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Category Archives: Health

Frugally Healthy

I’m not going to tell you to buy vitamins and food that you can’t afford. I know what it’s like to wash towels in the bathtub because there were no quarters for the machine. If there isn’t money for laundry, there certainly isn’t money for grass-fed beef. I have been there. So that is why my top advice for budget living is to be as healthy as you can. Here are some ideas to stretch those dollars:

1. Sleep!

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so do what you can to not get sick. A visit to the doctor would blow our family budget in a minute. Be well-rested so the body can recharge on its own. Cost: Free.

2. Water.

If coffee and other beverages are taking over, let the body to adjust to simple water. Maybe not cold-turkey, but do your best. Water flushes out toxins. Toxins make you sick. Cost: Water filter cartridges as needed.

3. Supplements …

… but only if you can afford them. Food first. Don’t buy vitamins if you can’t afford good food. We don’t. Cost: Do what you can afford.

4. Healthy Food.

This one is tricky. Health food is expensive. You just do your best. We know it’s cheaper and healthier to make your own than to buy ready-made. Be careful not to eat unhealthy food that can destroy your health. In a perfect world, a healthy diet will have all the vitamins and minerals you need; no supplements required. Cost: For a family of 6, that may be $400-$1000/month. (If you have less than $400 available, and it’s not being used irresponsibly in another category, you are probably eligible for assistance.)

5. The outdoors.

This one is a great way to destress, get vitamin D from the sun, and experience some natural exercise. Cost: Free.

6. Plug your ears.

If someone is quizzing you on whether you are buying the right things, and you know it’s not in the budget, don’t receive it. It’s stressful. Stress can make you sick. File #13. Cost: Free


Getting some healthy rays while we eat al fresco.

Being healthy is the best thing you can do your budget. You will be able to work better and avoid the cost of sickness. Do your best. And most importantly, know that you can, because you are wonderfully and fearfully made.

Things I No Longer Buy

The frugal side of me always wonders, “can I make that?” There are a lot of things I have learned to make myself, or simply do without. I try to learn just one product at a time. Also, I like to simplify recipes whenever possible. Remember, K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Sweetheart.)
4.Eye Cream (straight shea butter, coconut or olive oil, whatever is on hand.)
5.Dry shampoo (I keep it very basic, just arrowroot or cornstarch, cocoa, and lavender.)
6.Hair Conditioner (vinegar water rinse.)
7.Shaving Cream (Lathered soap or a little oil)
8.Deoderant (I haven’t gotten there yet, but when I run out I will try this recipe.)
9.Skin cleansers, exfoliators, and lotions (A tub of sugar and olive oil, scrubbed gently from head to toe. A light rinse, and the body has been exfoliated and moisturized. A quick spraying down of the shower may be in order…)
10.Loose Face Powder (cornstarch or arrowroot powder, tinted with cocoa powder according to your skin tone.)
11.New Clothes (I no longer buy new. I really don’t need anything, but if I did, the thrift store is where I would go. Socks and underwear must be new, though–I draw the line there.)
12.Household Cleaners (vinegar water for most cleaning, or a mixture of vinegar water and LOC–Liquid Organic Cleaner from Amway. Other cleaners (straight baking soda, vinegar, or hydrogen peroxide usually does the trick. I still buy Bioquest Laundry Detergent and Dish Drops, which are very good for our private septic.)
13.Coffee Shops (I no longer feel the need. I can out-barista any coffee shop out there. Total waste of my money–unless I am running on zero sleep, then “yes please.” The same goes for restaurants. I truly enjoy my own home and my own cooking.)
14.Gym (with my fitness license, I can’t justify paying for that anymore. Also, it is so fun to explore the many fitness DVDs, most of them available for free through Netflix, Amazon, Youtube, or the library!)
15.Tanning salon (I no longer…)
16.Eggs (Because I have my own chickens! Dreams do come true.)
17.Prepared Food (I prepare everything myself. It is not very hard, and so much nicer. Remember, one thing at a time.)
18.Vanilla (This is on my list to make! Vanilla beans and vodka.
19.Gift bags (reuse, recycle. If you don’t have a gift bag to reuse, it is a good joke to wrap something in newspaper. The thrift store is also a great for baskets to arrange gifts in.)
20.Cards (If I have something cutesy to say, I write it out myself. A nice card might be $3.99 or more. A photo also works well in lieu of a card, or one of the littles can always be employed to make a beautiful card for Auntie Ruthie someone)

Just a few of the things I have grown out of buying! What do you make? What have you given up?

gentle waterbirth

1012437_10200942920629534_1359398350_n[1]It all started on Monday night. Telltale contractions that promised a maximum two hours of sleep, followed by a sleepless night of early stage labor. Michael slept through all the excitement, and with morning I was exhausted and disappointed as the night of 10-minute intervals settled into a day of infuriating nothingness. I tried to keep up my spirits, reminding myself that every contraction counts, even if it is not yet true labor.

That night I gratefully settled down, hoping to make up for lost sleep. Once again, however, I felt things moving along as they had the night before. I groaned, knowing that I would wake up at 2:00 AM “for nothing!” I poured out my hormonal heart to my husband, declaring that I felt this baby would never come, and that on this, the eve of my due date, I would once again be subjected to a night of sleeplessness, unrewarded by a baby by morning. Indeed, from 2:00 AM and on, I tossed and turned, paced and rocked, clutched a hot water bottle to my lower back until the skin was raw from heat, and was generally miserable.

My two previous births had been at the hospital. I loved giving birth, but hated the constant interruptions, bright lights, and rules about how I must deliver my baby. My cousin Jenny, a certified midwife, would deliver my baby this time, and I was excited to deliver peacefully in the comfort of my own home. My married sister is a seasoned veteran of homebirth, having delivered all three of her boys at home with midwives. She had promised me that midwives go the extra mile, getting into uncomfortable positions to monitor and assist during labor, rather than make the mother move around and be strapped to uncomfortable contraptions.

The bedroom had been ready for the last 4 weeks. Supplies lined up by category, candles ready to provide dimmed lighting, and the birth pool ready to be inflated and filled. It was calming, knowing that everything would be ready when the moment should come.

I texted Jenny an FYI on that Wednesday morning, with a “not to worry, nothing is actually happening yet,” update. Jenny got a few more details and by 10:00 AM had decided she would stop by that day to see for herself. I did not think that was necessary, but she seemed to have her mind made up. I was too uncomfortable and tired to argue further.

I danced to my Zumba music and got a good hour workout, losing my cool only a few times with my children, as I retreated farther into myself. The more I exercised, the less real labor was to me. I seemed to be at odds with the whole world.

Michael came to the rescue, as he often does. He took the little ones berry picking for three hours. I was obedient to Jenny’s suggestion to take a nap they were gone, and actually slept between contractions, waking up just in time to hop out of bed to moan and rock before each contraction hit.

This being my third baby, it was quite normal that contractions were irregular. The posterior position of the baby, however, made the few contractions especially painful. The long minutes between them furthered my resolve not to get my hopes up, but my composure wore thin as the pressure on my lower back mounted.

Jenny and her intern Gabby arrived, and I served them a late lunch. They greeted me, exchanged glances, and politely ignored the fact that I hadn’t bothered to wear pants. A woman may neglect to look her best when she feels irritable enough, but heaven forbid she fail to feed her guests. Later they told me that my lack of modesty was their only indication that I was truly in labor. I was trying to act as normal as possible, convinced that this was just Day 2 of the same old nonsense. That was my logic, anyway.

When they asked if I would like an internal check, I agreed, saying I was very curious. Joy! 7 centimeters, and I had not yet even broken into the Labor Aid cubes.

The next few hours were a blur of preparing the room and setting up the birth pool. I tried to work out a little more as people began to trickle in, but the distraction of dancing was no longer possible. Contractions were too close together, although still irregular.

My mom and sisters arrived at the moment I broke down emotionally and collapsed on the bed in pain. Gabby had been helping me with counter pressure on my back up until then. I was invited to get in the birth pool.

Feeling suddenly weightless in the water, I was comforted when Michael got in the water and held me close. The pressure in my lower back was still intense. With every contraction I required Michael to be quiet and press on my sacrum. Gabby, my mom, and Jenny also helped with that. After some time I could hear Jenny clearing the room. Things were intense, but I was distracted and not progressing as I should. Only the essential people remained in the room.

There was a brief interruption as I heard voices in the hallway. My sister Elisa greeted unexpected visitors who had come bringing baby gifts, and asked them to come back at a later time! The house quiet once again, I resumed focus on my labor.

My memories are fuzzy. It was la-la-labor land at that point. I shushed, yelled, and slapped my husband if he talked or moved during contractions. Apparently those in the room laughed silently (my eyes were closed.) and signalled Michael not to worry. Husbands commonly take the brunt of wifely emotions during labor. In retrospect I wish I had requested a video of the birth so that I could see the comedy that took place.

The water was getting cold. Our home’s hot water heater had been maxxed out, and pots of water were being heated on the stove. Every time a sister came in with hot water, I could feel tension being eased in my body. Once, Elisa came in with her little baby strapped to her front, carrying a huge pot of water ahead of him. I looked up and laughed at the look of shock and joy on his innocent face as he looked curiously around the room.

I asked my mom to read Psalm 27 to me. For two weeks previous to the birth, I had been stuck on that Scripture, going over it every day. In labor it was a comfort, and she read it several times before I tuned out her voice and moved deeper into myself.

My mind grasped wildly, tryinig to reason with the pain, “What?! I want more kids after this?! Who does this!? No more kids. Hmmm. There is no way out. I want to remove the feeling from my back. I am at home, there is no epidural available, and if there was, I would refuse it. Therefore, I want to die. Yes, I could just die! Except… The baby is not born yet, That means I have to live and deliver this baby.”  All the while, Jenny assured me that it was not much longer, my mom held my face above water, and Michael supported my back.

And then Maureen, the backup midwife, was instructing me to assume a froglike position to enable the posterior baby to pass through. Suddenly I could push and feel the baby moving. Alert in every way, I felt baby’s head progress and retreat. Every sensation was vividly clear. Jenny tried to keep my energy on pushing and not on sound effects, but I was not able to master my voice. For moments at a time I could hold back my voice while pushing, then I would lose it. My 4-year-old later told me she heard me and knew I was pushing out the baby because of the noise I made.

I reached down and felt the baby’s head at two knuckles. I could feel her precious head protected by the sack and a small amount of amniotic fluid. I was encouraged and pushed harder. There was a briefest crown, then she went back. I pushed again and felt the sack burst. She was coming!

I planted my hands down and pushed hard with Jenny guiding me. Michael tried to feel for the baby but I yelled for him to stop; I wanted his hands supporting my back for the next contraction.

“OK Laura, let this next contraction build before you start pushing, and then you’re going to have a baby.” Jenny’s voice seemed like a dream. I waited as long as I could and pushed. It felt so good to push. I felt the baby’s head coming out in what seemed to me like a contraction lasting several minutes, They were checking her neck for a cord. Pushing her body out was the strangest sensation, as I felt limbs and belly coming quickly through.


The next thing I knew I was upright on the other side of the birth pool, supported by Michael, and the little baby had been passed through my legs and into my arms. I sagged against Michael while he held me and the baby up. She took her first breaths and i exclaimed, “look at her cheecks!” Her chubby little face was blue and perfect. She began to mew like a kitten and I sagged in relief. It was 8:45 PM. At long last, it was over. Thankful tears welled in my eyes, quickly replaced by euphoric smiles.

Adrenaline rushed into my being, although my body was limp againts Michael. For the next few minutes I rejoiced and beamed as pictures were taken and people poured into the room. My younger sisters had dressed Archangela and Abigail for bed, and now they giggled and reached for their new sister. Abigail, 2 1/2  years old, asked if someone could get Mommy out so that she could get in and sit on Daddy’s lap. Archangela just smiled brightly and commented that she had been waiting so long.

Michael had been scolded  soundly by me every time he tried to crack a joke in the pool, but now he boldly went for it again. “Hey, I’m like the quarterback and Laura is the center, handing off the football!” I didn’t really get the analogy, as I am completely clueless when it comes to sports, but I was finallyn willing to let Michael talk and enjoy his moment with his appreciative audience.

Time stood still in the pool. Together, my husband and I held onto that precious little girl. When I was finally helped onto the bed, I could not stop smiling. I looked at her beautiful face and thought, “Of course! That is why I went through labor. That little face is worth it. I wanted to die, but I am glad to have gone through what I did for her. I would do it again. I will do it again. Children a beautiful gift, well worth the pain of childbirth. I want more.”


In the days that followed, my oxytocin levels remained at a constant high. I had almost no pain, thanks to the gentle birth at home. The water had virtually bypassed any tearing. The necessary post-partum cramping was eased by the herbs and pain relief reccomended by my midwife. I was happy to a fault, and found myself thinking how meaningful it was to give birth to a new life. Recovery was amazingly fast, although Jenny and my husband had to get after me to rest properly. I felt so good and happy it seemed natural to be up and around right away. The time right after birth, however, is meant for healing, resting, and bonding with the new baby. She doesn’t need mommy to be off doing dishes while she is alone in the bassinet; she needs her mother relaxed, holding her, and being mindful of both their needs for at least a week. It is a time to reflect, pray, and enjoy the priceless gift.

And I stand by it; If the only thing I ever did was give birth to this baby, my life will have had great purpose.

Glass Bottle Sippy Cup by LifeFactory

Posted on review the Lifefactory 9-Ounce Glass Bottle… let me say I couldn’t believe my luck when I searched and discovered that my craving for a safe glass option was actually out there.

What could be better than a glass bottle (Oh, yes! Avoid plastic bottles for yourself and  little ones!) with a silicone sleeve to protect it against breakage?

My customer review is: Please, give me a bottle/sippy cup with a non-plugging gasket!

I originally ordered what I thought was a 2-pack of bottle/sippy cups. When the sippy caps arrived, I realized that one was my fault. But really, “sippy caps” and “sippy cups” could be confused by anybody, right? When I finally ordered the right item, $16.99 apiece on Amazon, I couldn’t wait to try out a product that would be healthier for my child.

I enforced the “water-only” rule for the bottle. At 2 years old, I think that is plenty old enough for my youngest to enjoy filmjolk, milk, and other hard-to-clean fluids strictly from a glass. I am so done with cleaning gunky build-up out of sippy cups.

After a few weeks of usage, my toddler learned to say, “Mom, my sippy cup is not working. Can you fix it?” So I would loosen the top, let in some air, and hand it back to her. In order to completely avoid this issue, one has to leave the cap loose enough to risk leaking out the side.  The bottle would typically stop working and need to be re-capped two or three times per 9 oz. serving.

In conclusion, I am happier using this bottle than the plastic counterparts. For the cost, however, I expected a smoother ride.


Are You Hungry? $$$ you really hungry? Frugal minds ask this question, as well as those conscious of health and weight management (which are really one and the same.) Thirst may often be mistaken as hunger. I have saved myself many unneeded snacks (therefore money) by drinking a tall glass of water–just in case–before sitting down to eat.

While I am always eager to offer nutritious, yummy food to my family and friends, I often answer my children (and myself!) with the question, “Are you thirsty?”

When we wake up in the morning, before anyone may eat breakfast, we all drink water.

Throughout the day, my girls may not eat snacks or meals if they have not finished their water. This is particularly true for my eldest daughter, who gets dry skin perioudically from forgetting to drink enough. As soon as we are hydrated, I load everyone up with plenty of delicious food to fill tummies and satisfy nutritional needs.

Pregnant women like me may naturally crave extra water, which works out just fine. But not everyone is blessed with the urge to stay hydrated. Drink up, and make sure your family does, too.

Save some $ and improve your health.


Western Woman


microwave[2]Almost everyone knows microwaves are bad. A simple experiment of watering your plants with fresh water vs. microwaved (and cooled) water says it all.

And yet, most people still use them. Today, we will put the matter to rest.

Reasons to send that microwave to a happier place (i.e. the trash or a safe recycling option.)

  1. Leakage: If you nuke food in plastic dishes or wrap, you have almost for sure infected your food with BPA (bisphenol A) and a host of other toxic chemicals. Plastic (which we avoid in our house) is not food, but a lot of people regularly consume through leakage in the microwave.
  2. Meat: If you must use a microwave for… religious (?) reasons, don’t cook meat in it. You will be inviting toxins like d-Nitrosodienthanolamines, a well-known carcinogen.
  3. Dairy and Cereal: In our house, our precious raw milk remains raw and will never set foot in the microwave! But if you do microwave these foods, consider that crucial amino acids will not enter your body, because they may now be carcinogens.
  4. Cholesterol: Sometimes people are alarmed at my healthy traditional diet which is high in eggs, cream, and other things their doctors warned them about), worried that I am inviting high cholesterol; of course, this reaction is misinformed. However, these same people usually use a microwave, which in itself is known to raise cholesterol levels!
  5. Veggies: If you must microwave rather than cook on the stove, then please just eat it raw! Again, the nutrients will be depleted and may be converted to carcinogens. Why would you eat nutrient-free veggies? May as well eat cake.
  6. Breastmilk: to think that someone would go the trouble of pumping, and then ruin it by microwaving the precious milk!? Crazy, I know. But I have seen people do it. Infants are in particular need of those essential amino acids, good bacteria, and vitamins. Please, don’t delete them out of the milk. Heating food/drinks for little ones? Be careful that you don’t burn them! Microwaves are known to heat foods at uneven temperatures; i.e. the top of the bottle may be cold, and the bottom may burn your newborn baby’s throat. What a horrible thing to accidentally inflict on a little baby! Now you know.
  7. Electro-Magnetic Emissions: Back away. The radiation and EM’s can still get you, up to 20 inches away, and through walls. This is especially true for little ones and pregnant women. For similar reasons, avoid X-ray’s as much as possible.
  8. Russians are smart: They banned microwaves in 1976, following decades of research. The ban was lifted 20 years later, but persists as a serious health concern.
  9. More health reasons galore: Check out the links below for further research if this is not enough.
  10. It’s just more gourmet: Show your family some love by bringing a homemade meal to the table, putting out the cloth napkins, and tossing a fresh salad. What better way to inspire wholesome family time than over a well-prepared meal? How often does a thoughtful meal like this get taken to the couch and slurped back during a mindless TV show?  Share the love! Enjoy your family!

Carcinogens, toxins, lacking nutrients, etc. All these things spell poison to your body. There is no such thing as a “neutral” food. It either helps your body or hurts it. As surely as man without vision shall perish, so man without nutrition will also die–perhaps a long, painful death.

But it saves time! Would you feed your child a poisonous mushroom if you were lost in the wilderness? No, of course not. You would allow him to be hungry a while longer while you continued to search for good, safe food. Similarly, my children wait 5 minutes rather than 1:30-quick-start while their food is warmed up, on the stove.

More reading…

Enjoy a good meal, hot tea, or warm cookie–piping hot from the stove, teapot, or toaster oven. It is worth it.


Western Woman

Magnesium for Fitness

31+-4XzBOKL._SY355_[1]When my aches and pains started several months ago, I initially bought several pairs of dance shoes, switched gyms to experiment on a softer floor, and generally gave up a lot of my gusto for Zumba. The true answer was so simple. Magnesium.

My sister,, is my go-to person for all things herbal. When I described the pain in my lower legs, aggravated by dancing and excessive exercise, she mentioned that about 80% of adults are low in magnesium. The list of symptoms for magnesium deficiency is as long as your arm! Muscle aches, snoring, anxiety, low blood pressure, and the list goes on.

Enter Life-Flo Pure Magnesium Oil, available on Amazon for $5.92. A little spray on my affected areas, and the pain was gone. Steal of deal! I estimate my 8-oz. bottle will last me several months to a year.

I also purchased Magnesium powder and pills, but found the spray to be most effective for my needs.

  • Magnesium oil can also be used as a deodorant!
  • Magnesium oil causes pain/itching when sprayed on freshly shaved skin, cuts, and even mosquito bites.
  • Magnesium oil is odor-free. No one knows it is there, except when I brag about my fantastic antidote to my lower leg pain.
  • I have also used this on my husband’s back, where he carries a lot of tension from his work and past car accidents.

I highly recommend this product and brand. It is a great value, easy to apply, and very effective.


Western Woman

Soap, Almost Free

S004oap is really cheap around here… mostly because we don’t use it! My girls and I don’t use any kind of soap to bathe, and only a mild bar soap for hand washing.

Conventional soap is not good for the skin. The “new” stuff has more chemicals than ever. Ever consider that the antibacterial part of modern soap not only kills 99.9% of germs, it also is killing good bacteria in your body? Protect your skin. It is your largest organ. Would you rub antibacterial soap on any of your other organs? “Yes; she’s crazy.”

Our hair is glossy and clean; for my hair I am currently using egg with a little tea tree oil. I’m thinking about trying a bar of herbal shampoo bar, made by a local herbalist which is chemical-free and nurturing for the hair and scalp. The girls don’t need shampoo–their hair doesn’t produce as much oil as teens and adults.

“What!? They don’t wash with soap?”

How do we clean ourselves? Exfoliation and water is usually all the body needs. For a little extra scrubbing power, I keep a tub of sugar and olive oil next to the shower. I use this on my face every day, and elsewhere as needed for myself and the girls.  Winter bathing is easy; but in the summer we will wash a lot more carefully to remove harsh pool chemicals.

Our daily baths are luxuriously sprinkled with epsom salt and sweet-smelling essential oils. (I stress daily, because a soak before bed is therapeutic and so relaxing!) I don’t even think the Duchess of Cambridge has it this good.

Shocked? Don’t be. The body cleans itself, when attended to properly. Do you think Adam and Eve were let loose in the Garden of Eden with a bar of Ivory soap in hand?

My husband works in the oil field and has to scrub invert and other harmful chemicals off of his skin. Yes, he does use soap in the shower to clean it off!


Western Woman

Raw Honey: Living on the Cheap

What? Where did she get the cheap raw honey?

I’m sorry, let me back up.

cut handI got a nasty cut earlier this week. It happened when I caught a falling Ninja blender blade in mid-air. Blood was squirting, I was shaking, and my girls were freaking out.

20 minutes later I had rinsed, patted dry, swabbed with raw honey, and tightly bandaged the wound. The bleeding stopped, and I thought I would wait a week and see what happens. Most people asked if I needed stitches, or if I should go to the doctor. But no. In most cases I am my own doctor, and I really think this cut will heal itself if I treat it right.

That was only 3 days ago. Surprise! My honey-coated cute is now comfortably downsized to a single sturdy bandage. And guess what? Patting raw honey on a wound is a lot cheaper than going to the doctor. And, in this case, dare I say, more effective?

Raw honey mixed with cinnamon is a lot cheaper to treat and prevent common illness like a cold than harmful antibiotics.

Raw honey in a cup of tea or coffee (instead of refined sugar) is a lot cheaper than dealing with the side effects of excess weight.

Raw honey is a lot cheaper as a face mask than a top-of-the-line beauty brand with comparable results. Also, chemical-free, thank you.

The list goes on. If you don’t have raw honey in stock, consider it a money-saving investment to get some from one of your local organic farmers. And when you do, thank them for their diligent, hard work to produce quality food for our families.

Be blessed; be healthy; and be wealthy.


Western Woman

The Last Straw? No, there is always more straw.

window light picLift up the carpet. There is bound to be some straw somewhere under there.

Up until yesterday I was fatigued beyond belief due to [life]. And then the flu hit the family, and suddenly the woman in me rose up in me to nurse my family back to health. For the last 24 hours I alternated between cleaning vomit, steam-vacuuming the girls’ room, washing loadsof laundry, making gallons of absolutely perfect chicken broth, pitchers of homemade electrolyte drinks, dessert for a potluck party (which will remain a happy little fantasy),  “craigslisting” and   calling dubious leads for rentals, reading the word to keep up my spirits, and finally putting everyone to bed.

frazzled mom pic

Do I finally hop in the shower? Am I simply done? No. I have to write down my inspiration.




This is not the last straw.

No matter how exhausted I may have been prior to this outbreak of [life], the woman in me rose to the occasion, because God will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear. If I had indeed cracked, the Lord would have provided a way out. Help would have come to answer our need.

headache picBe encouraged, dear one, if you feel as if you might snap like a stressed rubber band. You will not snap. God has a way out. Feel His breath on you and know that He is near.





1 Corinthians 10:13 13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

Be blessed, and Happy New Year!

Western Woman