Friday, September 30, 2011

Garlicky Herbal Chicken Broth

The past few years have seen so many changes for our family in terms of nutrition. I have always considered myself to be healthy, but after reading books such as Nourishing Traditions and The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook, and certainly after attending a Gnowfglins ecourse, my world was rocked!

It has been a slow transition seen through various small changes.

Today my family and I choose to value nutrition and we therefore take responsibility for our health. We do this through foods that are local, in-season, minimally processed, grass-fed, and non-GMO. Additionally, this diet holds closely to our values of sustainability.

This means we eat seasonal fresh foods, we don't eat a lot of things out of a box, and we know the farmer that produces our food.

Josh is our grass-fed beef and pastured poultry farmer. And guess what, today was pick-up day! After almost a week hiatus from meat, because we ran out early, it makes me so happy to know that my freezer is full to the brim with various cuts of beef, whole chickens, liver, and chicken feet...yes, chicken feet (smile).

Tomorrow I will be simmering a chicken in order to use the meat in meals throughout the week and of course for the stock. Likewise, we've all noticed this week that our bodies are working hard to fight off a little cold. So I am going to make this also:

Garlicky Herbal Chicken Broth Recipe

-6 minced garlic cloves
-olive oil
-2 cups of homemade chicken broth
-1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh cayenne pepper (1/2 tsp. cayenne powder)
-1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary (1/2 tsp. dried)
-1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme (1/4 tsp. dried)
-salt to taste

Saute garlic briefly in olive oil. Add broth and simmer for 20 minutes. Add herbs and salt. Then simmer for 5 more minutes. Serve immediately. Sip slowly.


-If administering above recipe to children, remember to take into account the cayenne pepper and season accordingly.

-To find your own local sources of grass-fed beef and/or pastured poultry search this link for

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Silver for Water Purification and Health

These days the word silver brings many different thoughts to each one of us.

Some instantly think colloidal silver, others jewelry. Some of us know today’s trading price for an ounce of silver. And others yet, see it as a safe haven for their wealth.

Unfortunately, I do not fall in the latter category (smile). I love the idea of precious metals. But here’s the thing, at the end of the day, my family and I cannot eat silver or gold.


…we do hoard a few nice vintage silver dollars. Why, I hear you asking; for water purification purposes of course!

Sure we have our handy, high tech water filter we purchased for our backpacking trips. But the thing requires new filters every so often. And sure we have our water stores, but those are not sustainable (at least not here in the desert).

Throughout history, silver has been used across the world and in many a different civilizations as a monetary standard, a health remedy and a preservative. Truth be told, thousands of years before modern scientists and doctors understood microbes and how they cause illness, people knew the health benefits of colloidal metals, particularly that of silver.

Consider this historical timeline:

•Egyptian writings are known to mention the use of silver.
•The Greeks and Romans stored liquids in vessels crafted out of silver in order to prevent spoilage and to keep bacteria from growing.
•The Middle Ages brought the outbreak of the plague. However, the wealthy, because they ate with 100% silver forks, knives, and spoons, were protected from the full brunt of the disease.
•The earliest American Pioneers, who settled the frontier, placed silver or copper coins in their drinking water and milk as they trekked westward. The coins kept the water safe from bacteria and algae and kept the milk fresh.
•Presently, silver is being used in hospitals. It is found in newly manufactured wound dressings and various items used for patient care.
•Colloidal silver is considered a medicinal powerhouse and regaining in popularity due to its healing properties.

The use of silver for water purification purposes still continues. Modern technologies are reviving the use of silver. It can now be found in various filtration systems. Even NASA has used silver in the water purification system on their space shuttle.

Bottom line, I’ve had many people ask for sustainable means of water purification. Boiling rain and surface water, along with a few silver dollars may be the way to go if there ever were to be a need. And from now on, we’ll be loading our water storage barrels with a coin or two. If it was good enough for centuries and centuries of people then hey…it’s good enough for me.

I realize this is not the end-all be-all solution and in no way am I suggesting that you forsake water testing and/or proper filtration. My goal here is to expose you historical truth (smile).

We could have some good discussions on this topic! And honestly, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Please feel free to comment.

See this post and a host of others here: Monday Mania, Homestead Barn Hop, Learning the Frugal Life, Patchwork Living Blogging Bee

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

How to: Rash Treatment Salve

Given a chance, the perfect salve will heal most aliments of the skin.

When I first began making homemade salve, the first obstacle I had to overcome was fear. I was afraid I wasn’t going to get it right! I had no idea what I was doing. But…I did it anyways. Today, it has become a form of creative expression for me; and, another way I am able nurture my family without spending tons of money.

I first learned the basics of salve making from these two posts over at the Simple Green Frugal Co-op and FIMBY (I highly recommend that you take the time to read these posts as I will not cover the details as well as these writers have). When making salve, it’s always best to first consider what you are attempting to treat. My formulas are almost always multi-functional, made with ingredients that I have on hand at the time.

Fresh lemon balm abounds in the herbal garden these days. It is super easy to grow and is one of my most favorite herbs. For our purposes today, I will focus on the external uses and medicinal benefits of lemon balm.

I make a lemon balm infused olive oil (it sounds so sexy doesn't it…lemon balm infused olive oil). Anyway, to do this chop up one cup of fresh picked lemon balm, place it in a jar, and pour one cup of olive oil over it. Let it sit in the sun for at least two weeks, strain, then bottle for use.

Lemon balm contains antibacterial and antiviral properties. Medicinal benefits include the treatment of:
•Shingles (herpes zoster)
•Insect bites

And here’s the recipe for my Rash Treatment Salve:

1 tbsp. (1 oz.) Beeswax
8 tbsp. (4-5 oz.) herb infused carrier oil such as olive, jojoba, almond, avocado, coconut, shea butter
2 tsp. vitamin E oil
3 drops tea tree oil
4-5 drops lavender essential oil

Melt carrier oil, beeswax, and vitamin E oil over low heat. Remove from heat and add tea tree and lavender essential oils. Pour into prepared jar for storage. This recipe makes enough to fill two 2 oz. glass jars.


-Calendula is another very good herb/flower that is useful for skin health. Calendula is very easy to grow and reseeds itself well. You can easily substitute it for the lemon balm here.

-In my recipe I used a mixture of carrier oils. You don’t have to stick to just one. Just be sure not to exceed the 4-5 ounce mark.

-We use the Rash Treatment Salve on everything. In fact, my baby has never had a diaper rash thanks to the use of this salve with every diaper change. If you are worried about the lavender essential oils you may omit them for your newborn.

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The statements made here have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure or prevent any disease. This notice is required by the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Homemade Diaper Area Wash - For use with cloth wipes

I have not always had a love affair with cloth wipes, cloth diapers, or cloth anything for that matter. In fact, when my eldest daughter was a newborn, I researched and purchased the top of the line diapers and wipes. Not to mention, she had the best chemical-laden diaper cream money could buy. Tell the truth...who's with me!?! Then, with my middle child, I became a bit more relaxed; everything was cheap, chemical-laden, and disposable. Presently, with my youngest 2 year-old I have found a hybrid balance that works for our family.

However, when convicted by the amount of waste that was pouring from our house, and in an effort to save a few bucks, I started making my own wipes from sewn together pieces of extra flannel swaddling blankets and old towels.

This is when I created my own homemade diaper area wash for use with the cloth wipes. It is made from a base liquid of chamomile tea and a few other common ingredients I regularly have in the kitchen. The recipe produces a very beneficial and frugal solution for my baby’s bottom care (smile).

Chamomile is a very sustainable herb that grows well in most climates and can be dried for longer storage past its’ season. The benefits of chamomile are numerous, and when used externally it will alleviate skin problems associated with:
•Wounds, burns, and scrapes
•Psoriasis, eczema, and chickenpox
•Diaper Rash

Now, on with the recipe:

Homemade Diaper Area Wash Recipe
-1 cup prepared chamomile tea
-1 teaspoon castile soap
-1 teaspoon olive oil
-3 drops tea tree oil
-5 drops lavender oil
-½ teaspoon vitamin E oil

Directions: Boil water and prepare chamomile tea as you would normally (don’t add a sweetener of course). Allow tea to cool completely. Proceed by adding tea and remainder of ingredients to a spray bottle. Keep at changing table along with your own homemade wipes.

To use: Spray on infant/child’s diaper area as needed and wipe off with wet cloth.

All of the ingredients in this wash work together to protect and heal your child’s most sensitive area. And leaves him/her clean and smelling fresh; and who doesn’t want that (wink)!

I love hearing your comments and recommendations! So please let our growing community of readers know how you are caring for the diaper area on your sweet little one.

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The statements made here have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure or prevent any disease. This notice is required by the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Meals in Jars

When I see news headlines like these…

U.S. Drought Driving Up Already Rising Food Prices While Economy Collapses! Get Prepared!

Drought means beef prices could rise

Multi-Billion Dollar Drought to Drive Beef Prices Up

…my first reaction is to freak out! It’s natural to experience feelings of fear and/or anxiety when reading news stories like this, right? But why, why would I waste one second of my life worrying about something I have no control over? You know what eases my fear: knowledge, preparedness, and a community of people that I trust.

About six months ago we began storing food. Buckets and buckets of organic beans, rice, quinoa, millet, oatmeal, popcorn, etc. now fill the once empty spaces of our closets. Given the access to water, we would be able to feed our immediate family and my parents (maybe even help out the neighbors) for about half a year. However, my thoughts lately are turning toward the possibility of using this food in the event prices of commodities were to increase, even more than they already have.

I’ve also been trying to organize what we do have and make it more practical for use. Today I began working on “meals in jars.” By combining beans, grains, dehydrated veggies/fruit from the garden, and seasonings I am attempting to ensure that we will have a supply of tasty and nutritious meals in the case of an emergency. Not to mention, it’s been a fun activity for the kids and I. It’s like canning beans and grains, but instead of using the pressure cooker all we do is place an oxygen absorber in the jar (smile).

There are thousands of different recipes you could follow when creating your meals in jars. Just remember to combine items that take approximately the same amount of time to cook. For example, do not intermix pasta with navy beans. The pasta will cook much quicker than the beans.

For an abundance of recipes to use as a foundation for your meals in jars look on this forum. Below I have also provided you with a few of the recipes we put together today.

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal (1 pint jar)
-1 cup oatmeal
-1 tsp cinnamon
-1/4 cup sliced almonds
-1/4 cup dehydrated apples
*2 cups water necessary to reconsitute

Vegetable Millet (1 pint jar)
-1 cup millet
-1/4 cup dehydrated mixed veggies
-1/4 cup dried parsley
-1 tsp dehydrated minced garlic
-1 tsp salt
*3 cups of water necessary to reconsitute

Quinoa and Lentil Soup (1 quart jar)
-1 ½ cup quinoa
-1 ½ cup red lentils
-1/2 cup dehydrated veggies
-1/4 cup dehydrated onion
-1 tsp minced garlic
-1 tsp salt
-2 bay leaves
*5 cups of water necessary to reconsitute

Lemon Dill Rice (1 pint jar)
-1 cup rice
-1/2 tsp dried dill
-1 ½ tsp dehydrated lemon peel
-1/2 tsp salt
*2 cups of water necessary to reconsitute

For each recipe, layer ingredients in order as listed. Use the size jar as indicated. Place an oxygen absorber on top and then close lid. Store jars in a safe place. Keep off shelves.

Storage Tips
-The best way to store beans, grains, and dehydrated veggies/fruit is in a sealed mylar bag along with oxygen absorbers. The individual meals could then be stored in a 5-gallon bucket. Lightweight, takes up less space, it’s just a much better option. So, I’ll continue saving for the supplies required for this system of storage.

I recommend purchasing mylar bags, oxygen absorbers, and heat sealers from the fine folks over at Preparing Wisely and who sell Made-in-America products.

Please comment and let us all know how you are finding creative, practical methods for long-term food storage.

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Year Supply of Basics

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Frugally Fashionable

This post is contributed by Angela Allen @Classic Twist

I have a long-standing love affair with thrift stores. There’s something very addicting about the hunt for one-of-a-kind clothing and furniture. I’ll call it my prowess. Thrift stores, consignment shops, flea markets and estate sale auctions are all reemerging as viable resources for the chic and stylish. I’m sensing a growing movement in fashion and interior design circles away from excessive spending and mass produced goods. What’s beginning to surface is a burgeoning desire for personalized style, environmental sustainability and budget frugality.

It’s the perfect time to explore local and online communities for hidden treasures. Here’s why:

Personalized style
One-of-a-kind pieces: Everyone wants to be known for their great sense of style. Finding one-of-a-kind, vintage and hand-made pieces are a badge of honor to anyone with good taste.

Clothing and furniture made 20 years ago have a different quality to them. Cotton, wool, silk and leather were better constructed before goods were mass-produced overseas as a standard practice.

Items with a story
When you purchase used or vintage items, you’re investing in a story. These items have a history with other people who share your taste. Redeeming clothing and furniture from consignment and estate auctions adds another chapter to the story and prolongs their lifespan.

Environmental sustainability
Sustainability is all about endurance and standing the test of time. Choosing to recycle and reuse existing clothing and furniture decreases the amount of waste deposited into the earth and rescues wonderful, quality items from landfills. Those vintage and used relics, which have stood the test of time, can protect the earth and further its endurance from unnecessary dyes and toxic residue found in discarded material. Quality fabric from clothing can be reused in new ways. A dress can be made into table linens. Quality furniture can be transformed into raw materials. A chair can be restored with paint and new upholstery into something glamorous. The possibilities are endless – and well, sustainable.

Budget frugality
In times of economic uncertainty, everyone desires to see their money go further but don’t want to sacrifice style. Consignment shops, thrift stores and estate sale auctions give customers buying power and put money back in the hands of neighbors and community. By purchasing clothing and furniture that need makeovers, you have the power to invest in local artisans and businesses like designers, tailors, furniture craftsmen and reupholsters.

What could be better than spending less, getting more, investing in others, being good to the environment and looking fabulous?

I recommend creating an inspiration board of stylish clothing and home decor pieces you're interested in finding when you're out and about. I also suggest the following online and local resources will help start your thrifting adventure:


Near you
Salvation Army
Habitat for Humanity
Local real estate auctions
Flea markets
Yard sales

Please comment and share with us how you satisfy your frugal fashion desires.

Angela Allen is a discount thriftress extraordinaire who sees the beauty and possibilities in the ugly and abandoned. She lives with her husband in Washington, DC. In order to glean more of her fashion wisdom, you can follow her fabulous blog or her page on Facebook.

See this post and a host of others like it here: Your Green Resource

Friday, September 23, 2011

Tomato Soup and Wreath Making

So are you are dying to know what the heck tomato soup and wreath making have in common? Okay, I’ll tell you…absolutely nothing! It’s just what we did today (smile).

As part of our celebration for the arrival of autumn, we made a wreath with clippings from the grapevines in our backyard. I had so much fun teaching my daughters the principle of “waste nothing.” The grapevines needed to be pruned; therefore, we made a wreath that will last us through the holidays. I learned this craft from my readings in Country Wisdom & Know-How.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Lip Balm Produced at Home

In our house, preparations are well underway for the coming seasons. Lip balm making happens to be one of the items high on the list of priorities.

I started making my own homemade lip balm one year ago when I came across this recipe on FIMBY. And guess what? I’ll never go back to store bought! You just can’t beat the frugality of making your own. Not to mention, the health benefits of 100% pure and natural ingredients.

It’s also super easy! We make the balm in bulk. Today, within a matter of an hour, we had eight 1 ounce tins on the counter cooling, and that will supply us for a while.

Homemade Lip Balm Recipe

-7 teaspoons grated beeswax
-6 teaspoons coconut oil
-6 teaspoons jojoba oil
-1 ½ teaspoons vitamin E (vitamin E oil)
-1 teaspoon essential oil

1)Melt beeswax, coconut oil, jojoba oil, and vitamin E in a small pot over low heat. Stir with a stirring stick (I use a chopstick).

2)Remove from heat to add essential oil. Stir well to combine.

3)Pour into tins and let cool on the counter until solid.

This recipe will yield four 1 ounce tins.

Lip Balm Making Tips:

When determining the essential oils you will use choose them based on your needs.
-Lavender and Sweet Orange (1/2 tsp of each)
-Peppermint oil (think Burt’s Bees)
-Clove Oil (reduce amount of oil used in recipe to ½ tsp. due to potency)

Get creative with the use of oils (i.e. coconut and jojoba oils). Use what you have on hand. Olive oil, almond oil, avocado oil all work well here. These are simply the oils that I feel have the best moisturizing and protective effect on the tender skin of the lips.

Look in your local health food store for the ingredients. I also often order from Mountain Rose Herbs. And as for tins, jars, or tubes I’ve always had good luck with Specialty Bottle.

Enjoy! And most importantly, have fun.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Autumnal Equinox - Learning at Home

This is my most favorite time of year!

Fall is upon us! The days are getting shorter. And for those of us in the northern hemisphere, we are beginning to enjoy the cooler days of autumn even as preparations for the coming winter are well underway. On the other hand, south of the equator, it is the commencement of spring.

Yes, I know this post is a day ahead of schedule (smile). This year the autumnal equinox occurs officially Friday September 23, 2011, at 4:05 a.m. CDT (9:05 UTC). However, I wanted to give you a chance to incorporate some of these activities into your schedule if you so choose.

Twice a year, between the summer and winter solstices, the earth arrives at a state of balance between day and night. This signals the official change in season. In the spring, this is called the vernal equinox. In the fall, it is referred to as the autumnal equinox.

We can see the integration of the autumnal equinox and belief systems among many cultures throughout history. This year, our family will be exploring both the science and the historic celebrations associated with this astronomical phenomenon.

For centuries before us, people of every culture have participated in special celebrations in order to express gratitude for the bounties the earth provided. These celebrations most often included a feast.

This Friday, our plans for the day include (you may find more here):

• Start the day with this video.
• Review some of these activities (based on the age of the children).
• Set out our fall decorations around the house.
• Make a wreath with the fresh trimmings from grapevines in the backyard (and added decorations similar to this one).
• Do the eggs-periment of balancing an egg.
• Prepare a feast appropriate for the celebration (Including crock pot autumn vegetables, nuts, berries, and homemade apple butter on fresh bread).
• And if by some slim chance we feel the need to do more (smile), a seed mosaic would wrap it up.

Embrace the balance that is represented in this day. Teach your children these extraordinary laws of nature; and most importantly, show them how these laws guide our sustainable rhythms of life.

Happy fall!

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Avocado & Beeswax Hand Salve - A Picture Tutorial

Pictures and tutorial contributed by Julie Sharpe

Fall is in the air and the kitchen is beginning to produce goodness, reflecting the bounty of the season, in preparation for the cool days to come!

In our preparation, attention ought to be turned toward the medicine cabinet. And, a well-stocked medicine cabinet should always be sure to include homemade soothing, healing ointments and salves. Among its' many benefits, making your own salve at home allows you to regulate the ingredients, and keeps the cost down.

A simpe salve is made with a carrier oil (olive, coconut, almond, jojoba, etc.) and a solidifier like beeswax (that has it's own great skin properties).

Avocado & Beeswax Hand Salve - A Picture Tutorial

Step 1: Ingredient List:
-1 cup avocado oil
-1 oz. grated beeswax
-10 drops geranium essential oil

Avocado oil: This ultra rich organic oil is a delightful treasure containing high amounts of Vitamin A, B1, B2, D, and E. Also contains amino acids, sterols, pantothenic acid, lecithin, and other essential fatty acids. Highly prized to those with skin problems such as eczema, psoriasis, and other skin ailments . Highly recommended to those with sensitive skin, problem skin and other irritations that require vitamin rich oil

Step 2:
Melt 1oz. of grated beeswax & 1 cup of avocado oil over double boiler using low heat.

Step 3:
After adding 10 drops of geranium essential oil , pour into jar.

Step 4: Cool and add label!

Let this tutorial be an inspiration to you. Experiment. Use supplies and oils you have on hand. If local you can purchase raw, un-filtered beeswax in bulk here, otherwise all ingredients used in this recipe may be purchased here.

Please comment and share with us your own modifications!

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Monday, September 19, 2011

Homemade Liquid Dish Soap - That really works!

In our home, dishes are washed mostly by hand. We do have a dishwasher and yes, I use it on rare occasion. Nonetheless, hand washing dishes for us is an intentional practice. It forces us to slow down and work together. Not to mention, I hate using the electricity required to run the dishwasher. And the chemicals in the detergent just plain freak me out.

Anyway, our eldest daughter is now of the age that we trust her ability to carefully wash the dirty dishes. She and I have been working on perfecting a dish soap recipe; one that she has ownership of and is proud to use.

This dish soap recipe is unlike any other homemade dish soap recipes we’ve tried in the past. You’re going to get a bit of suds and it has real grease cutting abilities. Today I am so happy to share it with you. FYI I always have baking soda ready at the sink to tackle any super tough grease or stuck-on bits of food.

Super Useful Dish Soap (SUDS) Recipe

-1 ½ cup of hot water
-½ cup castile soap (I usually use Dr. Bronner’s baby mild liquid soap, but feel free to use any scent just be sure to adjust/omit essential oils accordingly. You may want to use a variety that is already scented for a more frugal option.)
-1 tablespoon of white vinegar
-1 tablespoon of Arm&Hammer’s Super Washing Soda (used to thicken the soap)
-1/8 teaspoon of tea tree oil (optional)

Directions: Whisk all ingredients together until thoroughly blended. Store in any dish soap dispensing bottle and use as you would the commercial brands. Note: You may choose to naturally increase the anti-bacterial qualities of the soap by adding 1/4 tsp. of lavender or eucalyptus essential oils.

I want you to know that the switch to making your own household cleaning products may seem overwhelming at first, but once you establish a routine it will become second nature. From the following items, 100% of my basic cleaning needs are met:

1. Borax
2. Baking Soda
3. Super Washing Soda
4. White Vinegar
5. Castile Soap
6. Essential oils are not necessary but they can be fun to experiment with (I order mine from here. They're generally less expensive)

Note: You can find most of the items above in the laundry aisle of your local grocery store.

It doesn't get more frugal than that!

Leave a comment and share your experience with this recipe or one of your own!

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Saturday, September 17, 2011

To Market, To Market

This morning the family and I perused the wares from tent to tent, enjoying the cooler temperatures at our local farmers market. All of this, as we gathered the goods necessary for our weekly nourishment.

You see, our weekly meal plan is largely based on the fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs, beans, and grain we acquire through the market, the CSA, or the co-op. Sure we make a stop at the chain grocery store every now and then. But, the greater part of our food can be traced directly back to a local farmer.

The majority of recipes I follow include whole-food ingredients, no chemical additives or preservatives are permitted. We use organic or homegrown foods whenever possible. Ultimately, I try to stick to quick, frugal, nutritious meals.

Breakfasts, lunches, and snacks are simple. Breakfasts often involve pastured eggs, bacon and oatmeal. Lunches rotate between popcorn, grilled cheese, and leftovers. And smoothies, apples, or baked breads round out the snack department. Supper is the meal that requires most of my planning.

From this day on it is my goal that every Saturday post provides you with access to our Sunday-Saturday supper menu plan. I sincerely hope this will become a great resource to you.

Supper Menu Plan (9/18-9/24)

Sunday – Balsamic Roasted Chicken with Figs and Sweet Onions, Brown Rice, Green Salad (Reserve the leftover chicken and make a chicken bone broth with the carcass for use throughout the week)

Monday – Thai Chicken Coconut Soup, Brown Rice (be sure to begin sprouting the lentils for use in Wednesday’s supper)

Tuesday – Quinoa-Salmon Burgers, Homemade french fries, Green salad

Wednesday – Spicy Sprouted Lentils, Green salad

Thursday – Taco Chicken Bowls

Friday – Spaghetti Pie, Green salad

Saturday – Homemade Pizza, Green Salad

Friday, September 16, 2011

Go ahead...get dirty

Well it’s been five years of living in the desert and for the first time I feel like I have the upper hand with this unconventional way of gardening. While the entire rest of the country is putting up the harvest, we in the Phoenix area are coming into one of two main growing seasons.

Today we prepared the ground and five small raised beds for pineapple guavas trees that will serve as an edible hedge. We also planted 6 tomato plants, 4 eggplant plants, 3 pepper plants, carrots, beets, radishes, Swiss chard, squash, and cucumbers. And after 3 years of growth and production, the herb garden and strawberry patch were replanted due to the death they experienced with this summer’s record high temperatures.

I understand that with the above description you may have visions of the traditional garden dancing around your head. Well…it’s simply not so (smile). Our backyard is approximately 20 ft. x 40 ft. In other words, super-duper small! We utilize a combination of raised beds, terracotta pots, and square inch (not square foot) gardening practices. Every bit of that yard has a purpose.

The principle I would like to drive home here is “you can do it!” No matter where you live, no matter what you do, you can plant a fall garden! Who cares if you start small, the point is you’re starting. You’re moving closer toward frugally sustainable living and providing yourself with superb nutrition.

I encourage you this weekend! Get outside and plant something (smile). Then come back here and share your accomplishment with us!

Here’s to getting dirty!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

They Don't Need To Know

Tricky Nutritious Smoothie

Shhhh…don’t tell the kids about this one.

My children have simply come to accept our diet, mostly out of necessity for survival. You see, I’ve never really been a buffet style Mom. What I cook, I cook for everyone and everyone is expected to eat it (or at least try). Goodness, that sounds mean…really, I’m not a mean Mamma.

Our table is almost always blessed by simple, whole-food, kid-friendly dishes. However, there are a few nutritious foods (such as kale, spinach, and the lettuces) that are extra challenging, requiring a bit more effort in order to stimulate the palate of a child.

My solution = the Tricky Nutritious Smoothie.

It’s not entirely tricky. The kids know what goes in the blender. They just can’t taste all the green goodness hidden by the banana, strawberries, blueberries and honey.

A smoothie is a great way to pack in vital nutrients, especially the green kind. There are numerous variations to our recipe so don’t get hung up on the specifics. Feel free to add/replace fruit listed in the recipe with fruit that you have on hand. In fact, please leave a comment with your most favorite Tricky Smoothie recipe.

Here’s the Recipe:

1 banana

2 cups of frozen fruit (We almost always use strawberries and blueberries frozen from when in season. I will use fresh peaches, pears, plum and/or nectarines when they are in season at the market.)

1 cup of orange juice (Fresh squeezed is best. Then go to something not from concentrate. I like Naked brand OJ. Never use juice in the frozen concentrate form, way too much sugar and way overly processed.)

1 cup of kefir (Plain, whole fat organic yogurt will work also. If I have it on hand, I often substitute coconut water in place of the kefir)

Kale, or any other seasonal greens available (Kale is literally a powerhouse of nutrients and this is an excellent way to get young children to consume it. Add as many greens as taste will allow. Start small if you’re just beginning. )

2 tablespoons of hemp protein

Local raw, un-filtered honey to taste (You can use medjool dates if you are looking for a more plant-based sweetener or if you would like to sweeten a smoothie for the young unable to ingest honey due to age.)

Blend on high with ice until desired consistency is reached. If there happen to be any leftovers, you can pour them into popsicle molds and freeze for a quick treat later in the day.

Feel the freedom to experiment. Get those creative juices going (literally), and be encouraged by the nutrient-rich food you are feeding your family.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cleanliness is next to Godliness

At least that's what they say (wink).

If your house is like my house, or maybe it's not because you don't have three kids (wink again), it's a battle to maintain cleanliness. Spills, more spills, endless kitchen messes, the list goes on.

Prior to completely selling out to this frugal, sustainable lifestyle we went through the gamut of commercial cleaners and disinfectants. When I think about the money we spent in this single area, it almost makes me nauseated. What makes it worse, is the knowledge that I now have regarding the use of these anti-bacterial, highly toxic cleaners. But, I'll let you do the research and make up your own mind.

Some of you may already be aware of these truths and have opted to use "greener" products. The problem you run into here is cost. They're just to stinkin' expensive! And, if you think like me, you see that these products are made by the same companies that make the other mainstream products. So, you end up still giving them your money!

Fortunately, there is a way in which to clean your home that is low-impact, frugal, and safe for your family. It's actually very easy and you'll find your creative self rising to the surface.

Here are a few more reasons to make your own all-purpose cleaner:
-Chemicals found in commercial cleaners are harmful to the nervous and respiratory systems.
-Huge savings!
-This all-purpose cleaner is much gentler for those with various sensitivities.
-Safer for kids and animals.
-The ingredients of the cleaner are gentle on the Earth.

Okay so here it is...the recipe that I use for my all-purpose cleaner. It's seriously the best cleaner I've ever, ever used.

2 teaspoon of castile soap
5 tablespoons of vinegar (just use the cheap white vinegar)
2 1/2 teaspoons of borax

-Mix with 4 cups of hot water.
-Add 1 teaspoon of essential oils for kicks. You can use a mixture of two or just one. Oils that I've tried are eucalyptus, lavender, sweet orange or peppermint (eucalyptus and lavender go nicely together).
-I also add about a 1/4 of a teaspoon of tea tree oil for its anti-septic benefits.

Now, load your cleaner into a spray bottle, and use it on anything besides glass.

I imagine the day that I am not making this once a week due to the fact that the kids are all grown up. But somehow I think I'll be missing these days.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Prepping for the Season

I am thankful for the health of my family. It's not all that often that we are plagued with sickness. But be sure, we aren't above it either.

It is this time of year that I begin my preparations for the coming season. There's nothing worse than arriving right in the middle of winter, greatly afflicted, and searching the pantry for...oh, that's right, I haven't made it yet.

The kitchen will be seeing a lot of new activity in the coming weeks. In fact, I am clearing a section on the pantry shelf for tinctures, liniments, and the like.

Five weeks ago I experienced an urge to get a jump start. I don't know what got into me because usually I am a notorious procrastinator. Anyhow, today I was ready to strain a batch of this super frugal, and sustainable, natural remedy.

In order to create your own tonic, you will need to prepare equal parts of the following:
-chopped fresh garlic
-chopped fresh onion
-grated fresh horseradish
-grated fresh ginger root
-chopped fresh cayenne peppers
-chopped fresh herbs (sage, rosemary, thyme)
-enough raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar to cover

Place equal parts of all the roots and herbs in any size mason jar. Making sure to fill the jar 3/4 full. Then cover ingredients with vinegar, all the way to the top of the jar (be sure to leave an inch of head space).

Close lid and shake. Be sure to place ferment in a dark place. Then shake at least once daily for at least 2 weeks and as long as 6 weeks (depending on how brave you are) before straining for use.

1 ounce daily as soon as cold symptoms begin.

Place 1-2 tablespoons of tonic in 8oz. of hot water. Sweeten to taste with local raw, unfiltered honey and sip. Tonic can also be administered by placing in bone broth.

This tonic packs quite a punch. It's full of anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, and circulatory system goodness.

Here's to a healthier season!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Shifting Our Perspective

Fall is, without a doubt, my most favorite time of year, even though life in the low desert has completely altered my expectations for the season (smile). What is it about the Fall? Obviously, a switch from the heat of the summer to the cool morning breeze, an opportunity to grow different veggies in the garden, a return to the rhythms of school life, and the beautiful transformation of the creation around us, all of these things cultivate my love for this time of year.

Perhaps, it is the transition itself that I resonate with. If you were to be a casual observer of our household for just a day, you would likely see a family in transition. Moving slowly, nevertheless moving.

Although multiple modern conveniences (those things far from frugal or sustainable) are used daily in our home, I always ask myself, "What would the process be, or what would we use, if we didn't have this or that?" For example, a staple in our food storage are bottles of vitamin C tablets; this due to the high occurrence of scurvy during times of famine and food shortage. Yet, what would we do if vitamin C tablets were no longer available? Where would we look for vitamin C when our tablets run out? What is the more sustainable option (and more frugal at that)? Articles such as this one provide a wealth of information and lay a foundation for a more frugally sustainable source of vitamin C.

It's all about shifting our perspective! Our little family has come to enjoy the journey, as we transition from a life of heavy dependence and consumerism to one better defined through sustainability and production. We long to be producers...not simply consumers.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Frugally Sustainable Defined

fru·gal [ froog'l ]
1. thrifty: characterized by thriftiness and avoidance of waste
2. meager: involving very little expense

sus·tain·a·ble [ sə stáynəb'l ]
1. able to be maintained
2. maintaining ecological balance: exploiting natural resources without destroying the ecological balance of an area

Welcome to Frugally Sustainable. As defined, this blog will attempt to be a resource for all things frugal and sustainable. With current trends moving toward issues regarding the homestead, prepping, preserving, and restoration it is my desire to turn our faces in the direction of sustainability. Everything we need is provided in the natural world that surrounds us. Together let's discover!