Archive for the ‘Frugal’ Category

For the past few weeks, I’ve been using a shampoo made from castile soap, coconut milk, olive oil & lemon essential oil.  To my untrained eye, it’s been great for my hair.  My hair is clean and easily managed.  This shampoo also suds well, better in fact than commercial shampoo. 

I’ve been eager to share this update with you as I know some of my blogging friends have been looking for such a product.  But I wanted this shampoo to prove its worth to one of my friends… who just happens to be my hairdresser.  Hairdresser?  Does that make me sound like I’m 60 years old?  Should I say stylist?  Or does that make me sound like I’m a contestant in The Hunger Games?   But I digress…

My stylist has been my friend for nearly 12 years.  She knows my hair very well.  She was patient with me when I had her “unhighlight” my hair the day after I highlighted it because I asked her to be too bold for my liking.  She was patient with me when I was growing my hair out for my wedding and hacked my own bangs 2 months before in a moment of insanity on a bad hair day.  She was also patient with me when I showed up the day of my wedding with a freshly shampooed head, despite her asking me not to shampoo that morning, to do it the night before.  Every time, she rolled with it and fixed me right up.

Today, I had a haircut for the first time in a few months.  And guess what?  She complemented the condition of my hair!  She said it looked nice and healthy.  For me, this is a ringing endorsement for my homemade shampoo. 

Happy Homesteading,


Tips & Tricks:

I use Mountain Rose Herbs castile soap & essential oil.  I’ve also purchased my shampoo bottles from them.

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It’s the day after Easter.  The festivities have come to an end.  The family has gone home.  The cooking is finished… with the exception of an encore performance of Pineapple Casserole.  This simple side dish is, by far, my favorite part of our Easter meal.  Please keep in mind, we have homemade carrot cake with lots of cream cheese frosting, yet Pineapple Casserole is what I look forward to.

There is never enough Pineapple Casserole.  Make 1 batch, it’s gone.  Make double batch, it’s gone.  I find the best strategy is to make a batch especially to go with leftovers.  Tonight’s menu: ham & cheese sliders, roasted sweet potato wedges and warm pineapple casserole.  Perfection!

Now this casserole uses different ingredients than I usually use as we prefer to eat seasonal and local fresh produce.  But as a treat, it’s a great little dish.  It is also a bonus that the ingredients are mostly shelf stable and easy to keep on hand for use in a pinch.


2 eggs

5 Tbs. cornstarch

1 cup sugar

½ cup water

1 20oz. can crushed pineapple

Pinch of salt

1 Tbs. butter


Preheat oven to 375°.  Grease 1½ quart baking dish. 

Whisk eggs until they are golden.  Add the cornstarch and whisk until smooth and frothy.

Add in salt, sugar and water.  Stir to combine.

Mix in crushed pineapple.

Pour into prepared dish.  Cut butter into small pea sized pieces and place on top of casserole.  Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Bake for 1 hour & 15 minutes.

This makes cooking the day after a holiday worth the work!

Happy Homesteading,


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About once a week I like to clean out my fridge of stray vegetables, leftover meats, open boxes of broth and miscellaneous dairy products that are approaching their suggested use by dates.  Last night, with the cold weather as my inspiration, I decided to make a chicken pot pie.  When I peeked into the fridge to see what vegetables were in the crisper, I spied a quart of buttermilk that was left from last week’s awesome buttermilk pancakes.  The light bulb went off…buttermilk biscuits and a deconstructed chicken pot pie.


4 cups of chopped vegetables – I used turnips, carrots, bell peppers & mushrooms

¼ c. chopped onion

2 cooked chicken breasts – chopped or shredded

¼ c. butter

3 Tbs. flour

2 cups chicken broth

1 cup cream

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat.  Add onion and sauté until translucent.  Add chopped vegetables and sauté until tender crisp.  Sprinkle in flour and stir until all the vegetables are coated.  Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally.  Pour in chicken broth and stir.  When sauce begins to thicken, add chicken, cream, salt and pepper.  Simmer for 5 to 8 minutes.

Serve over a buttermilk biscuit

Happy Homesteading,


Tips & Tricks:

For the buttermilk biscuit – instead of cutting the butter into cubes, grate cold butter on a cheese grater.  It will become coarse crumbs with your flour much quicker and speed is of the essence with buttermilk biscuits.

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The other day I learned that a fellow blogger, Lightly Crunchy, had attempted a similar version of homemade shampoo and had the same icky results that I did.  Hearing about her shared disappointment reignited my desire to find a shampoo recipe I could live with or, dare I say, enjoy.

Nearly two weeks ago, I found a shampoo recipe on One Good Thing by Jillee that looked like it would fit the bill.  However, I was hesitant to have another go after my first homemade shampoo debacle.  But, today I strengthened my resolve and went for it.


½ c. castille soap

½ c. coconut milk

1 tsp olive oil

20 drops lemon essential oil

Pour all ingredients in a bottle.  Shake to combine.

So far, so good.  I’ll keep you posted.

Happy Homesteading,


Tips & Tricks:

I needed to use about 1 Tbs. of shampoo to get my desired amount of suds.

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We are not off the grid but we did lower our electric bill this month!  Our usage for the January billing cycle was 43kWh per day.  For the month of February, our usage was 39kWh/day.  We used approximately 112kWh less this month.  That is roughly the same amount of energy used to run a hairdryer for 140 hours!

One of the main things we did was unplug ourselves from the television.  We decided that if it wasn’t worth “DVRing”, it wasn’t worth watching.  That significantly cut down on our idle television viewing.  We filled the mountain of available time with reading, playing games and talking.    Some of our new favorite games are Bananagrams and Catan 2 person card game.

I did tinker a bit with our thermostat and set our home to 1° cooler at all times.  I think as our little one grows up, I’ll be able to drop that number a bit more.

I think the neatest thing that I did was make these felted dryer balls that I found through the wonder that is Pinterest.  I only had cream colored wool and I was reluctant to spend money on something I’d never see, so mine are not nearly as pretty as Kathryn’s.  But they do speed up the drying time, I have no problem with static and I no longer need to buy dryer sheets! 

I did want share some sad news that I learned about Ed Begley and his bicycle.  Apparently, the set up for the bicycle generator cost at least $400.00.  These setups don’t even come with the bike!  Additionally, it would take 1 hour of biking, every day for 30 days to equal 3kWh.  We saved 112kWh this month.  That is 37 months of biking!  While we certainly would be fit, I think I’ll wait on this one until we are completely off the grid.

Happy Homesteading,


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I am not a girly girl.  I have no idea about the current fashions.  I don’t know the proper way to apply makeup.  I even cut my own hair in the winter time (long story).  But even I begin this experiment with trepidation.

I stumbled upon a blog a few months ago that espoused the benefits of making your own shampoo.  http://inashoe.com/2009/10/shampoo-update-7-months-counting/    This idea has stuck with me.  Since reading the entry, I anxiously awaited finishing our shampoo stockpile.  But folks, the stockpile is dwindling.

I worry not because I think my hair will be dirty.  Worrywart that I am, I fret that my hair might begin to take on new characteristics.  I had a friend who had straight hair until she had got a perm in 8th grade.  (Yes, a perm.  But in fairness it was 1988.)  Her hair was never straight again. 

At nearly 38, I’ve come to like my hair and I’m used to its quirks and benefits.  I love that just a quick comb through after a shower will “style” it for the whole day.  The strands of silver that adorn the top are endearing themselves to me.  I know that although it is baby fine, it loves to shine.  So, I wonder, will my mop change?

So you may ask, why am I doing this if I’m happy with my hair?  Doesn’t that mean the products I’m using are working?  I have no doubt that the shampoo and conditioners that I buy do what they are supposed to.  I’m just concerned about what else they may do.  Jon and I significantly restrict the amount of processed foods we consume and purchase mostly organic foods because we don’t want chemicals in our bodies.  When possible, we avoid inhaling smoke and chemicals to maintain the health of our lungs.  Shouldn’t the next step be to address the chemicals we put ON our bodies?    That being said…

Here is my before picture.  I must say, it is very difficult to take a picture of one’s own hair.  But you get the gist.


For both the shampoo and rinse, just combine the ingredients and you’re ready to rock. 

Homemade Shampoo Ingredients

2 quarts hot water

½ cup baking soda


Homemade Rinse Ingredients

Equal parts:

            apple cider vinegar


I will keep you posted on my progress.

Happy Homesteading,


Source: Life In A Shoe http://inashoe.com/

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I fantasize about Ed Begley Jr.   Well, not him, but the bike he uses to help power his house.  I dream about having a wind turbine.  I covet solar panels.  No, I don’t need therapy (for this reason anyway)… I just want to be off the grid. 

But barring an indulgence from our Homeowners Association, the same Homeowners Association that sends out nasty letters if you mulch without their permission, I don’t think we could attach solar panels or a wind turbine to our roof.  Or keep a bike attached to our electrical distribution panel on our patio. So for now, I’ll just have to settle for employing clever ways to lower our electric bill.

This morning, I received our newest electric bill saying that we used 43kWh/day, up 4kWh/day from last year. 

Granted, 4kWh/day isn’t that much but it made me wonder what we were doing differently.  And it made me picture Ed, on his bike, purrrrr…

I went on the website of our power supplier to further investigate our bill.  Their site has nifty statistics about each user.  According to my account information, our biggest day of usage is Saturday, followed by Monday.  It also states that heating our home contributes to 59% of our bill.  A cause for excitement however, is our home is among the lowest consumers of electricity in our neighborhood.

But over the next month, I’m going to try to lower our electric bills.  As we’ve already made the switch to CFL’s and I air dry most of our clothing, we’ll have to come up with some other ways to accomplish this mission.  Some of the first things to work on will be:

  • Eliminating vampire power – Vampire power is the electricity that is drawn when something is not in use.
  • Tinkering with our programmable thermostat to lower usage.
  • Turning off the television – I’d been hoping to do a no TV week this summer when we could get outside, but maybe I’ll just dig out some board games.

I’ll keep you posted on our progress.  And of course, I’m open to suggestions.  What do you do to lower you’re electric bills?

Happy Homesteading,


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