Frugal Thanksgiving Shopping Tips

The following is a short excerpt from the Hillbilly Housewife Thanksgiving Planner available from Amazon. I hope you find my frugal shopping tips helpful as you prepare for Thanksgiving. 

Shopping for Thanksgiving Dinner can put quite a dent into your grocery budget for that week (or even all of November.) Below you’ll find some of my favorite tips and strategies to get the best deals.

By far the easiest way to keep down cost is to ask everyone to bring a dish to share. Offer to cook the turkey and make a batch of hot rolls and let everyone else take care of side dishes, appetizers and dessert.

If that’s not an option, or you prefer to do all (or most) of the cooking yourself, keep reading to make sure you get the biggest bang for your buck this Holiday season.

Thanksgiving Dinner Shopping ListShop Around And Take Advantage Of Loss Leaders

In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, grocery stores will do everything they can to get you in the door to do your shopping with them. One way they do this is by using something called ‘loss leaders.’

These are items that they sell you at cost or close to it to get you in the store. The plan is to then entice you to buy all sorts of other stuff that the grocery store will actually profit from.

And guess what one of the biggest loss leaders is around Thanksgiving? Yes, it’s turkey. Look through sales flyers and find the best deal for your turkey. If Thanksgiving is still more than 3 days away, opt for a frozen one and thaw it later in the fridge.

Baking supplies are also often on sale this time of the year. The one thing I noticed that made a pretty big difference on my own grocery budget a few years ago was spices. Look through your spice cabinet right now and see if you have everything you need.

I was running low on both Rubbed Sage and Poultry Seasoning and by the time I made it to the store they were completely sold out on store and bargain brands. I ended up having to buy what was left on the shelf, which, of course, was the premium brands, which cost three times as much as the store brands.

Sit down and figure out what you’ll be fixing and then start keeping an eye out for bargains on anything you need. Don’t forget about turkey roasting pans, oven bags, disposables and the likes.

If you can’t find a good deal or a coupon for a particular item, large discount and warehouse stores like Wal-Mart, Costco, etc., are often your best bet for low prices.

Don’t forget to stock up on containers and bags to store leftovers. You don’t want to throw out half a yummy casserole because you have nowhere to put it. I like smaller containers and freezer bags because they allow me to cram lots of leftovers in even the smallest of spaces in my fridge and freezer.

Use Your Grocery Store Card Strategically

Many grocery stores that use customer cards (often called VIP Cards, Savings Cards, and Customer Loyalty Cards, etc.) will offer you a free turkey or even an entire holiday meal if you shop with them frequently.

If you can find an offer that appeals to you, it may be worth paying attention to how often you shop and what you spend. That free turkey may be worth an extra trip to the store to stock up on non-perishables to qualify for that week.

Adjust Your Menu According To What’s On Sale

You know I’m big on planning ahead and making a menu. It’s a great way to save time and money, but it is also okay to be flexible.

For example, if you were planning to make a broccoli casserole for Thanksgiving, but broccoli happens to be fairly expensive by the time you get to the store, it’s okay to change your mind and make a green bean casserole instead.

Look for what’s on sale and make it work, especially when it comes to side dishes.


The Hillbilly HThe Hillbilly Housewife Thanksgiving Plannerousewife Thanksgiving Planner

Don’t run around like a chicken (or should that be turkey?) with its head cut off on Thanksgiving morning. The Hillbilly Housewife’s Thanksgiving Planner will help you plan ahead and stay on top of things so you can actually enjoy Thanksgiving with your family & friends.

If you take a quick minute to read the first chapter you’ll realize how easy your Thanksgiving celebration will be. There are plenty of tips and ideas to make sure this year’s feast doesn’t stretch your budget to the breaking point, too.

There are also 2 bonuses tucked inside: A printable planner & checklist and all of the recipes in a printable pdf file. 

The Honey Do List – Five Reasons Why You Need Honey in Your Skin Care Products

My friend Becky from makes the most amazing honey lotion. I have two bottles of it sitting on the counter right now and use them daily. I asked her to share a little bit about the benefits of using honey in your skin care products. Not only does her lotion feel great, it’s really good for us as well. I hope you enjoy this guest post. 

Honey, the elixir of the Gods. A pure and natural sweetener produced by Honey Bees for thousands of years, desired and consumed by mankind throughout the span of time.

Sounds a bit like magic? Well, in some ways it is. Just the very act of a colony of bees producing this golden elixir is in many ways, magical.

Did you know that in the span of a Honey Bee’s lifetime, she will only produce 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey? And that a colony of bees will visit over 2 million trees and flowers and fly over 55,000 miles in order to produce just one pound of honey? Considering the circumference of the earth is about 25,000 miles, it’s no wonder the Honey Bee is considered the most industrious insect on the planet.

We all know the benefits of raw honey when taken internally. Raw honey has been touted to alleviate allergy symptoms, GERD (Gastric Reflux Disease) and used in the treatment of ulcers. When broken down, this complex balance of both fructose and sucrose promotes better athletic performance and a restful night’s sleep.

Bees making Honey

But have you ever considered the effects of honey when applied externally? I think many of us instinctively feel the addition of honey in many of our skin care products on the market today is the safer and more natural alternative. I would love to share with you the reasons why honey and in particular Active Manuka Honey found in the Bee Queen line of skin care lotions is beneficial to your skin.

  • Your skin is the largest organ on the human body. The average adult body carries over eight pounds of skin which converts to about 22 square feet. It stands to reason that we should treat it with the utmost care. It is our first line of defense against harmful pathogens and easily the first damaged from external intrusions. Over exposure to harmful UVA/UVB rays, toxins both internal and external can lead to premature aging and wrinkling. The skin care industry is a 43 billion dollar revenue producer in the United States alone. And yet most of us cannot recognize or pronounce the ingredient list on the back of our skin care products. Doesn’t it stand to reason, that a simple and understandable ingredient deck can be a positive step in the care of this miraculous organ. In the Bee Queen formulations each ingredient is chosen to achieve a specific result to ultimately benefit your skin. For example, the Bee Queen Manuka Honey Lotion has four types of easily recognizable oils.
    • Organic sunflower oil-chosen as a carrier to incorporate honey without grittiness
    • Organic olive oil-adds amino acids and aids in skin repair
    • Organic apricot kernel oil-aids in skin repair
    • Organic meadow foam oil-adds slide. The reason why Bee Queen Manuka Honey Lotion feels so good on your skin.
  • Honey is a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants combat and reverse the damage of free-radicals in our systems. A free-radical is a rogue molecule produced when the process of oxidation occurs. Free radicals are cells missing a key ingredient that allows for normal healing and repair. In simpler terms, think of the effect of peeling an apple. Once the protective skin is removed, oxidation causes the apple to become brown, shrivel and eventually rot. Over time our skin is assaulted by a variety of toxic substances. The harmful effects of UVA/UVB rays, environmental toxins such as pollution and cigarette smoke and poor nutrition can trigger the body’s natural production of antioxidants. But over time, these damaged cells overwhelms the body’s natural antioxidants effects resulting in the signs of premature aging, wrinkles and skin discoloration. Doesn’t it make sense to strengthen our skin’s defensive barrier with the application of a powerful, natural antioxidant? Raw honey in our skin care regimen can counteract the effects of these day to day stressors. They can promote the growth of new tissue and eradicate the effect of free radicals.
  • Raw honey is a natural humectant. A humectant is an agent that attracts and retains moisture by locking it inside. In contrast, many skin care products contain glycerin. Glycerin is commonly used as a moisturizing agent. But glycerin, a byproduct of vegetable oil is refined propylene alcohol, a drying agent to your skin. Humectants trap moisture providing a barrier, glycerin absorbs moisture.
  • Raw honey promotes wound healing. The antimicrobial effects of honey are well known. All honey contain properties when broken down form hydrogen peroxide, a powerful antibacterial. In addition, Manuka honey contains an enzyme named Methglyoxal, a germicidal agent 200x’s more powerful than hydrogen peroxide. This enzyme is specific to honey produced by bees who pollinate the Manuka flower found primarily in New Zealand and is closely regulated and rated for its quality control. This is the reason why we have chosen to incorporate Active Manuka honey into the Bee Queen
  • Honey provides UV protection and is an anti-irritant. It is gentle enough to use on sensitive skin and powerful enough to combat the effects of acne and scarring.

As you can see, I am passionate about the benefits of honey and encourage you to incorporate honey into your skin care regimen.  With all the positive benefits, why would you use anything less?

At the Bee Queen, we hand produce a high quality lotion with your skin foremost in mind. Currently available in three fine scents to nurture your skin.

Get yours today and Bee-the-Change!



Frugal Gardening Tips

Are you planting a garden this fall? Whether you’re a veggie growing pro, or new to gardening, you’ll appreciate the tips below. Getting a garden started can be quite expensive which defeats the main reason most of us a growing a garden – to safe on food cost. Take a moment to read through the frugal tips my friend Tawra from Living on a Dime is sharing below. You’ll be off to a great start and enjoy fresh produce without breaking the bank.

Gardening On A Dime

by Tawra Kellam

People are often surprised to find out that even though I’m a cookbook author I went to school for Horticulture. (I never wanted to be a writer. I wanted to own an herb farm.) Growing your own plants can not only save you lots of money on your grocery bill, but a nice landscape can improve the value of your home. If you’re creative, you can have a great garden with very little cost. Here are some of my favorite tips to get you started:

Woman knelt in vegetable gardenTools:

Watch people who are moving. Ask if they are leaving their lawn equipment and if you can have it or buy it cheap.

Use an old mailbox out in the garden to store your clippers, plastic bags and gloves. (This is my most used item in my garden!) It is especially wonderful because the kids and Hubby don’t know where my tools are, so I don’t have to worry about them borrowing the tools!

Use wedding tulle found at fabric stores instead of shade cloth to shade plants from the sun or to keep the birds from eating your fruit. It’s much cheaper. Better yet, ask a just married bride if you can have the tulle from her wedding.

Cheap Plants:

If you see plants at a store that are in bad shape but not dead, talk to the manager. Ask him if he will give you a “deal” if you take them off his hands. Most of the time they will because the plants look bad and they don’t want to mess with them anymore.

Last year I was able to purchase over 50 large 1/2 gallon-gallon sized perennials for $50. (over $600 retail) All but about 5 of them lived and I was able to take those back and get my money back. Most home improvement and discount stores have a guarantee that if your plant dies within one year, you can bring the dead plant and the receipt and they will give you your money back or give you a new plant.

Buy seeds on sale at the end of the season. Put them in a brown paper bag in the refrigerator for better storage. Seeds usually last many years beyond the “past due” date on the packet.


Ask a tree trimming service to give you their wood chips for mulch if they are in the area.

Some cities also have a free mulch program where the city tree trimmers dump all the wood chips. Call your local County Extension and find out if there is one in your area.

If you just need a few bags, look for torn open bags at the home improvement store. Our local store has a pile where they dump all the torn open bags of mulch and rocks. They sell the bags for $1 each, saving you up to 75% off! Most just have a few chips missing.

Use shredded paper or newspaper under mulch. This way you can use fewer wood chips.

Keep a shower curtain or tarp in your car at all times. This way if you find a good deal on mulch or plants you can take advantage of the deal right away without messing up your car.


Use deli trays with lids to start seeds. They are mini greenhouses!

Ask the cemetery if you can have the pots they throw away after Memorial Day. (You can dry the almost dead flowers for potpourri.) Look in dumpsters. Many garden centers at the discount stores throw away the dead plants, pots and all. Ask permission first.

Use Styrofoam peanuts in the bottom of pots for drainage. You can also use small plastic six inch pots, soda cans or plastic bottles in the bottom of larger pots so you don’t have to use so much soil and to make the pots lighter in weight.

Misc. Tips

Use milk jugs as drip irrigation. Poke 2 or 3 small holes in the bottom of the jugs and place next to plants. Fill with water and they will slowly water you plants all day.

Use Christmas lights around fences to add sparkle in the middle of summer. Hang them in trees or line paths with them for extra effect.

Use vinegar in a spray bottle to kill weeds. ONLY spray the weed. It will kill any grass or plants you want to keep if you get it on them.
For Kids

Have kids water the plants after they swim in the kiddy pool. Have them take buckets of water from the pool and water the plants when the pool needs to be emptied.

Buy or ask for sandbags after heavy rains. Use the sand for paths or for the kid’s sandboxes. (Only use sand from clean floodwater situations.)

Save scraps of soap when they get too small to bathe with and put them in an old nylon stocking. Knot and hang the nylon on an outdoor faucet.
Homemade Tough Hand Cleaner

1/4 Cup grated Fels Naphtha soap ends
2 Tbsp. mason’s sand or pumice
1 Cup water
Place soap and water in a saucepan. Place over low heat; stir until soap is melted. After mixture cools, add mason’s sand or pumice. Store in a cottage cheese container or margarine tub. To use, dip fingers into soap mixture and lather hands. Rinse well. This works well on greasy tools, also. Be sure to rinse and dry tools thoroughly.

Tawra Kellam is the editor of Living On A Dime
Tawra and her husband paid off $20,000 debt in 5 years on $22,000 a year income.


Standing Up and Scotch Eggs – Whole 30 Day 3

I was busy working on today’s newsletter while I was drinking my coffee and kept breakfast simple. I had a beautiful large tomato ready from the garden and just fixed some scrambled eggs cooked in a little ghee to go with it. Sometimes simple meals are my favorites and it was hard to beat the flavors of fresh eggs and fresh tomatoes.

Scrambled Egg and Tomato

Speaking of coffee… I haven’t really talked about what I’ve been drinking and what I’ll continue to drink during the Whole 30. My main beverage of choice is water which is surprising. I’ve always had a hard time drinking water but eating this fresh, unprocessed food somehow makes me want to go to the sink and grab a glass of water.

In the past, I’ve mostly drank coffee throughout the day. I still enjoy a cup in the morning (black coffee, no cream or sugar allowed), but I don’t feel like I need to keep going back for more and have cut out all afternoon coffees as well.

I’m also trying something new this week… working on the computer while standing up. I spend way too much time hunched over my keyboard typing, researching, etc. Yesterday I figured out that both my kitchen counter and my ironing board make for perfect standing desks.

It is taking some getting used to and I only work standing up for half and hour or so before sitting back down. I’ll work on it throughout the week though and I can already tell you one thing… it helps with productivity. I’m much more focused and ready to get a blog post finished when I tell myself I have to stand here till it’s done. :)

Before lunch I made some scotch eggs. I had some ground pork and eggs sitting in the fridge. I just made the sausage up as I went. You can read more about how I made these eggs here.

I had one of the eggs and a nice side salad for lunch. worked out pretty good and they are quite tasty.

Scotch egg and salad

Since I’m leaving town tomorrow morning and am trying to use up as many groceries as possible before I leave, I’m having squash noodles with the last of the sauce. Even though this is the third day in a row I’m eating this, I don’t mind at all. It’s just as delicious as the first day and pretty filling.

Of course I forgot to take a picture, but it looked pretty much like it did in the first picture. The only difference was that all I had left was yellow squash. I think I like the combination of zucchini and yellow squash the best.

Zucchini and Squash Noodles with Sauce

Making Ghee and Egg Cups – Whole 30 Day 2

Day Two on Whole 30 went pretty smooth. I think it helps that I’ve been pretty busy all week so far. I’m still struggling with the whole “eating breakfast as soon as you get up” thing. I’m not ready for food until after I had my coffee and had time to think about what I want to eat.

Having two eggs cooked in some sort of healthy fat and either some tomato or avocado with it seems to work really well. Yesterday I had two of my egg muffin cups which are just scrambled up egg, olive, tomato, bell pepper and spinach cooked in a muffin tin. I ate half a banana with some almond butter with it. It was really good but I’m going to try cutting back on the fruit for a few days and see how I feel. I’m noticing that I’m more likely to crave something else after I have fruit.

Egg Muffins and Banana with Almond Butter

This filled me up pretty good and kept me going through a late lunch. For lunch I fixed a small salad with some chicken on top. To be honest, it just wasn’t enough food. I was hungry again 2 hours later and ended up eating another piece of chicken and some cashews.

Chicken Salad with Tomatoes

Dinner was another big plate of zucchini noodles with leftover meat sauce. I didn’t take a picture since it looked the same as it did the day before.

I also made Ghee or clarified butter for the first time. It’s a great cooking fat and it was surprisingly easy to make. I cooked my zucchini noodles in a little ghee and it made them taste even better.

Overall a pretty good day. I also discovered that my ironing board is the perfect (and adjustable height) to work as a standing desk. I’ve been reading a lot about how bad sitting is for the human body (and I do a lot of it). I’m going to give standing up for at least part of a day a try.

Saltwater Cleanse and Noodles – Whole 30 Day 1 Recap

Tracy and I decided over the weekend to give the Whole 30 program a try. I talked more about it here, but basically we’re eating clean and cutting out sugar, grains, dairy and legumes for the next 30 days and see how we feel.

I started playing around over the weekend eating most of my meals according to the whole 30 rules. It was surprisingly easy and flavorful. I also did some shopping over the weekend stocking up on veggies, meat and eggs.

While I was looking for tips and recipes online, I came across something called the “Salt Water Flush”. The basic idea is that you force a quart of salt water down and it flushes through your intestines, cleaning you out along the way. While this wasn’t something addressed in the Whole 30 plan, I thought what better way to be off to a clean start Monday Morning?

Salt Water Cleanse Recipe

I’m glad I did it but it was so uncomfortable and nauseating, I’m not sure I’d do it again. If you want to read more about it, I recommend this page here.

IMPORTANT: If you are thinking of giving this a try, please read through all the information available and consult with your physician.

For me, it worked as described (I won’t get into any details here), but left me a bit nauseous, and with no appetite until about noon. Once I ate a little breakfast, I was fine


My first meal was pretty simple. I had 2 scrambled eggs and 1/2 a small avocado.

Scrambled Eggs and Avocado

Not a big breakfast and not much in the veggie department. I knew I had to step that up at lunch. I headed to the store hoping to find a julienne peeler to make zucchini noodles. No luck finding one, which is why I ended up using my regular vegetable peeler to make wider noodles along with a homemade meat sauce. It was delicious. The whole Zucchini Noodle recipe is here.

Zucchini and Squash Noodles with Sauce


I was pleasantly surprised by how well it worked. It tasted just like a regular, flavorful pasta dish. It filled me up but didn’t leave me ready for a 3 hour nap the way a regular plate of pasta would.

I was by myself yesterday, fixing food just for myself, but I can’t wait to make this for the rest of my family. It was just as quick as making regular spaghetti and meat sauce but tasted even better. (And obviously it’s much better for us too).


For dessert I tried one of the Larabars I picked up at the grocery store. I’d never tried them and wanted to see if this was something I wanted to keep around for food emergencies. They would travel well and I could keep one in my purse.

I bought a few different flavors at the grocery store and tried the key lime one. It tasted pretty good, but something about the smell put me off a bit. It smelled to artificially limey… kinda hard to explain, but I’m glad I don’t absolutely love them. They’ll be great for food emergencies to help me stay on plan in a pinch, but not become a regular indulgence.

Around dinner time we had big thunderstorms rolling through. The light was so bad, I didn’t get a chance to take pictures. Since I had a late and rather large lunch, and 1/2 an avocado to use up, I kept things simple. I grabbed two pieces of ice berg lettuce that were sitting in the fridge and filled them with anything I could find. Leftover chicken, mashed up avocado, some diced tomato and some cucumber. I wrapped it all up and ate it. Yummy and filling.

I’m also trying to go to bed a little earlier. During the summer our sleep schedule gets all out of wack and we become night owls. I’d like to make sure I get at least 8 hours of sleep a night and go to bed at a decent hour. So far, going to bed isn’t a problem, but falling asleep before midnight is a different story. It’s a work in progress and I’ll let you know if it starts to improve as part of this program. I’d love to sleep more soundly at night and not wake up several times.

That’s it for day 1. I hope you find this helpful and that it will inspire you to cut some processed food out of your diet, or maybe even join me in eating clean for 30 days.

Starting Whole 30 – Wanna Join Us?

I had such high hopes  in January that this would be the year when I finally get healthy and lose a bunch of weight. Fast forward a few short weeks and I was back on my old unhealthy eating schedule. I was too busy, eating healthy was too expensive, the list of excuses could go on and on…

I’ve tried a few different things here and there and did my best to eat healthier in general (except for my trip to Germany… all bets where off there), but the scale wouldn’t budge by more than a couple of pounds and I wouldn’t stick to anything serious for more than a few days.

itstartswithfoodI was complaining about all this to my friend Tracy from She mentioned she’d been thinking about doing Whole30. I spend some time Saturday reading through the website and ended up getting the “It Starts With Food” book on my kindle. I spend most of Saturday evening and yesterday morning reading it cover to cover. It make a lot of sense.

Tracy and I decided to start the Whole 30 Program together today and we’d love to have you join us. Don’t feel like you need to jump in today. Do your research, get the real foods to get started and jump in in a day or two.

Here are the basic rules:

Eat Real Food 

  • Eggs
  • Meat and Seafood
  • Lots of fresh Veggies
  • A Little Fruit
  • Good Fats (Avocado, olive and coconut oil, nuts and seeds)We're Doing It

For 30 Days Completely Avoid:

  • Sugar and Sugar Substitutes (including honey, agave nectar, stevia etc.)
  • Alcohol
  • Grains (including quinoa)
  • Legumes
  • Dairy (except clarified butter or ghee)
  • Don’t recreate “junk food”

That’s it… it’s also recommended that you try to have 3 large meals a day and do your best to eat breakfast within an hour of waking. I’ve been playing around with the food and eating this way over the weekend and am still struggling a bit eating so early in the morning.

Overall thought this seems very doable and the cooking is actually pretty easy so far. I’ll do my best to remember to take pictures of what I’m eating and share them with you each day.

One last rule. Go step on the scale before you start (if you want), and then don’t step on it again until the 30 days are over.

I hope you decide to join us. Leave me a comment below and if you are on Facebook, feel free to join the 52 lb in 52 days group here. Tracy and I run the group and will report progress, share recipes and encourage each other over there. We’d love to have you. It’s a private group so you will need to request to be added.


How To Make Ice Cream Without An Ice Cream Maker

If you don’t have an ice cream maker, don’t fret.  You can make ice cream at home without the aid of either a hand-cranked machine or an electric ice cream maker.

How?  All you need is a freezer, and a little muscle.

Here’s how to do it. This will work with any ice cream recipe.

  1. To begin the process, put a shallow stainless steel bowl in the freezer to get cold.
  2. Now, in a separate mixing bowl, combining the ingredients as stated in the recipe directions.
  3. Set the bowl (with the ingredients in it) in a larger bowl filled with ice and salt. Let chill for five to ten minutes, stirring ingredients with a whisk or spoon until mixture gets cold.
  4. Pour the cold ingredients out of the bowl you mixed them in and into the ‘frozen’ stainless steel bowl in the freezer.
  5. Put ‘frozen’ stainless steel bowl with ingredients back into freezer, then check in about 15 to 20 minutes to see if the mixture is starting to get frozen around the edges.
  6. If so, take a heavy whisk, slotted spoon, or electric hand-mixer and stir the mixture, briskly, breaking the frozen edges up and beating into the rest of the mixture.  Rapid, brisk stirring will help the ice cream get smooth and creamy.
  7. Repeat this brisk mixing every 30 minutes until the mixture becomes a solid ‘ice cream’ texture. You may need to mix the ice cream 4 to 6 times before the consistency is right. (If the mixture freezes too solid too quickly, put in the refrigerator so it softens enough to mix again; mix and put back in freezer and repeat.)
  8. Once the ice cream has set up properly, is smooth, creamy, and semi-solid, transfer it into a freezer container with a cover.  Cover and store in freezer for at least one hour before serving; longer if you like it more firm.

Making Ice Cream Without An Ice Cream Maker

Yes, it’s a little extra work and takes a bit of time, but well worth it when the end result is a creamy bowl of ice cream. Get everyone in the family involved and have them take turns mixing the mixture.

Of course if you find yourself loving this hand-made ice cream, it may be worth looking into ice cream makers. You can often find great deals of them online and at local thrift stores. Or ask around… chances are one of your friends or family members has one sitting around that they aren’t using.

The Trip To Germany

This week’s article is more of a personal blog post about our trip to Germany. I thought it would be fun to share a few pictures with you of my town, the grocery stores and a few sights around the area. I hope you’ll enjoy taking this little trip with me.

Let’s start with the town itself. It’s called Merzig and has been around since Roman times. My all-time favorite building in town is the Catholic Church below. This is where I was baptized and went to church almost every Sunday growing up. It’s just such a beautiful building. The picture was taken from the Parish Garden.

St. Peter Church - Merzig, Germany


Every time I go back to to visit, I learn something new about my home town. This time I was surprised to learn that the remnants of an even older church where found in what’s today the church parking lot. Sadly it wasn’t feasible to do a whole archaeological dig, but researchers were able to determine the exact location and outline of the old church and recreated an approximate outline in lighter colored stones. The project was finished just a week before I came to visit.

The Old Church


Right across from the church is one of my favorite houses in town. It’s a sandstone building.



The town is also famous for it’s wolf park. We stopped by for a visit and were lucky enough to catch a wolf feeding. Here are a couple of pictures from the park.




And then of course there are the different little grocery stores. There’s the bakery, the butcher shop and the likes. I took a few pictures to give you an idea of what it looks like.

Let’s start with the Bakery. My mom would ride or walk to one of the local bakeries every morning and surprise us with fresh rolls and pastries for breakfast.


And what would Germany be without sausages? Here we stopped to pick up a few different types to grill.


And here they are cooking over a wood fire at my sister’s house. I love these tripod grills.


I hope you’ve enjoyed this little trip to my home town with it’s attractions, stores and typical foods. I’m sharing some of my favorite recipes in this week’s newsletter and here on the HBHW site.

Darn Good & Dang Tasty – Healthy Food Does’t Have To Taste Bad

My friend Tracy from put together a wonderful new cookbook full of healthy recipes that taste great. I asked her to share her thoughts and inspiration for writing the book along with some recipes with you. Enjoy and don’t forget to check out Darn Good & Dang Tasty

Oftentimes when we think of eating healthy food our brains turn to things like tasteless tuna salad on dry melba toast – or something equally as bland.

We want to eat good food that tastes good, too, ~we really do~ but the reality is that it’s not always easy to come up with a meal, especially on the fly, that isn’t full of (if you’ll forgive my language) crap.  I completely understand how you feel.  There have been many nights when I stare longingly into the fridge and/or pantry for inspiration when, finally, in defeat, I give up and order pizza or call the hubs to pick up something quick from drive thru.  As you can imagine, this leads to a bigger waistline and a smaller bank account and that’s just not good for anyone.

To help get your healthy food mojo going and give your brain some flavorful ideas, I’ve compiled a selection of recipes that are darn good for you and dang tasty to boot.

I hope these recipes give you a jump start to healthier eating with food that tastes just as good as it looks and smells.  Enjoy!

Balsamic Mushroom & Chicken (LOW GI)


4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
No-stick cooking spray
8 ounces white mushrooms, quartered
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
2 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Parsley (optional, for garnish)


Heat skillet and spritz with cooking spray. Saute garlic and mushroom. Add and cook chicken over medium heat until no longer pink. Add chicken broth, thyme, pepper and vinegar. Simmer for 15 – 20 minutes.


Carrot Muffins (LOW FAT)carrot muffins


1 3/4 cup rolled oats
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 1/3 cups shredded carrot
2/3 cup fat free milk
2 tablespoons fat free sour cream
1/4 cup egg whites, lightly beaten



Line muffin pan with papers or spritz with nonstick spray. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, oats, baking powder, and nutmeg.

In a separate bowl mix together carrots, milk, sour cream, and egg white. Blend together dry and wet ingredients. Fill each muffin cup a little over half full. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes.

Darn Good & Dang Tasty ebook


Healthy food doesn’t have to be bland and tasteless.  In fact, it can be Darn Good & Dang Tasty.

In the newest ebook from, Tracy shows you over 100 Low Carb, Low Fat, Gluten Free, Sugar Free & Vegetarian recipes that help you get started on your way to creating a healthier you!

How To Season and Re-Season Cast Iron Cookware

The following is a small excerpt from “The Hillbilly Housewife’s Cast Iron Cookbook“. It’s the most frequent question I get about cooking with cast iron skillets. 

Over time, cast iron cookware develops a thin protective coating known as “seasoning” from the natural fats and oils associated with the cooking process. This coating fills in all the nooks and crannies inherent in the pan metal to create a smooth, uniform surface.

This seasoning is what gives cast iron cookware its wonderful non-stick quality.

Today, most new cast iron cookware comes with this protective coating or “seasoning” already on them. If the package has “pre-seasoned” printed on it, your new pan should be ready for use because the manufacturer has already completed the initial seasoning process for you.

When you buy a brand new pre-seasoned cast iron skillet, all you need to do is rinse it out in hot water and dry completely by placing on your cooktop over medium-high heat. Make sure the entire surface is dry before putting away because cast iron can and will rust if water is left sitting on its surface.

After cooking with your new cast iron skillet, wash it by hand in hot water right away. Avoid putting your skillet in the dishwasher or soaking it in water overnight due to the potential for rust.

Instead, once the pan cools to the touch, rinse it under hot water while using a dishcloth or soft-bristled nylon brush to remove cooked-on particles. Also avoid using any harsh soaps, detergents, or metal scouring pads and scrapers as these items can damage or remove the seasoning.

Cast Iron Skillet How to Re-Season Your Cast Iron Skillet

If your seasoned cast iron cookware loses its sheen for whatever reason, you may need to re-season it to get it back into tip-top shape.

If you search online for how to re-season a cast iron skillet, you may be a bit overwhelmed by all the different points of view out there regarding the best methods and types of oil to use.

For example, there is a lot of debate about what oil to use due to the different smoke points associated with each type of oil and the release of unhealthy free radicals caused by using oils with too-low smoke points. As a result, flaxseed oil is often suggested as an ideal oil to use due to its high smoke point.

According to Lodge, a leading manufacturer of cast iron cookware, the proper way to re-season their products is to start by preheating your oven to 350 – 400˚.  While it is heating, wash the pan with hot, soapy water and a stiff brush. (It’s okay to use harsher soap and a stiff brush for this because you’re not trying to protect the original seasoning at this point).

Once clean, rinse and dry completely before applying a very thin coat of melted solid vegetable shortening or other cooking oil of your choice. Place the pan upside down on the upper rack of your preheated oven, with a metal cooking sheet under it to catch any drips.

Leave pan in hot oven for at least an hour. Turn oven off and allow the skillet to cool completely while still inside the oven. Remove pan from oven and if the coating isn’t as consistent as you’d like, repeat this process until the desired sheen is achieved.

Following these easy tips on how to care for your cast iron cookware will help keep your pieces in great shape. A minimal investment of time and effort on your part will yield delicious meals for you and your family for years to come.

Slow Cooker Reviews

I’m a big fan of crockpot cooking. No matter how busy I get or how much running around town I’ve got to do, I know a yummy home-cooked meal will be ready when we get home.

As you know, I’ve recently written and published a Kindle cookbook of Chicken Crockpot recipes. It’s been very well received and I love reading through the emails from happy readers. I noticed that I received quite a few questions about what slow cooker I recommend. I wish I could point you to one product that’s perfect for everyone, but in reality the answer is that it depends.

crockpot CollageIt depends on the needs of your family, whether or not you need to travel with your slow cooker, your cooking habits and of course your budget. I decided to sit down and take a closer look at a few of my favorite slow cooker models and review them for you. I hope the extensive reviews of the 7 slow cookers in this short report will help you make the right purchasing decision.

Slow Cooker Reviews (PDF) 

For delicious slow cooker recipes, visit the crockpot recipe section on the Hillbilly Housewife website and take a look at Crockpot Cooking Made Simple.

Plus there is a series of crockpot cookbooks I’m publishing on Amazon as Kindle cookbooks. You can find them via my Amazon Author Page at

Earth Day Projects For The Whole Family

With Earth Day coming up on April 20th, this is the perfect time to teach your kids about little things we an do every single day to protect the planet we call home. Here are some ideas for easy earth day projects the whole family will enjoy.

Kids love being a part of efforts that they know will help to protect the earth. Not only do they like knowing that they have a respected role to play but they like the fact that their parents and other adults acknowledge their abilities and maturity enough to discuss important issues with them like the environment.

Earth Day is an opportunity to really think about the messages and actions that cities and regional governments across the country are promoting to help our environment. “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle” are messages that can take on greater meaning through purposeful activities that you choose to do with your family on Earth Day. To begin with, why not gather everyone around and talk about the following questions:

What can we recycle in our household and how can we recycle these items?

How many disposable items, from diapers to plastic bags do we use as a family, and how many items can we choose to do without?

Where can we reuse items we no longer want?

Earth Day Projects For The Whole FamilyHere are some uses for existing items that might be in your household:

  •  Reuse a plastic or paper bag as a gift bag – place some decorative stickers or other decorations on it and you’ve got a replacement for wrapping paper!
  • Reuse empty food containers as storage for leftovers.
  • Decorate a can and reuse it as a pencil holder.
  • Habitat for Humanity accepts building material donations – contact your local office for this non-profit group before disposing of old building material around your home.
  • Your local Goodwill can make good use of your gently worn clothing and gently used furniture or other household items. Contact them to find out delivery options.

Suggest that your children organize an Earth Day Groceries project with their classmates and teacher. The project involves each child in the class decorating a cloth, canvas or other durable and reusable bags that can serve as great grocery bags. Once the bags are done present them to your local Grocery store as a way to promote Earth Day and the strong relationship between your local store, school and patrons in the community.

Hiking is a great family activity that can turn into a enjoyable Earth Day Activity if the purpose of the hike is to pick up garbage in your local park or trail. It’s a satisfying project that will make kids feel they are doing their part to take care of an area that gives them and their friends in the community much enjoyment – especially animals!

One of the best ways to teach our children about the impact of trash on our environment is to show them the “trash trail.” Where does the trash go after we put it out for the garbage truck? On Earth Day why not take your kids on a little journey along the “trash trail.”

The garbage workers or sanitation engineers take residential garbage usually to a transfer station that collects the community’s waste/rubbish before shipping it off to a regional solid waste facility. In many cases the garbage gets trucked to a landfill or incinerator plant. Sometimes that garbage is then burned to produce electricity – depending on the town.

Investigate if you are within traveling distance to a waste facility and ask if they do tours for schools or community members. If so, you’ll be in for an eye opening experience that will make this Earth Day one that will be an educational and fun experience for you and your family.

April Fool’s Day Treats – You Are Serving WHAT For Dinner?

April Fool’s Day is the perfect day to have fun with the meals you serve. Surprise your family on April 1st with these fun meal ideas.

Fake Hot Dogs And French Fries

Your kids will love fake hot dogs and French fries for lunch this April fools day.
Peel a banana and spread peanut butter all over it to give it the appearance of a hot dog. Serve it in a hot dog bun with some strawberry preserve drizzled over the hotdog to make it look like ketchup.

For the fries, peel some apples and cut them into sticks resembling fresh fries. Roll them in a cinnamon and sugar mixture and bake them for 8 to 10 minutes in a preheated 400 F oven. Serve with a side of strawberry preserve as fake ketchup.
What a fun lunch.

Fool everyone in the family with these fun dinner and desert ideas. They won’t believe you are actually serving cake for dinner and spaghetti for dessert.

April Fools Day Cherry Cake Or Meatloaf?

Your Family will be in for a big surprise with this meatloaf cake.
Prepare your favorite meatloaf and bake it in two 9-inch cake pans. Reduce the cooking time from what you would usually cook it since the meatloaf cake is thinner.

While the meatloaf cakes are baking, prepare some creamy mashed potatoes. Spread a layer of mashed potatoes on one of the cakes and top it with the second one. Use the remaining mashed potatoes to “frost” your cake. Cut a few cherry tomatoes in half and use them to decorate the top.

Serve Spaghetti As Desert

Since your serving cake for dinner, it only makes sense to eat spaghetti for dessert.

Put a slice of pound cake on a plate. Spoon some softened ice cream in a pastry bag with a thin round tip. Pipe the ice cream over the pound cake in a swirly motion to resemble spaghetti noodles. Freeze for about 15-20 minutes to allow the ice cream to harden back up. Top with strawberry jam as tomato sauce and a few coconut flakes to resemble Parmesan cheese.

Don’t Forget The Drinks

Meals like these deserve a fun twist on a beverage as well. Prepare some lemon Jello and pour it into glasses. Add a straw and let it set. It will look just like a glass of lemonade. You can even decorate the glass with a slice of lemon.

Have fun with these creative April Fool’s recipes this April 1st. They are sure to make your family smile. Enjoy!


April Fool's Day CookbookFor more fun April Fool’s Day recipes, grab a copy of my latest Kindle Cookbook “April Fool’s Day – Fool Me Once, Feed Me Twice

April Fool’s Day is a great time to let your inner jokester out. And while you were probably taught to never play with your food, you can make an exception today ;-) Here are some safe, fun food tricks to fool your family and friends including:

  • Melty Mallow Fried Egg
  • Bottoms Up Glass of Jell-o
  • Candy Hamburgers
  • Goofy Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
  • Cake Con Carne
  • Celebration Mini Meal Surprise
  • Butter Cream Potato Frosting
  • Silly Strawberry Whipped Potato Frosting

10 Easy Ways To Freshen Up Your Home Any Time

Spring is the perfect time to freshen up your home. It’s a time of change, renewal and warmer days. Once spring cleaning is done consider one of these ten easy ways to add a fresh touch to your home.

1. Open the windows

During the winter months the windows stay closed. Your indoor air becomes stale. In fact, indoor pollution is much worse during the winter months. Simply opening the windows can add a lot of energy to your home. Open the curtains to let the sunlight in too. It’ll refresh your home and your spirits.

10 Easy Ways To Freshen Up Your Home Any Time2. Use essential oils

Essential oils are great for aromatherapy and room fresheners. You can place a few drops of your favorite oil in a bowl of water. You can place a few drops on a basket of rocks. You can even use a diffuser or a room spray. Good spring scents include lavender, verbena, lemon, orange and grapefruit.

3. Burn a soy candle

If essential oils are too much effort, grab a soy candle. Soy burns without emitting toxins into the air. And they come in a wide variety of scents. You can purchase several candles and use them to accessorize too.

4. Steam the carpets

If steam cleaning your carpets wasn’t part of your spring cleaning efforts, then consider steam cleaning them. It gets rid of the stale smells left over from winter. They’re bright, soft and ready for spring. It’s a simple way to freshen up your home.

5. Flowers

Flowers lighten and brighten a whole room. And they don’t have to cost a fortune. You can grab a beautiful bouquet at your local supermarket for under ten dollars. Place them in a glass bowl, vase or pitcher for a simple touch of spring.

6. Rearrange

Moving your furniture around changes an entire room’s look and feel. It’s a simple process that takes less than thirty minutes and it can have a dramatic effect. IF you’re looking but a simple yet powerful change, this is the step to take.

7. Add new accessories

Rug, vases, pillow and throw blankets can all add a new look to your home. Look for spring colors and patterns. For example, a robin’s egg blue throw on a black couch with a few spring pillows lightens and brightens a room.

8. Buy a plant

Plants are an easy way to bring nature indoors. If you don’t have a green thumb consider silk plants. They offer the same look with less maintenance. However, a live plant does offer air cleaning benefits.

9. Change your art

If you have art on your walls you can freshen up your room by changing it. You can buy new items or you can simply move the art around.

10. Fresh paint

A simple coat of paint can change your home’s look and feel. If you’ve been considering painting, now is the time. You can paint an entire room. Or you might decide to paint a single wall for an accent.

Freshening up your home doesn’t have to involve a total redo. A few simple steps can wipe out the last remnants of winter and welcome spring with open arms. Paint, accessorize, and add the scents and look of spring to your home.