Harvesting Season has begun

U pick it farmOur family went to a local U pick it place, where you can pick different vegetables for $10/5 gallon bucket. We picked lots of red potatoes, onions, bell peppers, banana peppers, tomatoes, and beans.

Now that we have picked these things, we have to process them. We are going to cut the bell peppers and onions and freeze them. We cut these up different ways so that we can use them later on. We will be freezing the beans also. The red potatoes will just be stored for future use.

We have been eating the tomatoes we picked as well as the cucumbers we bought.

We plan on going back to the u pick it farm to get some roma tomatoes when they ripen so that we can make some salsa and sauce. For us it is worth it to go to the u pick it farm because it is fresh veggies and we know where they are coming from. So we will enjoy the process of preparing everything for use later on.

 

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Memorial Day

Mississippi Vietnam Memorial

Mississippi Vietnam Memorial

Today, May 30, 2016 is Memorial Day. I know most people have today off and are planning on having a fun day either having a picnic or some other fun activity, but I hope everyone takes time to remember what Memorial Day is all about.

Memorial Day is a time to remember those who have died while serving our country. So as you are going about your day, I urge you to take time to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to our country.

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Frugal Friday – Renting a condo instead of getting a hotel while on vacation.

frugal friday

On our recent trip to Branson, we decided to rent a condo for a 2 weeks because it was cheaper than getting a hotel room. We have always shied away from renting a condo but after our experience we are definitely going to look into it again.

On our trip, we were planning on going to Springfield and Branson in Missouri. We were originally going to spend about 6 nights in Springfield and then go on to Branson for a few more nights. Once we got to looking at it, we realized that the cost of 6 nights in Springfield was going to cost us over $600 just for a hotel. We really didn’t want to spend that much so we jokingly said something about how we wished there was condo’s in Springfield that we could rent for a week through the Armed Forces Vacation Club. But we got to looking at that option and decided it was worth staying at a condo in Branson for 2 weeks and then traveling up to Springfield and Mansfield, MO for a few days. The amount we saved with a condo over hotels gave us more than enough money for the extra gas it would take to make the extra trips around the area.

Our 2 weeks in a condo cost us a little over $700 and we got to spend the whole time in the same condo. That meant not packing and unpacking, which is great for our family.

To us it was worth saving a lot of money and having to drive a little further than to stay closer and spend more out of pocket for vacation.

So if you are looking at different options of where to stay during your vacation, you might want to consider looking at renting a condo.

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Silver Dollar City – My thoughts

silver dollar city

We just got back from a 2 week trip to Branson, MO. We had a wonderful time seeing things and doing things as a family. One of the things we wanted to do when we were in Branson was go to Silver Dollar City. We have heard about this park from several people and we wanted to experience this theme park for ourselves. We were hoping to show our kids some old time rides as well as have them experience something educational like watching a blacksmith, soap maker, and other craft people. So we decided to go to Silver Dollar City.

When we were researching ticket prices, we found a 3 day ticket at our local military base that we were going to get, but decided on getting season tickets just for Silver Dollar City instead, the price was almost the same so we went with the season tickets. This way we could go more times if we wanted to while we were in Branson.

Our family is huge Disney fans and have been to Walt Disney World many times, so we had this fear that we would compare Silver Dollar City to Disney World. We tried to keep a clear mind when we went to Silver Dollar City and went with the view, this is not Disney and this is a different park so we are going to treat as such. But even with our mindset, we did compare it to Disney on a couple of occasions. Those times were mostly because we thought Disney just did logistical things better, like parking.

So off we went to Silver Dollar City. I felt like we were riding blind because I didn’t know much about the park and how things were set up and how it all worked.

We wound up going to Silver Dollar City 4 days while we were in Branson. The first 2 days were spent trying to get used to where everything was located and how to get around the park. Once we got a feel for the way things worked and where everything was it worked out a lot better.

We did have a lot of fun all 4 days we went to the park and each day was different than the other days and we would definitely go back to the park if the opportunity presented itself again.

So what did we like about Silver Dollar City?

Well here are some of the things we liked:

  1. The family atmosphere. It was nice seeing extended families enjoying Silver Dollar City.
  2. The workers were nice and helpful. We had several workers come up to us while were were looking at the maps to see if we needed help. They easily helped us get to where we were going.
  3. There was an assortment of rides, from thrill rides to kiddie rides. There was something for everyone.Lost river ride
  4. There was entertainment and lots of it. We went during the blue grass and BBQ festival. We sat and listened to several bluegrass shows, but didn’t get any BBQ. I’m not sure why we didn’t, but hey that’s OK.
  5. The food was really good. We tried a couple of things. We got a few funnel cakes, the glazed ones were the best. Then we tried some of these skillet meals that were just wonderful to eat. We split 2 between 5 of us.succatash
  6. The people doing their crafts in front of you. We saw a blacksmith, glass blowers, wood carvers, leather workers, soap makers and even candy makers  (don’t miss the peanut brittle demonstration in the candy shop!)blacksmith
  7. They have free parking with a tram or bus provided to bring you up to the gates.
  8. You can get free water in a cup at concession stands. This came in handy as we ran out of our own water that we brought in.
  9. The ride lines weren’t that long. We went while school was still in session so I would imagine the lines would be longer during the summer. We found the ride lines rather short and we even got to stay on a couple of rides and do them again if we wanted.

In case you are wondering there are some things we didn’t like and they are:

  1. The hills. If you go be prepared for the hills.
  2. Parking can be tricky. Parking is well marked with people directing you into the lot that you need to go into, but after that you are left to find a parking spot. This is where I think Disney has it down pat. Disney tells you where to park and in my opinion is much better.
  3. It was hard to get our bearings and find things. As first timers it took us a little but to find things and how to get there.

So with all that being said, Silver Dollar City is a wonderful park to go to and spend time at. Our family had a wonderful time while at the park and would go back again sometime. Now that we have been there, we would have an advantage over the first time, we now know how the park is laid out and how to get from point A to point B.

I would definitely recommend Silver Dollar City to anyone. Have you been to Silver Dollar City? What are your thoughts about the park?

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10 Things I am looking forward to doing this summer.

Summer is right around the corner, school is almost out for the year and I am looking forward to summer and all it ‘s activities. So what am I looking forward to this summer? Well here are 10 things that I am looking forward to doing this summer.

  1. Reading to my kids. We usually read aloud several times during the week during the school year, but I am hoping to get some more reading in this summer.
  2. Reading a few good books myself. I feel like I have been slacking lately on my reading so I have to get back into reading.
  3. Actually getting to go to some of the summer reading program’s programs this year. Last year was difficult since transportation was an issue, but this year it is looking like we can attend more programs.
  4. Getting some work done in my business. I am getting up earlier so that I can get my son off to work in then mornings, so now I have some much needed quiet time to work.
  5. Attending the Coast Bible Conference. This is a conference that our family always attends and it is a staple summer activity.
  6. Getting fresh veggies out of the garden.
  7. Canning some of those veggies.
  8. Canning lots of salsa. Oh, I just can’t wait for more salsa.
  9. Planning school work for next year.
  10. Just having some family time.

So what are you looking forward to doing this summer?

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Kids can learn while on vacation.

Our family went to Branson recently and spent 2 weeks there doing things around the area. We didn’t go to any of the shows, even though many people thought that was the reason why we were going there.

Our main reason for going there was to attend a seed planting festival in Mansfield, MO. But as things progressed in our planning of this trip, we decided to stay in Branson at a condo because it was cheaper than staying in a hotel for 6 nights in Springfield, so we opted to rent a condo for 2 weeks and then drive to Mansfield. So after the decision was made to go to Branson, Mo, the hunt was on to find things to do that were cheap or better yet free in the local area.

One of the things we found was a fish hatchery. It has been years since our family has been to a fish hatchery, so this went our list of things to do. My main objective for going to the fish hatchery was to let the kids see what a fish hatchery was and see the fish.

Shepherd of the Hills hatchery

Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery

I was quite surprised when we arrived at this fish hatchery, it was bigger than what I had expected and it also had a visitors center that had some educational displays. The last one we went to just had ponds dug out of the ground. This one actually had concrete pools and there was several rows of them. I have never seen a fish hatchery that was so big.

fish hatchery pools

One of the pools at the fish hatchery.

Anyway I am digressing. When we were in the visitors center one of the displays was about how to tell a male trout from a female trout. I saw this and thought OK, this is just not something I care to read about. But one of my children saw this and read it. Then proceeded to show us which fish were males and which ones were females. Just in case you are wondering, you tell a male from a female by the way their mouth and jaws are situated.

inside fish pool

Trout swimming in an tank at the visitors center.

Later on in our vacation, this same child realized there were trout on our wall pictures in the condo and proceeded to tell us that the fish were female and why. After this I thought, “Gee, I thought we brought the kids to the fish hatchery to see the fish, but no, there was actually learning going on here.” This makes a homeschooling mamas heart grow with pride. We are learning while on vacation! Score!

When we returned home, I realized we had trout on our shower curtain in the bathroom. Then to my surprise, my next thought was, “Gee, that is a female trout there staring at me.” I had a good laugh at this one, I guess I learned something at the fish hatchery also via my child.

The moral of my little story is: You never know what learning opportunities are going to present themselves and when, so go out and do those educational things while on vacation. You never know what your kids might end up learning.

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Dealing with Mental Illness in the Family

 Two years ago, my mother was diagnosed with mental illness. But we have been dealing with this for about 3-4 years now. We didn’t really realize what it was at first;, but once we were told, we tried to do something about it. Unfortunately we have discovered we can lead someone to the water; but they have to be the ones to drink.

We got my mother some help but she doesn’t see anything as being wrong and she won’t take any medicine or get any help. So now we have to deal with the consequences that she has chosen. This has been very difficult at times, since you never know what kind of mood she will be in when you see her or she calls. Some days are good and some days are bad. But some days are really bad; you never really know.

At first I took all of her moods and her saying things to heart and it was affecting my health. So I have had to learn a few things to help deal with my mother.

Here are some things that have helped me:

  • “Let it Go”. I have adopted the theme “Let it Go” and I sing part of that song from Frozen when I start to get upset with my mom. Sometimes this is a daily thing, especially when she gets going. My family knows when I say “I’m letting it go” it means I don’t want to talk about whatever my mother said or did and they will leave it alone. This is my #1way to deal with her mental illness that I am out looking for a cup with that saying on it so I can drink some tea in it when it gets really bad.
  • I need a break sometimes. When things get bad, it is time to take a break. We will go out for the day and turn off the cell phone so that I can’t be found. We will go somewhere fun as a family, such as go to a local park and have a picnic lunch and walk around the park.
  • Go out of town for a few days every so often. An extended trip out of town and away from it all does wonders. I come back refreshed and ready to deal with my mother better.
  • Talk to someone who is going through it as well. I talk to my siblings some, but not too much because I don’t want to upset them. My favorite person to talk with is my husband. He has learned to just let me talk when I need to and not say much. Most of the time I just want to talk and get it off my chest.
  • Don’t take anything personal. I have learned not to take anything she says and does personal. That will destroy you right there. Sometimes she will say stuff that is very hurtful; but, a lot of times, she really doesn’t mean it.

Every person is different and how everyone responds to things is different, so what works for me may not work for you when you have to deal with someone who has mental illness. This is what works best for me.

Just one last thought about dealing with someone with mental illness – it is not your fault and don’t blame yourself. I know that is hard to do because I have been there and done that and now it is time to “Let it Go”.

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3 Things We Always Do on Summer Vacation

Chick fil A cow appretiation day 

Summer is almost here and for most people that means vacation. Not for us, summer means some other fun activities that we normally don’t get to do.

We typically don’t go on vacation during the summer since we go during other times of the year when most schools are in session.

So what do we do during the summer? We typically do certain things during the summer and take it easier. Here are three things that we always do during the summer.

  • Go to the Summer Reading Program at the library. Every summer, libraries have a summer reading program that is free to attend and you could actually win something. Each year is a different theme and all the programs are geared to that theme. At our library they have had different programs and we have learned a lot from them. I have enjoyed it as much as the kids have. We have had animals come from the zoo, we learned about pottery, music (we had a Cajun guy come in and play Cajun music on an accordion – that was a unique experience) as well as other things. If your child reads a certain number of books, they could even win a prize. Each library is different and runs things differently so your experience might be different.
  • Go to the Coast Bible Conference. Every summer our family attends a Bible Conference that is held at a local church. This conference has been going on for almost 72 years. The Conference brings in 2 speakers for the adults and they also bring in someone for the kids program. This is a non-denominational conference so we have people from different churches that attend. Every year we look forward to seeing different people that we only get to see once a year.
  • Dress up for Chick-fil-A day. Every year Chick-fil-A has a day where you dress up as a cow and you can get your meal free. This is usually held in July and for us it usually falls during the Coast Bible Conference. So we will go to Chick-fil-A during our lunch break dressed as cows. Our kids have enjoyed doing this for the past several years, since going to Chick-fil-A is a treat for us.

We do some other things as well, but these are the three things we always do every summer and look forward to doing all year long.

Do you have anything that you like to do during the summer? I would love to hear about it

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My Favorite Quote

 favorite quote

 

My favorite quote is one that is hand written on an index card and is hanging on my desk. This quote is by a man who has inspired many people and has given us so much.

My favorite quote is by Walt Disney and he said, “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” This hand written quote has been in the same spot for several years and it still is a daily reminder for me.

The first time I read this quote, I kept on rereading it; and then I had to write it down and hang it up. This little quote speaks volumes to me. To me, this little quote reminds me that, in order to do anything, I must first take the step and start whatever it is I have been talking about doing and actually do it. After all, look what Walt Disney accomplished. He became a great illustrator and made movies that families would enjoy. Then he made the first Disney Park in California, and then started work on the second of several more parks to come in Florida. All this because he had a dream and went for it. But, in order to accomplish that dream, he had to take that first step and start working on the dream that he had.

I tend to be all talk and no action when it comes to certain things. I come up with great ideas and want to do certain things, but then something happens and those ideas never materialize. I think a lot of people are like this especially at this time of year when everyone is making their New Year’s resolutions. We all have high hopes, but it is so hard to actually get going on those resolutions. If we all apply what Walt Disney said, “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing,” we could all accomplish great things.

So, my little index card with this quote on it continues to hang over my desk so that I can be reminded that I have to stop hemming and hawing about what ever and get going or it will never get done. Maybe one day I will actually have this quote framed over my desk so that I can have a more permanent reminder of this quote.

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Frugal Friday – Making Shredded Pork

frugal fridaySometimes I find pork roasts on sale and when I do I get a couple and then cook them in the crock pot so that I can shred them. Once they are shredded, I will freeze them in meal sized portions. Then I can use the shredded pork in several meals. I make pulled pork sandwiches and pork tacos out of the pork. Having the pork pre cooked and shredded is definitely a time saver. So how do I cook and shred the pork? Well that is easy. Here is how I do it:

  1. I put the pork into the crock pot. Sometimes I add a package of onion soup mix or some onions to the top, it depends on my mood. I also put about a cup of water in the crock pot also.

    pork roast

    Pork roasts ready to cook.

  2. Cook the pork roast on high for 4-5 hours.

    Pork all finished

    Cooked pork.

  3. Take the pork out of the crock pot. When the pork is done, I take it out and let it cool for a little bit so that it is easier to work with.
  4. Shred the pork. I put the pork on a plate and then use a fork to separate the pork. The pork should just pull apart into strips.

    shredded pork

    Shredded pork.

  5. Package the pork into freezer bags. When I am done shredding the pork, I put it into labeled freezer bags. I put the pork into meal sized portions so that it is easy to take out a package and then either put BBQ sauce or taco seasoning into it when cooking it.
  6. Freeze.

I have found this is a very simple and easy way to get some freezer meals into the freezer to use at a later date.

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