Category Archives: Frugal Living

DIY Garden Project Using Things Around Your Home

Hello Lovelies,

We all have stuff laying around our home that just sits there.  Untouched, unmoved, and unloved.  Over the years, I’ve been notorious for placing things around the yard that makes an obstacle course for my husband when he mows the grass.  He was having to edge around these things and it made the job much more tedious.  Trust and believe, I heard it each and every time haha! After much thought, a round of garage organization, and trying to figure out a way to tackle this problem, I had an idea!!!

The idea was to make a separate and unique space.  I have a small yard unfortunately as we live, right now, in an HOA.  Ugh!  Not ideal, but hey this is only temporary.  Seeming this is temporary, we are unable to make drastic changes.  So I came up with a DIY project that was pretty much FREE!  We had spare wooden boards in our garage.  No idea on where it came from, but we had numerous long boards just sitting there perched against the corner.

The Plan:

There were two corners to play with.  They are at the far ends of the yard.  One gets full sun from early morning to maybe mid-day.  The other is shaded in the early morning and full sun mid-day to sunset.  In Texas, the hottest part of the day is late mid-day.  So this made it much easier to choose a corner to build my garden.  This space would prevent plants from burning and that corner already had a sun shade due to our Hibiscus trees needing some protection from the Texan sun. Some of the potted plants already had sun damage so this project was long overdue.  I took a few boards and wiped them clean, wiping off cob webs and debris.  I found this was easier with the paint brush I was about to use.  I set up my patio chairs next to each other so I could paint and not have to stoop over.  Taking spare paint, I painted the boards a dark chocolate brown.  TIP: Any paint will do.  Interior, exterior, new, or old.  This chocolate paint is at least 10 years old.  The garden won’t care I promise!

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Before

These boards were then placed across the corner, sectioning off the corner completely.  I hammered two small nails at the bottom of the fence on each side to act as an insert so the boards did not move that much and they would stay upright.

I had medium sized rocks we had pulled from the front beds which I then used to add interest and further keep the boards upright.  Especially in the middle seeming there are two boards together.  Keep in mind this project was free, while i know I could’ve bought a bracket or something to screw them together, this would’ve taken a trip to the store as these were not on hand.

I laid a roll of plastic that was left over from a last minute purchase a few years back when we had to scramble due to a surprise frost.  It was an entire roll of plastic.  I cut it in strips and laid it down to suffocate the grass and any weeds.  This was the base.  It was important to not have weeds or grass showing because this space will be dedicated to pots only.  Nothing will be planted in the ground.  Be sure to cut around any large pots that you are unable to move.  I had two large 20″ super heavy Hibiscus trees I had to do this with.  I used a pair of scissors to sporadically poke small holes around the plastic for drainage as I didn’t want mold or stagnant water to form.

Cedar mulch has always been our go to especially in our front beds.  It helps to repel bugs.  We had two and a half bags leftover from last Summer and this made perfect cover for the bed.  We also got use up what was leftover from a previous project thus freeing an entire corner of the garage.  Major score!

Next, I just gathered all of the pots around the yard, in the ground decor, and Dollar Tree decor finds that were never used or put up.  In the end, this was a fun project taking just a few hours. It sectioned off a space for potted plants and solved the obstacle course problem.  Being frugal can be as simple as re-using, re-purposing, or using up whatever you have that is leftover.  Train yourself to look at a rock, or a piece of wood, or broken dish and see its potential.

Because everything has 9 lives!

 

After

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Mid Summer Projects/Garden Updates/News

Hello Lovelies,

I miss you all!!  We have been so busy this year I can’t even believe it.  I feel like our lives have been bouncing off walls with all the new things we are experimenting with and new journey’s we are embarking on or are in the midst of.  But what is life without growth right?

We tried something new with our gardens this year and I’m happy to say that they have worked!  We have had more tomatoes, more peppers, and more herbs this time around.  They say third time’s the charm.  This is our third year with a raised bed.  Instead of using chicken manure, we used cow manure.  It was locally made and has worked really well.  We also added compost, mixing locally bought and our own.  Ours has been slow going, but we’re praying by next season we’ll be able to dump the entire bucket in the garden versus buying compost. Now if only I can stop the neighborhood four footed thieves from eating them that’d be greattt! I’ve started drying sage to make smudge/scent sticks.  I happen to love the smell.  The sage went nuts this year and it is turning into a bush.  I don’t know what to do with it all!  Our pantry storage already has 4 pint jars full of dried sage.  It takes up over two feet of raised bed space.  It is the first year we planted sage and so far I am loving it.  It doesn’t seem to take a lot of work which is fine by me.  The mint is okay, the plant is still very small.  The Oregano popped up again from what we planted last year.  So that was a nice surprise! The jalapenos and spicy bell peppers are taking their time, but I know it is due to the excessive heat.  Hoping they will take off in the Fall when the weather cools a bit.

We added two Hibiscus trees.  We have a Red Presidential and Pink Hibiscus.  They are young, but absolutely gorgeous.  They are planted in 20″ clay pots and filled with rocks on the bottom for drainage and a mix of compost and peat moss.  Despite the heat, they too have done well.  I can tell when the temperature drops because they bless us with blooms.  I cannot wait until the calyxes are mature enough to pick and dry for tea.  That was the main reason we got them.  I have an herbal tea addiction so I am always trying to plant my own herbs or flowers to dry.

The Texas summer heat was brutal in July! It was almost two weeks of 100-112 and the sun gave no mercy.  Amazon has UV Block sun shades and we ended up getting a 12′ x 12′ x 12′ and a 9’10” x 9’10” x 9’10” shade and used bungee cords to secure to our fence.  It was probably the best purchase we have made in a long time.  It kept the sun from baring down on the plants, while still allowing light through.  I was so worried they’d fry.  Surprisingly, they didn’t.  They made it and with little burning.

I’ve done some canning although didn’t do as much as planned, but there is still time.  I canned about 35 jars of my grandmother’s spaghetti sauce and chicken stock this past weekend along with pickled jalapenos, pickled eggs, lacto fermented carrots, and bottled fermented Jun Tea. I’m looking forward to the end of summer farmers markets to get a great deal on produce to can for veggies.  It has been so hot here it has been hard to plant and keep anything alive.

Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal came back this year to have more babies!  They visited last year and built a nest within our rose bush.  I was sitting outside one day and noticed Mr. Cardinal was lingering.  All of a sudden, Mrs. Cardinal swooped across the yard into the rose bush.  Then left.  Then came back.  I decided to be nosey and investigate to find she was building another nest.  Mr. Cardinal was standing watch as she meticulously built over the period of a day.  She was busy!  A few days later, we had 4 little eggs.  It took about two weeks before they hatched.  I think I was more excited than she was.  It was such an amazing experience to watch their patterns and see the progress.

We also had a little visitor briefly.  I walked out the front door one day and saw this little guy sitting waiting for mama.  He was adorable!  I believe he is a Robin.  What do you think?img_3837

Sadly, we took down our wood brick rocket stove that we made a while back as well as moved the compost bin.  We’ve been preparing for additions to our family through the journey of adoption. Between classes, cleaning, organizing, building, decluttering, I haven’t dedicated much time to ongoing projects and blogging.  Which has been the reason I’ve been MIA for so long.  With that said, there are many, many more posts coming!  We will have more mouths to feed, more veggies and herbs to plant, more canning, and much more frugalness.  We are so excited and I cannot wait to share it all with you.  After all, this is my life.

The Life of a Frugal Wife!

 

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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A Powerhouse, Nutrient Rich Carrot Soup

Hello Lovelies,

With Fall in full swing and temperatures dropping fast, we have embarked upon…Soup Season! Yummy, delicious, warming, thick, creamy, good for the soul soups.  I had numerous carrots in the fridge that needed to be used and I already have plenty of canned chunky carrots.  I canned 11 lbs last year and truly do not need anymore.  With all of the homemade broth we make, carrots are still a staple on our grocery list.  Even with all of the planning in the world, somehow we always end up with something leftover, something missed, or something forgotten. Seeming there was a good bunch of carrots left and I was getting the itch for some soup, what better way to use them up than putting the two together.  I did can this recipe for use throughout the winter season and got about 5 pints and 1 half pint plus our dinner.  This recipe is absolutely delicious!

You will need:

  • A bunch of washed carrots with skins on, chopped in chunks
  • Water
  • A small bunch of celery
  • A few garlic gloves minced
  • 1 Large diced onion
  • Butter
  • Chicken bouillion
  • Ginger
  • Turmeric
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Stick blender or regular blender

Wash the carrots thoroughly and keep the skins on.  In the skin there are an enormous amount of good vitamins and medicinal properties, so we don’t want to throw that way. Dice the carrots into chunks. This soup simmers for about 30-40 minutes so thicker chunks are perfectly fine as you will puree them later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a large pot, combine carrots and water as well as the rest of your ingredients.  Spices and herbs are purely on personal taste and I rarely use measurements.  Be sure to taste as you go and remember that the taste will change as the soup simmers.  Flavors will develop and mingle creating a very nice rich, slightly spicy flavor.

 

 

 

 

 

The herbs and spices within this soup were chosen on purpose.  Fall and Winter seasons come with nasty colds and the dreaded flu.  By using certain herbs and spices, you can create a powerhouse soup that has many health benefits further aiding your symptoms.

  • Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory and powerful anti-oxidant.
  • Red pepper flakes are full of capsaicin and have strong analgesic, and pain-relieving qualities and is an anti-inflammatory.
  • Garlic can combat the common cold and boosts the immune system.  It is very rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin B6 and Manganese.
  • Ginger is very good for helping with nausea, reducing muscle pain and soreness, and has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Carrot is full of beta-carotene, fiber, vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, vitamin B8, pantothenic acid, folate, potassium, iron, copper, and manganese.
  • Rosemary can aid in bad breath, stimulates blood flow, anti-inflammatory, and is slightly diuretic.

Much of this information is available online and is much more in depth.  I’m not a healthcare professional, but in our homestead we do use foods for their benefit. Always, as with anything, do your own research.

After your soup has simmered, let it cool.  It was still warm to the touch when it was pureed because we use a stick blender.  If you are using a glass blender, please let it cool down completely.  Blending hot food can pop the top of the blender and you will get a nice carrot facial.  Blend until the mixture is smooth and creamy.  Some add milk or cream, but it truly isn’t needed because this soup is very creamy on its own.  Milk or any dairy causes phlegm and mucus and defeats the purpose of this soup.  If you choose to can this soup, process at for 20 minutes for pints with a pressure canner.

Total Cost: A bag of carrots $.99 plus pantry staples for a small batch.

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy!!

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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.