Big Challenges Plus Daily Goals


frugal living button

Tomorrow is the day! Our 23 Day Frugal Living Challenge will begin but I wanted to give you a heads of  what to expect.

Each day I will have a topic here at Bella Vista Farm which I will also share on the facebook group page. Read the full post and then answer the questions and then post how you plan to reach the daily goal. This is your public accountability – do this every day for success! If you want to send me a private message instead of posting it, that is totally fine with me. :)

In addition to the daily goals, I have a couple of BIG goals for you – see if you can do them but please don’t get frustrated. As they say in Trim Healthy Mama, “don’t worry if you ate something not on plan, your next meal is only 3 hours away”, the sames goes for your goals, there is always tomorrow to start over.

#1 Make a small cardboard box -

cracker box, tissue box, etc…tape it up good except for a small slit in the top. The tape helps prevent you from going in it anytime you want. This will be your temporary savings box. Anytime you decide to not buy something,  go driving to some place that you really didn’t need to go or eat meals out – take some of the money saved and put it in the box. The amount depends on what you think you can afford comfortably to put away. Let me explain to not stress anyone out. ***If you normally go out 4-5 times a week and spend excess money on things like QT coffees, donuts, fast food, a vending machine, a cool shirt, another pair of shoes, fancy ingredients for a meal when you could have substituted something less expensive that was just as good or whatever the case may be, take a portion of that amount if you decide that day not to spend extra money and put it in the box. Only you know yourself, if everyday you spend $3.50 on breakfast – put that amount in the box or half if that makes it easier.

homemade piggy bank

If you have an extremely tight budget, take just a tiny amount and put it in the box. You will be surprised what you have at the end. I did this many, many years ago when I quit smoking. A group of girls at work all did it together and each day we put the amount we would spend on cigarettes in our container(in which case was a water cooler bottle). At the end of the two months we added it up and spent on something good. It was eye opening! Not saying every penny went in there – some of us were more disciplined than others.

This brings me to the next full 23 day challenge -

#2 No Fast Foods or Eating Out -

Ok don’t quit on me after seeing that one please!!!!!! REMEMBER you will just TRY to do this. No one is going to come after you if you make a mistake and eat out. If your kids want fast food and they are old enough to have their own money – tell them they have to pay for it and take them to the drive thru. I am not mean!!!! It works.

no fast food

The easy one to combat is breakfast at  the drive-thru. Go ahead and make a batch of biscuits, from scratch or from a box or toast english muffins. Make some scrambled eggs and bacon or sausage – put together on the biscuits, wrap individually and freeze. A fast food breakfast in your own freezer, ready in minutes.

I mentioned a prize at the end earlier in the week. At the moment, I am putting together a box of goodies to giveaway to one lucky person or if the box gets big enough a couple of lucky people at the end of the challenge. IF you wish, you can donate an item to be put in the box and get it to me over the next two weeks.
Even if you are out of town, out of state I will mail the box to YOU!!! This is going to be fun, I promise!!!


***Don’t forget to download the Goal Sheets posted yesterday.

Keep me posted on the blog and on facebook. Please share this post with friends, thanks!


Frugal Ideas To Share


frugal living button

In prepping for the 23 Day Frugal Challenge this coming Friday, I thought I would take some ideas from the original challenge and some new ones collected along the way to help you become more frugal. Please leave a comment at the end with a frugal idea you do – just one for now. :)

***Remember frugal does NOT mean: you are a cheapskate or that you are too poor to get it, it is a way of life to not live above your means, to not waste and to not always want the next big thing!*** 

Favorite all time Frugal Living book – The Tightwad Gazette! Does anyone else have this book? Or here is one I NEED to get, maybe from the library – Possum Living: How To Live Well Without A Job by Dolly Freed.

In the 1970s Dolly Freed lived of the land dirt cheap and plum easy. Living in their own house on a half-acre lot outside of Philadelphia for almost five years, Dolly and her father produced their own food and drink and spent roughly $700 each per year. Thirty years later Dolly Freed’s Possum Living is as fascinating and pertinent as it was in 1978. Tin House is reissuing the survivalist classic with a foreword by David Gates and an afterword by the author. After discussing reasons why you should or shouldn’t give up your job, Possum Living gives you details about the cheapest ways with the best results to buy and maintain your home, dress well, cope with the law, stay healthy, and keep up a middle-class facade — whether you live in the city, in the suburbs, or in a small town. In a delightful, straightforward style Dolly Freed explains how to be lazy, proud, miserly, and honest, live well and enjoy leisure. She shares her knowledge for what you doneed — your own home, for example — and what you don’t need — such as doctors, lawyers, and insurance. Through her own example, Dolly hopes to inspire you to do some independent thinking about how economics affect the course of your life now and may do so in the coming “age of shortages.” If you ever wondered what it would be like to be in greater control of your own life, Possum Living will show you — and help you do it for yourself.

An excerpt from Possum Living – “We live this way for a very simple reason: It’s easier to learn to live without some of the things that money can buy than to earn the money to buy them..”

Some tips to get you started:

1. Use white vinegar, baking soda and lemon essential oil to clean

2. Tea tree essential oil to treat minor ailments – wash wounds, in a vaporizer for colds, treat acne

3. Use honey on wounds

4. Pay bills on time to avoid late fees – bank online

5. Bring library books back on time to avoid fees – *I am bad at this one!!!*

6. Keep a list of clothing sizes and needs for the whole family in your purse or your car so when you stop at thrift stores, yard sales or see an amazing sale at a department store(really amazing sale ) :), you can know what your family needs and get it.

7. Make your own laundry detergent, soap, shampoos, salad dressing mixes, soup mixes, bread, everything just about!

8. Water down fabric softener if using, with vinegar to extend or reuse those dryer sheets. Better yet make your own dryer sheets by using cut up old sheets or towels wet them, wring them out and put a few drops of essential oil on before putting in the dryer.

9. Once a week grocery trips or if you are really disciplined once a MONTH!

10. Buy milk from a local farm, and fruit and veg from a local market, try to stock up wherever possible.

11. Reuse wrapping paper, tissue paper, gift bags and bows
12.  Stretch ground beef with pureed beans / stewed tomatoes/mushrooms/double amount of veggies going into hot dish, meat never the main part of meal- its a seasoner, and 2 -3 nights a week go meatless entirely

13.  Use vinegar as rinseaid for dishwasher

14. Figure unit price items at store bulk items not always cheapest, also consider how much is actually useful
15. Use plastic grocery bags to line waste cans – I never buy kitchen trash bags!

16. Research and find a bank that doesn’t charge you to use your own money – namely atm fees”

17.  Review all insurance policies annually and price shop for same or better coverage at price you can afford
18. Do your own taxes they are not rocket science and feel free to contact free serevice offered by irs for questions
19. Make annual budget, review and make monthly revisions
20. Use available coupons for items you already buy
21.  Make a monthly menu plan
22. Take staycations over vacations or if you have to “get away” go off season
23.  Take care of yourself: sleep, eat, don’t smoke/chew/ drink too much and exercise avoid unnecessary healthcare!
24. From a reader -love this ” take care of car yourself/ barter service I’ve been doing my own oil changes, filling my own fluids and tire changes since i was 14, yes i’m a girl, and love the confidence boost everytime a man watches me know what i’m doing under the hood,lol”
25. also don’t speed and drive rationally many states will be increasing prices for traffic violations this year again, and who needs an accident, visits to hospitals, and higher insurance costs because you decided to cut someone off”

26. Save bread bags and ties. Put compost veggies or farm animal veggies in the bags and bring out daily, throw away the bag – less mess.

Some of my personal favorites - Bartering whenever possible

Buy only on sale items and in bulk if it is a really good sale, buy at least two when on sale so you never run out and have to pay double!!!

Reuse everything if you can!!! Save scrap metal and wood, you never know when you may need it.

Eat healthy, drink water instead of juice or soda

Send your spouse to work or yourself with a homemade lunch every day – you will save $25-30 a week – at least!

Bring snacks and drinks with you on errands so you are not tempted to stop and get fast food – shuddering!

Here is your first task for preparing for the challenge – STARTS FRIDAY!!!!

Get a notebook, binder or folder. Print off below – 23 Daily Goals Report Sheets to put into your binder.

****Don’t worry this will be fun, I promise!!!!****



Thanks friends!


This post shared on Wildcrafting Wednesday!


NEW 23 Day Frugal Living Challenge!!!

NEW 23 Day Frugal Living Challenge!!!

Does that title look familiar to some of you?

This has weighed heavy on my heart for some time now. Some of you folks have followed Andrea at Frugally Sustainable for the past 3 years, like myself, and have missed her sudden departure from the virtual world. Unfortunately all I know is that a couple of very tragic things happened in her life and I could only imagine. Andrea inspired me to start my very first blog, to become more frugal, to think out of the box and create, to experiment with her many recipes for herbal salves, balms, sprays teas etc…


Archives for her blog here


100_1053                        Box of free veggies, some for the chickens, some for the compost and some for us!!!!

The first time I started following her was during the 23 day Frugal Living Challenge which was a BLAST, to say the least. The turnout was amazing, the people fabulous and the ideas that all shared online were just cool. I am not even sure if Pinterest was out in January of 2011 or how far along you all were with facebook but this group talked and shared on a forum created by Andrea. So my dear Andrea, even thought you do not personally know me other than by posts, comments and emails, I am recreating your challenge to all. :)

BY the way, do not click the pic at the left it goes to a broken link, just wanted it from the original blog post. Thanks!

So here goes in my words from her original idea. Why is it in this crazy go, go world must we all spend, spend, spend. We are always trying  making enough money to pay the bills, to buy one more whatever, to hopefully save for the future, to keep up with the “Joneses”… I have been frugal most of my life with a short time of being a spendthrift thinking money grew on trees. Even now in the last couple of months I am acting as though I can spend those extra $50 on whatever I felt like, buy an overpriced magazine at the checkout or some sushi on the way home to go along with the dinner I had planned or maybe I NEEDED that $3 coffee – once. Anyway you look at it, we could be saving, we should be saving, we should be cutting back because earlier this year I barely had enough money to buy groceries or pay the electric bill and now I should not be taking for granted the extra couple of bucks I make at the Farmer’s Market.

Really no gloom and doom here, just wanted to let ya know how I felt and where I was coming from. I truly to strive to pinch and squeeze every last dime til it screams mercy. My furniture hasn’t been replaced in over 13 years – who cares, I rather go out and get some new plants or books. My car is over 150,000 miles( works just fine!) my hubby’s 200,000+. I don’t need no stinking new car or fancy kitchen equipment. My family was extremely frugal with just my mom and my brother, we had to be. We learned to do with what we had and I was fine. Funny thing is I said, ” I won’t do that to my kid, I will give them the best of everything, buy them whatever they wanted!” Ha!! we are good with buying at Old Navy or whatever is on sale. I like it that way!!! Save the bucks for good things – organic meats, paying off my old store debt or like maybe purchasing  a tractor one day.

Here is what I want YOU to do – tell me in the comments in you want to participate in the 23 DAY FRUGAL LIVING CHALLENGE and join the Facebook Group.

Be grateful

Here is what you can do by being more frugal -

pay off some credit card bills or car loans

save for college

the less you spend, the less you need to earn

So let’s see how many people can join us for the 23 Day Challenge!!!

From Andrea’s blog  – the rules

The Ground Rules:

You are not committing to the implementation of all 23 ideas for living frugally. I should admit that I do most, but not all, of the tips that will be recommended and discussed. My commitment to you is to be honest with you as we move along.

I ask no more from you that I ask of myself.

Simply commit to the process and to openness.

Be willing to change, take baby steps, or jump on the path of frugality for the first time! Where ever you are on the journey, don’t be afraid to join in. We will challenge ourselves to:

  • Redefine “enough”
  • Learn how to use a 30-day list
  • Stop the impulse buys
  • Grow a garden
  • Cook ahead
  • And much more…

Let’s start this challenge – Friday, August 1st! I will post some inspirational ideas over the next couple days.

OH and for everyone that does participate – you will be entered for a cool prize at the end. I will give hints each day as to what it will be. Don’t ya just LOVE surprises!!! Please tell your friends, share this on all of your email lists or facebook pages because I want to see sooooo many people set goals with me. Let’s aim for 100 people!!!! :D

Thank you and love you all! <3


This post shared on Wildcrafting Wednesday!

Medicinal Benefits Of Passionflower


Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata), a discreet little vine that weaves in and around low bushes, trees, ditches or in the middle of a big field. Nobody pays it much attention, it gets mowed over most of the time but if you knew the herbal benefits of passionflower, you would nurture that little vine so it can grow into more and more vines!!! :)

passionflowers AM


The bumble bees love this plant! I used to have a vine but somehow it has disappeared this year.

Our herbal class has been studying passionflower this past month and last week our instructor, Patricia found the mother load of passionflower!! She brought a BIG trash bag full of it for us to make tea and each take home a jar of freshly made tincture. Making medicine is fun. But it is even more fun when you have 14 people working together, garbling through this bag of leaves and flowers, cleaning, measuring, chatting, laughing, filling jars and just looking in awe at these beautiful flowers.

Look at all of it!!!!

Look at all of it!!!!

The Herb Gang!

The Herb Gang!

What is is good for? Thought you’d never ask. :D

Passiflora incarnata is a fantastic nervine relaxant that helps you fall asleep for a good night, sound sleep. It also helps with nervousness, anxiety and muscle spasms. We all drank some for a taste and an experiment. The majority slept better than the night before and stayed asleep throughout the night. One person has really bad muscle tension in her shoulder, the tea helped it relax. It smells a little like boiled peanuts -weird but the taste was light and floraly.

Recipe for tea before bed- 2 teaspoons fresh leaf and flower to 8 ounces boiling water, steep covered 20 minutes.

If you don’t have any growing you can order some dried from Mountain Rose Herbs here,for your teas.

***Don’t forget those little green fruits on the passionflower vine – wait until they are turning pale green, pick them and let them turn yellow. Enjoy the fruity pulp inside. :)



****Disclaimer – remember I am not a practioner, any advice or information that I present to you I do so to help teach others about the benefits of medicinal plants. It is up to you to further study each herb to see if it may be right for you.****

Shared with Wildcrafting Wednesday!!!

A Survivor’s Guide to the Essential Oil Craze



After recently having a class on aromatherapy at our Herbal weekend, I thought this post was fitting especially with all the info, good and bad out there. GREAT POST!!! Enjoy – and please comment if you’d like. :)

Originally posted on Madhupa Maypop:

“…there’s an essential oil for that,” they say…

It is with great love, concern and respect for the plant kingdom that I write this post. As a Community Herbalist, I feel it is my responsibility to offer information to the community I serve. Please read this post and SHARE if you resonate with what I write.

(For the record, I do use essential oils ~ but *very* sparingly. For example, in one quart of herb-infused oil with melted beeswax to make salve, I would use about 10-13 drops of lavender essential oil. The reason I am posting this on essential oils, is because ~ just like everyone else ~ I am exploring right relationship with this type of herbal preparation.)

There is a deep, rich, long line of herbalist traditions on every continent of the planet.  Most of these traditions use plants in their raw form, infusing plant material in…

View original 1,360 more words

Headache Relief Recipes

Headache Relief Recipes

Last month I posted some information regarding Feverfew for migraines and how to use it. Not everyone finds relief with just one particular remedy so I found a few more that you can add to your medicine cabinet. Personally feverfew works for me with migraines but not necessarily with tension headaches.

Peppermint essential oil seems to work with sinus type headaches and sometimes with tension headaches I add lavender. Think of it in terms of Western Medicine for a moment: If you had a headache you may reach for Advil, someone else may grab a Goody’s powder and another may need a Zomig(Ugghhh). Therefore, we need more herbal choices so we do not go get those dreaded over the counter meds.

Mint and lots of it!!!

Mint and lots of it!!!

I am going to make this recipe later today. Click the title for the full post from Fresh Bites Daily!

Your New Migraine Remedy

It is a tincture that includes fresh feverfew, peppermint and lemon balm. I have noted a small mistake in the post, at least I think it is, towards the end on the second set of measurements it says -

Add 1.5 oz. fresh herbs(I think they mean dried because earlier the measurements were 3 oz. fresh with a higher alcohol content) Personally I will use the following method, now that I have learned it:

Tincture Using Fresh Plant

It is a 1:2 ratio of plant to menstruum for fresh plants. I looked up the alcohol content needed for the plants and two out the three called for 100% alcohol(menstruum). Really it is 95%  and I am using organic cane alcohol.:) For 4 ounces by WEIGHT, you need 8 ounces of alcohol. 4 ounces can be a lot so make sure your jar is at least double the size of your menstruum. IF you pack it all in there and fresh material is sticking up, shake it well and wait 24 hours. If it is still sticking up, top off with a bit more menstruum. Then shake daily and strain after two weeks. Dosage is 1/4 tsp. up to 3x/day, more frequently if an acute situation – every 20-30 minutes.

PS: for dried plants the ratio is 1:5 and usually the alcohol content changes.


Quick Headache Balm

1/4 cup plus 1 T Organic unrefined coconut oil

1-2 T beeswax(depends on how hard you want the balm, test after 1 T on a cold spoon to harden, add more beeswax if needed)

15-20 drops peppermint essential oil

10-12 drops lavender essential oil

Melt the coconut oil and beeswax over low heat. Get your containers ready – I use small 1/2 ounce plastic jars so this amount would make about 5-6 that size. Add your essential oils to the oil/beeswax mix, stir and pour into clean containers. Let harden then cap. I keep one of these in my purse so it is handy when I am out. Apply to your temples, at the base of the neck, across forehead, on your wrists(because sometimes a headache make you feel nauseous and/or to your pressure point between your thumb and forefinger.

Other helpful tips for headaches:

Chew on a basil leaf or a peppermint leaf

Drink a GIANT glass of water – sometimes you are just dehydrated

Drink some electrolytes like coconut water or this amazing drink – Tumeric Berry Lemonade

Put some lavender essential oil(diluted in a carrier oil) on your soles of your feet, across your forehead, close your eyes and lay down for about 20 minutes.

Soak your feet in a hot lavender water bath – oooohhhhh good!!!!

Eat something – you may just be hungry but make it good like protein not a cookie!

Have a hot cup of Kava Kava Chocolate drink from Rosalee de la Floret

Have a cup of Ginger Tea

Eat some crystallized ginger – LOVE

Acupressure Massage
This ancient Chinese healing method involves applying pressure to certain points on the body to relieve pain. Place your finger in the depression between your first and second toe and press firmly for 3 to 5 minutes. *Dr. Oz*

Eat some almonds except if you have a migraine, can sometimes trigger it.

Go for a walk outside.

Jump in a pool – you may be overheated OR no pool? Jump in a cool shower.

I hope you enjoyed today’s post! Please share with your friends :)





Blackberry Adaptogenic Smoothie Recipe


I admit, I am on a creative drink thing lately!!! Don’t really know why but it is fun and why not? :D

A couple days ago I had picked some blackberries and dew berries and still had a handful in the fridge. I thought about making something frozen and delicious!

purple smoothie

Isn’t it beautiful?

It started with just the blackberries and almond milk and ice but then in went the vanilla protein powder(low sugar kind), a bit of gluccie and then I remembered the adaptogenic herb mix!!!

Let me explain some of those ingredients first before you think I went off the deep end, gluccie WHAT!?!? Trim Healthy Mama term for:


- a dietary fiber made from the Konjac Root which helps as an appetite suppressant and weight management.

As for the  adaptogenic herb mix, I got that recipe from Andrea at Frugally Sustainable and I will share it with you too.

Adaptogenic Herbal Smoothie Mix


-2 parts Eleuthero powder
-1 part Tulsi powder
-1 part Maca powder
-1 part Ashwagandha powder
-1/2 part Tumeric root powder

***You can find all of these herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs. 


1. Simply measure and mix all ingredients in a large bowl until well combined.

2. Transfer to a glass mason jar and store in a cool, dark place.

3. To use…take 1 teaspoon of the powder daily. It’s super yummy in smoothies, nut milks with a touch of honey, or mixed into your favorite foods

While this supplement is good for all of us…seriously consider taking this powder daily if you experience: chronic fatigue, anxiety, depression, fibromyalgia, decreased libido, or adrenal insufficiency. From Andrea – FS.


Handful of blackberries

1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Blend these two together and strain, if desired. Add back to the blender with -

1/4 tsp gluccie

1 tsp. adaptogen herb mix


Blend then add 1/2-1 scoop vanilla protein powder

Blend until smooth! If desired add stevia or honey to taste.