All posts by Martha Wild King

Martha Wild King is a 66 year-young mother of five and a wife of 34 years to Captain Michael King, USN, Retired. We adopted our fifth child, an orphan from Russia when I turned 50. As far as keeping myself active, I have home-schooled for 22 years, and started three home-schooling support groups. My 100+ articles on homemaking-faith-frugality have been published in magazines, newspapers, and weekly bulletins since 1982. But most importantly, I have faithfully walked with my Lord Jesus since 20 June 1976, when I gave Him my life; and through that walk, I was led into the Catholic Church in 2009 after longing for it for 40 years. I had the Bridegroom before: now I also have His Bride--The Catholic Church.

The Frugal Catholic: “The Make It Do Budget” by Martha Wild King, M.Ed.–August 2017

Being the frugal minded soul which I know you are, I am sure you have heard this depression era slogan before, “Use it up: wear it out: make it do: and do without.”  Well I have The Frugal Catholic 2017  take on this popular saying which is–Make it do, do without, use it up and wear it out because “making it do” is where this slogan should begin, especially in our over consumptive 2017 era.  So for the first part of our four-part series over the next few months, we are going to look at each segment carefully, and if you apply them, green is going to grow in your wallet.

                                       ” The Make It Do Budget”

When I was in Huntington High School in the 1960’s, women didn’t have sports so you gravitated to school clubs for activity.  Being a dramatic sort, the Drama Club fit the bill, and for lack of female actors, I was cast in a lot of leads.  My favorite was a Christmas story by O. Henry entitled “The Gift of the Magi” where Della and her young husband, Jim, sacrificed their most precious possessions to give each other desired Christmas gifts: She sold her very long hair to purchase him a gold watch chain, and he sold his gold family watch to purchase beautiful combs for her very long hair.  You can see the problem, right?  The story opens with Della lamenting that with all of her saving and scrimping for a whole year all she had towards her gift for Jim (before selling her hair) was one dollar and eighty-seven cents.

That is what our budget felt like entering the month of August–a budget which was to include food, fashion and fun.  August 2017 looked exceptionally bleak until my husband and I put our heads together and began to focus on “THE MAKE IT DO  BUDGET.”


Although I know the following verse doesn’t really apply to what you have in your pantry, I think it holds a lot of value; for it tells us a real source of “making it do” which is take a look at what you have, NOWIt states in Revelation 3:2  Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. (RSVCE)  Yes, that concept of strengthening the things that remain is where you need to start.  Here is how.  Pull out all the food in your pantry, refrigerator, and shelves in the garage or basement.  Clean the refrigerator, throw away expired goods (I recently gave food poisoning to my lovely daughter-in-law by serving her a rancid taco shell), and release what’s not working–i.e. that  jar of jam from Aunt Estel which is not your favorite flavor.  If you can give anything away to your local food pantry, do so.  That alone makes one feel better.

Once you have everything pulled out like cans and cleaning goods, clean off your food-locker shelves (even if it is only one shelf), and start putting back in what you want to keep in an orderly fashion.  As I was doing this, several key actions came to mind.  The first key was to put what I use most commonly at eye level, just like they do in the grocery stores.  We had a lot of old cans in the garage pantry, and I decided everything cook-able  needed to be inside.  That, in itself, made a huge difference in our food supply.   I grouped items better, and with this rearrangement, I immediately felt like I had more because I could SEE what I owned which brought down the panic level.  Michael and I then sat down with some of our favorite cookbooks and pulled together our monthly menu using goods we had.  That felt good because instead of running to the grocery store to purchase what we couldn’t afford, we “made it do.”


Rationing, or “apportioning or distributing by some method” is a concept when financial times are hard.  You have X amount of goods, so you limit yourself to a certain amount each day.  When you run out of olive oil, you use that old jar of coconut oil, sparingly.  I realized we were going to have to ration what we could consume and I was also going to have to get creative with what we had on hand versus heading to the grocery store.  So out came my faithful old bread machine, and I “reinvented” it.  Instead of purchasing bread, I used a recipe I found, put the machine on dough cycle, and turned one loaf into two.  The success of this rationing was amazing, for cutting that one loaf in half made a tastier treat.  And instead of snacks of chips, moist home-made bread was used with peanut butter.  Rationing not only proved to be an overall improvement, but it really kept me out of the grocery store.


Now just so you don’t think I am dealing with food alone when it comes to budgeting, these same principles–RELEASE, REARRANGE, and RATION– can be applied to fashion and fun too.  When thinking of fashion, let go of any clothes that are “ho-hum.”  If you can’t decide which ones those are,  try them on for an objective family member.  And for fun, make your home so magical with ideas from  The Frugal Catholic: “The Hidden Value of Making Magic in Your Home” by Martha Wild King, M.Ed.–June 2017,  that you will want to stay home.  Magic is a big money saver when you don’t have big money.


So there you have it, “The Make It Do Budget.”  Yes we have made it through the month and are even keeping some of the tricks we have learned like making home-made bread again–frugal tricks which very much helped save money in the past and had been neglected.  So if you only have limited funds this next month or next, give “releasing,” “rearranging,” and “rationing” a try.  And don’t forget to work together with your significant other in full communication.  Heck, even if you don’t have a lean food, fashion, and fun budget, try it any way a save some big bucks.

                                   THE  Make It Do Bread Recipe

This can be made with our without a bread machine, but if you have one pull it out, dust it off, and try it.  If you don’t have a bread machine, simply combine ingredients in the below order, knead it, let it rise, and follow the below instructions.***.

Wet ingredients:

combine and put into the bread machine pan—1 and 1/2 cups milk, 2 tablespoons of soft or melted butter, 1/2 cup honey

Dry ingredients:

combine 4 cups of white flour (or use 2 cups of white flour and 2 cups of whole wheat flour) with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons of flax sees, and put into the bread machine pan over the wet ingredients


2 and 1/2 teaspoons of yeast on the top of the dry ingredients

Use the  dough cycle on your machine which will take about 1 and 1/2 hours for the first rising.   *** Then take the dough out of the machine and divide it in half and put into two greased bread pans for however long you want it to rise, and make sure you cover it with a dish towel.   (I usually give it about one to two hours depending on the weather outside.)  Bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for 20 minutes.  Let cool and remove it from the loaf pan.  Freezes very well and fits nicely into a Ziploc bag.






The Frugal Catholic: Guest Author, Hannah J. King M.A.– “You’ll Go When You’re Ready”–July 2017

Dear Readers,

Since I just had a hip replacement last week and my thoughts are on healing versus writing, I wanted to share my daughter’s blog post  which I found quite insightful.  Hannah will be starting RCIA Classes to become a Roman Catholic this September 2017.  Her journey to become “the best version of herself” is reflected in her blog, and I hope you will enjoy her contribution.  You can read/ subscribe to her blog or refer it to someone whom you know could benefit.  All of us have struggles, and isn’t it wonderful to bear each others burdens as our Lord commands in Galatians 6:2 “Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

For more of her writing click on:

You’ll Go When You’re Ready and Not a Moment Sooner


Martha Wild King, M.Ed. The Frugal Catholic


Dear Can You Feel This,

I’m spiraling. While I was getting ready for work my husband said to me, “Wear your hair up so guys don’t look at you. Never mind, guys don’t look at you anyway.” After he walked away, I started thinking how unattractive I am. My husband locks me out of our bedroom at night. I want to disappear, but gradually, you know? Am I supposed to leave him for a fresh start to go Instagram pictures of my Target cart #mommysdayout , because mania is how I get someone to pay attention to me? I feel like I am beyond repair, or just walking baggage.


Dear Goodboy,

You must be in a great deal of pain.

The fears you’ve now, over what has been lost, is a commitment to the person you were. Pride tethers your broken heart to his broken soul, because to dispatch from it leads to conventions of uncertainty. Mania is searching for what is left to put back together. It’s your way of staying safe in fear, instead of feeling the devastation of what you’re surviving while not living. Why are you loyal to this version of yourself?

The dream of viable love, with a man who doesn’t know how to give or receive it, has shown you hollow depths of loneliness more so than ever. You’re scared of who you have to become to leave, so all you can do is stand there waiting for his love to stop hurting. Faith, belief, courage, none of these intrinsic nuances will be enough to help you not disappear into the safety of fear. So stop; let the dream fall apart.

This is really hard right now. It’s horrific, unfair, a half-hearted existence, and you may judge everything and nothing of what is or isn’t.  It would be easy for me to assume to be an expert in your life to tell you to run out of this hopeless place, but I don’t think you’re ready to do that yet. What I will tell you is what I wish someone had told me when I didn’t know how or when to leave: you’ll go when you’re ready and not a moment sooner.

Bulimia was how I ignored being sexually abused by my long-term boyfriend in college. I lived in a paradigm of fear because it was safe, whereas the cost meant abandoning my true self over and over to stay there. I did gradually disappear, as you desire to and have. I placated the life I had, versus the life I wanted, with him, because I was terrified of who I was without him. What I hear in you is that same terror.

Things are bad, they may get worse, don’t crucify yourself because you’re not ready to go. Don’t call yourself names, or give weight to the ones he tells you; give yourself grace to mourn over the dream that fell apart. Hold the inner child inside you that isn’t ready to go, because she’s paralyzed over losing what she’s been told is love, again. She needs you the most right now. Don’t tell the child in you she’s unattractive, beyond repair, or just walking baggage.

I walked away from him moments before he boarded an airplane to Afghanistan with the Marines. He told me, “You’ll regret this.”

“I probably will,” I replied. “But it’s my mistake to make now.” I left when I was ready and not a moment sooner.

Everyone wants to be the hero in their own story, but that person is not you. This suffering will mold you towards holistic intrepidness, and I believe through that you will crave something deeper than heroism. This period will let you atrophy into the safety of fear to the person you were, or this period is a preamble to the person you’re becoming.  The moment of loyalty to the version of yourself who makes the exceptional decision to go, is the moment you will see you’re anything but beyond repair.

The Frugal Catholic: “The Hidden Value of Making Magic in Your Home” by Martha Wild King, M.Ed.–June 2017

As each year of fugal living ticks away, it becomes more important to make your home magical.  Now I’m not talking about  tricks like pulling a live rabbit out of a hat, but about creating an illusion or in this case a reality. Magic in the home is what you do as the home/apartment owner to make the ordinary seem special.  Such enchantment gives your abode an atmosphere of love and kindness, and it’s very easy–as you’ll see– to add into your life.

Now when one of my sons, an inventor, first started dating,  he worked hard to make a table that would pop out of the sand combined with chilled champagne  attached to a floating log. That kind of over the top magic was usually too much. The magic I’m referring to is the same wonderful magic we experience at Mass—the use of our five senses to enhance our spiritual worship.

Magic in the home, likewise, employs our five faculties, and what I’ve discovered is that with a  bit of effort on my part, we can live a very frugal lifestyle without sacrificing because of the illusion of magic.


Magic are those rituals you perform for yourself and others often at the end of your day.  It’s the music you flick on, the healthy household plants which stare back at you, the size of the colored or white candles you light, the earthy smell of the incense you ignite, or the questions you  ask of your family and guests. It  is what we do in our domiciles that imparts warmth, light, and enchantment.  Magic draws folks in and makes them feel special, something all of us want. It’s that love nest  we tender for those we cherish.


When we make the time to conjure  an atmosphere in our home, we create  the same feelings we get when we go to a fine restaurant.  Memory-making brings the family back, time and time again, just like the Mass pulls us into the liturgy.  If we look to the scriptures, we can even see how Christ drew his fallen-away disciples back after his resurrection when he made the charcoal fire on the beach and roasted fish to give them. (John 21:8-10)

But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards[a] off.

When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.”

Christ took the extra time to show His disciples His love.


If you want to live a frugal lifestyle and save, magic is your ticket.  That’s because it makes the home a far better place to be than going out.  And I don’t need to go into how much money you’ll save by staying in versus going out.  Making your home enchanting helps you stay put creatively.


SIGHT— For sight, candles are a good starting point.  Of course the use of candles for your evening meal holds people longer at the table which means more meaningful conversation as any fine dining establishment knows. I use inexpensive dollar candles on my table and freeze them beforehand to keep them from dripping. (The Frugal Catholic June 2016)   I’ve also begun to prefer soy candles scattered around the house even though they are more expensive. The soy wax doesn’t emit a harsh odor as paraffin does so that seems like money well used to me.

Now for sight, you don’t need to employ illusion, just simplicity, like simple lighting.  Great sources of magical lighting are a string or two of white Christmas lights or small night-light table lamps. I use the stringed lights  on the tops of cabinets (they stay plugged in all the time) because they especially give off a warm glow on cold nights. These white lights can also be wound into a plant, or you can get sticks of lights to stick into tall plants. A dimmer over your table works well if you aren’t into candles because lowering the lights creates intimacy and conversation. And finally, don’t overlook the use of small table lamps, the kind that use a small bulb, to keep the evening pleasing. I have found all of my small table lamps at Goodwill Stores or consignment shops.

My friend Dixie Moore even creates magic in our wet Pacific North West winters by turning off all overhead lights and using table and desk lamps instead. She finds that magic are those nice extra little things you do for your children and family, and she states, “We rarely use overhead lights but seem to hunker in with a good book and nice music.”

SOUND—Who doesn’t appreciate music well done within The Sacrifice of the Mass? Good music nourishes the soul; so too, music which you enjoy in the home helps us relax and focus. Even before I understood the value of classical music (see The Frugal Catholic August 2016 )  I regularly had it in the background during home-school, for I found it soothed me and helped our five children concentrate better. Just keep the radio tuned to your local classical station or use Pandora as an easy fix. And don’t overlook the value of a noise machine which has a variety of sounds such as rain, waves, or even spring frogs. These bring much peace of mind and easiness.

Also another thought on sound, is the sound of the questions your family asks during times together. One of the most fun question starters I have found are these great clear plastic boxes full of questions. You really learn about your family member or your guests. The two boxes which I have were purchased from our consignment store are called TABLETOPICS (from Amazon) which can be found for around $25. (I got my TABLETOPIC cards for about $5 each at the consignment store, so do check your local store before buying on line.) At Amazon, look under the subject of “question cards.” You will find a variety to use.

TOUCH—We find touch also in the  Mass with The Sign of Peace when we reach for each others hands. Other tactile items in Mass are the feel of the hymnal in our palms, kneeling, standing, and the Host on our tongues. Likewise in our home, much magic  can be created with soft comfortable pillows or throws over our legs, cloth napkins at dinner, or bamboo or flannel sheets. Touch magic isn’t the prickly, but the soft surroundings we foster.

TASTE—Of course, our taste in Mass is the precious body and blood of Our Lord—a taste that brings spiritual and physical  nourishment. So too must our food provide for our body and soul because you can’t minister to others if you are starving physically or spiritually.

Don’t have enough money for expensive foods? Then serve soups such as freezer bowl soup (The Frugal Catholic October 2010) , or try Courtney Cotton’s “Put an Egg on It” (The Frugal Catholic February 2017) Also check out this link which Courtney recently sent me regarding “Put an Egg on It” for additional ideas. (see Simple stir fries or even a potato frittata works wonders. For good inexpensive recipes see The USDA Cost of Food at Home Recipes  Plan those tasty inexpensive meals, and use up what you have in the refrigerator. We have saved thousands over our nearly 40 years of homemaking by practicing frugal eating at home. It is time and money well spent.

SMELL—Ever notice how some church Masses smell better than others? Then don’t overlook the power of smell to produce magic. Employ incense if you like it, or add some fresh flowers into the home,  a green plant to clean the air, or an herbal oil heater or an  essential oils diffuser. And as I stated before, soy candles smell much better when burning than paraffin ones, so do consider them.

Magic is all around us in God’s beautiful creation, and likewise it is in The Sacrifice of the Mass where heaven and earth meet, a foretaste of the beauty and glory to come as described in Revelations.  Let God weave His beautiful magical fabric of love  into your home.   You’ll be glad you did.

The Frugal Catholic: “You Can Change Your Life with Just 15 Minutes a Day”–author unknown 1989–by Martha Wild King M.Ed–May 2017.

One of the fun parts about writing is rediscovering saved articles. The following piece is one I recently uncovered, and I’ve decided to employ the principal by learning to play the mountain dulcimer–an unused gift of 15 years ago.

What’s on your “life list” that still needs accomplishment?  An important item to realize is that whatever your “bucket list” goal,  your desire is  God’s desire too.  As it says in Colossians 3:23, “Whatever your task, work heartily, as serving the Lord and not men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you are serving the Lord Christ.”

So take this 15 minute a day challenge with something you want to achieve, and let TFC (me) know how you did. My email is:

*     *     *     *     *

          You Can Change Your Life with Just 15 Minutes a Day

Tinker Smoke Signals March 1989—Author unknown –The Briefing/ March 1994

What is the biggest dream of your life? How important is it? How much would you give to make it happen? Let me pass along to you the most powerful , creative fact that anyone ever taught me, and it is astoundingly true. YOU CAN DO JUST ABOUT ANYTHING YOU WANT TO DO…IF YOU SPEND JUST 15 MINUTES A DAY AT IT!!!

CONSIDER THIS: In 3 years, you can become an expert on any subject you care to study: Chinese art, computer programming, cooking, chess, bridge, bricklaying, anything …IF YOU WORK AT IT 15 MINUTES A DAY! In just 1 year or less, you can accomplish some tremendous tasks by investing just 15 minutes a day. For example, you could: (1) Read the entire Bible; (2) Plant and keep up a small garden; (3) Become physically fit; (4) Learn to play a musical instrument; (5) Paint a house; (6) Learn a foreign language; (7) Write a book!

Read the entire Bible

Remembering the day I discovered the magic of 15 minutes still makes me smile. My husband and I had driven to a small town in the country that hot summer Saturday to call on a friend who was the town’s only doctor and an ardent do-it-yourselfer. He’d recently bought a sprawling Victorian home, and we discovered him sitting in the middle of a room surrounded by paint cans and a clutter of tools, gazing toward the ceiling and muttering, “That thing’s gotta come down!” We thought he’d flipped… especially when we learned that George intended to repair, repaint, and refurnish every room in that 3-story monstrosity by himself. How long would it take? Where would he find the time? How unrealistic could he get?

A quick tour of the already-completed rooms, however, aroused our interest and excitement. I admired a charming “new” bathroom in which George had lowered the ceiling, installed and painted new storage cabinets, hung wallpaper, changed light fixtures, and even provided heated towel bars! “I work 15 minutes at a time, but never stop before my time is up,” George explained. “That’s the secret! Work 15 minutes a day, without fail.” Still I was skeptical. I couldn’t believe such a simple plan could possibly help me. I decided to “give it a try.” That was more than 20 years ago, and since then, I’ve had great fun with those magic chunks of time.

Plant and keep up a small garden
Learn a foreign language

My first project was to tackle a badly neglected flower garden which was choked with weeds. Every time I looked out the dining room window, I fretted; because I thought I had not time to try to redeem that impossible garden. That’s when I learned how many weeds I could pull in 15 minutes! It took just one week, snatching a quarter hour here, another there, to get that flower border tidy and ready for new transplants.

The beauty of 15 minutes a day is that it helps me to stop postponing those things I really want or need to do and get them underway. It banishes discouragement and halts procrastination. The method works on any job or goal that matters to me, whether it’s writing a book, or cleaning all the kitchen cupboards. Many grim little jobs really don’t deserve more than 15 minutes a day, anyhow. Done all at once, they’d be too much of a bad thing! Doing part of that sort of a task, however, makes an enjoyable break from other duties. Large goals, some pleasant, others less so, can be accomplished 15 minutes a day.

What can you do 15 minutes at a time? Answers to that question range from the sublime (time to pamper yourself) to the ridiculous (clean out the refrigerator)! Whatever your goals or ideals, remember that IDEAS MOVE LIFE FORWARD! They strengthen purpose. They establish habits of industry.


The Frugal Catholic: “Retire Without Fear” by Martha Wild King–April 2017

My Father-in-law, Captain David L.G. King, USN, Retired, used to say that life had three stages. The first is when you are a child and attend school, the second is when you have a job, marry and have a family, and the third is retirement. I always liked that thought because since I had passed through the first two, I could only imagine what that long stretch of uninterrupted free time looked like.

But now that my husband Captain Michael King , USN Retired, and I are both in that third stage, it is far more exciting and wonderful than I had envisioned. This time, however, has not just arrived without faith and planning, and just as my father-in-law shared his wisdom about life, I would like to pass on a few pointers my husband and I have gleaned regarding retirement.

The first tip is to financially plan well for this stage by living under your budget.  Kerry Daly of Saint Cecilia Parish said, “ I saved money continuously during my working years: if you start early it adds up tremendously.” Like Kerry we too lived way below our income for 12 years. I cut the family’s hair, planned monthly meals, rarely ate out, purchased used clothes and goods, kept vacations frugal by camping and using our time share, and did our own house and car repairs by watching U Tube. And since Michael utilized his employer’s matching funds Thrift Savings Plan, the money just kept on growing, for we never saw it. That living beneath our income helped us get on a good financial footing.  And that budget and the savings accumulated enabled Michael to leave his place of employment at age 61 and permanently unplug his old faithful alarm clock.

Susan and Bob Kuebler also of Saint Cecilia’s added, a similar thought.  “We prepared for retirement by putting our pensions and savings into low risk, well-balanced mutual funds and by talking to a financial advisor and friends.”

Since March 2015, we have been on a constant vacation but not one free from work, for this time has allowed us to more faithfully attend to our Catholic Church’s needs, our family, and friends. The Kueblers now have daily prayer time. Sue adds,” We love Bible Study class and daily reading Utmost for His Highest and Jesus Calling and praying together out loud before we go to bed.” For Kerry, complete retirement enabled her to attend daily Mass and cull out uninterrupted prayer time.

Also this retirement time has allowed us to “be on call” to our grandchildren and given us time to jointly attend our Saint Cecilia Bible study, volunteer for Super Suppers and The Welcome Committee, and serve on The Funeral Reception Committee. This period has freed us to more fully serve our parish and grow in our love for His Church. Susan further added, “We are busier than when we were working so be prepared to examine and prioritize because you probably will have to let some things go. You’ll still have to decide what’s TRULY important.”

So if you are anxious about your retirement days, fear not. Lay out your budgeted plan, stick to it for one to two years BEFORE retirement  and take the leap. We may be on our way out out of this earth, but we sure are enjoying the joy of doing it fully for Jesus and His church.

The Frugal Catholic: “Minimalizing from More to Less” by Courtney Cotton and Martha Wild King–February 2017


Dear Frugal Catholic readers. I had the priviledge of interviewing Courtney Cotton regarding her minimalist lifestyle.  Her mom, Kathy, is one of my oldest friends, and I was able to stay with Kathy and see Cortney and her husband in the month of  October 2016 when I went to Nashville TN to help Kathy after her knee replacement surgery.  What Courtney has to say about minimalism will fascinate and hopefully challenge you.   Enjoy!  If you have questions for Courtney, please email them to me at

Do you consider yourself a minimalist?

I’ll first explain what minimalism is. Minimalism isn’t simply living in a small space, setting a strict budget or embracing a contemporary design style. It’s truly a way of life and requires embracing a mindset that encompasses every facet of one’s day to day. This mindset necessitates thoughtful discrimination against the noise of the world and dedication to leaving less of a footprint than the average American counterpart. The practice of being mindful is the cause; the effects are such things as living in a small space, being sparing with a budget and preferring simplistic design styles that creates a refuge for thought. And yes, I am proud to call myself a minimalist.


Have you always been this way, or what was the impetus for starting this lifestyle?

I was in a nasty relationship and marriage for seven years, where I’d escape the emotional pain by being a consumer; whether that was mindlessly surfing the internet, purchasing the next gadget or new wardrobe, binge-watching the most popular tv show or filling the house with new furniture. When I finally decided to walk away from the relationship, I was able to stay at my sister’s condo while she traveled abroad for a few months. While I used to think her apartment was sparse and overly simplistic, there was something fascinatingly peaceful and inviting about her space. Everything always seemed clean and in order, and I was able to think clearly each time I was there. It was during those few months that I realized that no amount of excessive purchasing, surfing and binge-watching would add more value to my life, and that life is too short to spend on things that don’t matter.

Do you see this as a permanent lifestyle choice or a fad?

I’ve never turned back from those days at my sister’s condo. As I mentioned earlier, it’s absolutely a lifestyle choice and my husband and I could never see it any other way. As a side note, if you’ve ever watched tiny house shows on HGTV or DIY, there’s no doubt that these homeowners have adopted a minimalist lifestyle; however I’m not sure how long the tiny house movement will last due to increasingly strict regulations about dwellings and land usage.

What are the benefits and what are the downsides of this lifestyle choice?

I’ll start with benefits. Here’s one that everyone can identify with – less to clean! Less stuff means less to clean, less to maintain and less to organize. This in turn means more time, more money and more clarity.

A result of practicing minimalism is the ability to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting feelings, thoughts and your physical state. Because minimalism allows us to have clarity in our surroundings, it is easier to practice mindfulness. I believe the two are incredibly interrelated.

Downsides – not many! In previous years, I filled my closet with trend-focused pieces from stores like Target and Old Navy, leaving me with items that fell apart after one wash. I’ve now adopted what’s referred to as a “capsule wardrobe.” A capsule wardrobe is a term coined in  1970s London that refers to a collection of a few essential items of clothing that don’t go out of fashion – and are well made – such as skirts, trousers and coats, which can then be augmented with seasonal, trendy pieces. There are times when I am somewhat self conscious that I only own a few pairs of shoes, especially by other women for my “I-own-less-than-100-pairs-of-shoes” mentality, but I’m happy to report that because of this, I have money to spend on things that actually matter, like travel, experiences, education and living in a safe neighborhood.

Secondly, one might ask about living in a small space and having parties or many friends over. This isn’t really a downside, but a challenge to address. Thankfully there are so many retailers that provide modular furniture for a party of 2 or 20 – such as Resource Furniture, Expand Furniture and Structube. Additionally, outdoor heaters and fire pits allow us to have groups of people over in colder weather – who doesn’t love a good s’more?

How do you decide what material things will be in your life?

Generally speaking, we have a minimum 6-month plan for fairly large material purchases that are aside from basic necessities for our home. Purchases such as these could include travel, experiences or things that contribute to experiences, such as a camera, hammock or bicycle. It all comes down to being usable, memorable and well-made.

Read this staggering statistic: In 2009, the Self Storage Association reported that with more than seven square feet for every man, woman and child, it’s now physically possible that every American could stand – all at the same time – under the total canopy of self-storage roofing (New York Times). The most popular response I hear when discussing the absurdity of storage units (this goes for packed garages and attics too) is “But I might need it one day!” Stop kidding yourself. If you haven’t used it in 12 months, it needs to go. It’s selfish to hold on to items that we never use – especially clothing, blankets or basic necessities that could be donated to those in need.

Even now in our minimalist home, we have a designated Tupperware bin in which we deposit items that we haven’t used in a few months, such as items of clothing that may not fit well anymore or a kitchen tool we may no longer need. When the bin is full, we donate it. We’ve found that once something goes into the bin, we completely forget about its existence; further validation that the item truly isn’t needed or missed.

Challenge yourself by asking why you’re a consumer. Are you seeking approval from others by having new clothes, a new phone or new furniture? Are you obsessed with the hunt and pursuit of a particular item? Are you falsely filing a void with the constant noise of consumerism and the immediate gratification of buying? Overall, the benefit of embracing this lifestyle is being able to spend your time, energy, and resources on things that truly matter.

Do others judge you?  What type of reaction do you get from friends and family?

Just recently I moved from a cubicle to an office at work and had the opportunity to recycle the heavy, broken furniture that was nearly four decades old. Rather than buying a new desk, I saved money by instead purchasing a discounted dining table to use as my workspace. To freshen up the space, I spent $25 on new paint, hung up some posters on the wall, recycled an old frame that a colleague had left behind and picked up a $12 orchid at my local grocery store along with a few other items.

My co-workers popped in to see my new space, some of whom were impressed by my clutter-free zone, and others who scoffed at how “sparse and stark” my space was. Yes, I agree – clutter doesn’t really do it for me! “Where is all of your stuff?” they asked. I am able to think clearly and therefore work more efficiently because I don’t have stacks of old papers, enough pens for a small army and dozens of tchotchkes stuffed into bookshelves that have nothing to do with work productivity.

Friends are encouraging of this lifestyle and often declare intentions of adopting similar habits. My mother is a different story (sorry Kathy). Surrounded by items in her home that haven’t been picked up or looked at – in some cases, in half a century – she claims that they are sentimental so therefore should be kept. I do not understand how something can be important to you yet hasn’t been interacted with in decades. We don’t have children, but if we did, we wouldn’t want them to be saddled with combing through excessive amounts of items after we passed on.

Socializing with friends in expensive settings, like a new restaurant or bar, can also be challenging. There hasn’t been a time we’ve gone out to dinner and my sweet husband hasn’t said, “This was fun, but we just spent four times what we would have had we stayed at home, and your cooking is a million times better anyway.” Eating meals at home or packing lunches is usually better than mass-cooked restaurant meals, always less expensive, always healthier and definitely more personable and intimate. If you can read, you can cook, and if you can’t read a recipe, there are literally millions of YouTube videos that demonstrate everything from how to boil water to how to prepare sea urchin. We love having people over to our house for meals – and we’re never rushed by a server.

Do you feel minimalism and frugality are the same?  Explain.

Embracing a minimalist lifestyle allows one to be mindful of a budget. Spending less on unnecessary items frees up both time and resources; minimalism and frugality are clearly interrelated.

Please share your “put an egg on the top of it” recipe.

Eggs are an inexpensive and delicious source of high quality protein, vitamins B2, B6 and B12, selenium, vitamin D, zinc, iron and copper. In our house we’ve put eggs on just about everything – from wild-caught trout to macaroni and cheese to vegetable soup. Sounds crazy, but trust me!

As with any meal, it’s ideal to have a grain, vegetable or fruit and a protein source for breakfast. Most evenings I will end up cooking a little bit too much rice or pasta, and may have a little bit of leftover vegetables that we couldn’t quite finish. Depending on the leftovers, we either freeze them to use later in soups or stocks, or save them for breakfast – simply by reheating in the frying pan and cracking an egg over the top.
Last night I made chicken, rice pilaf and broccoli – and ended up making too much rice pilaf. I had some leftover tomatoes, so I just dumped it all together and threw a fried egg on top. A drizzle of good olive oil over the top adds even more flavor and sustenance – and it ends up being no more than $0.60 per serving!  

Courtney Cotton lives in Nashville, Tennessee with her husband.  They work together in downtown Nashville and enjoy cooking, spending time outdoors and traveling in their free time.


The Frugal Catholic: “Couponing” by guest author– Robin Steele–January 2017

Happy New Year!!! The holidays are finally over, congratulations you’ve survived 😊, and things are back to normal–whatever that may be. As we are beginning to settle into the new year, I am sure you’ve all made resolutions that you are “going to keep” including working out more, eating healthier, keeping in touch with family and friends, and last but not least–spending less and saving more.

But the problem is that  after the holidays when we are looking at our accounts like 😐😩, we might find ourselves hoping and praying that the credit card bills get lost in the mail, or that we hit the lottery to solve all of our money woes (all it takes is a dollar and a dream). Yes, after the holidays, reality sets in and we realize that none of that is going to happen.  So it’s time to take a look at the budget.

After reviewing and cutting the unnecessary spending from your budget, you know you can save more, but how and where? You are already bringing lunch to work, and cutting back those happy hours (who needs those empty calories anyway 😩), but you still can’t figure out why your grocery bill is so high.  Now you can reduce that food bill with coupons, and I will show you how I did it.

When most people think about coupons they think Sunday paper inserts, suburban housewives, or it’s not worth the time; all of those are a myth. Over the last 5 years or so couponing has become a lifestyle for some and survival plan for others. The secret of couponing was brought to light with the show extreme couponing. Below is a clip of how someone’s grocery bill went from over $1902.63 to $103.72– all with coupons.

Extreme Couponing (TLC)

I know after watching a few things popped in your head:

1. Excitement (me too).

2. I wanna save money just like she did. 

3. And where did they get all those coupons from? They seldom share that part. But you’re in luck, for I’ve learned a few tricks and I’m will share.

To get the coupons you don’t have buy 10 Sunday newspapers, jump into dumpsters, or steal your neighbor’s paper before he or she wakes up.  Simply thank God for the internet. You can now buy coupons or get them for free by printing them at home.  Here are a few sites to get FREE COUPONS, but you will need access to a printer. 

2. Walmart coupons

3.P&G Everyday 

4. Redblum

And here are the sites to purchase coupons (I have personally ordered from these sites).

1. klip2save 2. thecouponclippers  3. weclipusave.

When you first start couponing, it can be a bit overwhelming in learning the language (and yes there is one),  understanding the store policy on coupons, or in recognizing what the coupon means. Below are a few links that helped me in the beginning of my journey as well as YouTube, Instagram pages, Facebook groups, and Pinterest.  Believe it or not couponing folks are  a community, and if you give it a try, soon you will be able to spot a fellow couponer in the store, just like you.

Happy Shopping and God Bless in 2017

Robin L. Steele

Robin L. Steele is a Christian mother of a teenage son and works at the Pentagon in Washington DC.

The Frugal Catholic: “Blessed to be a Blessing” by Martha Wild King, M.Ed.–December 2016

Years ago when I was active in our Protestant church, the minister would always start the service by saying, “We are blessed to be a blessing.” In Matthew 5, Christ shows us the many ways God blesses us:

The Beatitudes

When Jesus[a] saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

5 “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely[b] on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Sometimes blessings come in other ways too. They can come from a smile or a word given as a gift from one person to another. And what we often will never know is the effect of our blessing on another person’s life. As my pastor said, “We are blessed to be a blessing” and by passing on blessings to others we make the world a much better place.

Have a Blessed Day”blessings2

David Kremer, Jr. of Nashville TN is a father of three children ages 17, 9, and 7 and the husband of Sarah Kremer. He works at Centennial Hospital in Nashville at “That Good Coffee Place.” Dave serves up anything from drip coffees to custom created lattes. And he does it with a special promise. To each and every customer he attempts to say, “Have a blessed day.” David says he verbalizes this because, “I have been so blessed, and you never know what some one is dealing with in their life. If I can get one person to see God’s glory, then I will have succeeded.”

You see, David’s life, in itself, is a miracle because he is a survivor of brain cancer. “I have shared a short version of my testimony with probably a few dozen customers and all have agreed and have given me confirmation that I am a miracle and that God is in control.” He adds, “God’s great commission tells us to ‘go and evangelize and spread my word to all of the earth.’” Dave says, “ I am attempting to do this one customer at a time.” And as Dave also added, his pastor told him it takes nine contacts with a non-believer to open their eyes. Dave’s daily blessing is adding to that number.

My Secret Blessing Zapper  blessings-5

Catholic author, speaker, and founder of  Matthew Kelly, distributes a small plasticized card labeled “he Prayer Process.” In it he encourages the faithful to lift up seven different needs in prayer: the sixth one to “ask God to bless and guide others.” This is what I call My Secret Blessing Zapper.

Suppose I was carrying a large squirt gun (the type kids use in the summer), and I could aim it at anyone and zap them with blessing and guidance. I can, and do that daily (only you can’t see My Secret Blessing Zapper because it is in the form of a silent prayer.) When I see anyone, I ask God to “bless and guide” them as they pass by me on the sidewalk, in a store, or on the road. Blessing others puts me in a better place, for instead of judging, I am offering a blessing. And I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God will bless and guide that person; because God says so.

Genesis 12:2   Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”[a]


Also I have another reason for extending a blessing because when a family member was dying from cancer about twenty years ago, he didn’t want to give me his blessing, and it hurt greatly. From that time on, I decided that I was going to pass on my blessings to as many people as I could. By doing so, I expect God’s good to occur in ways I can’t see.

Make Your Own Zapper

Need a good place to start? Well in this busy Advent Season, start with an attitude “of wishing to bless.” Ask God to bless and guide those who pass your way with your Secret Blessing Zapper. Give them that zapp of blessing and guidance through a simple prayer, and watch how blessed you will become.  Or try saying David Kremer’s verbal “Have a blessed day.” After all, “we are blessed to be a blessing,” and what greater gift could we bestow?

The Frugal Catholic: “Tip #2–Cream Rinse Rules” by Martha Wild King M.Ed.–October 2016

tfc-cream-rinse-3OK,  we discussed frozen candles several months ago as The Frugal Catholic  Tip #1, but today I have another great frugal handy helper for you, CREAM RINSE or conditioner– the kind which you use after shampooing.  What many extra things it can do!

SHAVING CREAM–Since my hair is really long,  I only wash it once a week, and of course, the final rinse is with “cream rinse.”  What I discovered though is I can take my long hair covered with conditioner  and rub it on my legs, then shave them.  Of course, you can use just plain cream rinse in your hands and put it on your face or legs too for the same effect, but by using the leftovers from my hair, I get a free shave.

STAINLESS STEEL POLISH–This idea is particularly helpful if you get several of those free bottles found in hotels.  No need to use really good stuff.  Just dab it on a wet towel and move in a circular motion across your appliance.  Doesn’t leave a harsh smell like some stainless steel cleaners.tfc-cream-rinse-5

GOOP  GONNER– Have some goop in your life that needs bleeping?  Well instead of finger nail polish remover, use hair conditioner.  Rub some over the sticky spot, such as a label, and then gently rub off.  Conditioner doesn’t damage plastic like finger nail polish often can.

SHOWER POWER CLEANER– Notice the shower needs scrubbing.  then put some conditioner on a rag and go for it, even while showering.  It seems to cut the scum and mold in a quick manner.

CHECK OUT YOUR CONDITIONER– Ever wondered what  exactly is in the products you use on your skin, teeth, and hair.  Well then hike yourself over to your computer and go to tfc-cream-rinse-1    (The Environmental Working Group).  Their mission is to “empower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment.”  You can type in any brand of cream rinse or conditioner you use (or any other cosmetic product)  and find out its safety rating–something truly worth knowing since many products we use on our hair or skin contains deadly carcinogens.

Of course this thought isn’t Biblical, but it is a practical saying from The Great Depression era:  “Make it do.  Do without.  Use it up, and wear it out,” is  a  four-pronged saying worth following because it lets us understand that one item can sometimes do many things.  So cream rinse away and save money at the same time.  It is definitely worth a try.

The Frugal Catholic: “Build a Better Brain for Yourself” by Martha Wild King, M.Ed.–August 2016

Imagine you could carry your brain as it is now– sharp, focused, and wanting to learn– and arrive in your 60’s and beyond thinking well. What would it take on your part to ensure you hit that age mark with minimum “brain drain”? Well, you have it totally within your power (and God’s help) to do just that.brain health 2--good tips

My older sibling had been having basic Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and felt it was worsening.  So when she came out to Seattle this summer for a visit we took her to see a specialist.     What I learned  from her clinical neuropsychologist, Kristoffer W. Rhoads PhD, who specializes in the evaluation and treatment of dementia and neurodegenerative disorders with UW Medicine at Harborview Medical Center Seattle WA can help you too and those you love.brain health 1--weight lifter

Physical Exercise— High intensity aerobic exercise for 45 minutes four times a week such as walking, running, and swimming is more effective than any brain drug out there according to “a glut of new research presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International brain health 3--exercise chartConference in July….” (Time, August 22, 2016) Of course, weight lifting is important, but it doesn’t count in this case because increased heart rate equals increased blood flow to the brain.

Classical Music— Listening to classical music in the background of your day is again a brain grower. And it needs to be classical.

Learning–TV watcher? Well Dr. Rhoads shared that television is passive; so to make the brain grow, play cards, learn a language, pick up a musical instrument, do cross-word puzzles, play Scrabble, get a new hobby, read a book. Learn and keep learning.

Society—Having social ties is imperative. That means opening your life to old and new friendships with whom you meet regularly. That also means volunteering, serving in your Parish, and reaching out the hand of fellowship. Sirach 9:10 RSVCE says, “Forsake not an old friend, for a new one does not compare with him. A new friend is like new wine; when it has aged you will drink it with pleasure.” That’s because friends challenge us to be the best versions of ourselves, brain and all.

Organizational Lists –If you aren’t writing your day down already then begin to. Use either  a paper calendar or your smart phone. Then  transfer what is undone to the next day.  The act of “writing it down” helps with the organizational strategies of our mind. And when thinking about organizing, work your mind with space retrieval too. Meet someone new? Say their name to yourself 5 seconds later, then 20 seconds later, then 1 ½ minutes later. Space retrieval provides targeted brain training.brain health 4--parts of brain

Other Helps –As I was working on this piece, Time August 12, 2016 published “Untangling Alzheimer’s,” which further cataloged the following:

  1. Shore Up Your Heart…reducing the risk of heart disease has the strongest evidence of benefits for the brain.
  2. Emphasize Exercise—Aerobic exercise has been shown to grow the volume of certain brain regions that tend to shrink during aging.
  3. Learn New Things…writing letters and reading has been linked in brain autopsies to better cognitive health in old age.
  4. Be Social—Loneliness…is connected with poorer brain health.
  5. Treat Depression—Depression…is linked to twice the risk of cognitive decline, though it’s not clear if that’s a cause or an effect.
  6. Sleep Well—Improving poor sleep appears to reduce these risks. [for cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s]

Wisdom 4: 8-9 perhaps states best the simple life changes all of us should heed. It says, “For old age is not honored for length of time, nor measured by number of years; but understanding is gray hair for men, and a blameless life is ripe old age”brain health 6--slogan for food