We Lived on Less Than $8,000 a Year...

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We Lived on Less Than $8,000 a Year...

Is it possible to live on less than $8,000 dollars a year? No. No one would expect you to live on that type of wage let alone a family of three, but we did. We actually lived on that wage for over four years and here is what that looks like:

The year was 2012 and my husband worked at Burger King for $7.35 an hour. Now quick math would tell you that is $14,112 dollars a year, still below the poverty line, if he received 40 hours a week. However, Burger King at the time cut hours because after a certain amount of weekly hours they had to offer employees heath care. I can't tell you if it was the general managers decision or the companies decision but that meant nothing over about 32 hours. My husband couldn't even get that because we live in a college town and job openings just weren't there. I even had to double check W-2's because even I'm shocked by the number today, but he only made $7,506 that year. So here are some numbers for you:

Our 2012 Income: $7,506
                            - $5,400 (Rent $450 month utilities included)

Already we're down to $2,106 for food, health insurance, medical expenses, medicine, laundry (because we did not have a washer and dryer), gas, car insurance, and the list goes on. So let's talk bottom dollar estimates.

                                 -$240 (laundry at $5 week).
                              -$2,400 ($50 week for food for 3 people).
                                 -$480 ($40 month for car insurance).
                              -$1,040 ($20 a week on gas - think of someone who drives 30 mins to work!)
                              -$4,320 (Health insurance at $120 a month per person which covers zilch).

Now we're at -$6,374 which would have been almost as much income as we had coming in and that is with the lowest estimates possible. So what did we do? We got help from the state. We went on food stamps and our daughter had state health insurance, we were not eligible so we went without health insurance for over 4 years. For several years I did our laundry in the tub because our water was included in the rent and then I hung them to dry in the shower.

I also went to college and so did my husband but it didn't help in the way you might think. We were eligible for federal loans which also includes a student refund to pay for your housing, books, etc. So my student refunds covered our rent while his covered things like car insurance, doctors visits etc. Had I not been going to school full time I would have been required to have a job which would have put us over the eligibility line for benefits, even with child care expenses and I would have only made around $4.35 an hour. So we were stuck between a rock and a hard place.

While my husband got his B.S. in Physics, no one was hiring for that degree and he continued to work at Burger King until a local plant began hiring a few years ago. Getting that degree vastly undercut the amount of hours he worked when he was allowed to work them. When he finally got the degree it didn't help. The argument that a person is in their position in life because they didn't work hard enough, lack an education, or are bad with money is an insult to those who struggle because the good jobs aren't available, they can't afford childcare, they couldn't afford the healthcare to buy the birth control to prevent the children, or the companies who hire them are allowed to keep them below 30 hours to prevent them from receiving benefits.

We didn't live a life of luxury on food stamps, and the majority of people do not. Yes, there are people who abuse the system but they are not the norm and should not dictate how the rest are treated. I pawned my engagement ring, a ring given to me by my mother, any valuable I could get a hold of to buy diapers, clothes, medicine, etc. When it was time for me to get my IUD I could not afford the $250 because I did not have health insurance and I was very lucky that my grandmother paid for it. No amount of hard work changed our circumstances, an we were very lucky that a job opened up and that my husband got it.  So its very disappointing when I hear people equate poverty with laziness and a mismanagement of money because that was me.

Moms Should Be Better Friends

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Moms Should Be Better Friends

I can't bring myself to accept the notion that mother's make terrible friends or that its okay to be a bad friend because you are a mother. It seems to be a change that everyone expects, and adheres to, that once you have children you forgo having children. Yet the men continue to have social lives and why wouldn't they if they have a free and willing babysitter already at home? Most men don't ask permission to continue having friends my husband certainly didn't. After our daughter was born my husband continued to be on a bowling league, go and watch the basketball games, attend movies, hang out with friends, etc. I'm not going to lie, I really resented him for it. I felt stuck with our daughter and really wanted social experiences as well. I mainly got those occasions when our daughter was with my parents for a weekend but I learned to start taking her with me to meet up with friends. It could be very trying and stressful sometimes but I made the effort. 

I can happily say that nowadays my husband and I have a much better balance of responsibility and he takes our daughter out for movie and dinner dates on the weekend. During the week if I want to go out without her I have to hire a sitter but I happily welcome it. Ideally I prefer to have another mom over so we can visit and the kids can play but I've found that other mothers flake on me and I'm the one who always has to extend the invitation. People without children value me more as a friend and they show that through their words, actions, and communication. They are happy to see me, invite to things, and make time for me. 

When you have children and push your friends to the side you are telling them they are no longer of value to you. If I get pushed to the side until your children are school age then we weren't really friends. Ask me to help watch the kids, go to the park, help with the house, start an organizing project, or sit and gossip during nap time. Don't sideline me and expect me to come around when you decide I'm worth your time 3-5 years later. Having had kids myself I will not understand because my child is not the center of my universe. I desire and deserve friends and time to myself. I can have exactly what my husband enjoys which is an active social life. 

Some women will say they are too busy and all I have to say is that you prioritize what you value. If you want to raise children, have a family, but no social life then do that but don't expect your friends to come running back because now you have the time. It's not fair to them and frankly its not fair to you to deprive yourself. Take turns going out with your spouse or pick one night a month where you both go out and hire a sitter. There is always a way to make things happen when you really want something. Start a sitting circle with your mom friends so that you each can go out one night a week or once a month. One night you watch her kids and the other she watches yours so you don't have to pay anyone but both get to enjoy your other friends. It's always possible. So let's start being better friends ladies. 

Flower Fairy Dolls

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My latest craft obsession has been these cute little flower fairy dolls. They are only made from wire, embroidery floss, wooden heads, and faux flowers. I happened upon them last week and already this week I've made over 12 dolls and have learned I might have a knack for it. Although I do custom order for dolls to look like peoples children, my favorites have been my fantasy dolls based on fictional characters. I learned the basics from YouTube tutorials by Emily Lefler from the Untidy Artist but all fictional characters are my original creations. You can check out Emily's tutorials here: Untidy Artist YouTube Channel

Mermaid (my first doll)

Joy from Inside Out (doll for my daughter's friend)

 Brunette Fairy Doll w/ Blue Skirt

Tim Burton's Corpse Bride Emily and Groom

 Tinkerbell Inspired Doll

 Dark Complexion w/ Purple Dress

Princess Zelda from Twilight Princess

Maleficent (2014 version) 

Maleficent was one of my bigger hurdles because I had to figure out how to get the horns just right, attach them securely, and then wrap the entire head. I can't tell if i'm more proud of Zelda or Maleficent but I can't wait to decide what to do next. 

I currently have a fb page called Edmund Designs where you can follow all of my creation: 

I also have an Etsy page where you can purchase my creations or contact me for a personal order:

Power Green Smoothie Recipe

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This is a very simple recipe to make enough smoothies for 3-6 days, depending on how much you like to drink. I make mine in 48oz batches and store them in 16oz glass bottles, that I recycle after drinking kombucha.

Before I do anything, I wash all of my greens, even when they say triple washed.


8oz spinach
6oz power greens (pictured below)/kale
2 green apples, cores removed
Juice of 1 lemon
Chlorella powder (1/2 tsp per smoothie but can increase)
Water (among depends on how thick you like your smoothie, I use 8oz)

I just add the ingredients in small bunches, blend, and then add more until it's all in. Pretty easy! I use a funnel to put my funnels in 16oz glass bottles, and then grab them when I'm ready for them. Sometimes I split one between me and my husband, sometimes I drink a whole one myself. 

Green smoothies are a great way to get your greens in! I don't like fruit smoothies, because blending fruit makes the sugar hit your liver faster.  This can make your liver produce more fat cells, but fiber slows this process. So it's important to eat your fruit whole, but I do like the added bite the green apple gives this smoothie.  So if you are having trouble losing weight, then don't blend your fruit and stay far away from fruit juice! 

Follow me on Instagram @ebcangel

Consent is Sexy

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When I was growing up consent wasn't something anyone was really talking about. Our mantra was "No Means No!" but that did little for those of us who inexplicably lost our voices at the worst time. This left those of us who had faced sexual assault or rape feeling like we were in the wrong for having said nothing. All we had to do was say no, right? 

Then "Only Yes Means Yes" came on the scene, long after I was married, and I thought: "Wow, I wish this had been around when I was younger!". Its amazing how powerful words can be! But then the strict consent movement came along, and like a lot of people, I wondered what would that look like? What would it have been like when I was dating? Were we talking long forms and a signature before every sexual encounter? Every kiss? People have been consenting sexual partners for millenniums without all of this right?

Well yes and no. For every consenting individual there are plenty that were simply silent, which is really the aim of the campaign. I was one of those individuals, and my first sexual assault occurred when I was 12. I was too scared to say no, and had I been asked I would have said no. When I'm asked, and I have been asked, I feel like the other person respects my decision. But another debate has emerged within the larger debate regarding whether consent is necessary: Is consent sexy, and should it be sold that way? In other words does saying that "consent is sexy" undermine the fact that it is necessary? 

I firmly believe that consent can be sold this way, because whether it is legal or not matter little to high school or college kids. Underage drinking is illegal but that rarely stops anyone! Legality is hardly the issue. Consent sounds corny and it needs a new PR campaign, badly! So I will tell you the story of the time a man asked for my permission, how I reacted, and whether it was really sexy or not.

I was 20 when I met him and I had just come to visit him and my friend in college, for a concert. We spent the whole day together, the majority of it in the apartment he shared with a friend. All we did was watch movies and cuddle and I thought surely he's going to kiss me. Then he gave me a back rub, the go to move of guys everywhere, and I swore he would make a move. He didn't. Then it was time for bed and we just laid there talking. Before we even hit the hay he asked me if it was ok to take his shirt off, he didn't want to make me uncomfortable. He decided to leave it on anyways. 

So there we were, just talking until early in the morning, and then he asked me: "Would it be ok if I kissed you?" No one had every asked me that! Every guy had just kind of lunged at me, and it was always awkward, bad aim, very quick as if they thought if they didn't do it quick enough I'd stop them. I was taken back by the request and so happy he had finally said something! Of course I happily said yes and it was the sweetest, most romantic thing that had every happened, up until that point! I mean a like an aggressive guy just as much as the next girl, but there's a time and a place. 

Then about a month later we were fooling around, one thing led to another, and BAM we were having sex, ha ha. I figured he understood that I was totally into it, I just didn't want to say: "lets have sex." I felt awkward about the whole thing. Then in the middle of it he just stops. Gets really weird and excuses himself. I took me a good day to figure out what was going on: he stopped because he wasn't sure its what I wanted. Keep in mind I was, and am, a Christian and had professed that I wanted to wait. (We're all human!) So in his mind I was doing something that I didn't believe in and had possibly been pressured in to. When I found out that was what had happened I was relieved and it was really sweet. Sure when we were in the middle of it, it was confusing, and we both should have been upfront from the very beginning. But the way he handled it, when he thought it wasn't what I wanted, was really cool. 

I am married to that man and have been for 6 1/2 years. We have an amazing sex life that is based on good communication. I'm very honest about what I want and like, and I speak up when I don't like something. As a sexual assault and rape victim its very important for me to speak up when I'm triggered, and my husband is a very understanding man. I've taught him how to be aggressive, ha ha, with a good use of safe words and boundaries, because he's still the man that worries about pushing my boundaries. After being pressured into so many things before I was ready, or that were contrary to my character, its very freeing to be with someone who does not want me to do anything I don't want to do. When a woman feels safe she's more likely to sexual express herself, and if she's having a good time you will too! So yes consent is sexy!

Tinker Crate Review and 50% off Coupon Code

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This was our first month of Tinker Crate and I was very excited to see how much my daughter would enjoy it. Tinker Crate is a monthly subscription box, geared toward children ages 9-14, that focuses on the sciences. My daughter is only 5 1/2 but I felt that many of the crafts offered through Kiwi Crate, their box for children ages 4-8, contained experiments I could easily recreate at home. Tinker Crate offers projects that would expensive if I had to buy all of the individual parts or kits. I do not expect my daughter to understand all of the concepts, but she has a higher interest in engineering projects than most kids her age.  The box is $19.95 a month with free shipping. There is a link down below for $10 off your first box. Now for the box.

Included is a booklet which explains the smaller concepts of your project. This box had projects to explain current, resistors, capacitor, and diodes. We went straight for the main project and I will have my husband go over this information with our daughter later. He has a background in Physics and is amazing at explaining scientific concepts to her. 

They also had a little background on Edison and Tesla. We will have to simplify some of the language but that shouldn't be a big issue. 

The instruction are easy to follow for parents. Children will need help or oversight if they are in the younger age bracket. I found that the light bulb wire bent when inserting them into the cardboard near the end of the project. So some children will need help in some areas of the project. 

In this project they continually had us checking the lights to make sure we had everything just right. It was really helpful to be reminded, otherwise we would have gotten through the project with a non-functioning light. My daughter was very excited when it lit up and started to put some of the simpler concepts together. She was more interested, however, as to how the motor worked, so we will be finding another project or watching a video to better understand motors. 

This flash light has two led bulbs and came with replacements when they burn out, which will be helpful later on. 

The only issue we had with constructions was attaching the motor. As you can see on the right side, its attached by flimsy brackets which can make using the hand crank difficult as it wobbles back and forth. I will attempt to find some small flat screws to attach the motor so it does not move. Its too difficult for my daughter to turn the handle while pulling away from the box, which is a result of the lose brackets. 

Overall I am very pleased and will continue this subscription for the time being. I'm still tempted to try Kiwi Crate so we may try that for a month or two as well. 

Being Yourself: A Tale of Many Haircuts

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(November 2014)

It was 1996 and Geena Davis played a woman named Samantha, who was really a spy named Charly, in The Long Kiss Goodnight. It was one of my favorite movie scenes of all time when Geena Davis makes herself over in a hotel bathroom, cutting of her long permed mom hair into a short crop and bleaching it blonde. She ditches the mom wardrobe for a patched up leather jacket and sports thick black kohl eyeliner. It was awesome! I always wanted one of those moments my whole life but alas my experimentation was typically less epic. 
I had short hair a lot throughout elementary and early high school. I always wanted to experiment with my hair, and even my clothes, but more often than not it could be met with serious backlash at school. My freshman year of high school I cut my hair really short, before pixie's were cute. The first day I sported it at school I was called a dyke which continued for a considerable amount of time. When I told my father, he told me "If you don't want to be called a dyke, don't look like a dyke". I've found that most people don't like change and my father opposed my mother cutting her hair as well, so it wasn't just me. People in general are uncomfortable with people who look and act differently than they do. Not because they don't like them but because its new and foreign. They don't know how to act and sometimes the first reaction you'll get is a bad one. Not because they are bad people, just because they are human. 
So I quickly learned that being myself would come with ridicule which was something I couldn't handle. I did my best to be someone that wouldn't attract negative attention but I couldn't change what God gave me, and I didn't want to. Clothes were a different story and I never really got it right. One year I got this beautiful turquoise full length cotton skirt from C.J. Banks to wear for special occasions. I loved that thing and felt really pretty in it. That was until one of my friends in school told me, and everyone else, that I looked like Laura Ingalls Wilder. I don't, and can't blame her for any of my insecurities. I'd rather go back to tell my younger self that: Its the people who build you up that will remain in your life, keep them close, and share the love. 

(March 2015)

I struggled for many years, always wondering what people thought of me and how I looked and then... I stopped. It was a weird sensation and I didn't even notice until someone pointed it out to me. The biggest thing in my life that I can credit for that change is Al-Anon (a support group for the family and friends of alcoholics). I have learned how to focus on myself, my actions in this world, and not to worry about what everyone else is doing or thinking. I can only control what I do and the greatest gifts I have in this world are forgiveness and love. Which also means forgiving and loving myself for who I am. Once my focus shifted to me I no longer had time to worry about what people thought of me. I found a freedom like I've never known and I'm so happy that I did. 

(August 2015)

Its odd to think how powerful something as simple as a haircut can be but I get great satisfaction from doing it myself. I always felt like people wanted to put me in this neat little box. As humans we compartmentalize and categorize which can be problematic when it comes to people. Like Heather Simmes put it: "It is hard to be yourself if others won't let you be yourself and it's important to do what you want. You only live one life, if you want to cut your hair short, do it, it grows back," (BoredWithBeauty, "Q&A With Heather Symmes," April 09, 2015). I feel that I'm finally in a place in my life that I can be myself and am surrounded by the kind of people that support that. 

(August 2015)

I really wish I could get a better picture but I'm sure all of you ladies out there with dark hair know how hard it is to capture texture in a photo! It is amazing in person, ha ha. Inspiration wise I used Heather Symmes (@heathersymmes) and Holli B (@madamehols) and I actually use Holli's tutorial to style my hair: Holli's Tutorial, which will give you a better idea of how it looks in real life. I used their hair styles as guides, as my face shape and hair line are different so I went with what I felt comfortable with. It'll grow back if I decide I don't like it. 

I finally got comfortable enough to wear falsies out in public but lipstick is still for the privacy of my own home! Funny what's easy for one person is difficult for another, and vice versa.