Jan 052018

Growing up, I was the kid in the house who loved when we had beans and cornbread for supper.  Loved it!

I was also the kid who was at the table two hours after supper was done because I still had the required 3 beans sitting, cold, on my plate.  Yes, I took only the exact number of beans I was told I was required to eat.

I HATED beans. (Though I did eat them when I was at other people’s homes because that was the polite thing to do.)

Yes, this meant I technically loved it when we had bean broth and cornbread for supper.  What can I say, apparently it was not the flavor which turned me off. (Yes, it was sort of a running joke as years went by and I never gave in to actually eating the beans.)

Once I was off to college and had begun to grow even more in my frugalness, I didn’t want to spend extra money on the few meals I needed to eat outside of the dorm cafeteria.  Sometimes I would spring for a pudding cup and pack of peanut butter crackers from the vending machine, but not regularly. After all, that cost me a whole $1.50!

My favorite money saving ideas were:

  • take the extra piece of fruit we were allowed when leaving the cafeteria, resulting in my first attempts at shakes for breakfast
  • skip breakfast and eat lunch early at the cafeteria where you could go back for more.  That way I only needed two meals in a day
  • to make the most of what I could get from the to-go cafeteria when I did eat there


Hummus was a new food for me.  Well, sort of.  I had heard of it, but it was not on anyone’s meal plan in the rural, Midwestern county I was from.  Less you think there were no culturally significant food options growing up, we had lovely cuisine choices, such as:

  • turtle soup – preferably cooked in a big pot over a fire, in the fall, with a gathering of friends
  • burgoo – preferably cooked in a big pot over a fire, till you could not distinguish what anything really was, in the fall, with a gathering of friends. Hey, what can I say?  If you are going to be cleaning out your freezer, may as well enjoy it in the company of friends.
  • meatloaf, with ketchup on top
  • green bean casserole

But, back to hummus.  I knew hummus was good for you, that it was nutritious.   I also knew that I liked the flavor but NOT the texture.  I knew I could get a fair amount of it from the to-go cafeteria and add it to raw vegetables for a lunch/snack while between classes.  What I did not know was what it was made of.

Imagine my surprise when I learned it was made from…well, chickpeas of all things. Yuck! Those plump, squishy, horridly textured chickpeas.  BUT, I was cheap and looking to eat somewhat healthy.  So, I sucked it up and found a way to each hummus – by putting it on the top of the vegetables so it did not touch my tongue as I ate it.  And that is how I came to eat hummus.

After I graduate and got married, I had not fully gotten into trying new meals, or meal planning. Nor was I very educated in the use of coupons and shopping sales.  My idea of keeping the budget in-line was to find the 5 or so meals I liked and rotate them.

I was okay with having pretty much the same thing for lunch every day.  For weeks.  No worries, there was variety – I would change the fruit I had with my sandwich and the flavor of yogurt.  See, variety.  🙂

My husband, who did NOT grow up in the Midwest, but actually came from a place that used spices beyond salt, pepper, and ketchup, requested I learn some new recipes.  Apparently he did not like the same 5 basic meals over and over.  Hmm.

Over time we came to find that we both liked particular beans.  Usually the same ones – black beans, lentils, baked beans, and limited amounts of chickpeas.  I do buy green peas because I love my husband who loves early peas.  However, that does not mean I also need to eat them.  Now that I am a parent, I silently say nothing as I spoon them up on the kids’ plates, while leaving mine void of any green orbs.

As for other beans, well ….”Grandma makes great lima beans.  Perhaps you can ask her to make you some next time you go there.”

to be continued…

Dec 262017

This post contains affiliate links.

This sale will be over in a flash! December 26th only, stock up on new faves for your family and save 75% off your order at Schoola.com with promo code FAST75.

Schoola has been one of my favorite ways to save money on clothes and save time by shopping from home.  With a kid who has grown, again, I will definitely be checking here today to see if I can help fill in a few current needs. This is also a great time to begin thinking ahead to spring and summer clothes.

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Sale ends 11:59 PM PST December 26


Dec 172017

This post contains affiliate links.

You have fewer than 10 days till Christmas – are you still looking for a gift to get a kid on your list who seems to have everything? Or maybe they live further away and gifts would have to be mailed. These are hard positions to be in.

Have you thought of gifting an experience rather than a thing?

Kids Cook Real Food makes an awesome Christmas gift, and many grandmas are doing it already!! (They have printable gift certificates for them btw.)

Sunday, December 17 through Tuesday, December 19, Kids Cook Real Food is having a flash sale.  To make it even better – new members get a free $20 value set of extra videos!

Problem solved! Now, go. Finish up that list and enjoy some yummy holiday cookies.

Dec 132017

This is a visit to a post from a few years past.

With winter on the verge of being ‘official’ and not just determined by our thermometer, it seemed time to update some of our songs and videos in our YouTube favorites list.  I play these at meals times to add a bit of variety to our day.

Here are several I found and what I thought of them.  I went ahead and included all the ones we watched, which is not the same as all the ones our search returned.  Not every song is one I liked and while several are good, they probably won’t make our list.  The goal was to find winter songs, not holiday songs.  We do not believe in Santa at our house, so ones with him or Christmas referenced will not be added to our ‘Winter’ list.  However, you may feel different, so they are on here with a note added after the link.

Winter songs that also mention holiday related items

Winter Songs for children – a good song,  Does talk about Santa coming and bringing gifts

Fun Winter Song! (Winter is HERE) – mentions writing a letter to Santa, says “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year”

Snowman Song for Children (good for Christmas and New Year) – we actually did not like this one

The Colors Of Winter – Nancy Stewar – Children’s Song– I liked the use of the season to learn colors.  Also mentions a Christmas tree and decorative lights.

Winter Preschool Song – Wintertime is Here – Littlestorybug  – great pictures.  One is of Santa in a sleigh

Christmas Time! (December song for kids)

Winter songs (but no holiday related lines)

Little Snowflake | Super Simple Songs

I’m a Little Snowman Song for Children – to the tune of “I’m a little teapot”

Children’s song: Winter Winter

 Winter preschool songs – Let’s get dressed! – littlestorybug

5 Little Reindeer (December-themed song for kids)

Nov 252017

No worries, we did not go on a hike through the forest on this very popular hunting day. Instead, I said, “Teeth brushed? Good job. Now out we go!”

Kid #1 : “Where are we going, Mom? What are we going to do?”

Kid #2: “Why? I don’t want to go.”

Me: “We are going outside, to the yard, to…play.”

Kid #2 was encouraged a bit more than Kid #1 to go outside. In the end we all got out the door, Kid #2 followed my promoting/example to climb a fallen tree, played for about 10, then disappeared back inside.  Kid #1 would not climb with us, but stayed outside with me for over an hour, walking through brambles, and observing wildlife.

Most exciting moment? When Kid #1 almost stepped on a sleeping opposum.

We then proceeded to look closer at it, talk about why it was there, and discuss if it would live through the night. (Looked as if it had been in a fight.)

While walking around, I realized there were no older cousins in their lives who have challenged them to do things or show them what might be possible. I tried to think of how I used to play with my younger cousins and do similar things. Not sure it hit the mark, but the kids “explored” areas of my parents’ property they had never been in…while staying out of the woods.

Even though we were not in danger, it did feel as if our every move was being followed…

After our fresh air jaunt, we came inside and did what had to be done – cheer our alma mater on as they battled their adversary in a very important game.

Best pre-game show I have seen in a long time.

Nov 222017

Addition Help

A story about 9 wanting to be 10 (addition help).  There is more in this lesson, but this short story is a great way to connect the left and right sides of the brain to learn a new fact.  She goes on to talk about 8 “itching to be 10”, and so on.  What a great way to present this method of adding.  My non-apraxic brain automatically sees this, but I was never sure how to frame it in a way that George would get it.

I am not sure how the school has been teaching this, as they never told me, but I do know that the method they were using was not working for him.  Once he understood Touch Point and Adding On, he had trouble learning any of the other methods.  Memorizing doubles has not taken place, so that will be another area I will look for help with.

The video above also gives a visual representation I can use, in a physical form to add in sensory input, to find the answer to a math problem.

Here are the math facts set to music.


Nov 202017

This is another post which was written, but never shared.  It was waiting for the time I could share before and after pictures.  HOWEVER, there never were any after pictures as it never got painted.  This particular item is still with us, in its original state of being stained.  Currently it sits next to the fireplace, holding various library books.  It is still an easy DIY project, if you are looking for something similar.  

Garbage day is not only for getting rid of trash in your house, but can also be a source for ‘new’ items.  Because we live in Small Town and it is, well, small, I do not go driving around town looking for items placed out by trash cans.  However, sometimes I spot something and stop to take a look.  There is also a sort of unspoken rule that if you do not want something you sit it out by the trash cans, or along the street in front of your house, at any point during the week and others will probably take it.

This is how I ended up with an old magazine rack.  While we do not have magazines around here, we do have a lot of newspapers.  Specifically, my husband’s newspapers. I get so tired of stacks here and there, never knowing which have been read and which have not.  Knowing that he loves reading them, though, I try not to get rid of something without asking him.

Initially when I saw this, I thought that perhaps I could clean it up and find a new home for it.  Then I thought of the newspapers and knew what its new purpose would be – a newspaper rack.  Then it sat on my washer for several months.  Even find that happening at your house?

Every time I went to do a load of laundry I contemplated what to do with the ‘new’ find – I did not want to leave it the wood color it was, as we already have a lot of wood in the house.  Black would show every little bit of dirt and dust, of which we have a lot here in this part of the country.  White would get dingy from fingerprints.  Finally, out of indecisivness I told my husband my plans and asked his opinion.

“Paint it green.”

“Okay, what kind of green?”

“You decide.  Just make it green.”

Well, that was easy.  Months of me thinking about it and it took him all of 10 seconds.  By the way, this is how our wedding colors were decided, I took him to the paint section in a store and told him to find colors he liked.  I was trying to involve him in the process, he just wanted it to be decided quickly.

I have never spray painted furniture before, though I have done so with some metal vents in our house.  I knew that with wood, especially an item that had already had a finish on it, there were more steps beyond: 1. wash, 2. Paint.  To the internet I went.  Here are some of the links I found helpful.

Furniture Makeover: Spray Painting Wood Chairs


Nov 112017

Most of the ebook links are for Kindle versions from Amazon.  These are NOT affiliate links.  Just trying to be helpful.  

The ebooks were free at the time I found them.  Please check before ‘purchasing’ them as things change quickly.  Also, I have not downloaded all the books so can not vouch for the quality of them all.

 school year 2015 2016 collage

This is another “I wrote it but forgot to publish it” post.  It is still very relevant, only now we are a few years past this point.  This list began as a way for me to keep track of the online resources we were using.

Here are several books I am reading with Jack, following Ambleside Online’s Year 1 curriculum.  I have most of these either in audio version or borrowed from the library.  My thinking was that I would see if we liked the books before actually buying them.  I am also continuing to look for the ones we will use the full term on ebay and at local library sales, as a few dollars for a book is cheaper than potential library fees.  It would also save on the hassle of having to return books only to then request them again.  But mainly, it was because when I started planning for the year, I was not looking to spend a whole lot of money.

Fifty Famous stories Retold by James Balwin

Here is a LibriVox recording of the book. And Version 2.

The Burgess Bird Book for Children by Thornton Waldo Burgess

I have not downloaded this book, but there may be no photos to accompany the wonderful text.

Here is a LibriVox recording of the book.

The Aesop for Children with pictures by Milo Winter (but without pictures)

Project Gutenberg – has pictures but I am not sure if you can put it on an ereader.

The Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang

Project Gutenberg version

LibriVox recording


Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling

Project Gutenberg version.

LibriVox Version 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6

A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson

Project Gutenberg version.

LibriVox Version 1 and 2.

Product Details

The King of the Golden River by John Ruskin

Project Gutenberg version.

LibriVox version.

Nov 042017

This post contains affiliate links.


When George and Jack were younger, I was finding our need for more mature Bible Time materials, but nothing too adult oriented.  They still liked to hear the stories from the Bible but are needing to see that these are not just stories.  There are things in the Bible which apply to their lives and which they should emulate.

The ABC’s For Godly Boys & Girls was part of a bundles of ebooks offered a year or so prior.  I held onto it for a few months, while we finished up the other material we were using.  When I felt the time was right, I printed off what we needed, put it into a 3-ring binder (and page protectors) to help me keep things organized and in one place, then introduced it to the boys.  At the time they were 4 and 6 years old.

Some of the items were a bit above their ages and understanding, though most of it was perfect for them.  They enjoyed having a different letter each week, learning a new verse and hearing a story that applied to virtue being taught.

We are at the end of the alphabet now, with just a few letters to go.  Once we finish up, I will put the binder on the shelf to use again in a year or two.  The material included will cover several ages, enabling you to use or not use activities.  I really like the flexibility and variety, allowing me to use it again in a few years.

Oct 302017

I was compensated for this post. This post also contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. Thank you for helping support this blog.

The end of the calendar year is always a busy one – end of gardening season, school is in full swing, several major holidays, and several birthdays, all packed within a two month time frame.

Planning ahead has always been one way I try to keep things from getting too chaotic.  I would rather be able to focus on enjoying what is going on around us … or being able to spend time at home with a book and cup of warm drink of choice.

Some years I do better at planning for the year’s end, while some years find me way behind learning to let things go.

This year, I am not only planning to have gift shopping completed by the beginning of December, but I am also getting a head start on crafting with the winter season and Christmas holiday in mind.

If it were left up to George, we would live in a craft store, have unlimited funds, and have an unlimited supply of glue and glitter, with no particular instructions on how to use any of the items on hand.  The reality is, though, we live in a house, I like knowing where the craft is headed, and only have as much money as our bank account says. As we also like to be warm, dressed, and fed, that money can not solely go to crafts.  Enter – Dollar Tree.

Thanks to this store, not only are we able to let our imaginations run wild (within reason), but we can do so without breaking the bank.  Even better, we can order supplies online and have them shipped to the house!

Last week I surprised George with a bag of craft supplies from the Dollar Tree, along with a few other items we had on hand.  We took everything outside, put together a few crafts, and talked about other ideas.

There was a slight breeze, which made a few of the actions more difficult to do than I had anticipated (hint: ‘snow’ does not weigh much, even when in a bowl).  Next time I will double check the weather before doing it outside.

We ended up making two ornaments and a flower/light arrangement.  Below you can follow along as we put these together, as well as read my thoughts on future attempts at these particular crafts.

Flower Arrangement

Having family members who are allergic to candles (the soot from the flame makes their sinuses clog up) has meant a lack of candle holders in our house.  However, these batter powered flickering flame ‘candles’ are perfect.  We can add atmosphere without allergies or fire hazards.

I began this craft with George, but the wind outside was causing the glue to dry too quickly.  Later, when I finished it, he was no longer at home.  However, this would have easily been something he could have done with supervision.

Supplies for this craft:


  1. Pull flowers off stems.  You can do this by turning them over, grasping the bottom of them, and pulling hard where they meet the stem.  *You need to keep the plastic part on bottom as part of the flowers; do not pull it off that portion or it all falls apart.
  2. Set one flower aside to glue on top. (Step #7)
  3. Pull the leaves off the stems, to use as filler around the flowers.
  4. Turn glass over. Remove sticker from bottom. Leave glass turned upside down.
  5. Working on one flower at a time, add a spot of hot glue on the bottom of the glass (now the ‘top’).  Work your way around the rim, spacing them evenly.
  6. Take half the leaves and glue them between the flowers on the top, skipping every other space.
  7. Take your reserved flower and glue it in the middle of the top.
  8. Turn glass upside down, continuing to hold it in your hand.
  9. Glue the remaining leaves to the underside alternating them to not line up with leaves on top.  If you have extra leaves, places them as desired.
  10. Cut length of ribbon.
  11. Fold length of ribbon in half width-wise.
  12. Wrap ribbon around the stem of the glass.  As my ribbon had no wire and was very flexible, I was able to wrap it a few times.
  13. Either tie the ribbon in a knot, or tuck the ends up and glue them in place.
  14. Place in desired location, with battery powered candle underneath arrangement. (see picture above.)

Notes: if a flower, leaf, etc. comes loose, add additional glue to help hold in place.  This was an easy craft to do and is something I would definitely do again.  There was one candle and extra ribbon remaining, enough to have done a second such arrangement.

Painted Ornament 

Making ornaments seemed like a great idea for a kid who loves to be creative – no two need be alike.  After seeing this craft online I thought it was the perfect thing to try.  The variety of colors, no need to be perfect or color in the lines, and the ease of doing it fit all of my requirements.  Even better, we had several various paint colors already at home.

Supplies for this craft:

  • plastic ornament
  • pouch of stickers
  • various paints
  • …and napkins for when paint invariably ends up on hands or the table.


  1. Take top off ornament. Set aside for use after paint is dry.
  2. Set the ornament upright, or balance it.  Add a few drops of color into the ornament.
  3. Rotate the ornament, allowing paint to spread around.
  4. Add several drops of another color.
  5. Rotate again.  It is okay if the colors begin to mix, it adds interest.
  6. When finished adding paint, apply stickers to the outside.
  7. Place upside down over plastic/paper cup till dry.  The cup will catch any paint which drips out.

Notes: This is not a craft we will do again.  Or if we do, I will try to clean out the inside with alcohol first.  Or use stickers only and completely skip the paint.

Here is why:

As the paint was drying, it kept sliding down.  I would rotate the ornament, the paint would spread. I would set it down, the paint would slide down. I would rotate … well, you get it.  In the end, most of the colors mixed into a lovely purple, yet there are streaks inside where you can see straight through.  It looks like someone used their finger to make vertical stripes.

George had fun mixing the paint.  His disappointment when it did not stay, though, was obvious.

A second ornament we did was much easier and is something I will do again.  I did not take pictures of this process, as I was trying to take a video.  However, the steps are super simple:

Supplied for this craft:


  1. Remove top of ornament
  2. Using funnel, add about 1/4 cup of faux snow *If there is too much later, you can easily dump out what you do not need.
  3. Insert small figurine
  4. Put cap back on ornament

That is it.  This was so easy and fun, we will most likely do this again at some point.  This would be an easy ‘craft’ if you are needing to do a lot of ornaments.

Note: Mister Minifigure would not stay stilling up.  However, we had fun helping him ‘jump’ in the snow.  If you are wanting the figure to stay upright, I would try to hot glue them to the bottom first, let the glue cool, then add faux snow.

Thank you, Dollar Tree, for a fun Sunday afternoon crafting in the sunshine.