Friday, February 28, 2014

Volunteering: If Not You, Then Who?

This afternoon I have a training session for Girl Scouts.  I've been volunteering with Girl Scouts in some capacity for the last five years.  I've been a troop leader for the last three.  Somehow a training I should have had at least three years ago got overlooked, so now I am getting caught up. 

I also volunteer with 4H as a project leader in my children's club.  The two things keep me pretty busy.  And for the most part I really don't mind. 

I never actually wanted to be a Girl Scout leader.  But when my younger daughter, Meg, wanted to join Girl Scouts, it was either volunteer or she wouldn't have a troop.  How could I tell her that her older sister could go to Girl Scouts, but she couldn't?  So here I am years later. 

What makes me sad is that there are still so many girls in our area that don't have troops.  They want to be a part of Girl Scouts, but there aren't enough volunteers.  Some people just truly do not, and will not volunteer.  Others mistakenly think it is too hard or they aren't qualified or have some other misconception that keep them from stepping up.

Let me tell you, as much as I did not ( and some some days still do not) want to volunteer with Girl Scouts, it has been easier and more rewarding than I could have imagined.  It's such a great feeling when girls and their parents tell you how much they enjoy coming to Girl Scouts. 

It's also been a great thing for my confidence level.  I have always struggled with speaking in front of people, even if they are kids.  Even though I still have a little anxiety over it when adults are present, I am so much better and more composed than I was three years ago.  It also doesn't take as much time as I thought it would.  The leaders decide how often and where to meet. 

The hardest part of being a Girl Scout Volunteer is cookie sales.  I am honestly not overly fond of this part of it.  But with each year it has gotten easier and really does not seem like such a big deal this year (don't tell my co-leader I said that!!).  And there are always other volunteers to lend a hand or give advice. 

Now my son is joining Cub Scouts.  I have to admit that I am so glad my husband is going to take control of this one and take him to his den meetings.  This way HE can get roped into volunteering instead of me.  It's not that I wouldn't love to help, but I'm already stretched and fear if I added something else right now all areas would suffer. 

I do wish more parents would realize how easy it is to volunteer though.  We have so many girls in our areas who need someone to step up.  What's worse is some parents actually will get irate and rude to other Girl Scout volunteers when there isn't a troop available for their daughter's age level, but they offer no help in finding a leader or refuse to volunteer themselves. 

So please, if you would like your children involved in an organization such as Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, 4H, etc., remember that it can only exist if volunteers step up and help.  Even if you can't run a troop, den, or club you may be able to help ease the burden in other areas.  Never be afraid to ask for information, you might be surprised what you can do.

Thursday, February 27, 2014


Wow, have I really gone four days without a post?  Yikes!  I'm not sure what happened there.  I've been so ensconced in working with the kids on their school work that I had not even realized it had been that long.  Let's hope I keep better track from now on.

Along with my interest in traditional and herbal medicines, I also have a huge interest in wildcrafting.  Wildcrafting is the act of harvesting plants from their wild habitat for use as food or medicine.  My interest in wildcrafting started when I was a child walking in the woods with my grandmother.  In the spring we would go out looking for morel mushrooms and she would point out plants to me and tell me what they were used for.

 I remember being particularly fascinated with Bloodroot.  The flowers were beautiful and it was so cool to a little kid that when you broke open the root it really did look like bright red blood was coming out of the plant.

She would point out all the plants that we could eat, such as dandelion and nettles.  I don't remember all the information she gave me specifically, but every year when I'm walking through the woods on my own land I remember my time in the woods with her. 

I spend a lot of my time identifying the plants growing here and finding out if they are useful or not.  I know that even if I don't remember what my grandmother taught me, it was that time with her at such a young age that fueled the desire I have as an adult to know more and make use of what nature has provided me.

I've taught my kids what things they can snack on while they are playing.  Of course the wild raspberries are a huge favorite, but so are the red clover flowers.  My younger daughter, Meg, watches and waits all year for the Autumn Olive berries to ripen in late September or October so she can enjoy them. 

You might be amazed to find out what is useful in your own backyard, even if you live in the city.  A great source of information is  Steve Brill has been leading groups through parks and woods for years and teaching people about the wild foods around us. 

If you scroll down on the left, under the heading "For Sale" you will see "Wild Cards".  I highly recommend these to anyone who wants a nice, easy to carry reference.  I have these and find myself reaching for them because they are so easy to carry along and the pictures make it easy to identify plants. 

I do have several books and use them often.  But rather than try to carry them in the woods with me, I use them to study what I've found.  And if I do come across something I can't identify with my cards, I generally have my camera with me, so I can take a picture and use the internet to identify it later. 

Always remember that if you are not sure about a plant to NOT ingest it.  When at all possible take someone into the woods with you who has experience.  Or at least start with things you already know, but may not realize are edible such as violets, dandelions or daisies. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Word Thinking Day Adventure

First off, I forgot my camera!  So all the pictures in the post are from my oldest daughter, Jade.  She took them with her tablet and was nice enough to share them with me for my blog. 

We got everything loaded into my Bronco and headed out.  We stop to get gas about five minutes from home, and a lady pulls in behind us.  She gets out of her car and knocks on my window.  So I open the door (because the window doesn't work right) and she tells me that the back tire is wobbling like crazy on the Bronco.  *sigh* 

In a most amazing twist of fate, at that same moment I realize I have a text message from a fellow Girl Scout leader, Gretchen, asking if I need a ride.  It's kind of sad that I need a rid often enough that she asks me regularly.  Again, *sigh*.  At any rate, I quickly call her and explain my situation and she sends someone to rescue us and take us to her house where we all finish getting ready. 

We still don't know what is wrong with the Bronco, as there hasn't been time to look at it.  Rob's car is broken as well and he has been working on that all day today. 

So back to World Thinking Day.  At Gretchen's house we get to chatting and lose track of time.  It's suddenly noon and the event is 30 minutes away.  So we load up as quick as we can and hit the road.  We get there with 15 minutes to spare.  *Whew!*

There were six countries represented at the event.  I have pictures from each one except for Ireland.  I'm not sure how that one got missed.  I think maybe it was because their presentation was so interactive that it Jade took fewer pictures.

At any rate, here are some pictures.  Other than Germany, I can't tell you much about the demonstrations.  I was far too busy to have a chance to see.  I do know that in Ireland the girls got to learn a bit of Irish dance.

 Germany was my country for the day.  It was a lot of fun as I was able to tell the girls a little about my trip there a few years ago. 

I started with greeting them in German:
"Willkommen in Deutschland. Ich bin Frau Ebels."  That got the girls quiet really fast and seemed to be a good ice breaker. 

Beyond that I taught the girls a few numbers and colors in German.  I also taught them to say snowman (schneemann) and Girl Scout (Pfadfinderin).

I also talked about the food, tourist attractions, industry, etc.  Then I told the girls that Gummy bears were invented in Germany and gave them each a small packet of Haribo Gold Bears. 

A huge thank you to Biz, one of my volunteer parents who showed up to assist me and ended up running her tail off.  If it weren't for her I would never have appeared as organized as I did.

Here is the display board from Italy.  I really do not know what was talked about much.  I do know that she told the girls some cool facts about Girl Scouts in Italy like their Promise and when Girl Scouts first started in Germany.  She also gave the girls some Italian cookies that I heard were delicious.  My girls didn't save me any.
 The leader who did Japan had the most beautiful display of the day.  She has been doing this for a number of years, and you can really see the love that she has poured into this.

Her craft for the girls was to make zen gardens.  My youngest daughter, Megan, has already spent hours playing with hers. 

Each girl also received a beautiful paper crane at the end of the demonstration.
 Here my Megan is getting ready to decorate her Swedish Dala Horse.

Since Gretchen and her daughter were the leaders presenting Sweden, I did get to hear a bit of what their plan was. 

Did you know that Swedes are such good recyclers that they import trash from Norway to meet their demand for recyclable trash? 
Russia was actually in the same room I was.  You would think that would mean that I got to hear their presentation.  Not really since I had a group of girls at the same time!

She did have some great nesting dolls to show the girls and they were able to talk about the Olympics.  I'm sure there were a lot of other things discussed as well, I just wasn't able to hear.

The girls seems to leave the demonstration very excited, so whatever they talked about it must have been fun!

All-in-all it was a great time and was wonderful to see the excitement in all the girls faces.

In case you don't know, World Thinking Day is a special Girl Scout day set aside for the girls to learn about and especially think about, global issues.  One way to bring awareness of things to the girls of things happening around the world is to teach them a bit about different countries and cultures around the world.  Events like the one our Service Unit put on help the girls earn their World Thinking Day badge in a fun way with a day filled full of things that spark their minds. 

I am already looking forward to next year.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

guten Morgen

I have been busy, busy, busy.  (Am I the only one who always thinks "busy, busy, busy" in the voice of the magician from Frosty The Snowman?) 

Today is World Thinking Day for Girl Scouts.  In few hours I will be at an event where several leaders from our Service Unit will be hosting booths representing different countries.  In case you don't know, World Thinking Day is a day for Girls Scouts to think about and learn about cultures and Girl Scouts / Girl Guides around the world.

My booth is Germany and I can't wait to see the girls all trying to say Pfadfinderin (that's German for Girl Scout).  I'll put up some pictures of my boot (and maybe some of the others) tomorrow.

For now, have a great Saturday and if you live in Michigan (or any other storm hit area) be careful out there.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Contemplating Education

If you have been reading this short lived blog for any period of time, you are probably assuming I'm talking about my kids education.  While I do often spend time contemplating the education of my children, at this point in time I'm actually contemplating my own education.

When I was 19 or 20 years old I got a part time Job at a GNC store.  I already had some interest in natural medicine and that sort of thing.  Working there continued to spark my interest and I've been learning things and collecting books ever since. 

I use a lot of what I have learned and do enjoy sharing what I know with others.  The problem is, I really have no authority to back up my knowledge.  20 years ago not many people were able to get any sort of education in areas of natural health.  Although a few schools did exist at that time, I just didn't know about them.

The internet and the booming interest in natural medicine has made formal education in such areas much more accessible.  So now all I have to do is find a credible school that offers online learning (most of which do) and come up with the money to pay for it.  I just wish it was as easy it sounds!

I did find the website for the American Herbalists Guild.  They seem to have compiled a lot of information there that looks helpful.  Now to make a plan! 

What dream have you had laying dormant in the back of your mind?  What can you do to bring it back to life?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Got Snow?

The accumulation this year has been crazy!

 The ducks use to like getting under that trailer.  I'm not sure they can anymore.

 There are five steps from the ground to the top of this porch.

 That is a kiddie pool in there that we usually are able to dump and refill.  We are reduced to scooping out what we can with a bucket and then refilling.  The ducks don't seem to mind as long as they have water to play in.

 That's a three foot fence you can see about 8 inches of there.

 The summer goat house.  Good thing we don't have anyone in there right now.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Mushroom Soup

I forgot to take a picture of the soup!  It was delicious, unless you ask Megan.  The above picture pretty much depicts what she thought of it.  If you don't like mushrooms, you probably won't like the soup. 

Jade and I happen to love mushrooms and we thought the soup was amazing.  Baby Bella, also known as crimini mushrooms, were on sale at Aldi.  That meant I had to buy some.  Then once I bought them, I had to decide how to use them.

Normally when I buy fresh mushrooms, I saute them with onions and use them on top of burgers, brats or just about any other meat.  I wanted something different this time.  I've been getting tired of the same old thing.  So I came up with this soup. 

For those of you who read the words "Mushroom Soup" and think of that stuff in a can your mom used for casseroles, this is nothing at all like that.  Not even a little bit.  This is a rich, flavorful soup that you will want to eat again and again.  Unless, of course, you don't like mushrooms. 

Just a couple of things before I give you the recipe.  I used wine in the recipe.  Any white wine that you like will work.  I used my homemade dandelion wine.  If you don't like to cook with wine, you could just skip it or use white grape juice.  The grape juice adds more sweetness than wine would, but still give a slight tang to the flavor of a dish. 

Now for the recipe:

1 Medium Onion, finely chopped
1 Pound Baby Bella (a.k.a. Crimini) Mushrooms, diced
2-4 Cloves Garlic, finely diced
1 Cup White Wine
4 Cups Chicken Stock
2 Cups Heavy Cream
2 Cups Milk
Salt and Pepper to taste
2-4 TBS Olive Oil (for sauteing)

Heat 2 TBS of oil in a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat.  Saute the onions until they begin to caramelize. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook until they reduce in size by about 1/3 - 1/2.  You can add more oil if you need it.  Add garlic and cook for about 10 seconds.

Add wine and let cook until wine (or grape juice) is reduced by about half.  If you are not using wine (or grape juice), skip this step.

Add Chicken stock and simmer for 20-30 minutes. 

Slowly stir in heavy cream and milk.  Simmer until heated through.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with your favorite grilled sandwich.  We had grilled ham and cheese. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Writer's Block!

I've started no less than four posts in the last two days and I can't seem to get more than a couple sentences in.  It's very frustrating!

While I'm not trying to be some big name successful blogger like The Pioneer Woman, I don't want to be wishy-washy either.  I've read several articles on successful blogging and for the most part they vary a lot from one blogger's perspective to another.  The one bit of advice they all give consistently is to blog everyday.  Even if you don't know what to write about, just post something. 

So keeping that in mind, today I will give you a picture of a giraffe.  It should at least make my friend Jennifer happy. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Peanut Butter Brownie Cookies

So the Best Ever Chocolate Cookies were a huge hit with the kids, but the husband said they were too rich.  I loved them, but I also had ideas on how to make them better.  The first idea was peanut butter.  Then I also had some other thoughts on how to tone down the richness of the cookies. 

What I came up with is a cookie that is sort of like a bite sized brownie.  Almost.  It's got this sort of dry, crisp layer on the very outside of the cookie.  Yet the inside is moist and chewy. 

I replaced some of the butter with peanut butter.  I also cut down the amount of cocoa powder a bit.  The other thing I did was change it to using all granulated sugar instead of part brown sugar. 

I think the sugar added a lot of the richness since I had made it myself by mixing black strap molasses with granulated sugar.  It's a much stronger molasses than is generally used in brown sugar.

At any rate, here is the recipe.  I hope you enjoy it.


Peanut Butter Brownie Cookies

2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350F.

Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

Beat together butter, peanut butter, sugar, and vanilla until creamy.  Add in eggs and beat until well combined.

Add in flour mixture slowly until well combined.  The dough will be quite thick. 

Place rounded teaspoons on baking sheet about 1 inch apart.  You may want to roll into balls and then flatten slightly on the cookie sheet before baking.  Bake for about 10 minutes.  Cool and enjoy.

Keep an eye out, because I have some other ideas for new flavors with this cookie.    Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Gourmet Tomato Soup

Lately I've been wondering how I could make good tomato soup quick and easy.  I like creamy tomato soups, so something with cream in it would be good.  Of course we all know I started out by googling for tomato soup recipes.  That got me no where because so many of those started out with peeling tomatoes and sauteing onions.  I wanted quick and easy.

So then I started thinking again.  The main components of a creamy tomato soup are pureed tomatoes and cream.  So what could I do to combine those in a quick and easy way and come up with a wonderful soup.  Then it came to me.  It was staring me in the face as I stood there in the grocery store.  Pasta sauce!! 

Really, I'm not kidding.  It is already full of flavor, pureed and ready to use.  All I needed to do was add cream.  Or at least that is what I was hoping would work.  Of course I did end up adding a little more seasoning.  2 out of 3 kids gave their approval and that is amazing since none of them will touch a tomato unless it's on pasta. 

Before I give you the recipe let me say, this does not taste like pasta sauce and yet it does taste like pasta sauce.  The cream and additional seasonings alter it, but the underlying flavor of an Italian red sauce is still there. 

I used jarred sauce because my homemade sauce has been gone for months.  But you could easily use homemade sauce for this and it would probably be even better.  I also used dried herbs because that is what I have.  I am looking forward to making this again in the future with fresh basil.

Cheater Tomato Soup
1 24oz Jar Pasta Sauce
1 16oz Carton of Heavy Cream
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Onion Powder
1-2 tsp Italian Seasoning
Fresh Ground Pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a pot over medium-high heat.  Stir until hot. 

That's it.  You may want to adjust the seasonings depending on the pasta sauce you use since some have more seasonings than others.  I used a "traditional" flavor so the seasonings were minimal. 

My daughter, Jade, and I area discussing adding chopped pepperoni and topping it with shredded mozzarella cheese for a Pizza Soup.  We would serve it with fresh bread sticks. 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Layer Salad

This is the layer salad that I made for our Christmas gathering yesterday at my Mom's house.  There are so many layer salad recipes out there that I had not originally planned to post this one.  However my mom asked for my recipe and true to form, I had read several recipes and then made up my own.   So I couldn't point her in the direction of the recipe I used.

Layer salads are always popular and I'm really not sure why I've never made one before now.  Probably because a tossed salad is faster and takes less planning and work.  But that doesn't mean that a layer salad is a lot of work.  It's really not.  You just layer your ingredients instead of tossing them and put a special "layer salad" dressing on top. 

Since my mom asked for the recipe exactly as I made it, that's what I'll give here.  But this recipe can be tweaked and changed to fit your personal tastes.  I wouldn't leave out the peas though.  Even my pea hating husband loves this salad peas and all.

Heidi's Layer Salad

3 Hearts Of Romaine, chopped (This is the center part of a head of romaine lettuce and can be bought in packages at my local Meijer.  Firm, crisp lettuce is very important to this salad so it doesn't collapse and go limp.)
4 Roma Tomatoes, chopped
1 large cucumber, halved and sliced thin
2 Cups Colby Jack cheese, finely shredded
1/2 pound turkey bacon cooked and chopped
3 Cups frozen peas
2 Cups Mayonnaise
1 Cup Sour Cream
1/2 tsp Salt
1 Tbs Sugar
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Onion Powder

Layer the first six ingredients in order in a bowl.

For the dressing, combine Mayo, Sour Cream, Salt, Sugar, Garlic Powder and Onion Powder.  Pour this over the top of the salad and smooth to cover evenly. 

Cover and refrigerate 2 hours to over night. 

That's it.  Pretty simple really.  And honestly, I doubt I will make it the same way twice other than the dressing.  Also, I would have preferred real bacon, but I forgot to buy real bacon.  I had a coupon to get the turkey bacon really cheap, so had planned to pick up both kinds of bacon.  Whoops!! And everyone raved about the salad even with the turkey bacon. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

I Have A Goal!

So we have worked out a budget and I know exactly how much money I have to work with for anything I may want to buy.  To keep me from spending willy-nilly with no thought to what I really need, I have picked something to save for. 

I went to my Amazon Wish List and found the thing I want most that will be the most useful to me.  I had to specify most useful because I probably would be saving for a movie in Norwegian right now instead if I hadn't.  But I digress.....

Here is what I'm saving for:

Isn't it beautiful?  It's a Lodge Reversible Cast Iron Griddle.  On the other side is has ridges so that I can make those beautiful grill marks on meat even in the dead of winter.  It's going to take a while to get it because even the allotted "fun money" is a tiny amount.  It will be well worth the wait though.

If you could choose one thing that is practical that you would love to save for, and make realistic, what would it be? 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Chocolate Granola

I was making a batch of granola last night.  It was just going to be my basic mix with cinnamon.  That is, until I opened the cabinet door to get the cinnamon out and saw the cocoa powder sitting there. 

Chocolate Granola with toasted pecans and dried cranberries.
You can find the recipe for my basic granola base HERE.  For the chocolate granola I mixed 1/4 cup cocoa powder and 1 TBS cinnamon into the oil mixture before adding it to the oat mixture.  From there proceed as usual. 

As a really cool added bonus, this turns your milk chocolatey!!  Who knew you could get that effect from a homemade cereal?  Talk about excited kids. 

Next I'm going to try using apple syrup as my sweetener to make apple cinnamon granola.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

My Favorite Websites

I have a few websites that are my "go-to" sites when I'm looking for homemade stuff. I thought I would share those here in case any of you don't know about them.

Tip Nut is my number one website to check when I'm looking for any homemade household cleaner or cheap organizing idea.  Tip Nut is also full of interesting craft ideas and pretty much everything here is done on the cheap.  I first found the site while looking for homemade laundry detergent.  I've tried several from here, and they are all great. 

I've been reading this blog for several years now.  Suzanne McMinn, the author of the blog, started a farm from scratch.  Then moved said farm when she realized her original location (and other things) were not working out as she had hoped.  But what makes it one of my go-to sites is that she makes so much from scratch.  If I want a recipe for a homemade version of something that normally comes in a box from the grocery store, I'll probably find it here.  Don't believe me?  Just go to the blog and search for hamburger helper.  The search bar is little way down on the right and kind of hard to find if you don't know where it is, but keep scrolling and you will find it. 

I have loved Ree Drummond's website since long before she was discovered by FoodNetwork.  She has a variety of topics on her website that she blogs about and I pretty much love to read anything she writes.  However, what really keep me (and I suspect many others) coming back are the recipes.  This is where I go when I want to find a recipe that will have a WOW factor.  Most of the time I can find something that is amazingly simple and won't break the budget.  I also love that most of her recipes are easily adaptable, because I can never just use a recipe as it's written. 

This is my dirty little secret.  Most in my inner circle know that I am organizationally challenged.  In fact, I readily admit this to people on a regular basis.  I just don't let many see just how bad the reality of it is.  But I'm trying and slowly I'm improving.  This is the website that keeps me afloat.  I've gone on and off this system for years, and it is always an amazing thing when I'm on it.  There are three Fly Lady quotes that keep me going on the more difficult days.  1) "You are not behind.  Just jump in where you are."  2) "You can do anything for 15 minutes."  3) "Housework done incorrectly still blesses your family."

So there you have it, a few of my favorites that keep me going.  I don't do much as written, but these are huge inspirations for me.  You should know, I purposely left off google even though I use it a ton for this sort of thing as well.  The main reason for that is because even when I google, I find that it just guides me back to one of my staple websites when I'm looking for things in these areas. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Saving Money Takes Time!

Our Superbowl spread.  
First of all, let me say I'm sorry for missing a couple days of posts.  I was busy organizing and having fun with my family, not necessarily in that order.  Since the Superbowl was last night, we had a mini-party with just the family.  It made it more interesting for the kids and they were busy having fun instead of interrupting the game their dad was trying to watch.

It's was quite a combination of processed and fresh foods.  As much as I try to feed the family fresh homemade foods most of the time, now and then we like to have some good ol' junk food.  These are the times we indulge a bit.

So now back to the subject at hand.  Saving money does take time.  I'm not just talking about how every little bit adds up over a period of time.  I'm talking about the time it takes to research and organize your cost cutting strategies. 

I have been cutting coupons for a while and only halfheartedly organizing them lately.  I finally sat down this weekend and really went through them all.  It was a big lesson for me.  I missed out on some huge savings by not setting aside the time to do this on a more regular basis. 

I was even paying for a service that was suppose to be telling me the best deals for my coupons.  (I got a great deal to try it out, so I didn't pay much.)  But after organizing this weekend, I realized that I really could do better on my own without paying for that service.  It is worth that extra little bit of time to me.  I can do at least some of it while I'm watching TV after the kids go to bed. 

I'm also toying with the idea of making a price book of at least some of the foods we use regularly.  If you have never heard of a price book, it's basically a list of foods and their prices at various stores.  You take a few weeks and track the prices of the items to find the rock bottom prices.  Then you now what the best deal to expect is, or at least when it's likely to be the best time to stock up.  It also lets you know what price to watch for if you are holding a coupon for an item you want to be able to use.

Some things I already know what my low price is.  For example I know milk from Aldi is $1.99.  So if I'm not milking a goat, this is the most I will pay for milk on a regular basis.  If I'm buying milk and see it on sale cheaper somewhere else, then I will buy from there instead.  And possibly plan a milk based dinner such as potato soup or something with a cream sauce.

I'm getting off track here aren't I?  OK, back to the subject of this post.  If you are serious (when I say you, I really am talking about myself here) you will put in the extra time and effort.  It takes a little longer and seems a little harder at first.  But once you know what you are doing and get your system figured out, it does move much faster.

Here's the other thing, listen to what works for other people.  Someone else might have a system you haven't thought of before.  What they do might not be exactly what works for you, but maybe a part of it will be. 

Farming has taught me that I can learn a lot by listening to others and taking the parts that fit for me and mixing them together. 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Don't Forget To Have Fun

Just because you are on a budget doesn't mean you have to give up having fun.  A lot of people make the mistake of thinking fun and money go hand in hand.  They don't.  It's your attitude and determination that will allow you to have fun, with or without money.

Now I'm not saying I don't every feel sorry for myself because I don't have the money to do certain things.  I think anyone who is financially strapped goes through those moments now and then.  It's OK.  You can't always help how you feel.  It's not OK to dwell on it and let it keep you from moving forward and finding new ways to have fun while saving some cash.

One thing we do is keep a "Family Fun Jar".  It's just a mason jar we drop change in.  Any change found while cleaning goes into the jar as well.  This includes laundry and couch cushions.  When the jar is full, we count the money and decide on something we want to do as a family.  It could be going out to do something such as bowling, or a movie.  Or it could be a family fun night such as getting a new board game and a bunch of snack foods to have a fun night in. 

The neat thing about the Family Fun Jar is that the whole family gets in on it and no one pays attention to who is helping more or less than the others.  Every member of the family drops change in it from time to time.  Everyone gets to feel like they are a part, no matter how small. 

When we are waiting for the jar to get full, we still do fun things at home.  We have family movie nights, or family game nights.  All we need is the TV, a board game and a cheap snack.  We usually have popcorn or some sort of sale chips on hand.

For our family Super Bowl party, I got frozen pizzas on sale and with a coupon for $2.96 each.  And I'm not talking store brand either, these were Digiorno.  The only brand my husband actually likes.  I also got some turkey cheddar sausages for $1 a package, and buns were only 85 cents at Aldi.  I had everything on hand to make a veggie pizza except for the cream cheese ($1.29 at Aldi). 

So we will have a grilled chicken pizza, sausages on buns, and a veggie pizza.  And all it cost me to get the additional ingredients we needed was $7.10.  There will likely be enough food there for lunches the next day as well. 

What other ideas do you have for fun that doesn't cost a lot of money?