3 things I absolutely love.

Earlier this year, I decided that it would be nice to get a few things for our kitchen with some Christmas money that was given to us. We were in need of a heavy duty spatula, so I was on the hunt for a new one. I wanted something sturdy and not something that would fall apart real easy. I actually think I drove my husband crazy with all my looking at different stores, but I was not willing to just settle for something. I did find what I was looking for and I loved it so much that I went and bout another one. I also bought a spoon and another type of spatula and I love all my utensils. Kind of curious of what kind of utensils I bought? Well I got The Pioneer Woman utensils. I bought this one to use on my non-stick pan, but I also got the all metal one with the rose wood handle and then 2 metal spoons with the rose wood handles.
I didn’t know how long they were going to hold up, but they have held up quite well since we bought them and our family is hard on stuff. So I am quite happy with them.
We have always talked about getting a Dutch oven or actually our son has been trying to convince us that we needed to get a Dutch oven for some time now. Well I decided to get one. I didn’t think I would like cooking in it, but I was quite surprised that I actually love it, and I wondered why I didn’t buy one before now. I bought a Lodge 5 qt Dutch oven.
After buying this, I realized that it makes the most awesome pot roast. I used to make pot roast in the crock pot, but after trying it in the Dutch oven I try to make it in the Dutch oven.

Another thing I bought was a Lodge 12 inch skillet like this one.
We have a smaller 10 ½inch skillet that we have had for years, but we really needed a larger one so I just went ahead and got another one. This was another thing that I wish I had bought years ago. It would have made like a whole lot easier cooking things. We love this frying pan so much that we actually bought it on vacation with us so that we could cook in it.

So that is 3 things that I absolutely love. How about you, what are 3 things you love?

 

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2 things everyone must do while in Mansfield, MO

3 things everyone must do in Mansfield, MO

If you are a Little House on the Prairie fan, then you know that Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Rocky Ridge Farm is located in Mansfield Missouri. Some of you may have even visited there. We have actually been there 3 times. Our first trip there was years ago because I wanted to go see it as I am a huge Little House fan. We then took our family back when our daughter wanted to see it and we were passing through the area. In fact we even spent a couple of nights in Mansfield. Then on our recent trip to Branson, MO, we took a trip up to Mansfield, because last time we went the Rock House was closed and we really wanted to see it. It was an easy day trip, it was about an hour and a half drive each way from Branson. In fact you should be able to see both things in Mansfield on the same trip.

So what can you do in Mansfield, MO.?

Well the obvious one is the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home and Museum and then there is Bakerscreek Seed Company.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Home and Museum

Laura Ingalls Wilder home, Mansfield, MO

The main house.

At the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home and Museum you can see the newly built museum, see a film and then tour the main house and then the Rock house that their daughter had built for Laura and Almonzo.

The Rock House

The Rock House.

The main house is quite interesting to visit, since they have kept the inside just as it had been when Laura passed away. So you really feel like you are a guest at Laura’s home.

This is where, Laura wrote all her Little House books (some at the Rock house and some at the main house).

Museum

Museum

The cost to get into the Laura Ingalls Wilder home is:

Children Under 6 – FREE
Children 6 to 17 – $7.00
Adults 18 & Over – $14.00

Baker Creek Seed Company

Bakers Creek Seed Store

Baker Creek Seed Company is an interesting place to visit when you are in Mansfield. It is a seed company and they do sell seeds and plants, but it is more than that. They have a village set up that you can walk around and look in different buildings and they have some animals also.

Some things you can see are:

  • a mercantile
  • a bakery – If they are selling cinnamon rolls be sure and get one of them. They are the best cinnamon rolls I have ever had.
  • an apothecary shop
  • a blacksmith
  • a jail
  • the seed store

Also if the restaurant is open, you can get something to eat there.

Ozark hotel

The entrance to the restaurant.

The Baker Creek Seed Company is free to enter and look around (except during the Spring Planting Festival then it is $5 per person). If you want to eat at the restaurant, it is by donation only.

This really compliments a trip to the Laura Ingalls Wilder home as you can see what a town would look like back in the olden days.

So when you go to Mansfield, MO be sure and check out these 2 places.

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3 things you might not know about me.

Some of you know me well and some of you don’t so I thought I might tell you 3 things about me that you might not know. So here we go.

1. I love to drink hot tea. I grew up in New York drinking tea. Up there tea meant a cup of hot tea, but here in the south it means a nice glass of sweet iced tea. Boy was I surprised the first time I asked for tea when we went out to eat. So now I am sure to ask for hot tea when we go out somewhere. By the way, my favorite tea is Prince of Wales tea by Twinings.

 2. I usually drink my tea out of a Disney cup. I am a huge Disney fanatic and I always seem to buy a new Disney cup when we go to Disney World. Sometimes I even get one from the Disney Store every so often. Currently my favorite cup is one with Yoda on it, which is my favorite Star Wars character.

my Yoda cup

My favorite Disney cup.

3. I love to go on vacation with my family, especially to Disney World. When we go on vacation, we always go as a family. We usually pick somewhere our whole family would enjoy and then go to that area and see and do things there. Our favorite place to go is Walt Disney World and we usually get there every couple of years. Disney World quickly became a family favorite about 15 years ago and we keep on returning every few years. In fact it is getting near the time to go back.

So now you know 3 things about me that you may not have known before.

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3 Fun and Inexpensive Things to do in Springfield, MO

3 fun and inexpensive things to do in Springfield, MORecently we went to Springfield, MO to do a few things in the area. We have been near Springfield before but never actually went there. So this trip we decided to actually do a few things in Springfield, MO. So what exactly is there to do in Springfield, MO that is fun and inexpensive.

Bass Pro Shops:

Bass Pro Shops - Springfield, MO

The first thing you can do in Springfield doesn’t even cost anything. You can go to Bass Pro Shops and look around the store. We were first introduced to Bass Pro Shops a few years ago and since then we have visited a few. One thing we have noticed is that every Bass Pro Shop is completely different than the rest. This Bass Pro Shop is a little different than the rest as this one is the granddaddy of them all, meaning this is the original one. Also at this Bass Pro Shop, you will find the NRA National Sporting Arms Museum and the Archery Hall of Fame. Both of these museums are free and are pretty interesting.

Jessie James gun on display.

Jessie James gun on display.

Geronimo's bow.

Geronimo’s bow.

Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield:

Wilson's Creek National Battlefield

Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield is located just south of Springfield, MO. Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield is a National Park that is actually a Civil War battlefield. The Battle of Wilson’s Creek took place on August 10, 1861 and was the Second Major battle of the Civil War.  It was on this battlefield that Nathaniel Lyon (Union General) was killed in action.

The Ray House

The Ray house is where John Ray watched the battle take place in his cornfield.

If you love the Civil War and history than this is a great place to visit while you are in Springfield.

Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield cost $7 per adult or a maximum of $15 per vehicle. If you have a National Park Pass then your cost would be free.

Springfield Botanical Gardens:

Springfield Botanical Gardens

Springfield Botanical Gardens are located at the Nathaniel Greene/Close Memorial Park. The gardens here are not the only things to do at this park. You can tour several gardens as well as tour an old farmstead and one room schoolhouse. Also you can visit a butterfly house and even take a tram tour of the park. There is also a Japanese Garden if you want to tour that. The Japanese garden is the only thing that will cost you money to get into, but in my opinion it is worth the entrance fee. The entrance fee is $3 for anyone over the age of 12. The rest of this park is totally free and is full of flowers. There is even a master gardeners demonstration garden that you can look around and get ideas for your own gardens.

Gray-Campbell Farmstead

Gray-Campbell Farmstead

Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden

Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden

If you are looking for things to do in the Springfield area here are 3 good places to visit.

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Springfield Botanical Gardens – Springfield, MO

Springfield Botanical Gardens

Springfield Botanical Gardens at Nathaniel Greene/Close Memorial Park is located in Springfield, MO. Everything is free to tour here except the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden, which costs $3 for adults and is free for kids 12 and under. If you have a membership to another botanical garden, you may be able to get in free. That is how our family got in free.

There is so much to see and do while you are at The Springfield Botanical Gardens. You can easily spend the whole day there if you choose to. The gardens change throughout the year so you can see different things in bloom as the seasons change.

At the Springfield Botanical Gardens, you should start your tour at  the Botanical Center. Here they have restrooms and information about the gardens. Be sure to get a map while you are there.  Also in front of the Botanical Center is where you can catch the Solar Tram if it is running the day you visit the garden. We went on a Sunday and it was running, so we were able to get a tour of the gardens on the tram. I would highly recommend taking the tram if it is available. You can get an overview of the park and get a good idea of what sections of the park you want to go explore after your tour. We actually took the tram ride near the end of our day at the park, but it would have been quite helpful before. The tram ride actually lasts about 45 minutes or longer.

While you are in the area of the Botanical Center, you have to check out the butterfly house. Here you can see butterflies, caterpillars, chrysalises and butterflies emerging out of their cocoons. This is open seasonally.

Butterfly house

Near the butterfly house there is a flower garden that you can walk around and see the flowers. When we were there, the Iris’ and the peonies were out.

peonies

Peonies

Iris'

Iris’

One thing you don’t want to miss in this area is the Master Gardeners Demonstration Gardens. Here they have gardens set up that will give you ideas on how to do things in your own garden. I know we saw a few things that we will be incorporating into our own gardens.

Master Garden

Also at the Botanical Gardens they have an area called the Gray-Campbell Farmstead. Here you can look around the farmstead and if it is open you can tour the oldest cabin in Springfield, MO. This is a 2 room house that is set up like it would have in 1860. Also near the house is the recreated Liberty School one room schoolhouse. You can easily look in the windows and see the school if you are not lucky enough to get there when it is open.

Gray-Campbell Farmstead

Gray-Campbell Farmstead

Liberty School

Liberty School

Across the parking lot from the farmstead is the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden. In my opinion this is well worth paying the entrance fee to see. This garden is a great place to just relax and take in the scenery as you walk through the garden. It is so quiet and just relaxing. It is meant to be walked around at a slower pace, so that you can relax. This is definitely a spot you don’t want to miss when you go to the Springfield Botanical Gardens.

Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden

Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden

Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden

Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden

Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden

Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden

If you are in Springfield, MO and love flowers be sure and check out the Springfield Botanical Gardens. I am sure you will love this place.

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How to plan your vacation step by step. – Part 4

How to plan your vacation step by step

Welcome to part 4 of the series, how to plan your vacation step by step. In case you missed it here is part 1, part 2 and part 3.

When you are planning a vacation, you have to follow some kind of plan. Below is the steps that I use when we plan a vacation. Today we are going to talk about step 6 and step 7.

  1. Where are you going?
  2. When are you going?
  3. How much do you want to spend?
  4. Where are you going to stay?
  5. How do you plan on getting there?
  6. What are you going to do on your trip?
  7. What are you going to eat?

step 6

When planning a trip, most people have a general idea of what they want to do on vacation or the purpose of going to a certain spot. For instance on our last vacation, we went to Branson, MO. But the main purpose of us going up to Branson was that we wanted to go to Mansfield, MO for a festival that was held at Baker creek seed company. But we also wanted to do some things around the Branson area while we were there. in order to do that, we had to do some research and plan what we wanted to do.

When I start to think about what we want to do on vacation, I get on the internet and do some research on what there is to do in the area around where we want to go. Some of the places that I start with is Trip Advisor, the state tourism website, the National Park website, and a city tourism website if they have one. After I have some ideas I also check out the individual attractions website.

We have found some interesting things to do just by looking at websites. Also not everything you do has to cost you money. Some of our best memories doing things didn’t cost us anything. Take for example on our trip to Branson, we found several things to do that didn’t cost us anything and we had a blast.

step 7

Step 7 is planning what you are going to eat. As a family of 5, we have found that it is not economical for us to eat out all the time. We have to have a plan when it comes to eating or we will wind up eating out a lot.

When  we are on the road, we try to pack some sandwich fixings in a cooler and have picnic lunches at the rest areas. My family still reminds me of one particular trip we took where we packed our lunch and planned to eat at the rest area. We were going to go visit our family in Indiana, so we packed our lunch in the cooler and didn’t think much about it till we noticed that as we got further north it was gradually getting cooler and very windy. by the time we got near lunch time it was rather cold and very windy, but I was determined to eat our picnic lunch. So we got our lunch fixings out and went to a picnic table and attempted to eat our lunch. It was so cold that we couldn’t eat. After a few minutes of this we decided to abandon this idea and just go eat in the car. So now every time we go to Indiana, the kids always remind me of that time when I made them eat lunch in the cold.

Besides planning what you are going to eat on the road trip there and back, you have to decide where you are planning to eat at while you are there. Over the years we have done different things depending on where we were staying. Some times our accommodations had a kitchen and sometimes it didn’t so we just planned accordingly. Like when we stay at hotels, we eat breakfast in our room and either lunch or dinner and then eat out one meal a day. We have done this many times just to save money. If we have a kitchen available we just plan 3 meals a day at where we are staying or plan for 2 and bring sandwich or salad fixings for lunch while we are out.

Some breakfast ideas that we have done over the years are:

  • Instant oatmeal using the coffee pot in the room to heat the water.
  • bagels and cream cheese
  • fruit
  • yogurt
  • donuts
  • granola bars

Some lunch ideas to bring in a cooler when you are out and about.

  • sandwiches
  • salads
  • chips
  • fruit

Meal ideas to eat in the room with no kitchen.

  • sandwiches
  • salads
  • cup of soups – I know they are not real healthy but on vacation they are a treat for the family.

Meal ideas when you have a kitchen.

  • eggs
  • something in the crockpot (bring your crockpot it is a life saver).
  • tacos – Leftovers are great for on top of salads.
  • stir fry
  • Just about anything you normally have at home.

How you plan on what you are going to eat is up to you and how much money you are allowing in your budget to eat.

Now that you have planned your vacation, it is time to go out and enjoy it. Have a great vacation.

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How to plan your vacation step by step. – Part 3

How to plan your vacation step by step

Welcome to part 3 of how to plan your vacation step by step. in case you have missed it, you can find part 1 here and part 2 here.

When you plan a vacation, you will be covering 7 steps in the process of your planning. Basically you are going to have to answer 7 questions and they are;

  1. Where are you going?
  2. When are you going?
  3. How much do you want to spend?
  4. Where are you going to stay?
  5. How do you plan on getting there?
  6. What are you going to do on your trip?
  7. What are you going to eat?

Today in our 3rd part of the series we are going to talk about the 4th and 5th step of this planning process.

So let’s get going.

step 4

Step 4 is where are you going to stay? For me this is one of the hardest steps in the process because I get caught up looking at all the different options on where to stay and I can’t decide where to stay. Lately, I have narrowed the choices down to a few and then I enlist my family to help choose where we will stay.

When you are planning on where to stay, there are many options available. Depending on where you are going, you can choose to stay with family, get a hotel, rent a house or condo, stay at a state park or even go camping. The choices are endless. We have stayed with family, got a hotel, rented a condo, stayed at cabins and went camping. All of them have their plusses and minuses, but we have enjoyed them all. Some trips we have done a few of these options. Talk about logistics, gee I am getting tired just thinking back on some of those times.

When you are trying to see where you are going to stay, you have to have a price point of how much you are wanting to spend. This is where step 3 will help you, you have to know how much you want to spend or have to spend on lodging. This amount will ultimately determine where you are going to stay.

As I have said, there are many choices available. So where do you start to look for options? Usually I start by looking on Trip Advisor in the area of where we want to go. They have options for hotels, cabins, Bed and Breakfast places as well as other places to stay. I also look at state parks to see if there are any cabins or motels at those parks and if they are near where we want to go. Sometimes we even stay at state parks for our whole vacation, just so that we can have a nice relaxing vacation enjoying nature. I also look at the hotel chain websites.

When I am using Trip Advisor, I always check out the websites of the different places that seem like a good place to stay. I never take anything for granted and I want to see the websites for myself.

When I do my research, I also look for deals on lodging. Sometimes it is cheaper to reserve your room for a hotel directly with the hotel’s website, especially if you are a rewards member and/or can get a discount because of being a member of AAA or AARP or a military discount. We do this because we like to stay at Hampton Inn’s and we can get a military discount.

So when you are deciding on where you want to stay, be sure and check out all your options before you decide on where you are going to stay.

step 5

Step 5 is, how do you plan on getting there? For our family, we usually drive everywhere. Since there are 5 of us, we find it cheaper to drive rather than fly. Some trips, we drive our own car and others we rent a car. It all depends on where we are going and how old our vehicle is.

Now some people don’t drive long distances, so it is easier for them to fly. The choice is yours what you want to do and how much you want to spend.

Your choices are to drive, fly or take a train. Some people also might consider taking a bus to their destination. Either way you choose, you will have to do some research on prices. Again look at some of the travel websites, everyone has their own preference so use the one you like.

I personally think this step is more about how you personally want to travel to get to your destination. There is no right or wrong way just as long as you have the money to do it. Our family drives and we don’t mind taking long road trips. Taking a road trip is half the fun of getting there, but that is our  preference.

I hope you join us next time as we cover the last 2 steps of planning your vacation.

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How to plan your vacation step by step. – Part 2

How to plan your vacation step by step

Welcome to part 2 of how to plan your vacation. You can find part 1 of this series here. As you plan your vacation, there are 7 basic steps to planning a vacation. They are;

  1. Where are you going?
  2. When are you going?
  3. How much do you want to spend?
  4. Where are you going to stay?
  5. How do you plan on getting there?
  6. What are you going to do on your trip?
  7. What are you going to eat?

Today we are going to go over the first 3 steps.

step 1: where are you going?

Step 1: Where are you going? Everyone has a different idea of where they want to go on vacation and that is perfectly fine since everyone is different. For some people they want to go to the beach, others may want to go to the mountains and some want to go see family. Where ever you want to go on vacation that is perfectly acceptable.

So wherever you want to go is just fine as long as it is fine with the rest of your family. This is obviously the first step as all your planning starts with this important fact, without it you can’t plan your vacation.

step 2

Step 2: When are you going? This is also an important step, since your planning will depend on the time of year you are going. Sometimes this step is pre set because depending on where you are going the time you go might be pre determined. Like if you are going to a conference or to a certain festival or even to a certain event. These things happen at a specific time, so you have no choice but to go at a certain time.

step 3

Step 3: How much do you want to spend? Ah, that thing called money has to come up sometime huh? Well here it is. Just like in life, things revolve around money. How much money you have that you are willing to spend on a vacation will determine what you are going to do.

A lot of times when we are planning a vacation, we have a budget in mind as what we want to spend total, but it isn’t until later on in the process of planning that all the budget items come into play. For example, on a recent trip we had a budget of $4,000. At the beginning of the process we didn’t know where that $4,000 was going to go. It wasn’t until the end of the process that we saw how much was going toward lodging, food, gas and attractions.

So here is the step where you have to decide how much that you want to spend while you are on vacation. You can fill in the rest of the budget as you go along the rest of the steps.

Be sure and tune in for part 3 of the series, How to plan your vacation step by step.

 

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How to plan your vacation step by step. – Part 1

How to plan your vacation step by step

Vacation, that time of the year that most people look forward to so that they can relax and have fun. Before you can get to go on that vacation someone has to plan it all out. No matter where you are going, near or far, someone will have to plan the details.

So how do you plan a trip? Well there are several basic steps that you will need to follow, no matter where you are going. We use these steps every time we go somewhere, whether it is to visit family, a family vacation or even Walt Disney World.

Here are the basic steps to planning a vacation:

  1. Where are you going?
  2. When are you going?
  3. How much do you want to spend?
  4. Where are you going to stay?
  5. How do you plan on getting there?
  6. What are you going to do on your trip?
  7. What are you going to eat?

Some of these steps are very easy to accomplish and others are more difficult to work through. With perseverance you will have your vacation all planned out in no time.

Join us next time as we start to go through the steps to planning a vacation.

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Happy 4th of July from Families Around the Kitchen Table.

american flag

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