Meal Plan #4 – October 17th – 23rd 2016

Earlier than usual, but I already finished next week’s meal plan, mostly because we already did next week’s shopping today (great feeling to be prepared!).

Again, some things from the pantry, fridge and freezer need to be used. We’re slowly approaching the end of our freezer stock (finally!), and we did not throw away a single piece of fruit or vegetable in the last weeks but managed to use everything before it got bad. Another proof that the meal plan is saving us so much more than time!

Meal Plan #4 – week from October 17th to 23rd of 2016

Today we went shopping part with a list, part with no plan – we had some things on the list to use next week but also spontaneously grabbed some other stuff that I then planned a dinner with. After three weeks of planning before shopping and sticking to the list it was a nice change of just going with the flow!

Monday: We will make homemade pasta with Bolognese sauce. I’ll use half a portionnof ground grass-fed beef we got and freeze the rest. A nice trick to stretch the meat portion is to finely chop up some carrots and add to the sauce – they give it a great texture and add some more vegetable goodness!

Tuesday: I saw uncured beef hotdogs on sale and just grabbed them, so now they gotta be eaten, so Hot Dogs it is! We also found beautiful heirloom tomatoes which will make a side salad.

Wednesday: We have a whole chicken in the freezer that will provide enough meat for three meals. It will be roasted whole with some carrots and potatoes. The leftover meat goes to Friday’s and Saturday’s dinners!

Thursday: Some German Schnitzel goodness because there are pork cutlets waiting in the freezer. We’ll have them with mashed potatoes and frozen vegetables.

Friday: leftover chicken will be made into a delicious chicken salad that we’ll enjoy with corn muffins.

Saturday: The vegetarian dish of the week will be egg fried rice with lots of leftover vegetables thrown in and maybe some sauerkraut that we got today.

Sunday: the last pieces of chicken meat and the bones will make the base for a great chicken and corn chowder for the last day of the week! I plan on baking some dinner rolls to go with it.

I also noted when to thaw chicken and pork, and that we have to use up some yogurt next week!

Alright, this is our plan for the dinners of a whole week! I already know I’ll look most forward to the hot dogs, haha!

If you want to print out your own meal plan to fill out, you can find it here!

A few days ago I was listening to an album I would listen to multiple times every day when I was 13 and just found my long lasting love for metal. My husband caught me shaking my hair to it in the bathroom and he laughed for hours on end. Me too actually, it must have looked so hilarious, haha! Anyway, the Song of the Day is from this very album: Black Sabbath – Jerusalem 🤘

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10 American foods you’ll never find in our house 

Being in the US for almost 3 months now, visiting regularly for over a year before I moved out, I had my fair share of American food culture and overall, I love it. 

Several dishes, like shrimp and grits, biscuits and gravy, or crabcakes (you see, pretty Southern here!) are now amongst my absolute favorite foods ever, and there are also some convenience foods that I enjoy from time to time – my little food sins so to say.

However, there are many typical and popular American foods that I would never eat or never eat again. 

Here are my Top 10 American foods that you will never find in our house!

1. CRISCO

Fun fact beforehand: I own a Crisco cookbook from 1937 where literally every single recipe has Crisco in varying amounts in it, if it needs it or not. 

However, while I would definitely cook these recipes I’d never use Crisco. Butter is not the “healthiest” of all fats but it is way better than this weird processed white paste of nutritionally questionable oil made solid. This, my friends, is Satan’s earwax, I swear to you.

2. WONDERBREAD
I had one bite of Wonderbread when I visited my now husband for the first time. I could have sworn I am eating Hefekuchen, a very fluffy sweet cake from Germany. Why, for heaven’s sake, would anyone attempt to bake a bread, look at the dough and think “You know what would make that just perfect? A hearty dose of high-fructose corn syrup!” It is beyond me. 

Bread is supposed to be eaten with savory toppings too, you know, and how awful must it be to eat that sweet cotton candy like bread with cheese. Or maybe with something just as disgusting, like…..
3. BOLOGNA

Fascinating enough that Bologna rhymes with pony, it’s also fascinating that this concoction of meat and lard ever became a thing. On the other hand, in Germany there are plenty of similar products that are eaten from North to South, so I shouldn’t be too surprised.

Bologna has a nausea inducing unnatural grey-pink-beige color and this slimy gloss, urgh! You couldn’t pay me enough to eat just one bite (okay, maybe a million dollars…)

4. COOKING SPRAY

I found coconut oil cooking spray on one of my trips out here, and I happily took it back to Germany with me so I could cook low-fat pan fried delicacies. What was I thinking. As soon as the oil was hot it would smell like WD-40. Yes, exactly, that all-purpose oil that you can use for anything from oiling your shotgun to soften your leather boots. 

My husband had a long forgotten bottle of Pam in the pantry that I used in hopes it might not smell like a mechanic’s work shop, but no, the same horrible scent tickled my nose. I rather use my all time favorite, bacon fat, to fry our food, it can’t be any worse than WD-40.

5. LITTLE DEBBIE

I never had a taste of any Little Debbie product, but just thinking about biting into a sugar covered sugar filled pastry with sugar filling and sugar frosting makes my insulin-producing cells cry for mercy. 

Additionally, I don’t trust anything baked that has a shelf life of about 20 years. While there are plenty of sugary American goodies that I see and want, Little Debbie always threw me off. Not even my husband likes it, and he could eat sugar by the spoonful.

6. TOASTER STRUDEL

I saw a commercial for these where they were advertised as the ideal breakfast for children.

As if the “strudel” itself wasn’t already sweet enough you can also drizzle it with sugar glaze, because, you know, you can never start too early with working towards your diabetes. 

7. SODA

Let’s stay in the sweet section. I never was a big fan of soda, with the exception of ginger ale, but the soda options here make my teeth fall out just when I see the loooong long line of soda taps at any gas station. 

The worst is that soda is really considered a normal thirst-quenching beverage and I see kids gulping down XL-sized Polar Pops filled with the equivalent of 45 cubes of sugar and artificial colors that probably turn their pee a glow-in-the-dark green color. Growing up, soda was a special occasion drink, the beverages of choice were water, tea, and Apfelschorle (half apple juice, half sparkling water). Drinking 25 oz of Dr. Pepper is as far away from me as drinking 25 oz of puddle water. The latter might still be less detrimental to my health though.

8. LUNCHABLES

I think after you turn 13 the fascination for Lunchables fades away naturally. 

Fun fact: for a while they were available in Germany, I was under 13 years old, and I got them one time after I begged for ages, and I felt like the coolest kid, because only the cool kids had Lunchables. I still remember the flavor – weirdly sweet cracker, slimy salty ham, stick-to-your-teeth cheese. Back then it was the hit, but the taste buds of children are not to be taken seriously  (no broccoli, but yay sweetened napalm, that’s how children’s tastebuds work). Today I feel sorry for every child that gets to bring a box of pure sodium, preservatives, sugar and artificial coloring for school lunch. 

9. VELVEETA

I might have had a nightmare before where I had to eat a whole block of Velveeta cheese. 

You know what it is, you’ve seen it before, and if you’ve eaten it before: my deepest condolences.
10. PANCAKE WRAPPED SAUSAGE ON A STICK   

Before I moved to the US my husband and me would send each other pictures of crazy things we saw while grocery shopping. This is so far unbeaten:  

A sausage wrapped in a pancake, conveniently put on a stick. I can’t even and honestly don’t really want to imagine the taste of this flavor combination. 

This is my Top 10 of American foods I’ll never eat. My next list will be a positive and happy list of Top 10 American foods I do love to eat! 

What are your least favorite popular American foods? 



(All pictures from Google Images)

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Pie “Birne Helene” – pear and chocolate cream pie recipe 

One of my favorite desserts is a simple “Birne Helene”, sautéed pear with chocolate sauce, often accompanied with vanilla ice cream. When I found beautiful Bartlett pears on sale I planned on making this dessert, but then thought- why not bring it to another level and make a pie? 

I decided to give it a try, although I had no recipe – I just had to hope for the best, and I was lucky! The pie turned out just as I wanted. At first the combination of fruit pie and cream pie might seem unusual, but it works perfectly together – pear and chocolate are definitely a match made in heaven!

Pie “Birne Helene” – Pear and chocolate cream pie

Dough:

  • 12 tbsp butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups flour

Pears:

  • 4 pears (ripe but firm)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp sugar

Chocolate cream:

  • 1 can (12oz) evaporated milk
  • 1.5 cups sugar 
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 4 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract 

First prepare the dough. Mix flour, sugar, eggs and soft butter and knead until smooth, wrap in cling foil and let sit in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Peel and core the pears and cut into thin slices. Sautée in a large pan with water, sugar and spices, for about 4 minutes until just softened. Take out of the pan and let cool. 

Mix sugar, flour and cocoa powder in large saucepan, add evaporated milk. Slowly bring to a boil, stir in butter until melted. Add vanilla extract. Pull off the stove and very slowly add beaten egg yolks while constantly stirring.
Roll out dough with rolling pin on floured surface. Place in pie pan, press evenly onto bottom and the sides. Cut off the overhanging pie crust, keep for the decorations. You can use a fork or your fingers to decorate the edge of the pie crust.

Layer pear slices into the pie crust, it should make about two layers. Pour chocolate cream into pie crust.

Roll out remaining dough and decorate the edge of the pie crust. I do not recommend making a lattice, but pretty shapes cut out with a knife or cookie cutter placed on the edge make for a beautiful pie. The then remaining crust makes nice crumbly cookies!

Bake at 350°F for about 45 minutes, until the cream is not too wobbly anymore.

Let cool completely, and enjoy!

Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream bring the pie to another level!
This pie is rich from the cream, yet the pears bring a deliciously fresh and fruity element to it. Definitely a good tribute to a famous German dessert! 

For the Song of the Day I picked a classic by the one and only The Boss: Bruce Springsteen – Glory Days

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Meal plan #3 – October 10th – 16th 2016

Our pantry, freezer and fridge are well stocked, so this week’s meal plan again uses up what we have. The only thing we still have to buy are sausages, the rest is all from the fridge/freezer/pantry.  

After our second week of planning I am amazed again at how much money we save while still eating really good, how much time and nerves we save while still cooking everything from scratch, and how rewarding it is to know we feed our bodies healthy wholesome foods! 

Meal plan #3 for the week from October 10th to October 16th 2016

Chicken, cabbage and potatoes are the main staples for this week. Sprouts had a deal on boneless skinless chicken thighs, one pack has 8 thighs (for about $5!) which means we can make 3 meals with it. Potatoes have been $3 for 10 lbs and the cabbage is from last week. Cabbage is a vegetable I absolutely love, and one head lasts forever! Last week we made coleslaw with about 1/8 of it, which means we have plenty left for two more hearty dishes.

Monday: Stuffed chicken thighs, kamut and broccoli. I don’t know yet with what I’ll stuff the thighs, maybe parmesan and arugula from the garden! Kamut is an ancient grain that’s waiting in the pantry. Together with some herbs and spices it will make a delicious side dish! Our vegetable will be steamed broccoli which was also on sale.

Tuesday: Suddenly Salad, mixed vegetables, sausages. I accidentally wrote “Simple Salad” on the meal plan but I’m talking about a pasta salad box that comes with everything you need, you just cook the pasta, add some olive oil to the dressing mix, and that’s it. I rather make pasta salad from scratch, but we have several boxes of Suddenly Salad in the pantry – from my husband’s bachelor time before I moved in – and I rather eat them then throwing them away – after all, they’re pretty tasty! The mixed veggies are frozen (also, you guessed it, from this week’s sale at Sprouts), and the sausages we’ll get fresh.

Wednesday: Cabbage stir fry with potatoes. This is a very quick and easy dish, but so hearty! It’s basically just cut up cabbage and cubed potatoes sautéed until soft, then cream cheese, herbs and spices are added, and that’s it. During my time in nurse school this was on the menu at least two times a week because it was cheap, quick, and very satisfying. 

Thursday: Chicken noodle soup with corn bread muffins. I’ll use chicken thighs for the broth as the dark meat and fat will flavor it nicely (some bones would be even better, but bacon fat does the trick!), and I’ll use Asian egg noodles from the pantry. The corn bread muffins are baked from a box – again, I’d rather make them from scratch but they’re there, so we will eat them. I think I had them before and they tasted decent!

Friday: Tuna steaks, rice noodle salad. I didn’t even realize that we’ll follow the “fish on friday” tradition next week, but I decided from now it will become a tradition in this house too! The tuna steaks are from the freezer, the rice noodle salad will be a mix of whatever we have laying around (maybe a few leaves of cabbage, chives, celery, sesame seeds, hot sauce…).

Saturday: Cabbage and potato soup with bacon. This should finally rid us of the last bit of the cabbage head, haha! A traditional German soup, very hearty but not too heavy. I’ll sprinkle some crispy bacon on top and make dinner rolls to go with it.

Sunday: Chicken curry with rice. To eat the last two chicken thighs we’ll make a quick chicken curry and use up some curry paste that we have in the pantry. As a side we’ll have rice, maybe spiced up with a little ginger and lime.

So, another very frugal but still delicious week full of hearty healthy meals! 

Here you can print out the meal plan template to start planning yourself- believe me, it makes such a difference!

A little tip: If you want to learn some basic frugal recipes, look for cookbooks from the 30s-40s. This cookbook is from 1937 and has recipes which require only a few basic ingredients. Yesterday I made dinner rolls with a recipe from it and they turned out absolutely wonderful!

Today my Song of the Day is from a Swedish band I love since I was 13. I saw them at a festival a few years ago and when they played this song I might have had a tiny tear in my eye – and it’s not even a ballad, haha! Tiamat – Vote for Love

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My 3 must have natural oils for skincare 

If you need it – Nature has it!

My skin is a hydra: if I address one of my many skin problems two new ones appear.

Treating my acne results in dry spots. Treating the first fine lines (boooh!) results in oily skin. Using sunscreen to avoid more fine lines (boooh!!!) makes my skin break out. Treating the breakouts… well, you see, it’s a vicious circle.

I tried it all, drugstore and high end products, dozens of promising ingredients, the newest agents against any skin problem… nothing really did the trick.

So i decided: enough is enough. No more money spent and lost on expensive products that promise and don’t deliver. I did lots of research, kicked out the store-bought bottles full of unpronouncable ingredients and made my own skincare products, with exactly the things my skin needs. And that is surprisingly little!

Every skin is different. What works for me might not work for somebody else, and vice versa. Tea tree essential oil, which works wonders for other people’s acne, has no effect whatsoever on my skin. But ravensara essential oil cures those nasty breakouts in a whiff! Coconut oil, the miracle oil for apparently every skin and every person, makes my skin look horrible, while raspberry seed oil works like a charm! So my experiences can only be a rough guideline for what might work for you – but I can only invite you to try it out for yourself!

1. Burdock root oil – my cleansing face oil to fight acne

Burdock root oil is rarely discussed as a cosmetic oil, although it is known to be one of the best oils for acne prone skin.

Using oil on oily skin seems to make no sense at first, but it is actually the best way to draw out dirt and impurities. Harsh soaps and face wash strip our skin of its natural oils, so the skin produces even more sebum to balance itself out. So the more aggressive the “anti-oil” face wash, the more oily your skin can get. Cleansing face oils however gently clean the pores by binding sebum and dirt while moisturizing the skin.

Burdock root oil, derived from the beautiful but spiny burdock plant, has been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine. Its beneficial effects on acne prone skin have been proven by a German study in 1967, which concludes that the polyacetylenes found in burdock root have antibiotic properties that help fight acne causing bacteria. It also improves circulation which supports the detoxification of skin tissue.

I add essential oils to my cleansing face oil to add some more natural agents against impurities.
Sweet birch: I have no idea why this amazing essential oil isn’t recommended more often. It is so versatile, helpful against so many skin ailments, and it smells so good! Sweet birch contains, amongst other components, salicylic acid which is one of the most popular substances to clear impurities. This along with anti-inflammatory and detoxifying properties makes sweet birch essential oil one of my favorite helpers to deal with my acne prone skin.

Ravensara: as mentioned before, my best friend when it comes to treating breakouts. Coming from a shrub growing in Madagascar, this powerful antiseptic kills the bacteria that cause nasty pimples and prevents new bacterial growth.
Petitgrain: its herbal smell doesn’t make you think it comes from a citrus tree! Petitgrain is made by distilling the leaves and twigs of the orange tree. Petitgrain is also a strong antiseptic to kick those evil microbes to the curb.

Spearmint: I just love that minty scent and the fresh sensation on the skin! But it also adds restorative healing benefits to the face oil, and, unlike peppermint essential oil, is gentle to the skin.
Clary sage: not my favorite scent, to be honest, but! What a great essential oil for my skin! It acts as an astringent, which means it tightens the pores so dirt and bacteria can’t settle in as easily.

How do I use the cleansing oil?

In the evening I put a bit on a cotton pad and take off all the dirt of the day. It is also perfect to remove even waterproof make up! Afterwards I wash my face with a gentle face wash, then use a toner and massage just 2-3 drops of the face oil into my skin to let the oils do their magic while I sleep.

2. Raspberry seed face oil with sunscreen and anti-aging properties 

Sunscreen for my face has been an everlasting battle for me. Even the sunscreens advertised for oily, acne prone skin made me either look like I slathered a whole side of bacon over my face, or they caused a throwback to my teenage years when my acne was really bad. The only cream with SPF that doesn’t make me break out is the “Skin tone correcting and beautifying BB cream” by Kiehl’s. But I don’t want to wear “make up” every day  (my 20 year old self would have never believed that I would ever say that!). Luckily I found out that a natural oil with a little SPF is actually amazing for my skin – raspberry seed oil!

Raspberry seed oil has a natural SPF of about 2-4, which is not very high (several websites will tell you that it has an SPF 28-40, and I believed that for a while – oops! However, these numbers are not backed up by any studies, but copied and pasted from one article/blog to the other). It is better than no sunscreen though, and what I really want are the antibacterial and healing benefits it has for my skin. It is the one and only oil that my skin absorbs immediately and completely, and it leaves my skin very soft and moisturized yet not greasy at all.

What more can I ask for? Well, maybe a tiny bit more sunscreen? No problem! I add…
Carrot seed essential oil, which has a sunscreen of around 7 (again, not an SPF of 30-40 like stated by, no surprise, the companies who sell it…). It also is high in antioxidants, and with its anti-inflammatory and astringent benefits it fights potential breakouts before they even occur.

Rhododendron essential oil is also rarely used for skincare products, although I absolutely love it! Not only the scent is wonderful, but also its tonifying and antibacterial properties.

Patchouli essential oil, one of my all time favorites for everything. I use it in homemade conditioner, lotion, deodorant, everywhere. In my face oil it helps to contract my enlarged pores, making my skin look more even, and it also is an amazing antiseptic that prevents bacterial growth.
How do I use the face oil?

I simply massage 2-3 drops into damp skin. That means my 1 oz bottle lasts for months! If I want I use some powder after my skin absorbed the oil, to even out my skin tone a bit more.

3. Evening Primrose oil eye serum – to fight the first fine wrinkles 

Yes, it is true. I have them. The first fine wrinkles around my eyes. They’re probably not even half as visible to others as they are to me, but you can never start early enough with an anti-aging routine. And after all, I am 30 now, if I want it or not, haha!

Often used internally, but equally as great externally is the oil from a beautiful yellow flower with proven rejuvenating effects.

Evening primrose oil is rich in omega-6 fatty acids and has brightening and tightening effects on the skin. As a light oil it won’t irritate your eyes – thicker oils can “crawl” into your eyes and cause irritation.

I add some gentle but powerful essential oils that are safe to use around the eyes.
Jasmine essential oil has one of the most intoxicating scents I know, but what I want for my eyes are the rejuvenating benefits. It is also a known cicatrisant, which means it can help fade dark spots from hyperpigmentation, which I do have plenty around my eyes (thanks genes. Thanks.)

Chamomile essential oil is incredibly soothing, which is great for tired eyes. It works constricting on the fine blood vessels under the eyes that cause dark circles.
Shisandra oil, not an essential oil but an extract from a deep red berry used as medicine for thousands of years in Asia, is what I add as an antioxidant to help reduce the detrimental effects of environmental toxins.

All my preparations also contain a few drops of pure tocopherol (vitamin E) to increase shelf life and boost the antioxidant content.

My skin care routine has become more and more important to me as I want to keep my skin healthy looking and smooth for as long as possible (oh well, the sin of vanity!), yet without lathering it in chemicals that cost a lot and don’t hold their promise.

I once met a woman who said you don’t need fancy anti-aging products if you know what natural oils are the best for your skin. She was in her 60s and looked not a day older than 45, so I did believe her! I can only encourage you to find out what your skin needs and find the best natural oil for it – it will make all the difference!

What are your natural skin care secrets?

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Confession: I have NO MONEY – what I learned from living without a cent in my pocket

I confess: I don’t have a single cent of my own. My wallet is empty, I don’t have a bank account, and no secret cash stash hidden anywhere.

How so? And how do I still get along?

When I moved to the US from Germany a little over two months ago I took the money I had in my bank account with me. Part of it paid for some wedding expenses, part of it was used to pay rent and other necessities.

And now – I don’t own any money of my own anymore. I can’t work at the moment as I don’t have my greencard yet, and it will be several weeks, even months, before I get it. More weeks with zero income on my part, meaning more weeks without my own money.
Is it hard? In a way. Is it horrible? No! It is an experience I would never want to miss! To be honest: I am so grateful for it! It taught me many important lessons that I will draw on for the rest of my life.

I always thought of me as being a frugal person. However, I still never had real savings. My profession, I am a nurse, is paid extremely bad in Germany. At times I worked 42 hours a week, three shifts, for way less than $2000. So there wasn’t much money to begin with. But I also spent the most money for useless things:

  1. I got a lot of stuff “to go”, coffee, snacks, water…
  2. I had subscriptions for things I didn’t need or use, like cosmetic sample boxes, magazines…
  3. I had a gym membership but no time, nor motivation, to go to the gym.
  4. I was very susceptible to limited edition make up products. Whenever a new edition came out I bought something.
  5. When I had “a phase”, like weightlifting or running a beauty blog, I’d buy every supply necessary, like four different protein powders or three different mascaras “for testing”.
  6. I’d smoke a lot. Luckily I kicked that habit a few years ago!
  7. I’d buy something new without using up a similar product I already had just to have something new (especially regarding cosmetic products).

Where does the frugal part come in? Well I did save money (or so I thought!), but in all the wrong places:

  1. I’d buy very cheap clothes on sale that wouldn’t last more than one season and sometimes wouldn’t even fit properly, but “it only cost $5!”
  2. I’d eat “cheap” convenience food and lots of fast food.
  3. I’d buy the cheapest possible cleaning products and I wouldn’t have cared if the active ingredient was Agent Orange, as long as it was the most inexpensive choice.
  4. I’d dye my hair myself with harsh colors, ultimately destroying it.
  5. I’d buy many, but cheap, cosmetic products full of low quality chemical ingredients.
  6. I’d buy things like food “cheap in bulk”, but let it go to waste.

You see, I did everything wrong! And while many of these issues improved over the years, I still was a lot less frugal than I thought.

It took this current situation of having not a cent of my own to really open my eyes. My husband has the cash and pays for rent, food and everything else, and of course for whatever I need and want. But wow, how my views about what I “need and want” changed!  Now I am really thinking about every single purchase I make because I buy it with money that is not my own.

  1. I make a meal plan for every week’s dinners so we only buy what we need.
  2. I always look for sales and try to create our dishes around whatever is on sale and preserve as much as possible.
  3. cook and bake from scratch and don’t use (often more expensive) convenience products – unless I made them myself.
  4. I don’t ask about going out for dinner unless it’s a special occasion (partly because the initial excitement about all those American restaurant “must visits” wore off, haha!)
  5. I don’t buy new clothes just to have new clothes.
  6. I go to Goodwill and other thrift stores to get furniture or other goods.
  7. I make treats for our dogs instead of buying them.
  8. I don’t buy new cosmetic products unless I completely used up a product and have no back up.
  9. I make cleaning products myself, chemical free and at almost no cost.
  10. I cut my hair myself.
  11. repurpose and reuse everything that can possibly be repurposed and reused.
  12. I try to make the most out of everything we buy, especially food.
  13. I use whatever I earn with my online shop to keep the shop running until we are balanced with what we have spent and what we earn.
  14. No impulse purchases whatsoever. No quick snacks on the way home, no succumbing to candy cravings at the checkout, no “but it’s just $5!” nonsense things that I don’t need.

All this made me realize something incredibly valuable:

I do not need most of the things I thought were “important”. 

I don’t need them. I don’t miss them. I don’t even think about them!

Cosmetic products? I have three eyeshadow palettes that will last me a few more years. If I don’t have a certain color, well, then I can’t use this certain color. Nobody cares if my eyelids are this particular shade of green that is now “so on trend”.

Brand new furniture? A $25 desk I found at Goodwill is the most practical for my purposes and the scratches it has don’t bother me at all.

New clothes? I have a whole closet full of practical and pretty clothes. I donated five big trash bags full of rarely worn clothing when I went through my stock before moving, and still have plenty.

A few days ago I did find $66 in my purse that are my own that I actually completely forgot about. Guess what: I had no idea what to buy with it when I found it. I really don’t need anything. So I decided to put the cash aside to start a little savings jar to buy a sewing machine, as this is the one thing that I really want at the moment. It will be a smart investment and not an “impulsive purchase” of something that will only make me satisfied for a little while.

This already shows me that even when I finally earn my own money again I will continue being frugal and save as much as possible to help fund our goal of having a family and a house on a few acres of land to start our country homestead in a few years. Because that is what is important!

I’m grateful, I’m happy and feel incredibly blessed to have this opportunity to realize what, out of the many things money can buy, is really necessary, and that is surprisingly little!

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Spiced apple jelly & canned apple pie filling – two in one recipe

One of my biggest pet peeves are recipes for canning that leave you with jars of beautiful preserve and – lots of “garbage”.Whenever I read “peel, discard peels” or “strain, discard pulp” I think: “Wait a minute, that is good food there! No way I’m throwing that away!”

Yes, I’m not just frugal, I tend to be a real cheapskate! I got that from my paternal grandma, who keeps every plastic fork from take away food and unwraps presents gently to iron and reuse the wrapping paper. 

So when we found a couple pounds of delicious apples for a good price I made it my challenge to make two different preserves with one recipe. And it turned out well! Frugality success, yeah!

Spiced apple jelly and canned apple pie filling

  • 5 lbs apples (Gala, Jonagold and Braeburn are my favorites for canning)
  • 3 cups water
  • 2.5 cups sugar
  • 4 star anise 
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 whole allspice 
  • pectin

Core and cube the apples. Cook with the water for about 30 minutes. Mash with a potato masher.

Strain through a fine sieve. You should get about 4 cups of juice. It will look a little cloudy but the jelly will turn out pretty clear.

Keep the fruit pulp for the apple pie filling.

Cook the juice with 2 cups of sugar and the spices for 20 minutes, strain out spices.

Put back on the heat and add pectin according to instructions on the package  (I used 1 pack of Kraft Sure-Jell). 

Jelly test: take a tablespoon full of jelly from the pot, pour on cold plate, put into the fridge. If it jellies after a few minutes, the jelly is ready to be jarred.

Pour jelly into jars, process in hot water bath for 10 minutes.

Now cook the apple pulp with 

  • 2 tsp cinnamon 
  • 2 tsp almond extract 
  • 1 tsp orange peel

and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar for about 10 minutes.

Spoon into jars, process in hot water bath for 10 minutes.

You will get 4 x 1/2 pint jars of jelly and 3 x 1 pint jars of apple filling.
The apple jelly is best enjoyed on a slice of buttered bread, or used to make a special peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

The apple filling, mixed with some cubes of fresh apple, is of course perfect to fill pies, but also tastes great on pancakes, ice cream, or served with some whipped cream.

This morning I started the day with one of the most uplifting and motivating songs. I cant help but raise my fist and sing along! The Song of the DayJohn Parr – St. Elmo’s Fire

What are your frugal canning secrets? 

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