Saturday, June 26, 2010

Celebrating Summer Solstice...Mid Summers Nights Dream...A party for the fairies!

I have been meaning to post this for the last week, but just haven't had the time. I got the idea of a fairy party from one of my favorite books called Mrs. Sharps traditions. It's a book about reviving Victorian family celebrations and is beautifully illustrated. It is one of those books I look at over and over. The author name is Sarah Ban Breathnach and also is the author of Simple Abundance. The book goes through each month and gives ideas of old fashioned traditions. I have been doing crafts with the littles several times a week so I thought this would be a fun one to work on. It started out much more simple than it turned out, but my teenage daughter got involved and it became a week long project. She made the large fairy house and the littles made the smaller ones. We started our prep by purchasing small bird houses, moss and flowers at Micheal's. I had paint and glue. We then out in the yard and gathered tree bark, sticks and other dried grass an leaves. We then proceeded to paint then and hot glue all the dry stuff on. Like I said it was a week in the making...we worked on them several days. On the day of the summer solstice I told the littles that the fairies come just before dark. We sat about setting things up for the party....we put out the fairy houses and covered the table with a table cloth. I got a chance to use my new snack trays that I got a garage sale for $2.00. I had told the littles that the fairies come and bring gifts in exchange for the use of the houses. While my daughter caught lighting bugs with them, I sat out a few dollar store items...a glow wand, beads, candy. When they came back it was waiting for them...they were so excited. It is all kind of silly, but they had so much fun preparing for it. We also talked about what the summer solstice is and how it has been celebrated in many countries for thousands of years. I figured that I may get to do this with them one more time, but since they are boys they may think it to girly to continue in the future. Here are some pics from our party.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Trip to Farmers Market

A little friend the boys found...

Today we took a trip over to our local Farmers market. It is about 10 minute from our house. I love going there. I think it is one of the pretties places ever. In the fall they do pumpkins and hay rides and during the summer months they have produce from about six different farmers. They also sell grass fed beef and eggs. They are open pretty much year round for one thing or another. They have the cutest little country store filled with jams, jellies, hand made soap, and fun country decor. They also have animals to pet and lots of open space for the Little's to run around.


Our bounty...peaches, cherries, radishes and peas..
I plan to stop by every few days, they will have new stuff daily depending on the what crop are ready at the time.

Goodwill Hunting

Trip to the Goodwill store...
Movie motherload!!

OMG....Is that a TV/VCR

OMG...does that say only's so mine!!

Cute glass candle holder...only 99 cents! cute are these? I don't usually buy used shoes, but these had never been worn. How could I pass up cute sandles for 3.99....again why do people get rid of such cute stuff??

No...not not the movie Good Will Hunting, but the store the goodwill...we always say we are "treasure hunting"....and did we ever hit the mother load yesterday. I ran in to kill some time while my son was at the ortho, I figured that would be enough time to scan the shelves and pick up a movie for the littles. I always buy my vhs tapes there, because they have the best selection. They are more expensive, but they have better choices. So anyway, when we walked in the first thing I spotted was a TV/VCR combination....price tag said 2.99. I couln't believe it...I grabbed it up and went directly to the check out to see if it worked. The nice girl behind the counter pluged it in and told me to go grab a tape. Sure enough it worked. I told her "I'll take it" At this point I am feeling pretty good and then the girl also mentioned that they decided to make all of their VHS tapes 99 cents. I was like REALLY...I rushed to the back and started grabbing tapes...of course I think I was the only one excited about this. Every since the littles have gotten old enough to watch TV I started collecting tapes. DVDs are terrable for toddlers, they scratch them within a few uses and they cost so much. Plus I love the older movies anyway. We found a stack that we hadn't seen yet and also some christmas and adult ones that I wanted. I think I spent about 20.00 all together. I had been planning on buying a new/old VCR and the ones I had found had been around 15 to 20 dollars, so this worked out perfect. I also found a few cute tops for my daughter, two pairs of shoes for me and some home decor stuff. The hardest thing about goodwill is not to buy stuff that you don't nee. I saw so many cute things, but I couldn't justify buying them. I am always amazed that people get rid of such nice things.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

An old fashioned "Kids Day" and small town liven!

One of the great things about living in a small town is the types of activities that are available for families to do. We went to "Kids Day" on Saturday at our down town park. It had a cowboy theme with all kinds of activities. We only have about 1500 residents in the area but we have been blessed with three beautiful parks. All of them have been updated within the past 2 years. This park is in the middle of our down town area...walking distance from everything. It has a gazebo, an area to cook, and a play area. It is one of those places that just makes you feel happy and like you have stepped back in time. It's funny because the whole town feels that way...everything moves just a little slower. You have the time to take it all in and enjoy whats around you. I took that for granted when I was growing up. After living in the city for many years with neighbors who don't know me and with people who are always in a hurry, I feel so blessed to be home again!!!

Here is the gazebo where they did popcorn and crafts.

Pony Rides...

The Littles just won a prize and got tattoos...

The petting zoo area...

Bean bag toss....

Balloon animals...oops...some of them have popped

The bouncy house...

The ball toss...

It was a fun day...can't wait till next year!!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Night at the "Drive In" and Sonic...YUM!

Last weekend we went to the drive in, I had not been to the drive in since I was a kid and I had forgot how much fun it was. We packed our own popcorn, candy, a cooler of drinks, a blanket and our own chairs.
If you have never been before I highly recommend it.We got there a little early and we were able to relax and check out the stars. The littles thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. It was a beautiful night...only about 70 degrees, towards the end we were almost cold. The littles were able to run around and not be confined to a chair. Some people had brought small grills and were cooking out, other people had brought footballs and were tossing them around.
It was great fun for about 16 under 4 get in free...and this is for two movies. We will probably go again in the fall when it cools down again.

First stop was Sonic
Sonic is my guilty pleasure...the onion rings are my favorite...they are so bad for you but oh so good! We ate at the tables so the littles could run around. After 8pm they have half price shakes and 99 cent sundaes.
My brother and best buddy!!

Being silly!!

My tummy is full of ice cream!

Then it was off to the drive in...
We went to a "drive in" about an hour away from us. It is really steping back in time. They still have all the vintage lights and buildings. We went to see Shreak 3 and Iron man 2. both movies were really good

Saturday, June 5, 2010

My love affair with Iced Tea!

I have a love affair with Iced Tea!!!
About six months ago I decided to give up coke, that was one of the hardest things for me to do ever. I was so addicted to it. Well, due to health reasons and just straight out sugar content I decided to switch to tea. I have always drank tea, but most of the time bought it in the bottle. Well, let me tell you nothing is as good as brewing it yourself. It is my summer time drink of choice.
Here is an article that I found on how to brew tea. I drink mine without any sugar and use the traditional brew style to make it.

How to Brew Iced Tea

By: Rachel Mork
If the only iced tea you drink is from a bottle you bought at the grocery store-or worse, a can-you'll be sorry you never learned how to brew iced tea before now. Home brewed iced tea is refreshing, invigorating and best of all, there are so many variations of this classic summertime beverage you can tantalize your taste buds while you're taking in the natural health benefits of the antioxidants that occur naturally in tea.
Iced Tea FavoritesWhile there are several different methods for brewing iced tea, the three most common types of tea people brew at home are unsweetened iced tea, sweet tea and sun tea. For each of these, you'll need the basics: boiling water, tea leaves or tea bags and a glass pitcher. Then, depending on which tea strikes your fancy, you'll adjust the proportions and add additional ingredients as directed.

Classic Unsweetened Iced TeaClassic iced tea is brewed using black (and sometimes orange pekoe) tea. It is brewed without sweetener and served with lemon in tall iced tea glasses. Sugar or artificial sweeteners are offered on the side to be mixed in after the tea has been brewed, cooled and poured over ice.

Traditional Brew:Heat eight cups of water to boiling. Once the water has reached a boil, remove from the heat and let the boil settle. Place eight tea bags (one per cup of water) in a glass pitcher and pour the water over the bags. Let steep for ten minutes.
Remove the tea bags from the pitcher and let the tea cool to room temperature (if you're impatient, you can put the pitcher in the refrigerator). When the tea has cooled, add an equal amount of ice (less or more, if you prefer) and pour into tall iced glasses. Garnish with a wedge of lemon and offer sweetener on the side.

Sun Brew:Sun tea is iced tea that has been brewed using the solar power of the sun. Simply put tea bags into a large glass jar with a cover and add water (one cup per tea bag). Seal the jar to keep tea from contaminants then, place the container outdoors in the sun for an hour or more. The sun rays will brew the tea, making delicious iced tea in a short period of time. Sun tea is often more mellow and smooth in flavor than teas that have been brewed with hot water.

Sweet TeaSweet tea is the go-to iced tea of the Southern part of the United States. This tea is unique in that copious amounts of sugar are cooked into black (orange pekoe) tea before it cools, turning the entire tea into a sugar-and-tea-leaf simple syrup. The tea syrup is reconstituted with water to taste, then served over ice with a wedge of lemon.
To Brew:Heat four cups of water to boiling. Add one cup of sugar and ten tea bags to the boiling water. Remove from heat and allow the tea to steep in the syrup for 20 to 60 minutes.
Remove tea bags and allow the tea syrup to come to room temperature. Pour this mixture over a generous amount of ice (a gallon-sized pitcher is best). Add water to reconstitute the mixture to achieve the amount of sweetness you desire. Serve this iced tea with lemon.

Green Iced TeaGreen iced tea is making headlines today because of the amazing health benefits attributed to drinking this delicious beverage. Green tea is typically brewed using a cold water process so as to preserve all the health benefits. It is usually sweetened with honey, sugar or an artificial sweetener and is often combined with ginseng or other herbs or citrus fruit flavors.
To Brew:Begin by doubling the number of tea bags recommended on the tea box for the suggested amount of water per cup of tea. For example, if the box recommends one bag per 6 oz. cup to tea, you'd use 16 bags to yield 48 oz.of iced green tea.
Place tea bags in a sealable, glass container and pour the cold water over them. Seal the container and place in the refrigerator for 45 minutes. Serve over ice and offer sweetener on the side.

Iced Tea Variations
Flavored Iced Tea. Flavored iced teas are available in several forms. Some are made from classic iced tea with the addition of flavored syrups (both sugar-free and sugar-based). Others are made with both natural and artificial flavorings that are either added to the tea leaves or created by the addition of other herbs and fruit pieces to the tea mix. These teas are brewed and served over ice, often garnished with a slice of citrus fruit or corresponding herb, like mint.
Herbal Iced Tea. Herbal teas don't have the strong flavor of other teas (technically, herbal teas aren't teas at all as they don't come from the Camellia sinensis plant, but as their name implies, herbs).

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Frugal living

Today I was thinking about being frugal and the difference between frugal and just straight out cheep. I choose to be frugal...well for one, it is who I am and it just makes since and two I have a family to take care of and a lot of expenses. Now there are different levels of frugality. I'm kind of in the middle. I think that so many people get turned off by the idea because they think that it is all or nothing. They believe...If I'm being frugal I have to give up so much. Well that's just not true, doing just a few things can help you save money without changing your lifestyle....well that much.

Some easy ones are:

  • Check out you cell phone service, many times you can have charges that you don't know about or don't realize you are being charged for. I recently figured out that I can have up to 10 people on my friends/family list. I could add anyone from any phone company...home or cell. I was able to add all of the people we call on a regular basis and reduce my minutes which saved me 25.00 a month. Which some people may say "well 25.00 isn't that much", but if someone handed you 25.00 would you throw it away? On the other hand I know hard core fungals may say just don't have a cell phone at all. It's your comfort level.

  • We choose not to have a home phone when we moved to this house. At first I wasn't happy about this but I found that I rarely needed it. Most everyone I call is on my list and I saved another 30.00 a month by not having one. One draw back is that if you forget to charge your phone or loose it. I do these on a regular basis. My phone is small and I am always laying it down in high spot so the Little's won't get it. That can be frustrating.

  • Health don't even want to get me started on this one. You have to have health insurance there is no question about that, but you really need to investigate what you are paying for. You may get insurance through your work and be paying way more than what you would pay on a private plan. You may be a healthy person and never go to the doctor, but be paying a premium that has you being able to go to the doctor an unlimited amount of times. There are plans out there that you can see a doctor 5 times a year and you will save a ton a money a month.You would be surprised at how much you can save by making small changes in your plan. I find most people don't even know what they are paying for. They will throw money at a something because it makes them fell safe. You are better off having a higher deductible every month and putting the difference in you savings account. Now the trick is to do it and have self discipline not to spend the money.

OK those are a few easy ones, now I will give you some hard ones....

  • Turn off you cable and use a converter box. Do you know most people spend 40.00 to 100.00 a month on cable. I know what you are thinking...NO WAY!! Let me tell you ...this has been one of the hardest thongs for me to do. I LOVE...LOVE...LOVE ...T.V. and I still miss it. We have not had cable for a year now. We live far enough out in the country that we can't get regular cable or road runner. We have to have a special service that cost an arm and a leg. So we opted not to have it turned on. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not going to sit hear an tell you it made my family all come together and spend T.V. free nights together. Actually they spent more time at their friends houses watching their T.V. BUT we have been able to pay off debt and bills that money would have just been lost. I have found that PBS does have some great shows that I would have NEVER watched if I would have had cable.

  • DON'T BUY NEW CARS!! Oh so many of my friends have fallen into this trap. What is it about people that they get so obsessed with their cars. I have a friend who got into an accident this winter and her insurance company considered her car totaled. They paid her a sum of around $7000.00 for the car. Instead of buying another car for 7000.00 she went and bought a brand new car for 30,000.00 Yes it does have a sun roof and leather interior, but in her situation it was not the wises choice. She only works part time, is in debt and has no health insurance. She would have been better off putting her money towards her debt or health insurance. Again these are the hard ones...I know that It seems like a great idea at the time but in the long run you will pay for it.

Now for some super simple fun ones...

  • Make your own gifts and cards. So many people tell me that they are not creative so they can't do this, but there are so many blogs on the web that give you step by step instructions on how to make stuff. Most of my friends are so impressed by getting something handmade.

  • Invest a little into some kid craft kids love to make simple crafts. Don't go buy expensive kits, just pick up some large bottles of kid friendly paints, some brushes, and anything they can paint on. My Little's love to paint, I just cut shapes out of card board and they will spend a hour painting.

  • Buy movies on VHS at the thrift store...yes I said Tapes to use in a VCR. I know they take up more room, but they are so much more durable than DVDS. We recently bought 7 movies for 1.oo each and my kids have watched them over and over. I don't have to worry about scratching them. There are also some many older movies that I forgot were even around. My Little's have loved this!

Well, I think that's it for today, I want to add to these as I think of I'm sure I will revisit this post again.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Let the renovations begin...

Well, the hubby decided to work on the outside of the house this weekend. We tease him that he is the king of unfinished projects. He got pretty far on this one, except the clean up. Prime example of this is that he had a four day weekend and decided to replace two windows and most of the exterior wall that goes with it, mow our entire property, pick cherries and make jelly...oh and we went to a party for most of the day sunday. Needless to say he got the windows in, grass mowed and jelly made.Now the house is a hugh mess, I have no drywall on one side of my kitchen, and there is piles of debree on the deck , but hey my husband veiws it as a sucessful weekend. Oh well, I'm sure it will all get done someday.