Category Archives: DIY

It’s Flu Season! How to Make Homemade Herbal Cough Drops

Hello Lovelies,

It has been some time!  I very much missed writing, but after all of the holiday chaos, we now have all had the flu.  One by one we were attacked by sickness.  We battled the dreadful flu by using herbal medicine and herbal remedies.  One of the ways we dealt with the annoying and never ending cough is with homemade cough drops.  These drops are so yummy and super easy easy to make.  They contain natural properties that quickly suppress the urge to cough and soothe inflammation in the throat.  Combined with other remedies, the bulk of the flu only lasted about 3 days for each of us.   Don’t get me wrong, we have residual symptoms still, but the heart of it didn’t last long.

You Will Need:

  • 1 tbs Peppermint Leaf
  • 1 tbs Chamomile
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tbs Ginger Root
  • 3/4 cup Water
  • 3/4 cup Raw Honey
  • 1/2 tsp Tapioca flour or Cornstarch

You can use teabags if you don’t want to spend additional money by buying loose leaf.  Just simply break them open.  The ginger root you can substitute with ground ginger, just be sure to use a little less as it can be very potent.  In my opinion, using grocery store, cheap honey isn’t a big deal because this mixture will be cooked and heated.  Any good properties in the honey will be killed during the cooking process.  So why waste the money?

Combine the peppermint leaf, chamomile, cinnamon, and ginger in a bowl with 3/4 boiling water.  Steep for 10-20 minutes making it a medicinal infusion versus what one would consider a light tea.

img_1374Strain and pour the infusion into a small pot.  Add 3/4 cup of raw local honey and bring to a boil stirring constantly.  Do not stop stirring or the mixture will burn.  This is not yummy.  I used a laser thermometer but you can certainly use a candy thermometer.  Basically, you are caramelizing the honey and making it into candy.  Bring this mixture up to 300 degrees while stirring the entire time.  A whisk works perfectly.  As the temperature increases, the mixture will thicken and get darker. Once the mixture reaches 300 degrees, pull it off the heat and let cool for a few minutes stirring occasionally.  It will resemble warm caramel.  As it cools it will resemble warm taffy.

Lay out a piece of parchment paper and drop dollops of the mixture and let cool slightly.  You still want them pliable as you want to roll them into balls.  In a plastic container, add 1/2 tsp of Tapioca flour or Cornstarch and roll the cough drops in the flour to avoid sticking.  This will also keep moisture away from the drops.  As they cool, they harden.  Store in an air tight container and use as needed.

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They taste like a strong caramel and really strong honey.  They will keep as long as stored in a cool dry place completely sealed.  You can experiment with different herbs, but this recipe for my family works the best and it was what I had on hand.  We try to be as natural as possible staying away from processed sugars and synthetic chemicals.  Especially when you are fighting an invader in your body, why would you add something that is practically the same thing back in?

 

Each ingredient serves a purpose.  Ginger is very warming to the body and great if you have chills while peppermint has a numbing effect.  It helps with that aching body feeling and can really help break up mucus and phlegm. Chamomile boosts the immune system while relaxing the body from all of the work it is doing to heal itself.

Time to Make:  About 30 minutes 

What are you doing to combat the flu?

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How to Make a Chaste Berry Tincture

Hello Lovelies,

DISCLAIMER:  I have a few male readers, so if you are male, this post isn’t for you.  Sorry guys 😉

Often times women have female issues, whether it be balancing, or even some support.   In researching, I have found the amazing Chaste Berry.  It is said to be great for PMS, PMDD, PCOS, and numerous other ailments and symptoms.  Chase Berry goes by a few names, but one common name is Vitex, which is popular among those trying to conceive.  I am not a doctor or a healthcare professional, so please do some research before trying. In my case, I bought the Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine which you can find on Amazon. It is a fantastic book and very informative!

Per the American Family Physician website at www.aafp.org,  Chasteberry (Vitex agnus-castus), or monk’s pepper, is the fruit of the chaste tree. It is native to western Asia and southwestern Europe, and is now common in the southeastern United States.  It has been used for more than 2,500 years to treat a variety of conditions. In ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, it was used for many gynecologic conditions.

With our homesteading venture, we have made many changes to how we live and heal ourselves.  People often tackle a few changes but are those changes really worth the trouble if you only change a few things?  It is like exercising everyday expecting big results and not changing your diet.  It is counter intuitive. Recently, we have made the decision to add Herbalism to our skill set.  An act of producing your own medicine for common ailments such as colds, flu, burns, and wounds to name a few.

Out of all of the ways to use Chaste Berry, I chose to make a tincture.  An herbal extract of the berry.  Chaste Berry tinctures do not work overnight.  They must be taken over a period of time.  A tincture is an alcoholic infusion which extracts medicinal properties of plants, herbs, roots, berries, and flowers, basically the entire plant. Any part of that plant can be used and may be used for different uses.

Here is what you will need:

  • Glass pint jar with a lid
  • Whole Organic Dried Chaste Berry
  • 90 or 100 Proof Vodka (some use Brandy)

With a mortar and pestal, grind the berries coarsely to expose as much surface area as you can.  This makes sure that all of the goodness of the berry is extracted. Fill the jar half way with the berries and fill the jar up with Vodka.  As it sits, you may have to top off with more Vodka because the berries will reconstitute and absorb the alcohol.

 

Shake well and store in a cool, dark place upside down. Let sit for 2-3 weeks, then strain the berries.  Put the berries in a food processor and puree them.  This ensures that you are getting every possible property out of the berry.  Add back in your jar and let sit for another 2-3 weeks.  Then strain and compost the berries.  For my own purposes, I use 1 tbs twice a day in the morning and at night.

Herbs, berries, and roots can be found at the Bulk Herb Store or any natural health store.  I am not sponsored in any way, this is where I got a lot of the herbs and berries that we use. In natural food stores, I found they were kept over by the bulk spice section and not within the supplement section.

Total Cost:  Estimated $6.25

For the books I have purchased and the many methods of herbal extraction please visit the Herbalism Page.

Easy Smokin! Nothing Tastes Better Than Food That’s Smoked

Here is an easy, frugal way to smoke your food that won’t break the budget.

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Smoking food can be costly especially if you purchase those big bulky smokers. We lack available patio space and it really is not a good idea to put something that heats up on a grassy area. It not only kills the grass (which I hope happens because grass is useless, but don’t tell my husband that!) but it can start a fire. We went the frugal way instead to not only save money but space as well. This works in a pinch and takes less than 5 minutes to make and in less than 10 minutes…you’ll be smokin!

Here is What You Will Need

  • Aluminum foil

  • Small wood chips or shavings

Tear off a piece of aluminum foil about 12 inches long. Fold the aluminum foil in half to get a 6 inch piece. Now, fold a seam on 3 sides pressing tightly leaving one side open for filling with wood chips or shavings. Fill the open end with wood chips about half way. Any more than that and you risk the packet opening or not smoking properly.  Trust me. Fold a seam on that side to close your packet. Lay the packet flat on the counter and using a knife, gently poke a slit which will act like a vent. Place on the hottest corner of your grill and let the grill heat up. After about 5-10 minutes, smoke will be coming out of the vent and you are on your way to deliciousness. This doesn’t last very long, so I don’t recommend using this technique with expensive large pieces of meat such as brisket or a roast. But this works wonders with wings, chicken tenders, fish, veggies, or burgers. Make sure you don’t peek too much or you will let the smoke escape.

Smokers can cost hundreds of dollars and if you are like our family, this is a once in awhile thing. To us, an expensive smoker isn’t really such a frugal purchase. By buying a small bag of wood chips or shavings, you will spend around $3-$4 per bag lasting you as often as you use it. Aluminum foil is a pantry staple and most have this on hand. This not only saves money, but also time and space. Perfect for a balcony grill or small patio. If your grill is larger or if you are smoking a lot of meat, you can make more than one pouch or make it larger to suit your needs. Once done, simply let the packet cool off completely and toss. Seeming these chips are heated and may contain drippings or food particles, they are not suitable for composting. 

Wood chips or shavings come in a variety of flavors and sizes. You can find flavors such as walnut, pecan, pear, apple, hickory, or mesquite to name a few.

Total Cost Breakdown

Bag of wood chips or shavings $3-$4 per bag

Smoker between $40 to more than a few hundred dollars

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Let’s Get Social!

Everyone is on social media these days and often people are pressed for time. All blog posts automatically upload to our Facebook page. Our page also includes posts that you won’t find on our blog. Spontaneous projects, impromptu meals, and everyday happenings. Don’t forget to share the love!

Questions Lead to Knowledge

Everyone is frugal in their own way. This is how we’ve learned everything we know. From blogs! There is a plethora of knowledge among the blogging community. Learn from those around you, those who inspire you, and those with a common goal. Feel free to open discussion on posts, ask questions, and let’s have some fun ;P

DISCLAIMER: Being frugal generally means not spending money or pinching pennies. Our goals do not include a fancy camera or lighting. All content and pictures are ours created with a cell phone, natural or indoor lighting, and around our own homestead. If you would like to use an image or post, simply ask and give us credit. Easy peasy!

Make Your Own Homemade Flavored Vinegar From Fresh Herbs

Hello Lovelies,

It has been a long time!  Our family has been dealing with some health issues, but God is great! We are healing and on the up and up.  About a month ago, I started drying most all of the herbs that we grew in our garden.  I couldn’t let them to go to waste, but couldn’t use the fresh version up in enough time.  Due to lacking freezer space, I tried another alternative such as making flavored vinegar.  After the herbs were cut down to just stems, the purple basil started regrowing leaves and eventually flowered.  But what I didn’t know, was that you can use the entire plant and make flavored vinegar!  I had heard about it in books and online, but never gave it a try.  It is a great way to use most all of the plant to get the most out of it.  Here is how to make it.

Purple Basil Vinegar

-Cleaned and drained basil leaves and flowers

-Sterilized Mason jar

-White Distilled Vinegar

20170729_190942Fill the bottom of the mason jar with freshly cut leaves and flowers of whatever herb you are wanting.  In this post, it is purple basil.

20170729_191210_001Pour over white distilled vinegar and cover tightly.  Shake gently and put in the refrigerator.  Let it sit in the refrigerator and in two weeks you will have flavored vinegar.  Simply strain the leaves and flowers and keep in the fridge.

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You can make any flavor you’d like with any herb you’d like.  The vinegar has a pretty strong fragrance and can be used in so many recipes for a boost in flavor.  First thought that comes to mind is spaghetti sauce and chicken! Other ways to incorporate vinegar is in sauces, canning, or even in pickled vegetables.  The two pictures to the left and right are what the vinegar looks like after two weeks.  It smells soo good ya’ll!

 

Other Flavorful Ideas

  • Parsley
  • Tarragon
  • Rosemary
  • Mint
  • Cilantro
  • Dill
  • Lemongrass
  • Combinations such as a sprig of rosemary, basil, and oregano

Total Cost:  An estimated .50 cents for the vinegar to fill a quart jar and my 3rd round of basil.  Store bought version on average for flavored vinegar is $5-$6 with no guarantee it is made from fresh herbs.

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7 Easy Steps to Make Homemade Fermented Sauerkraut

Fermenting food is a lost art, but gaining momentum recently.  It is one of the original ways of preserving food.  Yet most do not realize that we already eat some fermented foods.  Coffee, olives, and soy sauce to name a few.

Vegetables though, are fantastic when they are fermented.  Why? The nutrition within that vegetable is kept, enhanced, and preserved by the fermentation process.  It allows some of the nutrients to become digestible when they would not be raw.

Natural bacteria produces vitamins and enzymes that are very beneficial for digestion and a variety of other things.  But I am not a doctor or a fermentation expert, so I cannot tell you all it can do, but I can tell you this…PROBIOTICS! The best natural bacteria ever. It is found in supplements and more commonly within yogurt, but eating naturally fermented and or cultured foods, gives the highest level of probiotics and is more beneficial than store bought remedies because of the natural process. Everything is better homemade!

Basic fermentation is nothing more than a brine of filtered water and salt.  We know that salt draws out moisture, but it also aids in the development of lactic acid, the main component of fermentation. One of the easiest foods to get started with is sauerkraut.  It is tangy, vinegary, cabbage goodness that you can put on hot dogs, burgers, sandwiches like hot reubens, or eat on the side.  In my opinion, the homemade version tastes nothing like the stuff in a jar.

Making sauerkraut is ridiculously easy!  Trust me!  It takes less than 10 minutes to start and 4 weeks to finish.  What is easier than that? This recipe is tailored for a quart jar.  A rule of thumb is for every 5lbs of vegetable, you would use 3 tablespoons of salt.  So adjust it according to the vessel you are using.

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Step 1: Take a head of cabbage, any will do, and shred it into bite size pieces.

Step 2: Take 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of kosher or sea salt and sprinkle over the shredded cabbage.

Step 3: Smoosh, squeeze, squish the cabbage and the salt together. This releases a lot of the natural water within the cabbage itself creating its own brine.

Step 4:  When the cabbage is wilted enough (not smooshed so much that it looks like overcooked cabbage) transfer into a quart glass mason jar.

 

 
Step 5:  With the back of a wooden spoon, pack in the cabbage as tightly as you can! Keep pushing!  Pack it some more.  As you pack the cabbage you are eliminating air bubbles and pushing out all of the water still left within the cabbage.



Step 6: Get a sandwich size ziplock bag and fill a quarter of it with water.  Zip it tight and push into the opening of the mason jar pushing it down over the cabbage.  You should have enough brine on top of the cabbage to completely submerge the cabbage.  Push the baggie into the brine creating a barrier.  This will keep the cabbage submerged so oxygen cannot get in causing it to spoil. Oxygen is the enemy in some fermented foods, sauerkraut is anaerobic.  Meaning without oxygen.

Step 7: Leave the cabbage out of the sun and in dark corner somewhere. As it ferments, more water will be released possibly overflowing your jar, so be sure to check on it frequently.  The process takes about 4 weeks, but if you like the flavor stronger, you can ferment it longer.  Taste as you go and as it ferments because you may like it at 2 weeks.  Some like it at over a month or two.  The longer it sits, the stronger it will be.

After a few days you will start to see bubbles forming and rising to the top of the jar.   The bubbles are releasing carbon dioxide. This is completely normal and proof that it is working.  When the mixture starts getting a little cloudy,  this is what is called lactic acid. It is the main component in this type of fermentation.

Note: Watch out for any mold on the surface as that is caused from oxygen.  Scoop it off and rinse the baggy, and reposition over the cabbage. If a little mold is on top and you can’t get it all, do not worry. It is safe, just mix in the sauerkraut as once it is below the surface it cannot live.  It will die from lack of oxygen.  Too much mold, throw the batch away and start again. This means you didn’t completely submerge the cabbage and mold developed or you went too long before checking it.

Total Cost: $.89 for a head of cabbage.

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