RSS Feed

Category Archives: Recipes

Healthy, delicious, frugal, and worthy of a busy woman’s time.

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?

Meat Rabbits

Meat Rabbits

Sustainability was never simpler. Rabbits taste good, require very little upkeep, and they “breed like rabbits.” We have had the rabbits for a few weeks and already have our first kits. I will not offer suggestions at this point on how to start out, as there is plenty of information out there; check youtube, books from the library, etc. I will tell you that the meat really does taste like chicken, they are lower maintenance that chickens, and they are easier to slaughter than chickens. (Think about plucking feathers… Our layer hens will be a once-in-a-blue-moon stew hen when they get old, and plucking won’t seem so bad if it doesn’t happen all the time. For our current needs, it does not pay for us to buy a plucking machine.)

So how does one actually eat something they raised? Hmmm. Do you feel better about eating something that was raised inhumanely, eating who-knows-what? I cannot afford to pay premium prices for ethically raised meat. I have financial goals! If the quality of meat, price, and sustainability is worth it to you, then you are strong enough to program your mind. In most cultures and centuries past, the idea that “you can’t eat your pets!” would have been a silly and irresponsible notion.


Michael and the girls move the rabbits to their new home. The whole endeavor is fun and educational for the whole family.



026Newborn rabbits are naked, and warmly bundled in a thick nest of mama rabbit’s fur. In a few days, they will have thick coats themselves. The kits should be handled carefully to help them become tame. Caged animals need a lot of affection. The alternative is to let them run wild, but most likely (in our neck of the woods) fall prey to coyotes and hawks.



030My amazing husband Michael built this wonderful rabbit hutch. He adapted plans from youtube, and from our helpful neighbor. I helped with the painting, and have the scrapes to prove it. How does one get hurt painting? Well… I did. No matter.

They did a wonderful job! It looks pretty and is functional. A hutch does not have to be this fancy. You can find the plans online or make your own.

If you have the resources, bigger is better. Give them space to run if you can. Otherwise, give them a lot of love if they have a smaller area. Kits (baby rabbits) get a quality life before they are big enough for slaughter.

Check Craigslist! We found a send hutch for free (to use when the kits are ready to leave their mama)! Google the breed of rabbit for the appropriate sized hutch.

A rabbit needs clean water and food every day. They are messy (they seem to think it is a great joke to poop and pee in their feeding dishes!) so they require daily maintenance. They love apples, carrots, and leaves. Their diet is primarily alfalfa. You can buy bags of feed at the farm supply store,  or connect with local farmers for 3rd crop alfalfa and timothy grass.

We have 5 does and 1 buck. We plan to rotate the buck around, giving each doe a 3 month break in between breedings. incest is not an issue for meat rabbits. (Show rabbits are more picky as far as lineage, but we are not worried about that.)

Killing, skinning, and butchering is quick and easy. Here is one of many youtubes on the subject.

Some of your guests will not like to know they are eating rabbit. If they assume it is chicken, it is ok not to say anything. Your picky friends will know better than to ask!

More updates to come.

Mini-Pizzas “Save” the Day


Most pizza experiences happen when (A) rushed day prompts someone to order in, (B) someone thought ahead and bought frozen pizzas, (C) someone didn’t think ahead and gets stale gas station pizza, or (D) someone makes it from scratch for a lucky crowd. We have a cheaper option to help clear out the fridge, save some time, and definitely save some money.

Today my sister and I looked in the fridge and determined to use up the odds and ends, without starting a brand-new meal. The result? Yummy leftover soup and perfect, delicious personal pizzas to go with our movie.

We laid out whatever bread was in the pantry on a baking pan, and spread them with things like pizza sauce (from the pantry) and spicy cream cheese (close to expiration date.) They got sprinkled with bits of mushroom, cilantro, garlic, red pepper, olives, cheese, oregano… Really, anything that we already had that sounded good.  (My daughters didn’t go for all the toppings, I confess. I’m still learning; however, the rest of the family offered rave reviews.)

The broiler is great! 5 minutes and you’re done. (Much faster than frozen pizza, ordering in, etc.)

Happy saving. But don’t expect to save any leftover pizzas–these go fast.


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

Bring Your Own Lunch

Eating out accounts for almost half of the average food budget.  If you make $20K, you might spend $2600 annually on food (according to the typical 13%). 46% of total food budget for eating out comes to $1196. That is a hefty amount for any budget and waistline!

Personally, I never eat out—unless it is a quaint coffee shop with yellow siding, handmade pottery, and “valet parking” which simply must be experienced by me and my sisters. Or perhaps a family-owned little sandwich shop with organic ingredients, a peaceful setting, and reasonable prices for the occasional splurge.

We all know how to make coffee; it’s not hard. I could show you how to make virtually any coffee drink at home, in less time than it takes to wait in line, pay, and find a table. So consider it a dare on this on this fabulous Money-Monday: Bring-your-own-lunch, and save-your-own-money.

  1. Coffee: Make your own to enjoy and share. Healthier, cheaper, and every bit as deliciously as what you will find at your local bistro. (Tip for the amateur: Use good cream!)
  2. Work lunches: How much time does it take to run over to a restaurant or drive-thru on your lunch break? You can pre-make a salad or sandwich at home in about 10 minutes. That saves you at least 20 minutes to call Mom or read the paper.
  3. Family/Friends get-togethers:  Just because you want a “neutral” setting doesn’t mean you have to eat out. Go to a park with a picnic, potluck, or even just dessert; or agree to meet for a different activity such as bowling, dancing, or a museum. You will find your dollars enrich you and your friendships more by engaging in a memorable activity, rather than centering the encounter around food.
  4. Track the money saved. Do this meticulously, or it will fall through the cracks. Put it first toward debt, then savings, and finally toward a goal like a kayaking trip, a car, or a garden.

Bring-your-own-lunch: Can you do it? You bet. You already read this article, which shows you have the want-to. And that’s really all it takes, want-to and persistence. Go get ‘em.

Here are a couple ideas for lunch on the go. What home-made recipes do you rely on?

Egg Salad Sandwiches

(the easiest, nutrition-packed option I know of)

Make enough to last 2-3 meals for the whole family, so count out one egg per sandwich.

  1. 1.       Boil eggs and water 10 minutes
  2. 2.       Peel eggs while still warm
  3. 3.       Add mayo to taste (homemade mayo is the best!)
  4. 4.       A squirt of mustard
  5. 5.       A dash of Cayenne pepper
  6. 6.       Add whatever else you want… diced onions, celery, spinach, pickles, you name it.
  7. 7.       Store in an air-tight container in refrigerator. Make sandwiches fresh.

Make sandwiches with cheese, lettuce, or spinach leaves to separate the bread from the egg salad, avoiding “soggy sandwich” by lunchtime.

You can adjust this recipe for tuna, chicken, or grape salads. As a variation to the sandwich, you can add to a bed of fresh greens for low-carb salad.

Chicken Pasta Salad

(When making hot spaghetti or macaroni, plan to make extra pasta to save time on the salad.)

  1. 1.       Grill or bake chicken; cool and cut into thin strips.
  2. 2.       Mix chicken with cooked, cooled pasta (2 parts meat, 1 part pasta)
  3. 3.       Add fruits and veggies (3-2-1; so, three parts fruits and veggies) Use grapes, apple, diced celery, onion, bell peppers, peas, black olives, black beans, etc.)
  4. 4.       Mix is blender ½ clove garlic, salt, and equal parts balsamic vinegar and extra vigin olive oil. Add to salad and mix well.

Store in individual serving-sized containers for a quick lunch. Bring an apple for a healthy dessert, and to clean your teeth.


I enjoyed such a delectable dinner I simply had to share!  This fulfills each food group, so it is a complete meal as is. Serves 4.

You will need

  1. 2 1/2 C large pearl couscous(available at health food or ethnic store if not at your regular grocery)
  2. At least 1 lb fresh tomatoes, diced
  3. 2 cups thinly sliced spinach
  4. 6 fresh farm eggs (the flavor and nutritional quality is worth the effort!)
  5. olive oil and if desired butter
  6. 1 clove garlic.
  7. Seasonings of your choice to taste (Salt, black or cayenne pepper, basil, etc.)

Directions:  Bring 3 cups of filtered water to a boil. Add 1 clove minced garlic and about 2 tsp. salt. Add 2 1/2 cups large pearl couscous and boil 10 minutes, or al dente. If using regular couscous decrease boiling time to about 5 minutes, but always bite to be sure.

While this is boiling, use your cast iron skillet and a generous splash of olive oil to scramble the eggs. Add to the couscous once both are cooked. If desired add 1 T butter and mix, along with any desired seasonings.

Stir in tomatoes and spinach. If you like sprinkle with parmesan or romano cheese. Serve warm or cold.

If you plan on having two little girls and a husband like mine, plan on serving seconds, thirds, and maybe fourths!


Over the next few weeks, please allow me to share on how to save and earn thousands of $$$ every year.

On this Money Monday, let’s talk coffee. Average coffee budget out there is $50/month. You know who you are, many of you spend way more than that.  And I used to personally serve thousands of dollars in coffee back in my Caribou barista days, so I know what I’m talking about!

Don’t worry, I’m not going to say give it up! Coffee is a great way to bring friends together–in your home. (Or at the office, wherever you consider to be your home.) Simply make it yourself in the same time it takes to wait in line at your local coffee shop.

You will need…

1. Initial expense is your coffeemaker. My choice? Mr. Coffee Espresso/Cappuccino Maker Usually $44.99 however I was able to get mine on sale last year for about $28

2. My drink of choice is a standard latte with a gourmet twist. A co-worker at Caribou called it a “Cabana Shot.” Use a packet of raw sugar in the brew basket, add your grounds, and brew regularly. Steam your milk, grab your eco-friendly travel mug, and you’re out the door to conquer the world. Whatever your drink is, purchase the ingredients for a week instead of buying a single serving ready-made for the same price.

3. Tip yourself. Make yourself a tip jar, complete with sparkles and a picture of whatever motivates you. Remember $50/month average? $10 goes to your monthly grocery budget for ingredients, and every ‘Money Monday’ you get to tip yourself $10 for a weeks worth of barista services.

4. Do the math. Over a year’s time you will tip yourself $520. Don’t spend it all in one place! Better yet, apply it directly to a savings account and make Mama proud 🙂


Western Woman

“Smell the flowers and drink your coffee.”

A Decadent Treat

A Decadent Treat

‘Smell the Flowers and Drink Your Coffee’ may not apply to all people; because, it is rather a shock, but not everyone drinks coffee.
So, for any and all interested in a cup of coffee-free pure deliciousness, please allow me to share one of my favorite recipes:

Hot Chocolate
This recipe tributes my sis Elisa (catch her blog in Spanish as well as the movie Chocolate (starring Juliette Binoche). Of course I have tweaked the recipe to my liking. I believe all truly original, artistic chefs should have freedom to adjust recipes as desired. No recipe is set in stone.
Disclaimer: I have presented this post as an alternative to non-coffee drinkers, as well as a treat for chocolate lovers. I must confess at this time I have nothing up my sleeve for those who take neither coffee nor chocolate. Please share if you do have such a recipe!

So, without further ado:
1. Heat filtered water in your kettle. I like to add a couple toothpicks of peppermint oil to the water as it heats, allowing the wonderful aroma to engage the senses and perfume the air.
2. Pour into mugs. Add to each mug1 tablespoon unsweetened baking cocoa, 1 teaspoon stevia powder, tiny pinch of cayenne pepper (seriously!), and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Mix well.
3. Cool it off to your perfect temperature with a generous splash of heavy whipping cream.
4. Now, go ahead and enjoy, either with a friend or simply the pleasure of your own wonderful company.