Category Archives: Homesteading

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.

Fall Madness, Projects, and Cleanup

Hello Lovelies,

I haven’t written in what feels like an eternity!  A lot has been going on here at our little homestead and a few projects are in full swing.  I’m pretty much the only one who does most of our homesteading and among daily research, I’m always adding to the “to do” list.  Needless to say, Babydoll has been a trooper!  Did I mention that I work a 9-5 job too?? Amidst all of the chaos, Fall is here!  I love everything about Fall and even though Texas doesn’t have the beautifully colored leaves or the crisp, fireplace aroma in the air, I’ve come to enjoy the little things. From the seasonal food, the Yankee Candles I have an addiction too, down to the way the air smells.  Being born and raised in New England, I love the smallest things about the season and it just makes me happy.  It also makes the perfect season for projects!

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So much has changed over the past month or two.  Babydoll changed jobs and went back into the oilfield. After all, we have a future homestead to save for! With this decision, some big projects were left on hold.  I don’t think I will ever get used to him being away for weeks on end, but that is the life we chose.  For the first time in our lives, we have goals.  Those goals are at the forefront of our minds in everything we set out to do and or purchase.  Having that common ground is what makes a homestead successful.  Many times you hear about families that homestead where it is very one-sided.  We have been blessed with a common mindset and it makes things much easier.  With more free time on my part lately,  many projects are able to get started nonetheless.

The Garden: The garden needed some attention such as harvesting, getting plants to grow, weeding, and transitioning from Summer to Fall plantings. The garden was coming along perfect when all of a sudden, we had no more fruit! It was as if “POOF!” they were gone. With a fenced in backyard, I couldn’t figure out what was eating them.  It ended up being squirrels and baby rabbits. We came up with a quick remedy of stapling chicken wire around the perimeter of the raised bed and covering the top with a bird cover mesh.  This did the trick nicely although made it tricky to harvest and weed.  After tackling this twice, it finally worked and we now have fruit! Now if only the butterflies would leave my brussel sprouts alone.

Harvest: Our harvest was much smaller than anticipated, but when compared to all of our mistakes in the past, we finally have more of a grasp on it.  Jalapenos and green bell peppers were what we got the most of.  Our tomato plants were falling over and really big, however didn’t produce much because by the time we caged the bed, it was already September.  Besides cooking with our harvest and the fact that it was small, we also made flavored vinegar’s, as well as used other techniques such as pickling, fermenting and dehydrating.

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Greenhouse: We desperately needed a greenhouse not only for seed starting, but to grow plants over the winter in an effort to grow year round.  In Texas, summers are hot and winters are cold, but they are still doable.  In researching greenhouses, we definitely have one in mind for our future homestead, but for now we’ve decided to opt for a smaller one in the meantime.  It wasn’t that expensive at around $30 shipped, so it was affordable because we are still learning.  We then needed to create a space for seed starting and growing winter plants.  To do this, we reused what we already had.  This is the best kind of shopping and saves a ton of money.  Reusing things such as tables and bins, made it easy to create a potting table and an old bin now used for amending soil.  Our seed order has been placed  from Baker Creek and now we wait.  I apologize for the dark pictures.  They were taken inside of a garage, but you get the idea.

Compost: Our compost that was started late last year and is just about broken down.  We used grass clippings, shredded paper from our shredder, and kitchen scraps such as food, coffee grounds, egg shells, and tea bags.  It is such a beautiful dark brown color.  This will help get seeds get started for spring.  A new bin has been started and will take another year to break down.  We just don’t have the space to create the compost pile we are hoping for, but this does the trick.

Cooking:  Food storage has been on the agenda most of this year.  Buying in bulk, growing what we can, and saving what we can , further enabled us to grow our canned food stock.  This year, we added fermented food like Kombucha, sour dough starter, vinegar, carrots, pickles, and sauerkraut.  We are still not where we need to be, but next year will be even more than this year.

It has been quite a busy start to the season and so much more to accomplish with the holidays coming.  It feel like an endless process, but it is so very rewarding.

What goals and projects have you set for Fall?  I’d love to hear about what you have going.  Inspire me! and who knows, you may inspire someone else!

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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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Want a Healthy Snack? Try Roasted Chickpeas!

 

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Hello Lovelies,

Chickpeas are an amazing legume with endless possibilities.  Not only do they provide us with yummy hummus and are absolutely delicious in soups, they also roast really well. By spending a long period of time in the oven, they get very crunchy throughout, even more so than chips. You wouldn’t think legumes would be very tasty any other way then treated like a bean, but they actually are pretty good when you think outside of the box. They contain a ton of fiber which is great during a busy day or when it is too hot outside to cook.  Make a big batch and store in mason jars. You’ll have a readily available snack to just grab which in my opinion is key as a mama.  A half cup of roasted chickpeas is around 150 calories, contains tons of protein and insoluble fiber making them fantastic for the digestive system.  I’ve had these a few times before and I loved them!  You can put any seasoning under the sun on them and they will be amazing.

You will need:

  • Dry chickpeas
  • Salt to taste
  • Any seasoning to taste
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil

For the seasoning shown in the pictures:

  • Garlic powder
  • Chili powder
  • Cracked  black pepper
  • Kosher salt

I didn’t list exact measurements because this isn’t a science.  It truly is season as you wish and roast.  You can add seasoning completely to taste and change up according to time of day, sweet or salty, spicy or savory, the sky is the limit.

To get started, soak the dry chickpeas overnight in a container full of water.

 

 

Drain the chickpeas and pat dry with a towel. Spread out over a flat baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast at 350 degrees. Start at just 30 minutes and increase by 10 minute intervals making sure to taste one in between.  Our oven took about 50 minutes. They should be very crunchy with no raw smooth inside.  It should be crunchy all the way through. If you would like softer chickpeas, you can roast a little less.

 

I really hope you give this recipe a try!  It is a great way to snack all day and grab something that is actually healthy for you. You can try hundreds of different spice blends to come up with different flavors.  This recipe is our favorite go to but we’ve also tried cinnamon and sugar by roasting in just olive oil and adding the cinnamon and sugar at the very end.  The sugar will dissolve a little bit from the heat of the chickpeas. It is simple to make that even the kiddos can help!

Total Cost: 60 cents for a bag of chickpeas and the rest from pantry

Enjoy!

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