Guess Who Went No Poo?

Thaaaaaaat’s right.  I’ve stopped shampooing. 


I hear ya.  But “gross” would be discontinuing shampoo, and not continuing with anything else.  My hair couldn’t do that.  It would, eventually, become its own source of natural oil.  We won’t get into ideas for pyramid schemes involving human hair oil.

The prospect of ditching yet another grocery-store product intrigued me.  I realized that people I know have been doing it without my knowing.  Huh, I thought.  Might as well try

Here’s what I look like as I’m writing this:

me: “Hey, HONEY!  What’s some women’s magazine I can reference?”

my Sweet Babboo: “Women’s Health.”

me: “Hm.  Something more …uh… girly.”

SB: “The National Enquirer.”

me: “No, I mean like…WOMANLY.”

SB: “O.”

me: “Ah.  Good one.”

O (Oprah’s Magazine, just in case you don’t follow it any more than I do) will not be contacting me anytime soon for a modeling gig.  But if I can go out and get celery and chapstick without major embarrassment, I’m happy. 

This was before “no poo.”  No one can tell.  Heh heh.

Week One

Each time I showered I used only a wash and a rinse, made from home products:

  • Wash: 1 TBS baking soda in 1 C. warm water
  • Rinse: 1 TBS apple cider vinegar in 1 C. warm water

That’s it.  I rinsed in between these two steps.  I’m not sure if you’re supposed to, but I’ll look that up.  It hasn’t mattered a bit.

The first thing I noticed was a silkiness – a softness to my hair that’s not usually there.  At first I thought it seemed a little limp.  After the second non-shampooing, however, I thought it felt wonderful. 

Styles just like usual…feels great…shiny…not greasy…super cheap…no chemicals…

Unless something crazy happens, I think I’m sold.  Stay tuned for an update on Hair Land!  This way, you can reap the benefits of my experiment and decide if it’s something you might like to try too. 

For more information about why I don’t desire to dump chemicals on my head any more:


The Garden That Was

Please forgive me.  I promised this post a long time ago, and just got to it now.  Life’s been a wee bit busy… 

This past summer, we actually had a pretty sweet garden over here.  Today I’ll finally show you what went on in the back yard.  I am in total summer withdrawl…so here goes.

I plotted.  I planned.  I chose our favorite veggies and herbs and decided where I thought they’d be happy.  We had no garden dug yet…but my imagination was WAY beyond that.

We dug a NEW garden.  Went from 2 beds to 10 on the other side of the yard.  We meant to do 12.  Thank you, highly invasive Japanese Knotweed, for knocking out 2 of our beds.  Still, after 10 beds gave up the produce of an entire summer, I was dumbfounded: You can grow a TON of food in your own yard! 

Anyhoo, AFTER we dug the lawn up, I discovered how much shade was in the area.  I showed my obsessive insanity by trying to figure out what in the world to do with the big plot of dirt I was cultivating.  Keep it?  Cover it?  Rotate it?  Have a hissy fit?

It turned out we’d picked the perfect spot in the yard after all, and we got to work.

Stupid knotweed…  It did make nice spacing markers…

My incredible Sweet Babboo and Mom and Dad dug and tilled the garden, and shoveled a literal TON of poo upon it.  Boy, does that stuff work.  (It’s not really poo.  It was poo once upon a time, but since then had….ripened….into dirt again.)

Up went a fence, and TA DAAAAAAAAA!  We had a real garden.

At 8-9 months pregnant, I could not believe it was happening, and that no one was pulling me aside to say how silly I was for doing this now

I’d started tomatoes indoors, and these came out soon after, following direct-sown cukes, peas, and beans.

And they GREW.  The cup collars are for their protection against cut worms.  Works well.

By the end of the summer, we had so many cherry tomatoes, they were dying on the vine or falling to a later death on the garden floor.  Turns out we can’t eat hundreds and hundreds of cherry tomatoes by ourselves.

Live and learn.

The peas had a nice trellis.  And although these turned out to be mostly snack food for Ye Old Faithful Gardener, their sweet crunch was worth it!

I also discovered that we do not need an entire bed devoted to lettuce.  Salad Bowl, Black Seeded Simpson, and Romaine grew beautifully, and we feasted. 

Next year I’ll add some baby field greens, and maybe arugula or something – but in smaller quantities.

Upon the recommendation of the MG, I planted red and white potatoes for the first time.  What a great success!  They require very little attention, and we’re still eating them now.

The peas kept growing… 

…and so did the cucumbers.  It turns out the MG was right again – 10 vines is too many unless you have a small colony living together in the backyard.  Heh heh.  Oops.

The potatoes kept growing, crowding out the lemon balm, which fought bravely to catch a little sunlight under there.

Despite being very pregnant, and then a recovering Mama, I got to spend a lot of time in this little Eden out back.  How grateful I am for Mom, Dad, and my Sweet Babboo, who helped me get it going and gave me great advice for its success.

This is a photo taken about halfway through the growing season:

By the end, the basil was up to my chin, the tomatoes were taking over like mutant, hairy red-flecked monsters, and the green beans had covered the back fence like a wall.

These pictures show a little of that amazing blessing.

Overgrown or not, I loved it.  🙂

I can hardly wait for next year.  I’ve learned how NOT to stake the big tomatoes, how TO kill aphids and ants without using chemicals, and how to LEEEEEEET GOOOOOOOO.

It was a great summer, and next one will be even better.  A gardener always hopes.

Last year we grew carrots, potatoes, bush beans, pole beans, cucumbers, peas, big red tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, a couple measly little red peppers, lots of lettuce, basil, oregano, chives, sage, and lavender.

Next year I’d like to add strawberries, rosemary, parsley, thyme, and maybe iceberg lettuce for my Sweet Babboo.

When can I start seeds in the basement?  Shucks.  I guess it’s too soon still…

Here’s to looking forward.

The Frugal Woman’s Toilette, Part 4: Her Smell

Contrary to the belief of middle school boys everywhere, women have bodily functions.  We pee, poo, emit shocking amounts of gas, and burp, gurgle, and growl just like men do.  Women simply prize the ability to hide these noises and smells, whereas men typically celebrate the volume and length with which they can be emitted.

Today I’ll focus on smell – scent, ladies, if you’re feeling particularly dainty at this time.  The information in this post is meant for women and men; but I am obviously writing from the woman’s perspective.  Men, don’t tune me out.  I did just admit to belching.

I don’t want to smell bad…  But just like almost every other human being on the planet, my armpits, if left to their own devices, will drive away even my loved ones.

What follows is a random, gorgeous nature photo from my collection meant to give you a sense of relief from this overly frank discussion:

Far from being a hippie-like fascination with all things natural, this choice to use homemade deoderant is first a health-conscious choice.  After watching two generations before me, possibly three, endure the ravages of breast cancer, I’m ready to protect my own body in any way I can.

Smearing chemical-laden deoderants right next to my breasts day after day does not seem like a good idea to me.  Neither does shelling out half of our savings for “natural” or “organic” deoderants which, quite frankly, have left me smelling…natural. 

I’m sensing the need once more for a nature shot.  Think of other things…  Happy Birthday to yoooouuuuuu…  I’m smelling the zooooooooo…..

Tom’s of Maine came close…  But even that was pricey for me.  (And then there was the day I wandered through my parents’ horse pasture, wearing the apricot-scented stick, feeling like a model on a natural-products commercial, and a bee mistook me for a fruit tree…and stung my armpit.  Ow.)

My current deoderant is no more than baking soda and cornstarch, kept in a small Pyrex container with a little cotton cloth for dabbing it on dry. 

This is 1 part baking soda, 6 parts cornstarch.  This simple, inexpensive recipe keeps me stink-free, dry, and chemical-free.  Worry free!

And truly the best part is that I don’t have to ask my husband to spend his whole paycheck on my pits. 

If you’re curious about what got me fried up about this (oops – typo – that should read “fired up” unless on Wednesday I’m planning to post a recipe called Fried Mrs. Full Vine – come back on Wednesday to find out!), please click on the following link.  And then, by all means, come back and comment on The Full Vine about what you think! 

It may not be for everyone; but if this strikes a chord in you, don’t be afraid to try it.  You might be surprised…

I hope the frugal tips I’ve shared these last 4 Mondays have been helpful and fun for you.  If you have more of your own, please comment and spread the word!

The Frugal Woman’s Toilette, Part 3: Her Skin

Oh NO!  I’m getting WRINKLES!  For cryin’ out loud – I’m only 30!

A sudden flash of advertisements blazes across my mind.  What will make the lines go away?  How can I lift?  Tighten?  Stay young and soft?


I always forget that’s the easiest way…

Wrinkles and lines – laugh lines in particular – can hardly be helped when you’re living a full life and enjoying it too.  And I suppose there are some expensive creams that work, keeping a woman’s face, neck, and hands wrinkle-free a little longer…  But I can neither afford them nor spend the time right now sifting through them.

I always wonder, too, what the long-term effects are of using a lotion or cream with undisclosed ingredients – chemicals, perfumes, dyes – slathering it all over my skin, letting it absorb into my system day after day…

I suppose I could sleep sitting up and clothes-pin my face upward by means of a pulley system attached to the ceiling.  That would be “uplifting,” right?

Perhaps I’ll just stick with what I’ve been doing.  Remember this photo from Part 2?

One reader guessed olive oil.  It was a nice guess.  A little close for comfort, in fact.  My thoughts were: Whew!  Smart lady…  She’s on to me…

Not it, though.  Nothing against olive oil.  It’s good stuff.  But I don’t like the smell on my face, since I’m used to it in my bread bowl and salad dressing bottle.

My main squeeze is grapeseed oil! 

It has next to no smell at all, and is not greasy in any way.  It’s about $10 a liter, which made me cringe at first…  But then I realized that in order to cover my face and neck, all I need is one fingertip-full.  One dunk.  That’s it.  This stuff will last forever.

Oil does not last forever, though.  At the end of its shelf life, it can become rancid.  It’s a good thing this kind of oil can be used for your entire body and your entire menu too!  Give it a try.  I know my mother also uses it as a medicinal ointment for her horses.  Try that, Pond’s cold cream!

I found a good article comparing olive and grapeseed oils for cooking.  Check it out:

Grapeseed oil will be getting a thorough tryout in our kitchen.  🙂

Between the baking soda face wash and grapeseed oil as a moisturizer, my skin has never looked or felt better.  To prove it, I have decided to bravely “face” the world wide web sans makeup.  Here I am:

AAAAAHHHHH!  I mean – oh.  How pretty.

I also found a good article on the benefits of grapeseed oil for your skin:

I find it lighter than olive oil, and less “oily” and “smelly” – better for my face and my senses.

There’s no product that can really stave off aging.  We age.  It shows.  My hope is that the evidence will be in laugh lines more than anything.  That’s the trademark of a good life. 

Laugh at myself, not others.  Laugh when I’m the only one who finds a joke funny.  Laugh in a quiet room because someone’s sneakers sound like toots (I really, really am just like a 5 year-old).  Laugh when an ad promises youth forever or, better yet, happiness.

Grapeseed oil won’t keep me looking perfectly young when I’m 90 (although according to the above article, it might help).  But it will save me the trouble and money spent so often on products that promise what they can’t deliver.  This one only promises something completely natural and harmless.  I’ll take it!

Grapeseed oil won’t bring me happiness.  But peace with God, a husband whose maturity level is both far beyond mine and just as juvenile…

…a couple canned hams called Riley and Quinn… 

That sounds like happiness to me.

If you give grapeseed oil a try, let me know what you think.  I’ve used it on my infant’s skin as a massage rub too, and he hasn’t had a problem with it.  Gentle, frugal, natural, simple. 

Sold American, as Dad would say!

The Frugal Woman’s Toilette, Part 2: Her Royal Soapiness

Steam rises in long, wafting ribbons.  Warm, non-committal music begins, setting the stage for a delicious enchantment: the modern woman’s shower.  Her hand moves in slow motion to grasp the bottle of pink, gooey, heavenly body wash.  AAAAAAAahhhhhhhhhhhh.

Tiny sprays of blue and white flowers flutter upward when she removes the body wash cap.  An irresistable smell fills the air, scented like a spring meadow after rain on a warm day in the middle of May when butterflies flit magically about an English garden.  (Was that descriptive enough?)  A unicorn prances across the bathroom. 


Yeah yeah.  We’ve heard it all before.

Change the channel.

Don’t get me wrong!  I love a luxurious shower, complete with delightful smells replacing bad ones, and smooth legs replacing prickly ones. 

I just don’t love the ads that make me feel I need this, that, or the other thing. 

The very BEST thing I ever soaped up with was a complete surprise to me: goat soap.

Oh EEEEEWWWWW, you’re probably saying.  Goats?  That has NOTHING to do with a ladylike shower.  Oh, but it does.

I never knew a bar of soap could be my shampoo, body wash, and shaving cream all in one.  For some reason, this stuff is capable of that in ways that a typical Dove bar or what-have-you is not.  My hair feels great after, my skin is squeaky-clean, and I’m not dried out like an alligator or whatever the royal soapiness companies want me to think.

I love it!

It can seem a bit pricey at first, the version I like being $4 a bar.  But when you consider that it’s farm-fresh and combines 3 shower staples into one (plus supporting the “little guy” in the business world), it starts looking like a very frugal choice.

Seriously, anything made with LARD has got to be good for your skin.  Nice and smooth.

There’s contact info on the label in the photo above.  I finally visited the website (the soap I have was a gift) and there are many choices, beautiful scents, and a down-home feel.  I’m in love.  For real.

Some will argue that using coupons and getting the cheapest of cheap body products is the more frugal choice.  I maintain that each woman needs to make up her own mind about the pro’s and con’s of these things.  What is important to you? 

If you like simplicity, this is a good way to go.  Chemical-free, local, and fresh?  Good choice for you.  Maybe more than you’d pay for all the products this one replaces?  Possibly…  But you’ll be getting something healthier. 

(I’m not sure you’d pay any more than usual either.  The least expensive shaving cream is usually $2 a can around here.  A bottle of nasty cheap shampoo is about $1.  Then there’s still a bar of soap to use.  I’m pretty well sold.)

There’s a chance that this will keep at bay some of the chemical-induced diseases our culture is plagued with.  It might save us having to pay for costly medical procedures down the road. Therefore, when I can, I’ll happily fork over a little extra cash here and now.

I’m off my soapbox now.  Ha ha.

I did promise a post about an amazing moisturizer.  It’s coming!  We’ve got to go in order here.  🙂  Last Monday was Her Face and you could argue that this post makes that one obsolete.  Not for me – my face really feels better after baking soda than after soap.  The next step was the whole shower, and then there’s the moisturizer.

I will give you a sneak peek at next Monday.

There.  Heh heh.

Hope to see you tomorrow!  I’ll be scouring the backyard for something beautiful to put on our table.  A challenge to myself (and you) to keep the cold months interesting.

The Frugal Woman’s Toilette, Part 1: Her Face

toilette: n. the process of grooming oneself.

How the media has complicated this simplest of acts.  Women used to rise in the morning, wash briefly at a basin, comb their hair, and get dressed.  Maybe she’s born with it…or maybe she’s squeaky clean… became Maybe she’s born with it…or maybe it’s Maybelline… (And maybe it costs a whole cow to buy “it” over and over again…)

Either way, there’s no ad in the world that can make me believe there’s anything better (for me) than my current face wash. 

It contains no preservatives.

It harbors no weird, un-pronouncable chemicals.

There are no dyes, perfumes, or animal byproducts.

Likewise, there’s nothing in it to make it foam, squirt, or tingle.

It’s so cheap, I might have to chop a penny into pieces to show you how much I spend on my face each day.


My face has never felt better…

Still curious?

It’s baking soda.


Yes, baking soda.

[I have to say THANK YOU to my Auntie Carol out West.  She gave me the idea through my cousin Veronica, who writes The Honey Pot at  Please check out her wonderful writing.  Her November 5th post particularly inspired me.]

You’d think baking soda would be too harsh for your face!  Not so.  Just because it can scrub scum off your shower walls doesn’t mean it can’t tiptoe across your skin.  It gently lifts away the filth we like to forget (the usual way being to cover it with gel blobs, floating beads of exploding “clean,” etc etc, whilst pulling fistfuls of cash out of our bank accounts).

There is some level of exfoliation, but it’s truly gentle.  No promise made that the stuff doesn’t keep: It really is pure and simple. 

Just once, I wish an ad would be honest: REACH FOR THE SKY!  GIVE US YOUR MONEY OR WE’LL SHOOT! 

Perhaps your face wash works perfectly for you.  If so, GOOD.  Be blessed as you cleanse.  🙂  Me, I never found one I really liked.

If I want my face wash to foam, I’ll pour vinegar on it.  (No thanks.)  If I want it to tingle, I’ll add lemon juice or hot sauce.  (heh heh…)  If squirting it on is important, I can just add the water ahead of time, and squirt myself in the face with a water gun.  Simple AND fun, right? 

If I want my face to smell like roses, well…  I’m still working on that one.  I’d kind of like it to smell like ME.

So I took a small Ball canning jar and hammered 9 holes in the lid.  You could do this with a clean, empty jelly jar, peanut butter jar, salsa jar, jar, jar, jar.  It will cost you NOTHING. 

Just fill ‘er up with some baking soda, which you probably already have on hand, and screw on the lid with its new holes.  Splash warm water over your face, and rub a few shakes of the baking soda gently across your skin.  Wash off with warm or cool water.  Done.

This routine, combined with my equally simple moisterizer (stay tuned for that post on an upcoming Monday!) has made my skin feel and look better than ever.  No breakouts, no dry patches, no greasy residue or anything.

Ladies, I hope this is helpful to you if you’re looking for ways to save money and energy.  I love a good, simple thing.  Men, if it takes some stress off your women, and it eases your wallet, hooray.

Have a wonderful day, and for cryin’ out loud, keep it simple!

Free and Funky: Green Bean Wreath

Wreaths make me drool.  Especially the viney ones, all interwoven with ribbon and twine and looking like birds’ nests. 

The only problem is that they cost more than a visit to the dentist for a gold tooth.


My older son, Riley, was cruisin’ the backyard the other day, and made me a special gift of one of my green bean vines.  Thank you, dear!  How lovely…

Then it hit me.  These really ARE cool looking, aren’t they?  They ARE vines, right?  And then, as he wandered from garden to hose to sandbox to bouncy ball to deck to picnic table, to plants, to puddles and mud pits, etc etc etc, I began cleaning out my garden and turning it into free, funky decorations.


A whole bunch of leafy, half-dead vines twisted together and tied with twine can become:

A perfectly good wreath for which I paid ZILCH.

Granted, I tied it with twine, but we had that on hand anyway.  Little by little I’m trimming off wilty leaves, like the ones on the bottom left.  Look at that.  Live sculpture.

So pretty…


and free.

May my son’s boisterous enthusiasm for the outdoors inspire you to see the possibilities in your own backyard.

Homemade Pizza

Has the 11 year-old inside you (or the one in your kitchen) been begging for pizza? 

Yup, mine too. 

Before you shell out $20+ to the local pizza joint, consider this:

  • Homemade pizza dough and sauce does not have any added chemicals or preservatives.
  • Your own version can be made to suit your tastes and diet to a T.
  • Making this meal yourself can save some serious moolah, especially if the tomatoes for the sauce come from your garden.  YUUUUUUUM!
  • Making this meal yourself is some serious fun!
  • You may be given a hero’s welcome to the dinner table if you cut your dough into fun shapes – what pizza place would do THAT for you?
  • If you can get a delicious pizza pie on the table without having to debate over a takeout menu or having to tip a delivery guy, hooray.

I hope you’re salivating.

Obviously you’ll top your pizza with the things you like most.  Cheese (or not!), tomatoes, peppers, onions, olives, bacon, chicken, hamburg, potatoes, garlic, the sky’s the limit!

This recipe will be for the dough and the sauce only.  I consider those to be the foundation and framework of the Pizza House.  Enjoy!

(This will be a longer recipe than usual, with LOTS of pictures.  When you make something like this for the first time, it can be very helpful to hear lots of details and see them in picture form.  If it IS your first time, don’t be intimidated by what seems like a lot of steps.  It’s basically: mix and knead a dough, chop it into pieces, and let it sit around until you’re ready to use it.

If it isn’t your first time, I hope you enjoy viewing the process anyway.  As always, there is a link at the end of this post to a picture-free and easy-to-print version of the recipe.)

Homemade Pizza Dough (Makes 4 doughs)

Credit: Women’s Health Magazine


4 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast

3 C. warm water (77-81°F)

6 1/2 C. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. salt

(Notice any weird, non-pronouncable ingredients up there?  Didn’t think so.)


Proof the yeast…

…in the water…

…by pouring the water into a bowl and sprinkling the yeast on top.

Basically, you’re “looking for proof” that the yeast is still “alive.”  It should look a little frothy and bubbly by about 5 minutes. 

That’s not a ton of evidence, but it was enough.

The amount of bubble and foam will depend on how warm the water is and how old the yeast is.  If absolutely nothing happens, your yeast may be too old.

Before you start making a giant mess, take off your valued jewels and stash them someplace safe.  Pizza dough will gunk up your rings and dry like cement.

Add the flour and salt to the yeasty water and combine it all into a rough dough.

Dump the dough onto a board and knead it by hand for 7-8 minutes.  Or dump it into a stand mixer (you could really do the whole process right up through the kneading part in a stand mixer) and knead it with a dough hook on the lowest setting for several minutes.

If you’ve never kneaded dough by hand, here is what the process looks like:

Pull on the dough off to one side.

Fold the dough over on itself…

If the dough is so wet and sticky that you can’t handle it without most of it sticking to the board or counter, you can sprinkle on a little extra flour.  On very humid or rainy days, this is often the case.

Here’s another shot of the stretching:

and folding over:

If the dough is holding together enough, you should be able to push down and forward with the heel of your hand after each fold.

You can really get into a rhythm with this and get out some aggressions from, say, not getting enough sleep the night before, or having to discipline your child to within a centimeter of the end of your patience, or running out of chocolate right before you really really need some.

Your dough should begin to look like this:

…sort of holding its own shape and coming together into a ball.  Not a perfect one, so don’t freak out if it’s looking rather blobbish.

By the end of 7 or 8 minutes of solid kneading, the dough will have this appearance:

And your hands will be wonderfully messy.  Savor it.  Cuz later you have to clean up.

Let the dough rest at room temp (not too chilly or drafty) for about 2 hours.  You’ll do this by oiling the inside of a bowl and plopping the dough in it.  Turn the dough over to coat the top, and oil or spray the underside of a piece of plastic wrap.  Stretch that over the top of the bowl.

I had to dimple the top of mine with my fingertips halfway through…

…because it rose SO much, it was overflowing the bowl.  The yeast was good.  🙂

(Note: If it’s the dead of winter and your kitchen is impossibly cold, turn the oven on low for a few minutes, just to warm it up a bit, and then shut it off.  Don’t leave it on like I’ve done and bake your bread or pizza dough while it’s still in lump form and covered in plastic.  Place the bowl in the oven and close the door.  If it’s too warm in there, crack the oven door open.)

After 2 hours, divide the dough into 4 pieces of equal size.  A bench scraper or knife will help with this unless you want to go all Hulk and just RIP it apart.

Here’s my bench scraper, ol’ buddy, ol’ pal:

Shape the 4 pieces into 4 balls by repeating the stretching and folding process from earlier.  You’ll want to stretch and fold each piece to the North, South, East, and West – four different directions, and end by pinching together the folds.

Flip each ball over so that the seam is underneath.  Here’s four:

Put the balls of dough into the fridge for another 2 hours.  At this point I usually only put one or two in, depending on what I’m making (one can be a flatbread or garlic breadsticks, etc in addition to a pizza).  The other two are frozen at this stage for later use. 

Do whatever you like with yours.  I thought I’d show you how I store mine during this last resting phase:

Each storage bag is sprayed inside with PAM.  Olive oil would work too.  You just don’t want the dough sticking to the bag.

The one I put in the fridge last time was in a bowl, where it sat for the two hours.  For each dough you’ll be using, flour the board or counter and the top of the dough, and let it rest for 5 minutes.

Stretch the dough onto your choice of baking surface and top with Pizza Sauce.  My favorite is a preheated baking stone.  Second choice: metal pizza sheet with holes, greased with Crisco to keep the dough in place.  That works like a charm!

The Good Sauce

This sauce got its name by being Jon’s favorite!  I have made a few different versions of red sauce since being married, but this one stomps all over the others.  Any time Jon asks “What sauce are you making?”, whether it’s for pizza or pasta or chicken parm, he’s secretly hoping for this one: The GOOD Sauce.

Credit: Rose Levy Beranbaum, “The Bread Bible.”


1 C. peeled, seeded, chopped ripe tomatoes with the juices (I leave the skin on mine)


1 C. canned crushed tomatoes with juices

1 TBS olive oil

1 large clove of garlic, shopped

1/4 tsp. hot pepper flakes

2 tsp chopped fresh oregano or 1/2 tsp. dried (fresh is better!)

1/4 tsp. sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

freshly ground black pepper to taste


In a small saucepan, combine all of the ingredients and simmer, stirring frequently until reduced to about 3/4 C., 10-12 minutes.  Taste for seasoning and cool.  Use chunky or process for a few seconds in a food processor.

How easy is THAT?!

I’ve been picking tomatoes out back and making huge batches of this sauce to freeze for winter.  My amounts become generalizations and I saunter by the stove now and then to slurp some and see how I like it. 

That’s all there is to it.


Gorgeous, flavorFULL ingredients come together to create the building blocks for an unforgettable pizza.

Top with whatever makes your tongue sing!

I like to keep it simple.  The left side of this one is garlic and cheese; the right side is cheese alone.  With a little extra cheese.  Have I mentioned I love cheese?

Bake for 10-14 minutes at 500°F.  The baking stone will give you a nice crispy crust. 

Oh man… 

Chow down!

Note: Dough left in ball form is good in the fridge for 3 days. 

For a picture-free, easy-to-print of these recipes, please click on the following links:

Household Heroes: Baking Soda

Very often I find myself musing, “I use this thing ALL THE TIME…” about some object in our home.  Things that make life easier, or more fun, or cheaper.  For the next few Mondays, I’ll be spotlighting these household heroes and inviting them to take a bow – before they get back to work!

Household Heroes: Baking Soda

There are few things cheaper and more versatile for anything around-the-house than baking soda.  It cracks me up how marketing campaigns jump through such ridiculous hoops, trying to scare us, lure us, demoralize us into thinking we need what they sell…  And here is a frugal, green, simple tool everyone probably has at home that many people don’t realize trumps all those fancy wallet-robbers.

I keep finding more uses for it!  (Finally a product that lives up to the advertising on the package!)  I’m going to list a few uses that come to mind and invite you to chime in by commenting on this post. 

Here’s how I use baking soda:

  • baking (a little obvious)
  • disinfecting and whitening our porcelain kitchen sink

(Jon and I agree: the sink is whiter now than it was when we moved in.)

  • deodorizing our wooden cutting board
  • cleaning our toilets by mixing with vinegar
  • in homemade deoderant, paired with corn starch
  • as a stomach-settler, mixed with water
  • to absorb bad odors in the fridge and keep things fresh
  • as a paste (with water) to ease the pain of bee stings
  • mixed in with bath water, as a personal healing soak
  • cleaning flip flops and other stinky, soiled things

Here’s evidence of that last one:

The soles of these things were BLACK.  I will not subject you to the image.  They smelled about like they should at that point.  I got them wet and sprinkled a thick coating of baking soda all over them. 

For a nice sizzle and some help with the smell, I poured lemon juice over the soda.  I let it sit for a few minutes, and then scrubbed the daylights out of it.  Rinse…  Off to the line they went, and PRESTO!

Good as new and much less likely to kill house plants or small animals with their stench.  This, to me, is much better than going on an exasperating shoe hunt and forking over $20-$30 every time my sandals are too raunchy to be worn in public.

I’ve heard of others using baking soda for homemade toothpaste and dry shampoo.

How do you use baking soda in your home?

Household Heroes: The Spapoola

Very often I find myself musing, “I use this thing ALL THE TIME…” about some object in our home.  Things that make life easier, or more fun, or cheaper.  This is part of a Monday series, spotlighting these household heroes and inviting them to take a bow – before they get back to work!

Household Heroes, Part 1: The Spapoola

WARNING: This post is not for the faint of heart (or nose).  I absolutely am posting this first for pure shock value.  You have been warned.


So what in the world is a spapoola? 

I don’t know if anyone else calls them by this name, but in our house a spapoola is a poop spatula.  Hey, I warned you!

Cloth diapering is frugal, environmentally friendly, and good for a baby’s bottom.  It is NOT the most convenient or easy option.  True, you can wrap up a baby’s nasty next-day beef explosion in a disposable diaper and toss it in the garbage can with as little effort as blinking.  But if you’re committed to saving money and doing things as naturally as possible through cloth diapering, the reality is that you’ll be face to face with poo much longer than the average modern-day parent.

Enter the spapoola. (cue grand entrance music)

It gets real old real fast trying to smear doo-doo off a soiled diaper with flimsy toilet paper and having it land half in the toilet and half on the floor.  A spatula dedicated solely to this action is a hero indeed.  If it keeps the stuff off my hands and off the back of the commode, I’m happy.

If you do cloth diapering and you’ve never tried this, you may want to give it a shot.  Choose a spatula that will ONLY be used for this purpose – a stiff one (you don’t want to accidentally fling refuse across the room).  Mine is actually Pampered Chef.  Sorry if that ruffles the feathers of any staunch P.Chef gurus, but I think this is an insane plug for the company: our product can be used for ANYTHING!  Tadaaaaa!

If you don’t do cloth diapering and were on the fence, please don’t let this frank discussion discourage you.  Instead, embrace the opportunity to make one of the sacrificial chores that comes with being a family easier, faster, and cleaner. 

I honestly did screw up my nose the first few times I washed out a cloth diaper and make a little ugghhh noise.  And I’m sure I will again (at least if I keep serving “Hearty Beef and Beans”).  But I love doing something extra good for my family.  And I’m grateful for the tools that make it a little tiny bit less…mooshy.

I promise…  The other Household Heroes posts will not be so…graphic.  🙂