t know. 

I do know that volunteering for a few weeks and expecting to make a true difference- is something that may prevent the absolute and true joy of simply being there for someone else, maybe comforting one person, maybe helping one stray dog and maybe help a senior citizen clean his house or get a blanket.  maybe just being with someone  and sharing your good vibes with them is enough as a goal. 

*by the way- in the afternoons I learned spanish with a great teacher named Alvaro in the Cambio spanish school. the income from cambio is donated to Ndg too. if you happen to go there do yourself a favour and ask specifically for him. and say hi from me. alvaro and I had some serious conversations about life, family, anger management, money, goal setting and veganism. (mostly) in spanish. 

4. The co-coordinators at the office of NDG are truly wonderful -and I received a full explanation as to where the donation money was going.

I felt secure and safe in Antigua, my personal coordinator carlota was constantly in contact with me, showed me around, explained what needed explaining , took us to the jade museum, a cooking class and a chicken bus factory tour, and even offered me her personal gear when I told her I was going to climb the Acatenango! 

The donation money -and this was definitely a question raised about some other organizations- was definitely not going to anyone besides the kids in the schools- the office is a small place, no one has a car- except for one- and it is an old truck used to drive to the schools and back.on the same note- please do not have any expectations to live in a hotel or anything like that. my homestay room was basic and simple, it was clean and the food was good -but again- basic. nothing fancy. I wasn’t expecting fancy and I liked my home stay . this is the room and the view from it: 

20181119_095449.jpg
mi dormitorio
20181119_121416.jpg
the jungle outside my room . spent a few days reading in the sun here

Here is a link to the  NDG site- take a lookNinos De Guatemala

I think it is clear that providing proper  education for kids who otherwise might wonder the streets or work in the fields- is the most efficient way to make a true and real impact. 

This NGO has its heart and actions in the right place. 

This was a truly wonderful experience for me. 

It might be for you too- but please remember to be humble and realistic about this. 

the cooliflower. 

Continue reading “Volunteering with Ninos De Guatemala -the whole truth.”

Hiking the acatenango volcano in guatemala- usefull tips for beginners

20181120_120238.jpg

A year before I turned 50, I read somewhere that a good way to find out what your true dreams are- is to sit in front of a paper- and instinctively draw the first thing that comes to your mind- when thinking about things you wish to achieve.

so I sat down one day, and drew the first thing that came up when thinking of turning 50.

It was a (lame) drawing of a person with a backpack, standing on a hill top.

Then I remembered I made a list a few years ago, named :”things I want to achieve before turning 50″.

I found that list (yes- it is very helpful to be organized and constantly strive towards minimalism), and on that list, sure enough, was a paragraph stating :”take a trip outside of my comfort zone”.

It also said- “learn spanish”, “learn italian”,”learn how to play the guitar ” and “learn how to professionally cook vegan food”.(still working on those..)

This was the beginning of my journey towards the third and final gift I gave myself for my 50th birthday. (here is a link to the previous posts telling all about the first 2 presents I gave myself-and why I decided that giving myself those birthday presents was such a great idea: The birthday presents I gave myself-part 1, The second birthday present I gave myself. (part 2) ).

So I contacted “Ninos De Guatemala”, a non government organization (NGO) in guatemala , and booked tickets through Klm , started learning spanish with Duolingo , and learned all I could online about travelling light.

But this post is about hiking tips for beginners like me, and I believe that a true and genuine beginner has the best tips- since we know exactly what a fellow beginner feels and what are the obstacles to handle-and how to tackle them .

The picture above- the one that looks like a post card- is a picture I took of the Fuego volcano in guatemala. an active volcano, rising to more than 4000 meters high. (very high).

I can tell you that I was very nervous before the 2 day hike (actually- this is an understatement), and that it didn’t help that on the group meeting the evening before the hike, I found out that 95% of the group were around their 20’s, fit , ambitious, and had lots of prior experience hiking in high altitude…….

But- at the end of the hike I felt as if I conquered the world, and since that point on- I couldn’t care less about other people’s fitness level -or youth.

I found out that all my swimming-running-yoga was a great way to be in shape, not only did I keep up with the rest of the group, but I decided strategically that I have to be as close to the guide in the front as possible- in case I get altitude sickness .

I was third or fourth from the guide the whole time, which turned out to be a great decision- I had much more rest time than the people who were the last in line-think about it- at every stop the guide would wait untill the last person arrived, and a minute or 2 later- we started climbing again. the poor person in the back had almost no rest time, whereas I had plenty of time to drink water, eat a small snack, and enjoy the hike.

Now for the promised “Do’s and don’ts”:

* I may be stating the obvious here- but this is as I said a demanding hike. please make sure you are fit enough and in good health to do it! consult with proffesionals- I am not one- just giving some advice here. use your brain when deciding if this adventure is for you or not.

*I believe a good trial hike for you would be the pacaya volcano hike.a pleasant half day hike that doesn’t involve arranging any gear or carrying a heavy backpack. water and some snacks will be enough. the pacaya is considerably easier than the acatenango (our guide said that the acatenanago is considered 6 times more difficult than the pacaya) so if you find that pacaya is too much for you- don’t even think about acatenango….. still-even if pacaya is easy for you- the acatenango may be a difficult challenge so -use your brain.

Do:

1. hike with a good tour company.

This is quite a difficult hike, in high altitudes (summit almost 4000 meters), it gets very cold at night up there (can reach 0 degrees celsius) and you need good gear and a good guide to handle this.

I needed almost everything- from a sleeping bag-sleeping mat- to backpack-overcoat-gloves- flashlight- hat.

the difference between going with the company I went with -that rent me all the gear for free, and other companies that charge for renting the gear, was at first- double the amount , but after calculating the rent cost- there was almost no difference in price- so take the gear situation into consideration when deciding which company to use.

Under no circumstances should you try to do this hike alone- defenitely if you are a beginner. this is my opinion- and I am not receiving a commission from any guides so please consider it a fair warning.

Last year 6 hikers were found dead after loosing their way up on the mountain in the freezing cold night.

2. Pack lightly.

pack only bare necessities.

this means water– I had 4.5 liters and drank another liter at my homestay in the morning, and another liter once we came back.

snacks– nuts, raisins, bananas, apples, that is what I had and it was great.

20181120_190928.jpg

a small-sized facial cream with high spf, the smallest and lightest face towel with a few drops of soap already on it- so you can just put a few drops of water and scrub your face and upper body in the evening .in my experience- this is a necessity: the hike is mostly in volcanic ashes that sticks to your face and clogs your pores. do yourself a favour and scrub your face with a towel and a few drops of water.

3.Hydrate properly the day before:

A tip I got from the tour agency I hiked with- to prevent altitude sickness it is very important to hydrate throughout the hike- but equally important is to hydrate properly on the day prior to the hike! * I know many long distance runners know that fueling and hydrating the days before the race is sometimes even more important than race day itself.

4. dont forget to rent a walking stick from the cute kids at the starting point.

The sticks are only 5Q and you won’t regret taking one…it was helpful both on the slippery way up- and on the even more slippery- way down….

5. clip your toenails.

I am trying to remember where I read this tip- but it’s a good one. going down the second day you happen to spend quite a lot of time on your toes- that’s what the elevation does to you. you won’t regret this one either…

6 .take a flashlight and spare batteries.the climb up the summit is done at 4 in the morning, pitch dark.no kidding. The flash light the company gave me suddenly stopped working and this hike in the dark was one of the scariest Things I have ever done.

just take a flash light.preferably a head lamp like this one above. You can thank me later.

Don’t do:

1.Don’t spend your whole hike taking pictures. I don’t think any of your friends- not even your family would appreciate looking at 50,000 pictures of the same volcano -even if it was taken from slightly different angles…try to enjoy the beautiful jungle you are in- and this unique experience of watching a volcano erupt in front of you every 15 minutes…

IMG_20181118_140752_502.jpg

20181119_180340.jpg

2. don’t schedule anything exhausting for that evening or even the day (or two..) after. I was exhausted for a few days after the hike- but felt exhilarated!

enjoy- this was a hike of a life time for me. the cooliflower.

“Failure is not an option!”- really???

I grew up thinking only lame and unsuccessful people fail. or If you don’t fit into one of those categories- than you must have not tried hard enough.

Every failure was questioned, almost shamed, explanatins were in order and the overall message was- please don’t do that any more.

For years I thought this is the proper way to raise my kids to be strong, hard working achievers.

But for the past few years I have been contemplating the idea that maybe this line of thinking is inconsiderate of the person expected not to fail, a heavy toll on the latter’s health-not to mention it is simply unrealistic to expect anyone to be “100% failure free”.

The other day my youngest came home after school and told me he did not do very well on his math test that day.

Math does not come easy for neither him nor me. it takes a lot of practicing and re-reading the material to understand it properly .

Both he and I know it, and he also knows that the week previous to the test he had plenty of time to study for the test- time he opted to spend on his computer. (shocking- I know).

So- I was disappointed at him, and told him that I was.

He didn’t like that very much, and when I realized his anxiety, I decided to try a different strategy-

I asked him to open his math book, and although the test had already passed, to re-read the material he had trouble with during the test.

At first he didn’t understand the point of this- since the teacher would obviously have no clue that now he understands the material, but I explained to him that I care much more of his sense of success /failure-than the grade he got at a specific exam.

I told him I wanted him to feel that he is not any kind of failure in math- although he flunked that specific test.

He started re-reading the material, and came back to me 30 minutes later- saying that now he gets what the root of his problem was during the test, and he feels confident about his abilities again.

We were both glad that the situation was something we could learn from -and not a bad experience, and of course we discusses the proper learning methods for math tests from now on (mainly going over the material not on a superficial level -glancing at what he wrote during math classes and his homework)-but trying to understand the material in a deeper level that would enable him to solve problems that weren’t given as homework or taught in class.

The next day he came home grinning and told me that his math teacher decided to give the class a second chance on that test and they are doing a second one tomorrow.

This was not expected -and it made his re-reading the material even more profitable-now he didn’t have to invest so much time studying for that second test.

I don’t know his final score yet- but I do know he came home feeling much better this time.

And that is all I care about.

Not the grade -but his sense of overcoming a difficulty he had.

We all have these “tests” in life- actual school or university exams- or simply uneasy situations life throws upon us.

We all fail sometimes. the important thing, I believe, is understanding that there is no point in stressing over a specific failure- when so many more tests -and failures- are still ahead. this is life, and anyone who thinks he can always succeed- is either very young and hopeful, or simply living totally inside a carefully planned comfort zone- from which he never strays -in fear of failing. this is no way to grow, to learn new skills, to develop .

Plus it’s pretty boring.

enjoy- the cooliflower.

Being prepared: keep in shape! (+a frugal tip on how to get yourself a “personal massage therapist” for life for a just a few $)

I understand that we cannot prepare for every possible thing life arranges for us- I wish we could.

Being a control freak, having 100% certainty in life would have made me a very chilled person- (or perhaps I’d arrange something else to worry over..)

But- I believe we can definitely mitigate the possible outcome of life’s “surprises” with due preparation.

One of the important ways- in my opinion- to be prepared frugally– for many possible situations- is by being constantly in good shape.

I believe both genders should be prepared and keep in shape- but I also believe there is a strong feminist side to being in constant good shape:

Many women in my experience, tend to prioritize their workout schedule at the end of their to do list- and some don’t even put exercising on the list to begin with.

Many women carry high school traumas from not being a good athlete (I know I did), some start a family and devote all their time to spouse- children- taking care of the house- work, and find themselves crashing in front of the tv at the end of every day, and should they have a precious relaxed day/going on vacation- well then I often hear women say that working out is considered a punishment for them and they refuse to inflict self punishment on vacations.

This is a pity since research has shown that keeping in good shape is much more am energy giver than a taker. in my opinion watching tv and eating chips can result in your being much more tired than doing an hour of yoga (go down dog app! free and great! here is the link:  great yoga app.)

I believe that mind-body connection works both ways: keeping your body strong and in shape, can inflict largely on your mental situation , and being confident of your physical abilities can strengthen your self-esteem.

Practicing yoga has made me meet many challenges- keeping my posture while standing in airplane pose: (read link and thank you yoga.u.online for the clear explanation: airplane pose- yoga.u.online),  

Trying to do crow pose, (haven’t succeeded yet -fell on my head this morning trying to nail it but will keep on trying!), and moving from one pose to another in a gentle flow.

Being flexible can prevent you from suffering serious injuries should you accidentally fall or lose your balance.

Swimming is an essential preparation tool in my opinion. you can never know when you might be in a situation where knowing how to swim well might literally save your life. and even without being so dramatic- swimming (correctly) can take the load off your lower back and keep you engaged in your workout routine.

Running is a basic prehistoric flight motion- when in a dangerous situation- it’s good to be able to run away from it. did you watch “marathon man ” with Dustin Hoffman? a classic.

Being in good shape can keep you away from the doctor’s office-both currently- and in the future, you can clean your house and work in the garden (saves a ton of $$$!) and all those endorphins that run in your blood can get you closer to being actually happy!

So what about that frugal massage ?

I personally could never really relax during a massage. I know some people swear by it but I can’t connect. sorry. maybe it’s my introvert side, maybe it’s the control freak that cannot let go- maybe it’s both.

A few years ago I bought this roller for a few $$ on ebay, and ever since every time my back or shoulder blades show signs of stress- I immediately roll over so to speak. no need to leave the house and get  almost completely undressed in front of a complete stranger. and be touched by him/her.

20181105_055515.jpg

enjoy- the cooliflower.

Continue reading “Being prepared: keep in shape! (+a frugal tip on how to get yourself a “personal massage therapist” for life for a just a few $)”

Extra frugal tips for frugal warriors!

Ok the following tips are not for the weak hearted. only you frugal warriors, that fear nothing, that have  mission, set a goal, they are pure hearted and don’t beat around any bush- only you can keep on reading. the rest- well go think about how to upgrade your frugal being. the day is not over yet! 

IMG-20181104-WA0000.jpg

#1: Re-using envelopes for paper notes.

I notified every major company I need to be in touch with that I prefer getting my mail via Gmail, but some are persistent on living in the dark ages of paper print. well I fear not, ant cut every envelope to 4 pieces and re-use it as memos. (when you reach 50 you will discover that there is no such thing as too many memo reminders. and yes- I do use my phone Calender too, thank you for asking).

20181024_164501.jpg

20181103_140516.jpg

#2: making my own facial toner:

20181031_080351.jpg

*This tip comes with the usual warning and disclaimer I wrote in my first or second post. I am no doctor, no dermatologist or cosmetic expert or anything remotely close to these professions. if you choose to use these tips-as any other tip I so generously give for free on this blog- you are doing it on your own responsibility and hopefully after using your g brain to contemplate it. my skin reacts really well to this- some might not react as well. test it on some hidden area of your body to check where you stand on this situation. oh and genetics can’t predict any thing- I love using pure coconut oil on my face where my daughter developed a rash the instant the oil touched her face so.

So -simply mix part acv (apple cider vinegar, organic, unstrained, “with it’s mother”-again can’t stand involving it’s mother)with 2 parts water in a spray bottle and use it like a toner pro would. meaning a few tmes a day. I keep my bottle in the refrigerator just to be safe .

I have a habit of drinking a daily glass of hot water infused with 1-2 tbsp of this acv, and it seems to agree with me -but again- use your brain and don’t complain.

#3: I take my wheel barrel and a pair of gloves and we go pick up cow manure from the dairy barn close by. I use it to compost the trees before winter.

20180826_074541.jpg

*Every time I go there the calves come to check who I am and I pat them on their cute heads and wonder when will mankind stop thinking they are superior to these innocent creatures and stop killing them for their meat.

#4: I make an effort to fix /amend torn or broken stuff. sometimes the outcome is even nicer (in my opinion) than the initial product!

take this gym bag for example:

It’s zipper tore after a year of extensive use, but I feared not, took out my button collection ( I collect un used buttons just in case, and here was a case) and sewed 4 buttons on one side of the bag- and some wide elastic rubber I had in my sewing stuff to the other side of the bag/ cut button sized holes in the elastic rubber and voila. the bag is alive and kicking for a few months now.

20180803_164421.jpg

#5: I make my own clay mask from french green clay . this tip is under the same warnings and disclaimers as the toner tip/ this stuff might not agree with your face-it does with mine but that’s just me. consult and check if you are allergic or anything before using.

I buy french green clay on eBay, and every week I take a tea-spoon of the dry clay in my hand, add a few drops of water and smear my face like a mask pro/ I let it dry -but I am careful not to over do it- this stuff can dry your face like the Sahara desert so be cautious. after rinsing this off I always lather my face with the simple and cheap  baby facial cream I use at night.

20181031_080202.jpg#6: I make my own deodorant: (thank you wellnessmama.com for a great recipe!)

I’ve been using this stuff for bout 2 years now- I t works better than the ordinary deodorant I had, and costs much less+this is organic -all vegan -no cruelty product.

20181103_150330.jpg

click the link for the how to.

natural deodorant wellnessmama.com

#7: I make my own granola- without turning on the oven .

20181026_095004.jpg

I am aware many frugals make their own granola- this is definitely one of the products that not ony saves a lot of $ when making at home, but is very easy to make- and to control the exact content of  your mix. some might prefer macadamia others dislike raisins, you know.

I used to bake my granola in the oven, which was easy in the winter, but annoying in the midst of summer. also why heat up the whole oven for a tray of granola?

So I started frying my granola in a pan on the stove, instead.

I take a bag of walnuts, a bag of almonds, a bag of sunflower seeds, a cup of oatmeal and some raisins, I grind each ingredient by itself in my Braun hand mixer (why the separation you ask? because each ingredient has its own consistency and I’ve found out (the hard way) that when mixing during the grinding stage you are left with walnut dust and whole almonds) , turn the gas on and mix every thing in the pan with a little coconut oil. I keep tossing it all through the frying process otherwise it might burn and this is not tasty at all. I add a little brown sugar or agave syrup , some chia seeds,  sometimes some cinnamon , and when it tastes like heaven- I let it cool down and send it to wait its turn in the freezer. this stuff freezes really well so fear not . the only downside to this is that it is too yummmmmmy- and has a high caloric value so don’t over do it. moderation is a definite goal.

Ok that’s enough secrets for now, enjoy- the cooliflower.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The possible hidden feminist story behind Cinderella -and why I stopped wearing high heels.

Cinderella is not considered to be a feminist story- au contraire- some people might even say that it has a very conservative narrative: poor girl being subjected to hard unjust house labor by her evil step mother, who has nothing on her little mind except parties and catching noble husbands for her daughters. the miserable young woman has one outstanding character: she is very smart! no that’s not it at all. we have no clue as to young cinderella’s cognitive abilities- all we know about her are 3 key features:

1.She is very young (obviously- what prince in his right mind would want to save an old bag ike moi?).

2. She is (again, obviously) very beautiful. by the way in all children’s books she is also very thin. (again-how obvious).

3. She needs saving, she is in distress, she needs a man to come and save her from the horrible situation life has intended for her, since (did I say obviously?) she has absolutely no power to even try to get herself out of that situation on her own. but then again- she is young and beautiful- why would she know how to get herself out of trouble? this is a man’s job! and here we have the ultimate man- young -rich-handsome- and even a prince! again in children’s book – surprisingly no discrimination- the prince is thin as well.

*Yes I do remember the fairy– it is, after all a fairy tale- but her intervention is very short and focused on “the make -over”. get things done in 90 minutes and as soon as the show is over- the magic evaporates . the quick magical transform from a poor miserable girl to a beautiful high society lady dancing with the prince got me thinking about transformations that are probably superficial but tis discussion will not be held right now).

Fine- I guess I haven’t excited any of you- this is the narrative we all grew on- and surprisingly enough we can still- in global free minded equal 2019- see this narrative thriving in books, movies and tv shows.

In the 90’s it was a rich and powerful businessman saving  a poor young girl from working the streets of hollywood  (a close look provided signs of rebellion there- I remind you of the end where the buisnessman climbs up the fire escape stairs he is so scared of and asks the girl what happens after the prince saves the princess -and she quickly responses -“she saves him right back”-which is an interesting twist in the cinderella original plot) .

In 2015 we could go to see movies where- again- young handsome rich and powerful entrepreneurs save young -clueless-but beautiful girl from living a very expected and simple life, when introducing her to life on the jet-set.

I am asking myself- Is the equation in 2019 still: “young+beautifull+clueless woman=handsome rich husband= happy life?

And if so- what is my problem? am I jealous ? of them girls being young+beautiful + clueless? of them landing a rich powerful husband? of the beautiful relationship they must have (for eternity)?

I think I am probably jealous.

*In the past I have found that whenever I became righteously angry- deep down I was actually envious of the person/trend I was so zealously condemning.

And maybe- I am privately jealous, and collectively right?

Maybe society is made of all sizes, shapes, ages and personal capital, (aka money),  and we -normal people- not extremely young-beautiful- and certainly not clueless- have a chance of having a nice life, even without a prince charming? or maybe with one- but not that handsome, not powerful, and many times- not rich, and that is an understatement.

The “helpless-clueless gal rewards” always makes me double snap. again- perhaps I am simply jealous, since I never had the privilege of  being  helpless.

I grew up knowing that I have to take care of every thing- or I simply won’t have anything.

I had to study, work, learn to cook-clean-maintain a decent home, and relying on someone to come pick me on the back of his white horse /porche- wasn’t an option- and I never believed in wasting time day dreaming about fairy tales.

So what is the possible hidden feminist message behind the cinderella tale?

Well It suddenly dawned upon me that maybe you can dare say that cinderella didn’t “accidentally” forget her glass high-heeled slipper behind when fleeting away from the ball at midnight.

Maybe, just maybe, cinderella didn’t like the whole act she had to put on to catch a rich and powerful man, and just kicked off those tight uncomfortable  shoes she wasn’t used to wearing (lucky her, she never had to be subjected to tight shoes, corsets and high heels, make up and dying your hair- she was wearing rags all day and feeding her animal friends- while singing happily, which makes you truly wonder if the perfect life of a princess that has no access to mice and free rabbits would have been that joyous for her).

Maybe- just maybe- she didn’t expect to be so overwhelmed by the palace and it’s inhabitants, and she thought of her simple- yet hard  life- and decided she prefered being free of high heels and corsets, feeding her animal friends.

Maybe she had a plan how to  retire early from her evil stepmother’s house to a small house of her own.

Maybe the prince coming to get her with his fancy entourage wasn’t exactly what she wished for, and maybe, when he came to the house- she agreed to try on the shoe- but a second later she took it off- and asked the prince politely to close the door- because they neede to have a serious conversation.

Maybe- just maybe- she challenged him in that conversation to see where she would fit in the fancy palace life, and they talked and talked- perhaps they found a true and meaningful connection , perhaps they didn’t, who knows?

I once read that high-heeled shoes were designed so that women would have to stick out their behind and chest in order to maintain balance- since learning to walk on these shoes is not a simple task at all. the subjected position would naturally be welcomed by men. bingo.

The high-heeled shoes became a sign of female success- connected with wealth, power , youth and  beauty. the ability to turn mens heads when you walk past them was the goal of so many women through the years.

Doctors have warned but to no avail, I, as many other women- felt that wearing high-heeled shoe gives the illusion that I are taller and slimmer- definitely more sophisticated.

Power shoes .

20181103_113250.jpg

Whenever I had something I needed a boost of confidence for- I took out the high heels.

I never actually learned how to walk the walk 100%  – I’ve seen women wear high heels and stumbling all the way-that wasn’t me- but I wasn’t confident on these shoes. I certainly wasn’t comfortable. 

As soon as I got to my car-I would kick off these shoes in disgust and swear I would never wear them again. but time and again- I couldn’t resist the confidence quick fix, and wore them again.

The final breakup between me and my power shoes happened  about 6-7 years ago, when I trained for half marathons and did a lot of running.

The excessive running was hard enough ion my lower back, and adding the pain I felt after walking all day in those shoes (and probably because I did not walk properly which caused bad posture)- was intolerable.

So I quit. “cold turkey” so to speak.

I gave away my carefully collected high-heeled shoes- beautiful by the way, and have never regretted it since.

I have a small but comfortable shoe collection now, all vegan, of course, and most of them are so comfortable that when in trouble- I can simply run away in them.

20181103_110658.jpg

No risk of one of my slippers “accidentally” falling off in the palace and having to be “saved” by someone who I have no idea what he believes in and if I want to spend the day with- let alone live with him “happily ever after”.

Adios- the cooliflower.

.

How I downsized my wardrobe -and no- I do not wear the same pants every day. (part 2).

20181031_170544.jpg

On my previous post I left you all wondering how I use this colorful scarf to lift a boring out fit and so lead others to believe I have multiple items of clothing when the truth is I downsized my wardrobe seriously.

The truth is I no longer care what others think of my wardrobe situation, but I am terrified of boring myself with dull and never changing outfits.

Like food – and music- I need change, diversity, experiencing new colors, new looks, new flavours. you get the drift.

I used to satisfy this need for constant change with buying new clothes, but since september 2016 (that Barcelona trip where I bought this gorgeous scarf in the picture above) I didn’t spend any money on clothes, and only got into a store once -and used a gift card I had. for me -those 26 months without the rush of buying new clothes- was very challenging at first, but I must admit that now I am used to it and this seems like this is my usual state. (I assure you that there were some mad shopping sprees in my past- wow I find it hard to relate to the person who went on these sprees).

Ok -so how do I manage to surprise and thrill myself every day with that downsized wardrobe?

Again- I mix and match:

20181031_082909.jpg

but- lo and behold option 2!

20181031_083247.jpg

different scarf- different person!

20181031_083448.jpg

20181031_083641.jpg20181031_083817.jpg20181031_084224.jpg

Ha! I told it’s not the same pants!

20181031_084740.jpg

20181031_084943.jpg

As you can see- there are 8 different outfits here with 2 pairs of pants and one blouse-the trick is to play with colorful scarves,

I didn’t even get started on the shoes- those can be total game changers too.

The top rules when mix and matching -is first have your clothes in good condition- clean and smelling good- no buttons missing or zipper accidents or stains -that ruins the whole outfit.

second- if you are going to meet the same people every day- mix and match with your whole wardrobes don’t repeat your self too frequently. give them a little time to forget this specific outfit.

I must admitt I now believe that most people are occupied 99% of the time with themselves -and not with you or with other people so there is no need to stress about the second rule too much- just change something- your blouse/your pants- and no one will say anything .

Happy downsizing!

The cooliflower.

 

 

How I downsized my wardrobe and does this mean I wear the same pants everyday???(part 1)

This is my wardrobe:

20181027_124633.jpg

20181027_124758.jpgThis has all my fall + winter clothing including my “formal attire” -my every day going to work clothes, my workout clothes, and my “wear at home where no one sees you and you can feel realy comfortable ” clothes .

I have another shelf where I put my spring+summer clothing.

Sure- it’s not even close to those hard core people who can count their clothes on one hand (with 3 fngers pulled down) but for me this is a huge change.

I now have 3 pairs of jeans (Levi’s , of course, love them. bought them 4 years ago and they look new, I mean not nerdy new but good looking new) -2 blue ones and one black pair, 3 pairs of cotton pants, (mustard-yellow, green and red-yes red), 3 bottoned blouses  in different colors, 2 white blouses, 1 large sweater, 5 light sweaters, 2 coats, 3 light jackets, a few turtle necks (black, gray, boring)  some flannel white shirts for home’ and a few other garments I may have forgot mentioning but are all in the picture.

I also have a nice scarf rack consisting of these colorful scarves:

20181031_081614.jpg

Now I know that the first tip people are given when declaring the goal of minimalization is “keep your wardrobe calm”- meaning have most of it within the range of blacks-grays and whites, so it’s easier to mix and match .

I agree with the rule -but wish to make some ammendments to it, if I may.

First- not all people are  black-grey-white kind of people. some love pink-purple- blue and some have a crush on reds. who knew.

Second- I ‘ve found that it’s easier for me to mix and match -and still get a sense of wearing something different every day- when my basic wardrobe (capsule if you wish) has, alongside the black-greys, some colorful items I can play with while building my outfit.

But- and this is a crucial point in my opinion- there has to be some sense behind those colorful items: you can’t just go and buy the fukiest hippi shirt and then wonder why you never wore it- since you don’t have anything that matches it.

There needs-in my opinion- to be some kind of a connection- even a remote one -neverthe less still existing- between the “boring” capsule garments, and the colorfl items.

Such a connection is achieved mant times by having one of the basic wardrobe’s colors- appear as one of the colors on the playful garment.

I have a Desigual scarf I bought a few years ago in barcelona for 30 euro’s, and I have used it so many times since, that I feel I got my money’s worth and even more.

20181031_170544.jpg

At first I thought- oh my god- so many colors-what will I do with this?

But this is exactly the point.

This scarf is a game changer for many “boring” outfits, and has so many colors that I can easily find something that relates to it in my basic wardrobe.

examples next time.

ciao- the cooliflower.