Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Treasure Hunting in a Clothing Mountain- Super Cheap Clothes Shopping Trip

 photo IMG_0074_zps28809a43.jpgWith all the spring cleaning that people have been doing lately, our local second hand store is overflowing with donations. So much so that they have no room to put anything, and took an empty warehouse and used that to store all the clothing donations temporarily. The warehouse needs to be emptied as soon as possible, so they made a sale- instead of some things being 50 cents and some things being 25 cents like they usually are, they made everything be 25 cents, and opened the warehouse for set hours that they aren't usually open.
My friend who volunteers at the second hand store had posted about the sale going on, and I was unsure about whether or not I'd go, whether or not it was worth it. Then this morning, while the boys were in school, I took my two girls with me to the warehouse with all the clothes.
I got quite a shock.
A mountain of clothes. Literally.
The warehouse is probably a quarter of the size of a basketball court. And it was entirely filled with clothes, up to a few feet deep. You could not see the floor.

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While I was there, a few other friends came as well. We had 10 friends, each in a different section of the warehouse, just digging through the mountain, looking at the clothes one by one, seeing if it was something that would be good for us, and if it wasn't for us, we'd see if it was good for one of the other people there or their kids. We all got a great amount of stuff, and since we worked as a team, finding things for each other, we were able to get many more great things than if it would have just been each person there on their own, looking for their own stuff.

In the end, I got more than 50 things, spent a total of 15 dollars on the lot.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Homemade Yogurt Recipe- Dairy Yogurts, and Non Dairy Sunflower Milk Yogurt, Almond Milk Yogurt, Etc...

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Sunflower milk yogurt with raw chocolate
buckwheat granola and apricot jam
If you haven't noticed from yesterday's post... I'm on a bit of a dairy kick. After 2 or more years of not making homemade yogurt, I just made 2 batches 2 days ago. One batch of dairy yogurt, for my kids... and one batch of sunflower milk yogurt for myself, since I don't want to push my recently acquired ability to eat minimal dairy too far.
A few years ago I shared my instructions for how I make my homemade dairy yogurt, and I figured I'd repost it, as well as post instructions for making dairy free yogurt.

In short, to understand why you make yogurt the way you do, understand that yogurt is a fermented food made by inoculating warm milk with probiotic beneficial bacterias, usually acidophilus and bifidus and a few others, which then eat the sugars in the milk, leaving behind lactic acid, curdling the milk, turning the liquid milk into a thicker yogurt.
When making dairy free yogurts, even though you inoculate it with the same bacteria, because sunflower milk, almond milk, soy milk, etc... don't have the same property as dairy milk, they don't thicken on their own. So dairy free yogurts need to first be thickened, like pudding, and after they are thickened, they are inoculated with the starter culture, which then eat the sugars and turn the thickened milk into a sour yogurt.
Some people are weirded out by the fact that you leave this milk in a warm place for a while- they're afraid of spoilage. What it's important to be aware of is that if the milk is inoculated with the good bacteria, and then put at a warm temperature, the beneficial bacteria will replicate to such an extent that spoilage causing bacteria will be prevented from growing, and your milk will not only not spoil from being kept warm for a few hours, but it will also end up lasting longer, even after, when refrigerated, than if it had not been made into yogurt. If the milk isn't kept warm, the beneficial bacteria will not replicate, and you will not get yogurt.

I am not super sensitive to dairy anymore, so I inoculate my sunflower milk yogurt with a little bit of dairy yogurt with live cultures in it. I have looked for dairy free yogurts with live cultures in them, but I haven't seen any sold locally or I'd use a bit of that to inoculate it. If you want yours to be completely dairy free, look for a non dairy yogurt with live cultures to do this, or you can also use powdered yogurt culture (which you can buy online) and some people even say you can use powdered probiotics from inside capsules, but I never tried that so I have no personal experience with it to tell you how it would turn out.

I make my yogurt without a special yogurt maker- the only special equipment needed is a cooler or other insulated container, as well as a hot water bottle.

Homemade Yogurt Recipe- Dairy Yogurts, and Non Dairy Sunflower Milk Yogurt, Almond Milk Yogurt, Etc...

Monday, April 28, 2014

Homemade Cream Cheese Recipe- Easy and Simple

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I have to say that I just love cream cheese. I hadn't had it in a long time, since I have an issue with dairy.

As of 2 years ago, even having goats' milk yogurt made me feel nauseous, and even little bits of butter made me feel sick. But, I've been working a lot on gut healing, with lots of probiotics and fermented foods and healing bone broths and avoiding gluten, etc... and it seems my sensitivity to dairy has lessened. I now am able to have goat's cheeses and sheep cheeses (haven't tried massive quantities), without having trouble at all. So I decided to try out cream cheese, since I've missed it. It is rather expensive to buy cream cheese locally, but I am able to make my own cream cheese pretty easily with sour cream, something that costs much less than cream cheese does.

I made my cream cheese yesterday, and had some last night. Heavenly.
Then I had some again this morning.
My only reaction? Some mild nausea. Nothing debilitating, and definitely no stomach aches.

While I'd rather not be nauseous (I had enough of that when pregnant), I'm definitely game for a little nausea occasionally if it means I can have dairy.
Not planning on having any large amounts of dairy, but it's really nice to know that I can have dairy here and there without paying a price.
And I guess it shows that by working on eating gut healing foods, you really are able to heal your gut and become desensitized to things you used to be sensitive to before.

So here's how I make my own cream cheese.
Not a lot of work at all.
All that's required is patience.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Frugal Accomplishments This Week

I feel like I'm finally getting my frugal groove back. I still am doing some decidedly unfrugal things like using disposable dishes and such, still taking it easy with the household task that I hate most- dish washing- and am using disposable diapers for Anneliese... but am being pretty good about being frugal in all other ways. Including still exclusively cloth diapering Rose. Here's what I did frugally this past week:

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Homemade Horseradish and Beet Sauce Recipe- AKA Khrayn

I have a love for spicy things. Take any bland dish, add some hot sauce or hot peppers or black pepper or red pepper flakes, and you automatically have a dish that is much more pleasing to my palate. I like things hot, but not super hot- my favorite salsa growing up was the mild version, maximum medium. The stuff labeled volcanic- not for me. But a decent amount of spice added as a condiment to a variety of dishes, can only benefit, in my opinion.

I inherited a hunk of horseradish from a friend the other day, and decided to use it to make a delicious beet and horseradish sauce, also known as khreyn (or some variation of that pronunciation) throughout Eastern Europe, a condiment that I love and have bought in the past. It's relatively simple to make, and it lasts a long time in the fridge- months and months- even without any preservatives. While store bought khreyn is made with sugar and vinegar, I make mine with honey and freshly squeezed lemon juice and it tastes great that way. There are spicier and less spicy versions of khreyn- mine is of the mild variety, though if you prefer spicier, just increase the amount of horseradish and you'll be good to go.
I like this condiment on fish and chicken- it's also great on beef. You can put it on veggies or carbs or whatever- it's really terrific everywhere. I especially like it mixed with mayo and spread on bread- delish!

This recipe does make a huge amount- feel free to halve the recipe, or even cut it in thirds if desired.

P.S. Horseradish grows very easily in cooler climates. Growing up in the American Midwest, my mom just stuck a bit of leftover horseradish root in the ground, and it just kept growing year after year after year, and was nearly impossible to kill. If you're a fan of horseradish and have some to spare, just bury a bit in the ground and you'll likely be rewarded with a huge bounty. (Unfortunately it doesn't grow so well in warmer climates like where I currently live or I'd do the same.)

Homemade Horseradish and Beet Sauce Recipe- AKA Khrayn

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

How To Make Homemade Placenta Pills- AKA Placental Encapsulation Tutorial

 photo IMG_1958_zps6eefbd12.jpgI was waiting to write this post for a while already, waiting till I had definitive results before I wrote a post writing all the cool stuff about placental encapsulation and taking placenta pills, but, unfortunately, I can't say 100% whether or not taking placenta pills helped me. There's a definite possibility, but I am not sure.

Let me back up.

What exactly is placental encapsulation?

Well, first off, for those that don't know, the placenta (also known as "the afterbirth") is something that develops from the blastocyst (cell mass) that develops from a fertilized sperm and egg. The blastocyst develops into both the embryo- the fetus- and the placenta- the organ that is implanted into the uterine wall that sustains the baby. All the nourishment that the baby gets passes through the placenta, and the placenta serves as a filter between what the mother has and what the baby gets. The placenta also secretes hormones necessary for the baby's development and being able to sustain the pregnancy.

In Chinese medicine as well as other alternative medicines, the placenta is ingested, typically by the mother, for medicinal purposes. This is known as placentophagy. Placentas can be ingested raw, cooked, in tinctures, and encapsulated, meaning made into pills.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

How to Save Money- In a Nutshell

Homemade Green Tabasco Sauce
In a local money saving group, someone asked for a "crash course of living within her means". I started writing this out as a post for her... then realized how long it would be, so made it into a blog post instead, because what I wrote isn't just applicable locally, but everywhere.

A) Try adjusting your expectations of what is "normal" and "needed". So many things I thought before were obvious that I'd have/buy/use/do I no longer do:

 1. Like do you need to go on trips, vacations, etc... or can you have frugal or free fun around the home and locally? Especially if kids are little, often they enjoy trips to the playground or doing arts and crafts at home with Mommy, as much, if not more than trips to museums, amusement parks, hotels, etc... While we may want to give our kids everything that we had growing up, and feel that we are failing as a parent if we don't give them a "good life", what kids care most about isn't how much money you spend on them, but the attention you give them, and doing enjoyable things, which doesn't equal spending money. Don't project your feelings of inadequacy about things like that on your kids because your kids are living their own life, not yours, and unless you're living in social circles where their friends are doing/getting all these stuff, they probably don't even know what they're "missing." (This is part of why I am very happy that I live in a place where there isn't pressure to live it up and spend a lot of money- the type of community you live in plays a big part in your ability to be happy with less. Being the "poor one" of the community doesn't feel good, but if you live in communities where thrift is valued, or at least excess spending is frowned upon, it helps a lot.)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Frugal Accomplishments This Week

This past week's frugal accomplishments, in many ways, are more in that I specifically did NOT do things, less that I did things. Meaning, I had many opportunities to spend money, lots of temptations... but I was very good and specifically did not spend money. Mike and the kids were all on spring break, everyone home... we did NOT go on expensive outings with the family, but instead chose to stay home, and entertain our relatives at our house, going to the park together, etc...
I'm still trying to take it relatively easy...

Here's what I did this week:

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Homemade Coconut Macaroons Recipe- With Chocolate Flavored, Vegan and Refined Sugar Free Options

When trying to make grain free desserts, most recipes you'll find are nut based, which isn't so cheap. Alternatively, they use other expensive or hard to find ingredients, or are very complicated and time consuming to make.
Macaroons are a cheaper alternative to nut based grain free cookies, since coconut is generally cheaper per pound, not to mention per cup, than nuts are... The thing is- nearly all macaroon recipes that I've seen are with eggs, and since I avoid eggs, they didn't work for me. The few egg free macaroon recipes I came upon called for honey, which I didn't want to use, since it is expensive, or called for coconut flour, which I can't get locally.
Today, I came across this recipe for macaroons and I decided to play around with it. First I made a half batch to see how well it held together, and then based on that, I played around with it and came up with a few different versions, without eggs, with coconut sugar in place of white sugar, chocolate flavored, etc... It's a pretty versatile recipe, and once you have this base the possibilities for flavor are pretty endless. Ok, not endless, but you catch my drift.
One thing I have to note is that just using coconut, the sweetener, and the egg or egg replacement will leave you with a macaroon that is somewhat crumbly- adding cocoa powder or starch will not affect the flavor, but will make the macaroon be more solid and less crumbly. So it's up to you if you want to add them, based on what you're looking for in terms of end results, as well as the ingredients you want to use.
Just don't use both cocoa powder and starch in the same recipe- you can divide the batch in half and add half the amount of cocoa to one half and half the amount of starch to the other half. Or, as I said, you can leave it out entirely.

Homemade Coconut Macaroons Recipe- With Chocolate Flavored, Vegan and Refined Sugar Free Options

Grain Free Vegan Potato Pizza Crust, Flatbread, Wraps, and Crackers Recipe

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Pizza with homemade tomato sauce, mushrooms, olives,
and vegan cheese sauce made with homemade almond milk
I was playing around in the kitchen yesterday, trying to make a vegan potato based, gluten free, grain free pizza crust. I made a huge amount (three times the amount listed here) and after making 2 pizza crusts, that, for the record, came out pretty good, I still had quite a bit of dough left over... so I played around with it, and discovered that this dough is also able to be made into a nice pliable flatbread, which can be spread with spreads, or wrapped around fillings tortilla style, and if rolled thinly enough and cooked low and slow, can be made into crackers. (Though I have to admit, it's hardest to get them good as crackers, since they go from soft to burnt very quickly, so you have to time it just right.) Its pretty versatile for something with such minimal ingredients.

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In flatbread form
My husband liked it best in pizza form. My kids liked it best spread with homemade strawberry jam. Me? Can't decide- all ways are great!

Grain Free Vegan Potato Pizza Crust, Flatbread, Wraps, and Crackers Recipe

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Perfect Pot Roast With Mushrooms and White Wine Recipe- Gluten Free, Sugar Free, Nightshade Free

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Unfortunately, the only pic I got of it was when it
was nearly finished. The potatoes aren't part
of the recipe. Just reheated together.
You know what's annoying? Sometimes, when you're experimenting in the kitchen, you meticulously write down the exact recipe so you can make it again... and it flops. And other times, your experiments come out so perfectly that you wish you had written down a detailed recipe, but you didn't. Both happened to me yesterday- my attempted almond pulp carrot cake came out pretty blah, but I made an amazing pot roast that, in my opinion, was the best post roast I ever had in my life, soft and delicious and delectable... but I only have an approximate recipe for it, not an exact one, unfortunately.
But since, whenever I have a pot roast, I am always looking for the perfect recipe for it, I decided that I needed to write down whatever I remembered from the recipe, even if it wasn't exact, since it was so good, that I'm sure that even with a slight variation, it'll still be amazing.

While beef usually isn't a cheap meal, I don't mind sharing this recipe on my site since it is made with the cheapest cut of beef I can get here- shank roast- which I am often able to get on sale making it even cheaper. Feel free to use any hunk of beef that you can get your hands on, even or especially the cheapo stuff like chuck roast or shoulder that is usually tough and chewy- because, made this way, cooked "low and slow" it becomes so tender, delicious, and juicy, that even the cheapest meat can be perfection. And, for the record, I've heard people talk about getting roasts soft and delicious... I've never had meat as soft as this. It truly was amazing.

I had a problem getting the wine bottle opened when I first was cooking this recipe, so I ended up first cooking the roast just in the mushrooms and their liquid, no wine, for at least 20 minutes until I got the wine in the pot. I am not sure if that is connected to how it came out, but I do want to note that it did cook first without the wine, and only 20 minutes later was everything added.

This recipe is naturally gluten free, grain free, nightshade free, sugar free, Paleo/Primal legal, etc.... If you used fresh mushrooms and water in place of the canned, it would be SCD and GAPS legal as well.

Perfect Pot Roast With Mushrooms and White Wine Recipe- Gluten Free, Sugar Free, Nightshade Free

How to Protect Your Family From Underinsurance

This is a guest post.

Research shows that 95% of Australians do not have adequate levels of life insurance. Even though many Australians have some degree of life insurance included within their Superannuation, it is thought that many are still underinsured by $100,000 or more. Insufficient amounts of life insurance will mean that your family will not have adequate cover, in their time of need. Source:
Life insurance protects your loved ones with a lump sum payment in the event of your death, or upon diagnosis of a terminal illness.

When applying for life insurance it’s important to understand your policy, be completely truthful when you buy your policy; and ensure your details are up-to-date as your life circumstances change; such as a new child, new home or new job, to help ensure your family is protected when they need it most.
Insurance comparison site experts in all things insurance, helps you to understand life insurance, and explains how you explore your options and avoid underinsuring your income and life.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Frugal Accomplishments This Past Week

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This past week has been a bit of a crazy week in our house. The kids are on spring break, and since my husband works in a school, he also is on spring break, so we took the time to do a lot of spring cleaning. Frugality wasn't uppermost in my mind- cleaning was... And taking it easy. Meaning, I took it easy, for the most part, and directed my husband how to clean my house. :-D
I didn't keep track this week, as the week went by, what I did frugally, so the list is more sparse than usual, because, after a whole week, who actually remembers what they did each day that week? At least I don't...

Here's a few things we did as a family that I do remember:

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Suave Coupons at Dollar General

While many people, like myself, chose to make their own hygiene and beauty products, more people prefer to buy them ready made at the store, ideally for as little money as possible. Dollar General is offering coupons on some of their Suave products- click here to play their Mix n Matching game to see the details of this offer.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Turkey and Greens Roll Up aka Swirled Turkey Loaf Recipe- Gluten Free, Egg Free, Grain Free

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I had wanted to post this recipe for my turkey and wild greens roll up that I made for Thanksgiving dinner already months and months ago, if not over a year ago. But of course, as things happen, I forgot entirely about it, and every single time I went to post it, something else came up. First, I lost the recipe, and needed to make it again so I had the exact amounts to share... and then I forgot, and forgot, and forgot, but I've been saving the photos of this on my camera memory card, using up space, reminding me that I needed to get this posted already.
I've been a little busy lately with the new baby and all, and definitely haven't been making anything as fancy as this lately, but I figured, why not share this fancy but cheap recipe now, with Easter and Passover coming up soon.

It looks nice and pretty, but fortunately it's pretty easy to make, not to mention pretty cheap. You probably can change it up a bit from how I made it, using bread crumbs in place of the potato flakes (use gluten free bread crumbs to keep this gluten free), and/or 2 eggs instead of the flax. (If you do use eggs instead of the flax, you might want to increase the potato flakes a drop, or add a little potato starch or bread crumbs so it isn't runny.)
You can use whatever greens you want for this recipe, whether foraged greens like mallow or wild mustard or sow thistle, or you can use spinach or swiss chard or whatever.

It tastes delicious and has been a hit with my family and guests both times I made it.

Turkey and Greens Roll Up Recipe- Gluten Free, Egg Free, Grain Free

Sunday, April 6, 2014

My Frugal Accomplishments This Week

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I'm slowly getting back into the swing of things, leaving the house a bit more, but still trying my best to take it easy. Frugal things I'm doing, predominantly, are things that save more money using as little energy as possible. People have commented to me "You just had a baby- you need to forget about frugality for a while" but unfortunately, that isn't doable. Having a baby doesn't miraculously improve your financial situation- if anything, it makes it more stressed out. I've been doing what I can to ensure that having a new baby isn't as expensive for our family as it is for most families, but even so, it means that my husband had to take off work, I had to pay my midwife, etc...
So my rule is- if I have to be on my feet for too long, or if it entails walking far, or it involves heavy lifting, it's out. When I left my house to go shopping, I went to the store that was further, but had a bus straight there and back from right outside my door and had deliveries to my home, instead of the closer store that entails walking 10 minutes uphill... And another sale that happened locally- I took a bus 3 stops (and about 3 blocks) within my own community to get there, and got a ride back...

Here's what I did this past week to save money:

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Be Your Own Florist- Making Homemade, Free Bouquets

 photo IMG_0004_zps7c9ff85b.jpgYesterday, my 2 year old, Anneliese needed to get out of the house and get some fresh air, so I decided to leave the sleeping baby with my husband and go on a short, quick walk with my daughter. While we were walking, I noticed the abundance of beautiful flowers and foliage growing on a path near my house. I thought that they would make a beautiful bouquet, would work terrifically to add some spring cheer into my house.

I really like flowers, and I especially enjoy flowers and beautiful foliage in my house. I feel a vase filled with flowers enlivens a room, transforms it from dull to enchanting. When my husband comes home with a bouquet of flowers for me, it really makes me smile, and for days, I enjoy its beauty in my home.
That said, my husband doesn't buy me flowers often. It gets very expensive. Especially since flowers only last for a short while until they wilt and die...

Making my own bouquet allows me to have the benefits of flowers decorating my house, without needing to lay out large amounts of money.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

How To Cut Up A Whole Raw Chicken Into Individual Portions- Video Tutorial

 photo chicken_zps8a47ee1f.pngYesterday, I went to the grocery store and whole chickens were sold at incredibly low prices. Whole chickens, locally, are always cheaper to buy than buying individual parts, especially if you're talking about parts like chicken breasts and thighs, which are some of the most expensive parts per pound locally. (If you want to check out what works out cheapest per pound of actual meat, check out my table where I figured out what percentage of each cut of chicken is actual meat, so that you can plug in your prices and figure out how much you're paying per pound of meat for each different cut.)

I almost never cook my chickens whole. There are a few reasons for this.
1) I try to only cook as much chicken as my family will eat for one meal, enough for one portion per person. Cooking too much chicken means people eat more chicken than necessary, which costs more from a financial perspective, and that means I can serve fewer meals of chicken. I try to portion out meat in my freezer into exact meal sizes so I can cook as many as we need for one meal, and no more. A whole chicken is too much for us for one meal.

2) I used to hate white meat chicken. But that's because I was always served dry, overcooked white meat. White meat has a very different cooking time than the rest of the chicken, and if I'm going to be serving chicken, I'd rather make it in a way that tastes absolutely best, and not sub par chicken. Expensive foods should be made well, and not only tolerable. Why make dry as sawdust chicken when you can make succulent, tender, chicken breasts? When chickens are cooked whole, I find that in 95% of the time, the chicken breast gets dry and overcooked because it was ready before the rest of the meat. I cut up my chicken so that I can cook the dark meat and the light meat separate, and make each type of chicken in the way that it is most enjoyable to eat.

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3) Chopped up chickens are easier to stretch. Firstly, because each side of the chicken breast, instead of serving one person, can be made into cutlets, so that you get between 6 and 10 cutlets/servings from each bird instead of two servings of white meat chicken. Secondly, you can chop up the white meat and stretch it with veggies in stir fries. Thirdly, you can grind the white meat chicken and stretch it with fillers in chicken meat balls, chicken loaf, burgers, etc... Fourth, because you can use the carcass to make a terrific, strongly flavored chicken soup (I usually use 1-2 carcasses and a bunch of veggies for a large pot of soup). While you can use leftover chicken bones from pre-roasted chicken in your soup, I find the flavor isn't as strong as when you use a plain, raw, chicken carcass to make the soup. Fifth, once you make the chicken carcass into a soup, you can pick the meat off the carcass and either serve it in the soup, or as the meat in an additional meal, like a chicken pot pie or stir fry. Sixth, doing it this way allows me to remove the skin from the portions I prefer to eat without the skin, so that I can use the skin to make my rendered chicken fat.

So, I chop up my chickens, using just my hands and a sharp knife, portion out the meat into meal size portions, and freeze them. (Usually I do this with a few chickens at a time, not just one. I elaborated more on why I do that in this post here.)

People have asked me how to butcher/chop up a raw chicken. I made a little video showing how. Mike took the video.