How to Make the Perfect Pie Crust!


Yes, I'm guilty of buying frozen pie crusts. In the past. If I didn't have a store-bought crust in the freezer, I didn't bake a pie. What was I thinking?!?! I just assumed that making your own pie crusts had to be difficult. Then one day I decided to try the "Never Fail Pie Crust" recipe that I had copied out of a church cookbook years ago. 


 I was skeptical. (Seriously, you're talking about a lady that had Jello fail). But much to my disbelief, my crust turned out perfect the very first time I tried the recipe! Beginner's luck? Nope. Every single time I use this recipe the pie crusts are beautiful! So I suppose the recipe is worthy of it's name. Trust me, once you try this recipe you'll never want to buy frozen pie crusts again! They're easy to make and so delicious!



3 cups pie & pastry flour

1 tsp salt

1 cup lard (or shortening)

6 TBSP water

1 tsp white vinegar

1 beaten egg

Cut shortening into flour and salt. Mix water, vinegar and egg together. Add to flour mixture.  Mix by pressing firmly together. Roll out on slightly floured surface.

This recipe usually make two thick crusts or three regular crusts for me. If I'm needing one crust, I simply place the remaining crusts in a ziploc bag and freeze for future use.  

Now, that you have the recipe for making the perfect pie crust, be sure to check out my post on making blackberry pie! Yum!


Homemade Herbal Allergy Tea!

homemade herbal allergy tea

Warm weather is finally here! Unfortunately, for some folks that also means allergy season is here too. Sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose and watery eyes are just a few of the symptoms of seasonal allergies. Do you suffer from allergies? Are you looking for a natural alternative to help relieve those irritating allergy symptoms? Look no further! Relief could be just a cup of tea away!

Herbal teas are easy to make and offer wonderful therapeutic benefits. This Allergy Relief Tea recipe uses common herbs and brings results from allergy symptoms rather quickly.

Nettle, Red Clover, Fennel, Peppermint, Calendula, Lemongrass, Lavender and Stevia are the herbs included in this tea and are readily available in most areas. Growing or foraging for your own herbs is the best way to insure you’re getting quality herbs. Drying your fresh herbs is easy too. Either hang to dry, place on a screen to dry or use a dehydrator!

Each herb in this recipe has specific properties that help with eliminating allergy symptoms.

  • Fennel, Calendula and Red Clover work to keep the mucous membranes hydrated to prevent infection
  • Nettle is well-known for the natural antihistamine qualities it has and has been used in treating respiratory problems throughout history
  • Peppermint can help to open airways
  • Lavender can help to prevent infection with due to the antiseptic properties
  • Lemongrass and Stevia can be added to enhance the flavor of the tea

Medicinal teas should be prepared as a strong decoction (which just a fancy word for really, really strong tea!). Therefore, for an 8 oz. cup of tea, use about 2 tablespoons of each herb. My favorite way to brew this tea is in a mason jar using 4 to 5 tablespoons per quart of water.

When using a mason jar, just put your herbs in the jar and pour boiling water over herbs. Cover with lid and place in refrigerator overnight. In the morning, strain the herbs and enjoy your tea throughout the day.

To brew on the stove, bring water to boil, add herbs, cover with lid and let steep for 10-20 minutes. Strain herbs and enjoy your tea! To obtain the best relief for your allergy symptoms, drink about 32 ounces of this tea each day during allergy season.

Don’t have all of the herbs? No problem! Each herb can be brewed by itself to bring some relief. For example, the Nettle Leaf is a great antihistamine when brewed alone. A tea blend of Nettle, Peppermint and Lavender is also a tasty combination that provides results as well.

Spring is here….but sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose and watery eyes no longer have to be a part of the season! Relax, enjoy a cup of tea, and enjoy the outdoors without having to suffer with those annoying allergy symptoms!


Weather Wisdom

In like a lion and out like a lamb. Rain before seven, quits by eleven. Rainy May dry July. Many of these bits of weather wisdom passed down from generation to generation are surprisingly accurate. By observing weather patterns and conditions, those before us gained a wealth of information on how to predict the weather rather well.  

Before modern technology and the 24 hour weather channel, folks needed to figure out for themselves what type of weather was on the way. The following is a list of some of the traditional sayings of yesteryear gathered by our ancestors:


  • When the sugar maple leaves turn over, a rain shower is on the way
  • Clover leaves will turn up just before a rain
  • When the full moon is pale on rising, rain can be expected
  • A halo around the moon means rain, the bigger the halo the sooner the rain
  • If the sun comes out while it’s raining, it will rain the next day
  • A morning rainbow is a sign of rain
  • If a dog eats grass in the morning and shuns meat, rain is coming
  • When grass is dry in the morning light, look for rain before the night. When dew is on the grass, rain will never come to pass.
  • Watch for rain when distant sounds are long and sharp
  • When cattle extend their necks and sniff the air, rain will come
  • Rain long foretold long last, Short notice soon past
  • If cattle out at pasture recline early in the day, rain is on the way
  • When the stars begin to huddle, the earth will soon become a puddle
  • If the rooster goes crowing to bed, he’ll wake up with a watery head



  • When a cow bellows three times without stopping a storm is on the way
  • A growing whiteness in the sky, storm approaching
  • A solitary crow in flight means bad weather
  • A halo around the sun means bad weather will come
  • Stormy weather is on the way if ants move in columns
  • Flies bite before a storm
  • When a bird stops singing, listen for thunder
  • Red sky in the morning is usually a storm warning
  • When cattle and horses stay in close groups, a storm is coming
  • When sun dogs (little halo type rainbows that peak from behind clouds) appear after fine weather, stormy weather will follow
  • Evening red and morning gray send the traveler on his way. Evening gray and morning red brings rain down on his head.
  • Rainbow at night, shepherd’s delight, Rainbow in morning, shepherd’s warning
  • Sounds traveling far and wide, a stormy day will betide



  • Rainbow in the evening says fair weather will follow
  • Soft fluffy clouds says fine weather on the way
  • Red evening and morning gray are sure signs of a fine day
  • If fireflies are plentiful, fair weather will follow for 3 days
  • When horses and mules roll in the dirt and shake off, dry weather is here
  • Steady rising barometer means fair weather
  • Red sky in the morning is the sailor’s sure warning, Red sky at night is the sailor’s delight
  • Wind from the west brings fine weather


  • Thunderstorms that come before 7am in April and May foretell a wet summer
  • If ants build small hills, it will be a hot and dry summer
  • If the hay in the fields lean to the northeast, summer will be hot and long
  • When trees split their bark in the winter, it will be a hot, dry spring

The Farmer’s Almanac is full of weather wisdom and is an essential resource to have on every homestead. I pick one up every year at Buchheit along with their calendar. In addition, a rain gauge and an outdoor thermometer are must-haves on our farm. We use the calendar to document each day’s weather and then refer back to this information to help forecast what’s ahead. Instead of depending solely on technology to find out if rain is coming, keep an eye on the sky and take note of the signs that nature is giving you to predict the weather!


Let's Save Some $$$ Around the House!

When we began our journey to become debt-free I scoured the internet and the library for tips on saving money.  I was eager to learn every way possible to save a penny.  Notice I said I was eager to learn every way, to actually do everything I learned was another story.  Most of the tips I found made sense (or cents in this case!). Others were completely ridiculous in my mind.  For instance, giving up indoor plumbing is not something I will be doing voluntarily!  Even for me that is just too extreme. I have to admit that a few of the “extreme” tips I rolled my eyes at, have actually made their way into my house.

Anyway, I thought I would share a few of the not-so-extreme frugal tips I’ve learned along the way.  We’ve already talked about saving money on electricity , so I decided to just give a sampling of miscellaneous ways to save around the house.


Make your own cleaners.  I used to think I had to have a specific cleaner for each cleaning job. You know, floor cleaner for floors, bathroom cleaner for bathroom, kitchen cleaner for cleaner, etc….Well, it turns out if it cleans the kitchen counter it will probably clean the bathroom counter!  After all, soap is soap, right?  I have been making my own cleaners for a while now and I have to say I’m partial to my homemade stuff.  With a few basic ingredients you can make just about every type of cleaner you need for the entire house. Dishwasher detergent, dish washing liquid, all-purpose cleaner and glass cleaner are easy and inexpensive to make.
“Make Your Own” convenience foods. Let’s face it, convenience costs money.  And some conveniences just aren’t worth it (and yes, some are worth it).  What are convenience foods? Well, that depends on you.  Some consider chips, frozen pizza, mac and cheese and so on, to be convenience foods. Others may consider the seasoning packets like the taco, chili, onion soup mix and the like. And then there’s the individual packaged conveniences like the “100 calorie” packs, single serve jello and pudding, and hot cocoa mixes. I started with just trying to limit the frozen stuff I’d buy. For example, instead of buying frozen waffles, I make up a batch of homemade pancakes and freeze them. A little at a time I have weaned my family off of many convenience foods.  Now, before I purchase anything, I ask myself if it is something I can make.  It does takes a little extra work on my part, but there is something very gratifying about making your own mayonnaise!  Instead of buying the “100” calorie or individual snack size stuff, buy the larger quantity and “bag” your own individual packs.

Beverages.  We all know water is the most frugal of beverages. Unless, you’re buying expensive bottled water on a daily basis.  My family drinks whatever is most convenient for them. So I make sure that water is convenient for them.  I do use bottled water, but I’m the one who bottles it! I reuse water bottles and keep them in the fridge. Before anybody gets upset – I do thoroughly clean the bottles and throw them away after a while.  Same goes for juice or kool-aid. I reuse gatorade-type containers and fill with juice or kool-aid and keep the fridge stocked.  If we’re going anywhere in the car, I make sure to grab a few of these drink bottles for the ride. This helps to cut down on the drive-thru temptations out there.  (I always keep the car stocked with snacks for this same reason)

No more paper towels!   Instead of paper towels, we use cloth napkins and I cut up t-shirts and flannel fabric to use for cleaning up messes and spills.  I often use newspaper for grease blotters.  At first, the hubby and kids thought I was a little nuts, but now they just grab a cloth out of the drawer when they need a napkin.

Save and reuse containers.  Yes, I’m one of those people who wash and reuse ziploc bags. I like to say I’m being “green” because that sounds better than being cheap. But who am I kidding, I am a tightwad!  I also save any plastic containers I get. These are great for storing the homemade convenience mixes and also great for storing leftovers.  I save things like the plastic bag liners from crackers and cereal boxes. These come in handy for using to separate beef and sausage patties.


Make your own laundry detergent. Too extreme? Hear me out. When I first started making my own detergent, I was doing about 15-20 loads of laundry per week (at least). I felt like I was constantly having to buy that big plastic jug of laundry detergent. I despised having to spend so much money on that stuff. Not to mention how upset I would get when I realized I had ran out of detergent (after the washer was already full of water and clothes).  Then I found a recipe for homemade laundry detergent. I tried the “powdered” version first. It was okay, but since I use cold water to wash, it really didn’t dissolve very well. Then I gave the “liquid” version a try. I was hooked. The ingredients were priced reasonably and the “recipe” was quite easy. In fact, it’s kind of fun to make. (I know I’m a dork!)  My clothes are clean and I’m saving tons of money.  Costs just pennies per load! I’ll be sharing this recipe in the Homemade Cleaners class.

Fabric Softener. I rarely use fabric softener, but when I do I make my own. White vinegar works well as a fabric softener too.

Cut dryer sheets in half.  If you use your dryer instead of hanging clothes to dry, then try cutting the dryer sheets in half. When I was still using my dryer, I only used a half dryer sheet and it worked just fine.  Another idea is to use a dab of liquid softener on a cloth and stick in the dryer instead of the dryer sheets.  I’ve also used a ball of aluminum foil or a wool ball. I never use a clothes dryer, in fact mine doesn’t even work! I hang dry all of my laundry on drying racks or outside.


Toilet Bowl Cleaner.   Remember what I said earlier, soap is soap. Well, same goes for the toilet.  You really don’t need to buy expensive cleaner with a fancy spout just for the toilet.  I use a shampoo bottle that is “empty”, you know the one that doesn’t have enough shampoo to wash another head of hair. Just take that “empty” bottle of shampoo and fill it with hot water and shake. Mixed with water, that little bit of shampoo that was left at the bottom, has now turned into toilet bowl cleaner! Squirt some in the toilet and scrub.  I can get 2 or 3 refills out of one “empty” bottle of shampoo. Cleans the toilet just fine. Another great cleaner for the toilet, is baking soda followed by plain ol’ vinegar.  Did you know that vinegar kills as much bacteria as Lysol?  Besides getting the toilet clean, it’s kinda fun to see the baking soda fizz when the vinegar hits it!

Body Wash.   Why pay $6 for a bottle of body wash when you can get a giant bottle of bubble bath for a buck!  You can usually find a big bottle of bubble bath pretty cheap at a dollar store and guess what – soap is soap! Works just fine as body wash, cleans and smells good. Or better yet, make your own homemade soap and start using a bar of soap instead.

Saving money is more than just a list of tips, it’s more of a lifestyle. I highly recommend the book “The Tightwad Gazette” by Amy Dacyczyn. This book is full of creative ways to save money and get yourself thinking of ways to save money on your own!

I could go on and on with this post. There are just so many possibilities when it comes to saving money. I’d enjoy hearing what you all do to save money and stretch that dollar.  If you have a tip, leave a comment or send me an email so we can share with everyone. Always looking for new ways to save!


Natural Homemade Cleaners

Is your kitchen or laundry closet overflowing with cleaning supplies? Maybe under the area under the sink has become a stockpile of cleaning stuff. Just think of all the nasty chemicals and toxins you are storing in your home. Wouldn’t it be nice to declutter those areas? Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to clean your home without using harsh chemicals?
You can do both! With just 10 ingredients (many of them you probably already have) you can make 10 awesome (non-toxic) homemade cleaners!
Here’s the list of 10 ingredients:

  • white vinegar
  • baking soda
  • lemons/oranges
  • salt
  • olive oil
  • Ivory soap or homemade soap
  • glycerin
  • washing soda
  • borax
  • essential oils (I recommend Grandma Bea’s Natural Products brand!)

Many of these ingredients are available at your local Buchheit Store!

And here’s the homemade cleaner recipes:


1 cup baking soda
1 cup white vinegar
10 drops Protection Essential Oil

Pour baking soda into toilet, then slowly pour in white vinegar, then add essential oil. The vinegar will cause a reaction with the baking soda and begin to fizz, this is normal. Use toilet brush to scrub the toilet, then flush.


homemade dish soap
white vinegar

Pour homemade dish soap into a spray bottle until half full. Fill the bottle the rest of the way with white vinegar. Shake well. Spray on tub and shower surface and wait 10-15 minutes. Scrub if needed and rinse.


orange peels (about 5 oranges for quart jar)
white vinegar

Fill mason jar with orange peels. Pour white vinegar over peels until completely covered. Place lid on jar and let set for 1-2 weeks, shaking occasionally. After 1-2 weeks, strain liquid and discard peels. Pour liquid into spray bottle diluted 1 part orange peel liquid to 1 part water. Spray on any surface to clean.


1 cup olive oil
Juice from 1 lemon
5 drops lemon essential oil (available at Buchheit!)

Mix olive oil, lemon juice, and essential oils together in spray bottle. Use damp cloth to apply polish to furniture, then buff with a dry cloth.


1-2 Tablespoons vegetable glycerin
2 Tablespoons white distilled vinegar
1 1/2 quarts water
5-10 drops lemon essential oils
1 cup grated homemade soap or any other all-natural soap

Grate the bar of soap to get enough to fill 1 cup. (about 1/2 bar)
Pour 1 1/2 quarts water in pot and add grated soap, glycerin and vinegar.
Heat until soap is dissolved, stirring occasionally.    
Let cool until mixture reaches room temperature.
Add essential oils if desired.
Mix with stick blender.
Pour into containers and get ready to wash some dishes!
This homemade dish soap will not produce the suds like the store-bought detergents. Just remember, it's not the bubbles that do the cleaning!


2 cups water
2 cups white vinegar
10 drops lemongrass essential oil

Mix water, vinegar and essential oils together in a spray bottle. Spray on glass surfaces and wipe with lint-free cloth or old newspapers.


1 cup super washing soda
1 cup Borax
1/2 salt
10 drops lemongrass essential oil

Mix washing soda, borax and kosher salt together.  Add lemongrass essential oil and whisk to blend. Use 1-2 Tbsp per load.  For best results, use vinegar as a rinse agent.


1 ½ cup white vinegar
½ cup baking soda
½ cup washing soda
1 tablespoon borax
10 cups hot water

25 drops Protection Essential Oil (Grandma Bea’s brand available at Buchheit!)
Mix all of the ingredients together in a bucket and proceed with mopping the floor!


½ cup white vinegar
Juice from 1 lemon
¾ cup baking soda
2-3 TBSP salt
2-3 TBSP homemade dish soap
10 drops Protection or Lemon Essential Oil

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl to form a paste. Use damp rag to apply to surfaces, scrub if needed, rinse clean.


1 TBSP borax
1 TBSP washing soda
1 tsp homemade dish soap
1 cup white vinegar
4 cups hot water
20-30 drops Protection or Lemongrass Essential Oil

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl until dry ingredients have dissolved. Pour into a spray bottle. Spray on surfaces and wipe clean. Protection Essential Oil is a great natural disinfectant!
There you have it! Everything you need to clean your house with just 10 ingredients! So, get rid of all those toxic chemical cleaners from under your sink and replace them with these natural alternatives!

Homemade Convenience Foods

Snack size bags of crackers, frozen pizza, single-serve applesauce cups, and frozen pie crusts are quick and easy foods that are very tempting to throw in your grocery cart. These foods may be easier at the moment but they are also more expensive and probably not the healthiest choices for your family.

With a little planning and preparation you can stock your freezer and pantry with homemade convenience foods that are easy to just heat and serve. The following list is a few of my favorites. Some are really simple to make, others may take a little more preparation, but the effort is definitely worth it!


Pretty much anything can be made into snack-size servings. Simply having oranges peeled, sliced and place in bags is a great way to have a healthy snack on hand. I’ll go ahead and peel a whole bag of oranges as soon as I get home from the grocery store and put them in bags. If I leave the oranges whole, nobody will touch them, but if I have them in convenient little bags ready to eat, they’re sure to be eaten!

Same goes for celery, carrots, cauliflower and broccoli. If they’re in ready-to-eat bags, my family will choose these healthy snacks over a bag of chips.
Another quick and convenient snack is boiled eggs. I like to keep about a half dozen boiled eggs in the refrigerator for snacks and salads.


These do take a little preparation to make them “convenient”. However, once you’ve made these, all you have to do to cook them is pop them in a skillet.
Wash/scrub as many potatoes as you like. (Plan ahead and buy seed potatoes from Buchheit and grow your own!) Bake them in a covered roasting pan for 1 ½ hours at 350 degrees.

Let the potatoes cool, then peel with a knife or vegetable peeler.

Using a box grater, grate the potatoes onto a cookie sheet. Spread the grated potatoes about an inch thick on the cookie sheet. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer. When the hash browns are frozen, lay them flat in a gallon-size freezer bag or use your Foodsaver to seal them in bags. I store them stacked flat on top of each other in the freezer. No need to buy frozen hashbrowns when you can make your own!

To cook, I melt butter in a skillet and open up a bag of frozen hashbrowns and place the whole frozen piece into the skillet. Let them cook on medium-high until crispy brown on one side, then flip them over and do the same for the other side. Delicious, crispy hashbrowns every time! And so convenient!


I used to buy those single serve applesauce packs because I thought I was getting a good deal because there were 6 in a package. That was until I witnessed my son eat all 6 cups at one time! Now I make my own applesauce, it tastes much better, it’s cheaper and I know what’s in it!  Lucky for me, my son gave me this apple tree from Buchheit for Mother’s Day last year! We plan to add a couple fruit trees to our homestead each year and Buchheit has a wonderful selection of healthy trees to choose from!

Core and peel the apples. Cut the apples into smaller chunks. Fill crockpot with apples. Add ½ cup water and ½ cup sugar. Sprinkle about 1 tsp cinnamon over apples, if desired. Put lid on crockpot and cook on high for 4 hours or on low overnight. After the apples are cooked, take an immersion blender and blend the apples while in the crockpot. If you don’t have an immersion blend, just pour the apples into regular blender. Pour into mason jars and store in refrigerator or water bath can them for later! I water-bath can pint jars for at least 15 minutes and quarts for at least 20 minutes.

My family loves applesauce so I like to make up my own “single serve” jars by pouring applesauce into pint mason jars and storing in the refrigerator.


Instead of buying boxes of frozen pancakes or waffles I'll make these up ahead of time and freeze in ziploc bags or better yet, seal with a Foodsaver. Just pop them in the microwave or toaster to reheat.

Pancake Batter

1 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup milk
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil

Mix ingredients together. Lightly grease and heat skillet or griddle. Pour batter and cook until golden brown and flip.

Maple Syrup

2 cups water
4 cups brown sugar
2 tsp maple extract

Bring water to rapid boil. Pour in all of the brown sugar at once and stir until completely dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in maple extract. Pour into sterilized jar and let stand for 24 hours at room temperature before using.  Store in refrigerator for up to 6 months.

Easy Beef And Cheese Burritos

Instead of buying boxes of frozen pizza rolls or taquitos, I make up a bunch of these burritos to keep stocked in the freezer. My family likes to dip these in my homemade salsa (Mrs. Wage’s mix that I can) when having these for a snack.

1 lb. ground beef (or turkey, or venison)
2 Tbsp. homemade taco seasoning (recipe below)
8-10 Tortillas (haven't tried making these yet)
1 cup shredded cheese (I use cheddar)

Brown ground beef, add taco seasoning and simmer for a few minutes.  Spoon ground beef mixture onto tortillas.  Sprinkle cheese on top of ground beef mixture. Roll up tortilla, making sure to "close" the ends.

To freeze:  Place them on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper about an inch apart.  When frozen, place in ziploc bags or some other freezer-safe container.

To reheat, grab out of the freezer and pop them in the microwave for a minute or two.

To reheat in oven:  If thawed, heat in 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes. If frozen, heat in 350 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes.  (They may be a little crispy if using the oven to reheat)

Taco Seasoning Mix

6 tsp. chili powder
4 1/2 tsp. cumin
5 tsp. paprika
3 tsp. onion powder
2 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (I bought my cayenne pepper plants at Buchheit)

Mix ingredients together. Use 1-2 tablespoons per 1 lb. ground beef.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

You’ll never have to buy packaged cookies again if you plan ahead and have cookie dough in the freezer! To make it worth my while, I make up a couple batches at a time. My favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe will make about 5 dozen cookies in one batch.

Here’s my recipe:

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 - 12oz bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

Cream softened butter, shortening and sugars together.  Add eggs and vanilla, beat until smooth.  Sift together flour, baking soda and salt.  Mix together sifted ingredients and sugar mixture. Add chocolate chips and mix again.  Use spoon to drop onto cookie sheet. Place cookie sheet in freezer until cookie dough is frozen, then place in Ziploc bags for use the Foodsaver. When you’re ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degree and bake for 8-10 minutes.

This is just a sampling of the homemade convenience foods you can make! Once you start making your own it’s hard to buy anything “convenient” at the grocery store. You’ll find yourself saying “I can make that so why buy it”! By planning ahead and investing a little time, you can fill your freezer, pantry and refrigerator with your own homemade convenience foods! You’ll save money and be eating healthier too!