Saturday, October 31, 2009

Free E-Book from "The Old Schoolhouse" magazine

Free Holiday Idea ebook from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

2009 Holiday Digital Supplement/Idea Book

Go here to download a free Holiday Idea book from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. There are loads of craft and educational ideas and even some freezer meal recipes!

Friday, October 30, 2009

96% Savings at JC Penneys

Today we decided to go wandering through some stores and just see if we could find any bargains. Our first stop was "Old Navy" cause I heard they were having a great sale...I found the girls pj pants (purple with a candy corn print) for $2.00 each. I got lots of boxers for the boys (Christmas stocking stuffers) for $1.50 each. Surprises for my hubby for Christmas (shhhhh, its a surprise). For the amount of stuff I got, I was really please with $64. Oh, and dress shirts and boxers for my nephews.
Then we took our coupons and ate a yummy lunch at Chick fil A for $6 for 4 of us.
Then we hit the jackpot at Penney's. We found 4 racks and all the clothes were marked .97!!!!!
The girls tried on lots and lots of tops. We walked out with 12 tops and 1 pair of long shorts and our total was between $13 & $14! Talk about ecstatic! We added up the regular amount of all the clothes when we got home and it would have been $340. I am a happy Mama and I have 2 very happy daughters!

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Breakfast food is a favorite of mine. It really is a "Comfort Food" to me. I got this recipe from my mom, many years ago. It is the recipe she used when I was growing up and I have never found another recipe that is better than this. And don't even think about using a boxed, store bought mix for waffles or pancakes at my house. Thats just not right.


2 cups self rising flour
2 tbsp. sugar
2 eggs (well beaten)
1/3 c. melted shortening
1 1/4 cup milk

Mix flour & sugar, beat in eggs, add milk and stir in melted shortening. Cook on a preheated, greased waffle iron.

It just doesn't get any easier than this! We usually quadruple the recipe and freeze the extras for weekday breakfasts. We take them out of the freezer, pop in the toaster, warm them up and enjoy! Its been years since I have made the recipe as stated, so I don't remember how many 1 batch makes...probably 6 or 8.

Like everything else, I have tweaked this recipe to fit into our different eating habits here goes.

I don't ever buy self-rising flour. I use a mixture of fresh ground wheat and plain, unbleached flour. Then you have to add 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder and 1/2 tsp. salt for each cup of flour. Using all fresh ground wheat, made it taste too different so I need to experiment more with it.

I use coconut oil instead of melted shortening.

I use 1/2 white sugar and 1/2 sucanat.

Please head over to for more wonderful breakfast ideas.

Our Family Rules and Guidelines

At the beginning of this year, I was visiting different blogs in search of different tips, tricks, organizational tools to help our family for 2009. I found these on 2 different websites (but can't remember which ones) and adopted these for our family. They are very clear, simply stated rules or goals and guidelines for our family.

Jackson Family Responsibilities

*If you drop it, pick it up.
*If you slept in it, make it up.
*If you opened it, close it.
*If you wore it, hang it up.
*If you turned it one, turn it off when finished with it.
*If you ate or drank out of it, take it to the sink.
*If it rings, answer it.
*If it barks or meows, feed it.
*If it cries, love it.

It is easy to dodge our responsibilities but we cannot dodge the consequences of dodging our responsibilities.

Family Goals

*I will keep my promises.
*I will not make excuses.
*I will do all my work to the best of my ability.
*I will make things right when I do wrong.
*I will know my duty and do my duty.

In thinking about this more, I think I got these off some homeschooling blogs or websites. I instantly liked these and adopted them for our family. But we all know that children read and see things differently than adults do sometimes. Amy's reaction after reading all these was to exclaim excitedly....We are getting a cat! What?....she read the *If it barks or meows, feed it. Nope, we got 2 dogs, not getting a cat. Then to further clarify, just so there was not misunderstanding..we aren't getting a baby either.

Now, just so I don't get any angry comments about denying my daughter the right to own a cat a little explanation is in order.....when Greg and I were children we lived next door to each other. Behind us lived the "crazy cat lady" Sarah. Sarah has hundreds of cats (not much of an exaggeration). These cats were sandbox in the backyard, walking the fence taunting Greg's dog, etc. Mom sent me over to Sarah's for something one day and when she opened the carport door for me, there were cats everywhere...her kitchen counters, table, laying all over the floor, climbing the curtains, etc. So we don't have any fond cat memories. Now there is a cat that lives across the street from us whose favorite yard is not her own. She loves to walk our fence and taunt Mack & Hershey and her favorite lounging/sleeping spot is the black roof of Greg's convertible. I will not be held accountable if that cat gets attacked in my yard by my dogs (I saved her once from certain destruction when she was a kitten, so she should have learned her lesson but it didn't take her long to come back to the yard). Shouldn't there be leash laws for cats?

Miss Amy came along and has been an animal lover since the beginning. She loves all animals. She may have a cat when she has her own home. Right now, she will have to settle for loving her "Build A Bear" cats and visiting Miss Amy in Georgia and playing with her kittens!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

When we became Wives and Mama's....

When we became Wives and Mama's we also became....cooks, bottle washers, nurses, taxi drivers, pharmacists, nutrition specialists, organization guru's, entertainers, artists, seamstresses, wardrobe planners, economists, teachers, advocates, lobbyists, maids, prayer warriors, laundry experts, fear calmers, house cleaners, diaper washers, menu planners, referees, listeners, rule enforcers, homework helpers, budget stretchers, clock watchers, counselors, tutors, librarians, researchers, scientists, motivators, linguists, spiritual advisors, cheerleaders, dream builders, encouragers, party planners, holiday organizers, Santas, E. Bunnies, Toothfairies and many, many more.

And then folks have the nerve to ask "stay at home Wives and Moms" what we do all day? I would say we've got enough to keep us busy for a long, long time.

Being a wife and Mom is a blessing and gift from God.

Titus 2:5 We are to be "self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to our husbands, so that no one will malign the work of God."

Proverbs 31:27 She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Do You Know.........

Do you know where the dietary guidelines, recommendations, healthy vs non-healthy foods information comes from. Is it from extensive research into what is best for us? Actually NO. The guidelines, recommendations, etc. may come from the FDA but they are strongly influenced by lobbyists for particular companies or organizations.

While at Mississippi State University (MSU) a couple of weeks ago for a football game, we hiked up to the bookstore on Campus. The kids were roaming around and came back with the news...we found a book you are really going to like. The name of the book is "Food Politics - How the food industry influences Nutrition & Health" by Marion Nestle. Right away I was intrigued by the title and bought the book. So far I have read to page 185 of 405 and am getting surprises with every turn of the page.

From reading the "Coconut Oil Miracle" book, I knew that the Vegetable oil manufacturers are the ones that heavily lobbied and advertised about the unsafeness of tropical oils. That is why manufacturers, restaraunts, etc. switched the oils they use to cook our food in. They believed the "marketing strategies" of a group that had an intense campaign to get everyone to switch to their products.

The same thing happened with the big Butter scare. The margarine folks wanted to sell more of their products and they came out with all kinds of "facts" about their products being better for you.

Now, in reading Food Politics I am finding out how much influence the "outside" has in promoting their own agenda even to the extent of the guidelines for the "Food Pyramid". This is used as a teaching tool in all the schools, shown on boxes of cereal, etc, talked about by every agency that has anything to do with food. The lobbyists all jumped on the band wagon to make sure their products weren't too far down on the list, that people didn't perceive them as dangerous, etc. The food pyramid guide wasn't written as a guide to help us made right choices, it was written to keep all the different food industries happy and content. Lobbyists that had a voice in this included some of the following...National Cattlemans Assoc., American Herbal Products, National Pork Producers, Pepsico, Con-Agra, Kraft, Am. Frozen Food Institute, Monsanto, Archer Daniel's Midland, Am Peanut Shellers Assoc. (who knew this even existed?), Nat. Confectioners Assoc., Snack Foods Assoc., Un. Egg Asso., and the list goes on and on. The FDA had to find a way to make everyone happy and not angry, to produce a list of what we should and shouldn't eat everyday. Companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to get us to buy one brand over another.

Page 95 states"Historically, lobbying always has involved three elements: (1) promoting the views of special-interest groups, (2) attempting to influence government laws, rules or policies that might affect those groups, (3) communicating with government officials or their representatives about laws, rules or policies of interest. Food lobbyists, therefore, are people who ask government officials to make rules or laws that will benefit their clients companies, whether or not they benefit anyone else." Also Lobbyists are hired not elected. They get paid to do this. They don't have our best interest at heart, they are promoting a product for a company that pays them to do it.

I knew that different organizations base their recommendations on research. But what I didn't know was how much this research is based on the reports of companies trying to push their own products to the forefront. Or to cast doubt on a product they don't want you to buy anymore.

Very least to me! For the past year, I am questioning everything. This little tirade is just to make you think and do your own research. But follow the research trail far enough to see who sponsored it. (for example, I believed that Splenda was really made from sugar...NOT, but I believed the advertisting, just google it and read about it...our home is splenda free now)

I am through preaching...but I am not through reading!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Menu's for the Week

breakfasts: cereal, oatmeal/grits, homemade muffins, cinnamon toast, fruits and juice
Lunches: sandwiches, mac & cheese, soup, quesidilla's, leftovers

Monday: Fried Chicken Strips, mashed potatoes & gravy, coleslaw (KFC is cooking for tonight)

Tuesday: Red Beans & rice with sausage or chicken

Wed.: Large Salads with tomatoes, boiled eggs, shredded cheese, popcorn chicken, garbanzo beans, croutons

Thursday: Crockpot Pork Roast with apples, Easy Oven Potatoes (both recipes from Crock pot Wed. last week) and baked beans

Friday: Homemade Pizzas

Saturday: Church's fall festival & then out to eat with our children

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Great Deals

Frugal - characterized by or`reflecting economy in use of resources (10th edition Mirriam-Websters Collegiate Dictionary)

Frugal - If you are frugal, you are very careful not to waste things (Scholastic Childrens Dictionary)

I decided to look up the definition of frugal to see what the "experts" say. I read alot of frugal blogs and are always interested to see how people find new and unusual ways to save money. Some I am very interested in and some are just not for our family.

My Mom gave me some money for my birthday. We were supposed to go shopping together after Disney, but ran out of time and energy. So Greg and I went today. I knew what I needed and when Belks was gracious enough to send me some coupons, I knew where I was going to shop.

I bought 2 pairs of jeans, a quilted jacket, nice sweater, blouse and long sleeve knit top! All on sale and then another 20% off, and still have some $$$$ leftover! Thank you Mom! I did check out the clearance racks in my dept. but most was summer stuff and I needed fall/winter. The blouse has 3/4 length sleeves and was on the clearance. Its made out of toile fabric and Greg is calling it my wallpaper shirt.

Greg went upstairs to see if he could find some bargains in the Mens Department and boy did he! Mr. Greg is now the proud owner of 3 pairs of Polo by Ralph Lauren shorts...regular price for all 3 was $280, clearance price was $30 for all 3. Just short of 90% off! We would have NEVER considered paying full price for any of our finds but love the clearance racks at these stores.

We also found some Christmas gifts for our 7 blessings on the clearance racks too! My favorite were the $4.98 racks. There are some great deals out there, ya just have to hunt!

We also went to the "Corner Bakery Cafe" on Lakeland for the first time and it was so good - they have good sweet tea too! Dropped into Hobby Lobby to pick up some cross stitch thread (colors I ran out of for a current project) and went to Kohl's. Kohls had some good sales but not as good as Belks.

And just because...we went to MugShots to watch some football and eat wings. Yeah, by this time we were just wandering and enjoying our time together.

It was a fun Saturday with my honey!

Friday, October 23, 2009


Frugal Fridays with Life as Mom is one of my favorite blogs to read and participate in. Some folks have the most awesome ideas that I had never thought of. I've learned alot about ways to save money or "pinch a penny" that are very useful.

Right now, we are re-evaluating everything we spend money on. Christmas gifts, monthly bills, household expenses, retirement accounts, college funds, medical expenses, etc. Basically, we are asking "why do we do what we do" and "do we want to continue". Tough, hard questions and we don't have all the answers yet.

With Christmas, we have set a budget for each child. Now, having 7 children our budget will be higher than most. The children all know the per child budget and are picking out and asking accordingly. Saves us both alot of grief later. And you can't change your mind a week before Christmas...its too late then! There will still be some surprises thrown in because I try to shop and find bargains throughout the year. We are also looking at our gift giving list. Do we give to folks because we really want to, because they expect it, or because thats the way we have always done? I really love the whole process of gift giving, I spend alot of time and thought picking out gifts or making gifts. I know many folks don't share my enthusiasm about the season, but I try not to let it bother me. And hey, I am not a saint, I love to get gifts too! We also, whittled down the Christmas Card list. We are re-evaluating the why's of the expenses.

In the household expenses category, we are currently in the process of re-financing our home. The interest rates are such that it is beneficial to us. We are planning on having it paid off in less than 10 years. We are also looking at the land-line phone, tv service, cell phones, insurance, etc.
Can we eliminate anything, cut down on anything, change deductibles, etc. We are "Dave Ramsey" geeks and pretty much follow his advice. When I find myself slipping into old "well, I deserve it" attitudes I start listening to him on the radio and reread a book or two. That straightens out the gimmes or "I wants" pretty quickly.

Also, for household expenses, we do what we can throughout the day to cut down or cut back on utilities. Turn off lights when you leave the room, hang clothes on the line, we rinse and resuse the same cups all day, etc. Make our own laundry detergent and fabric softener.

Groceries: We eat our leftovers for lunches or CORN night (clean out the refrigerator night). Some women tell me their familes won't eat leftovers, thats just silly and wasteful. We do and quite frankly, some dishes are better the next day! We also, make a menu for the week and try to stick to it. We try to cook and bake from scratch and not rely on convenience foods. They are much more expensive and loaded with unpronouceable additives and preservatives. I look for bargains at the grocery store, shop with coupons, and try to buy all or most of my meat from the managers meat special shelf. I've already bought a huge turkey for Thanksgiving because Butterballs were on sale at Kroger a couple of weeks ago really cheap. I still have one smaller turkey in my freezer from the price slicing sale last Jan. I bought 4 turkeys for $5 each. Lots of meat, low price. Take advantage of what you find at the grocery, its ok to change next weeks menu if you get there and find the price of pork chops has been slashed. Yummy, then pork chops are on the menu or they get bought and stored in the freezer. The one meat I consistantly run out of is ground beef. Its used in so many different dishes and I haven't found it lately in the special section. Then, I just have to get it on sale.

On the medical expenses front, we have met our health ins. deductibles and our yearly, family out of pocket expenses. We can't do a whole lot about the costs, but we are trying to schedule any needed tests or exams before the end of the year since we've met our deductible. It all starts over again on Jan. 1.

My mom and I were talking the other day about the differences between when she got married, when I got married and newlyweds today. She started out with all previously owned furniture and remembers the first piece of furniture she and daddy oak table. We started out with a new table and chairs and couch...saved up money ahead and paid cash for it. But then we got caught in the "wanting more and not waiting" craze and ended up with lots of credit card debt. Wrong thing to do. It takes years to dig out of that hole. Now, it seems like couples want huge, elaborate weddings and receptions and all new everything. They immediately want what their parents currently have but don't realize it took their parents years to accumulate their goodies. My goodness, have you ever watched the show "Bridezilla", its shocking and sickening how these spoiled Diva's act. (We watched it a couple of times and decided they would have to live out their weirdness without us) The wedding is a ceremony...lets concentrate on the marriage. I have heard men talking at church and saying "just hand over your wallet and credit card and don't question expenses". They laugh about it and then are paying for months and months for the day. We have talked with the kids about their future weddings. I am hoping that Katie can wear her first Mom's dress and Amy can wear mine. We shall see. I want everything nice for all of them but we are not willing to spend thousands and thousands to put on a show.

Like I said, we are looking at everything. We aren't trying to "keep up with the Joneses or Smiths" or anyone else. We want to do what is best for our family and be the best stewards of the money and resources that the Lord has blessed us with. Every family has their own standards and convictions and no two families will be alike. Just be more conscious of your own household!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Easy Fudge Recipe

I like to participate in the different recipe swaps every week to get new ideas. These women have posted some awesome recipes. Most of the recipes posted are "from scratch" dishes that do not use convenience foods, which is healthier for us all! I hope you all enjoy this fudge recipe, especially with the holidays quickly approaching. It is an easy, quick and delicious fudge.

Quick Fudge

1 pound powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick butter
1/2 cup cocoa
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Blend powdered sugar & cocoa in a microwave bowl. (I whisk to break down lumps in the pow. sugar.) Add salt, butter & milk----do not mix ingredients. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Remove from microwave and blend: add vanilla & mix well. (mix pretty quickly, it starts to firm up) Pour into a wax paper line 8x8x2 pan. Freeze for 20 minutes or put in fridge for 1 hour. Cut into squares and enjoy.

I have tried to double this recipe and it is hard to mix I would make it one pound at a time.

This recipe came from a Microwave Cooking School class that Mom & I took when she bought her first microwave in the 70's. Its a good recipe to teach a child...the only way to mess up this recipe is to not stir it enough and break up the powdered sugar. But even then it is still good, you just have little bits of powdered sugar.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Baked Potato Soup

I found this recipe on the internet several years and we all love it. It is a wonderful, cozy, comfort food! This recipe serves 8. I usually do 1 1/2 times the recipe and put it in my 6 qt. crock pot.

Baked Potato Soup

8 cups peeled, chopped potatoes
1 small onion, chopped (about 1/3 cup)
1/2 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled
8 oz. softened Cream Cheese
3 - 14 1/2 ounce cans Chicken Stock
1 Can Cream of Chicken Soup
1/4 tsp. pepper

In a 4 qt. crock pot stir together potatoes, onion and bacon. In a large mixing bowl combine cream cheese, soups and pepper. Add mixture to the crockpot.
Cover and cook on log 8-10 hours or on high 4-5 hours. About 30 minutes before serving mash the potatoes - this will make the soup thicker.
Top each bowl with shredded cheddar cheese.

*****I use my immersion blender stick to mash the potatoes. This makes a creamy, smooth, thick soup.

*****The girls (my kitchen clean-up crew) like for me to use the crockpot liners to make clean up easier.....however, if you use an immersion blender, it eats the bag and you end up with plastic in the soup. We know from experience! We still ate the soup...just picked out the plastic!!

For more great crockpot recipes, please visit Debbie at Dining with!!!

Have a great, cozy day!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Disney Observations

1. Swimwear is not a proper undergarment for your clothes (but its better than nothing! and there was a lot of that) Disney will not let you strip off your shirt and do a ride in your bathing why wear it? There were 3 or 4 young ladies that decided to ride Pirates of the Carribean in their swimsuit tops and not only was there a very loud announcement at the end of the ride for them to put their shirts back on, when they ignored it, a Disney Castmember stopped them and required them to redress before leaving the area. (Disney does not have employees, they have Cast Members)

2. You don't have to eat their food everyday. You can take your own picnic and eat in the park. We aren't the only ones who did this. We did get a treat everyday, either ice cream (love the Mickey ice cream sandwiches) or popcorn. Somedays we ran out of water for our bottles and had to buy some, thats pricey. I don't like water fountains, so that wasn't an option. They seem too germy and nasty to me.

3. Parents have alot to do with their own childs actions and meltdowns. If your little angel is reaching the end of his/her rope, take a break. Find some air conditioning and chill out. Lots of parents have the attitude of "I paid a lot of money for your ticket and we are doing everything"...I heard this or similar statements more than once last week. Take it easy, relax, have fun and enjoy yourself. Make memories.

4. Your lack of planning for a parade seat is not my problem. I discovered that I still have very strong curb territorial issues at Disney. If we have been sitting there for over an can't just plop in front of us, I will complain. And you shouldn't use my daughters wheelchair as a prop to lean Oriental woman took exception to me not letting her drape herself over Katie's wheelchair. Oh well, too bad. Now, I will let and encourage any small children to get closer so they get a good view of the parade but their multi-generational family can forget it. Like I said..territorial issues.

5. The characters are scary to some children. Amy was petrified the first time I took her (week of her 1st birthday). However, I have great pictures of me and the characters while Amy is keeping a wary eye on them and making sure they don't invade her space! I would hold the baby and get the picture taken. Wouldn't trade them for anything.

6. I have visited Disney over the years in March, April, May, June, August, Sept. Oct. & Nov. I am not sure what the best time to visit would be. April did seem to be warm but not too hot. I would love to go in December sometime and see all the decorations. That, to me, would be lots of fun.

7. James was 18 months old his first Disney visit, Allen was 15 months old and Amy was almost 12 months old. I have taken babies, toddlers, elementary age and high schoolers and every trip has been enjoyable. This was the first trip with 3 teenagers and we had a great time together. They could get in lines and ride by themselves. They rode with us and we all switched for a variety of riders. They didn't get fussy or whiny. They can offer constructive ideas for activities and help tote stuff. We all had a good time together, from ages 13 (Amy) to 70 (my mom). There is no perfect, magical age for Disney enjoyment. I would like to go with just Greg sometime and wander to our hearts content. And I would love to go with any future grandchildren we are blessed with and have magical fun!

8. Let your kids earn their own spending money for the trip. They are more frugal with their purchases when its their money being spent. Amy did alot of Christmas shopping there and spent her own money. They all got treasures that they really wanted. Greg and I bought them Mouse t-shirts for the trip. And our lovely, indulgent Granny bought some goodies for them too. (I think Amy could talk her into just about anything - except for that pony).

9. I have stayed on property a couple of times and really liked it. You can park your car for the week and it never leaves the parking can ride the bus, or tram, or monorail, or boat or whatever to the different parks. Sometimes there are special hours before or after for "on property guests". I know many folks who say they won't go if they can't stay on property, buy their meal tickets, etc. Kinda silly to me, but to each his own. We stayed in a 2 bedroom, 2 bath, condo, 5 minutes from the front gate. We didn't have any trouble getting in or out of the parking lots. For the 6 of us to go and stay on property, we would've had to have 2 hotel rooms and our costs would have skyrocketed. I've done it both ways...and I like both ways. Might want to take the RV down there and camp "on property" at their campgrounds sometime.

10. Make sure everyone gets to do what they want in each park. Our last couple of days were spent strolling and having a calm time. Katie, Amy and Will each had ample time to ride whatever they wanted and some rides more than one time. Will and Greg really liked "Test Track" at Epcot and rode it 3 or 4 times. Katie even joined them the last time. The Fast Pass is great and a really good way to ensure that you ride what you want. We got them for both rides on Splash Mountain and it saved several hours of line waiting time.

Have fun, wave to a mouse, enjoy your family, leave your worries at home, watch a parade, bite the mouse ears off an ice cream sandwich, fly over Neverland, take a Viking ship through Norway, eat your way around Epcot (we did twice - super yum).


Monday, October 19, 2009

My Baby got Kissed by a Duck!

On Thursday morning, we went back to Epcot and decided to stand in line for character pictures! Donald evidentally took a liking to Amy and decided to leave Daisy and run-off with Amy! The above picture is him waving goodbye to everyone before the tried to run off with my baby. Then he kissed her! Amy was a good sport but being the center of attention with a run-away duck was really out of her comfort zone.

She got sick 2 days before we drove to Disney and made the trip with 3 prescriptions. She felt good but tired during the week and had a great time everyday. On Sat. night she went to bed really early (7:30 or so) and woke up Sunday with a fever. She slept most of the way home yesterday and today we were back at the dr.'s. Her immune system is really weak and her white blood cells are new prescriptions and laying on the sofa are in her future this week. We are really thankful she didn't get bad last week!

(Has anyone ever heard of the duck flu?...I'm just wonderin')

Friday, October 16, 2009

Disney 2009 - A Huge 3 Generation Family Success

We are back at my Mom's in Atlanta after our fun week at Disney in Orlando. When we originally planned this vacation a year ago, we picked October for a couple of reasons. The first,it would be cooler in October than in the summer....wrong, we had record high October temps in Orlando mid to upper 90's! The second, it would not be as crowded...wrong again! This was a break for Florida schools and very crowded! But we still managed to have a wonderful time! (I had planned on blogging and being on Facebook some, but we didn't have internet coverage in the room and I just didn't want to go sit in the lobby. So I had a vacation from the computer too!)

We stayed at a condo about 5 minutes from the front gate. The 6 of us were quite comfy with our 2 bedrooms/2 bathrooms/kitchen & living room! We weren't in the room long anyway! We were at the park for 6 days straight.

For the last 20 years of my visits to Disney, I have always had a stroller and pushed a child around. This time, we had a wheelchair and pushed my mom around. Then Miss Katie's ankle started swelling from all the walking, so the last 3 days we pushed 2 wheel chairs around. Previously, when I saw families getting onto rides earlier with their folks in wheelchairs, I didn't think it was quite fair (after all, I was standing in line and they just walked up). After being one of the chair pushers, I will never complain again! That is hard work! However, Mom's knee and Katie's ankle really benefitted from the rest!

Everyday, we took a cooler full of water bottles and sandwiches into the parks. They do check the bags, but we got everything in everyday. Our sandwiches helped with our budgets so that we could indulge other days. And $2.50 for a bottle of water gets too pricey for 6 people, several times a day. We bought a case of 24 bottles at Publix for $4.49...I can do the math. They are making a ton of money selling water!

We spent 2 days at the Magic Kingdom...Amy wants me to announce that she overcame her fears and rode Splash Mountain 2 times. She loved it! Mom was our official photographer since she doesn't ride anything much more daring than Dumbo! We enjoyed Dumbo (2), Peter Pan, Splash Mountain (2), Pirates of the Carribean (2), Race Cars (2), Haunted Mansion, Buzz Lightyear (2), People Mover, Carousel of Progress, Aladdin's Magic Carpet, Jungle Cruise, Swiss Family Robinson Tree House, Its a Small World, The Barnstormer, Teacups (3), the mid day parade, & Spectro Magic Parade. And Katie and Mom had thrilling, heart gripping rides in their wheelchairs. They both decided to get swords from Pirates and "slash" people out of their way. Honestly, people would see the wheelchairs and run in front of them or cut across and stop in the way. Ramming rude people did cross my mind but mom and Katie vetoed my idea.

We spent one long, hot day at Animal Kingdom. The Lion King show was just as wonderful as I remembered. That show is the one reason that I go to the Animal Kingdom. We also rode on the Safari Ride. We got lots and lots of animal pictures with our great camera. The most fun ride of the day was the Kali River Rapids ride. We saved it for the end of our visit. There is one part on the ride where one rider gets absolutely soaked, that was me! I got drenched. As soon as we got off, the kids wanted to ride off we went to get in line again. This time, Greg was in the drenching seat! We left the park very soggy and sunburned.

We spent 3 long, lovely, very hot days at Epcot. We did the boat ride in "The Land" and then booked a backstage tour of the greenhouses. This was very interesting for all of us and we got lots of information and pictures about their hydroponic gardening. We also got instructions on how to make our own garden so Amy's empty fish tank will be called into service soon. Greg and the kids rode the "Soarin" ride and then Will & Katie rode it again. (We love the Fastpasses) Greg & Will rode "Test Track" and loved it, the last day, Katie rode it with them. I love going up in the ball and learning about Communication through the ages...Me, Amy & Mom rode it 3 times, the rest 2 times. But our favorite was the International Wine & Food Festival. Many, many countries had food booths set up all around the countries and we tasted lots and lots of yummy food...not just one day but two! We literally "ate our way around the world". And as always, seeing the film and animatronics at the America Pavilion moves me to tears. I am usually ok till I see the footage from the space shuttle crew before it took off, when they were smiling and waving before boarding and before it blew up.

I have a post in my brain about the ins and outs of a Disney Vacation...but that is for another day. Also, I have to post pictures, we have hundreds and hundreds!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Pirate Stew ----- Argh!

This is one of Will's very favorite crockpot meals. It came from the "Fix It & Forget It" cookbook.

3/4 cup sliced onion
1 lb. ground beef
1/4 cup uncooked, long grain rice
3 cups diced raw potatoes
1 cup diced celery
2 cups canned kidney beans, drained
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. worchestershire sauce
1 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup water

1. Brown onions and ground beef. Drain.
2. Layer ing. in the slow cooker in the order given.
3. Cover and cook on low 6 hours or until potatoes and rice are cooked.

Variation: Add a layer of 2 cups sliced carrots between potatoes and celery.

Donna's tweaks:
Omit celery and add carrots. (Hubby does not like celery)
Do not drain the kidney beans (we like it a little soupier)
Use organic Worchestershire Sauce (I buy it at Whole Foods)

This is a great one dish recipe and really good for busy days. We usually cook some of the ground beef we buy ahead of time and freeze for future recipes like taco's, spaghetti, and pirate stew. Then putting the dish together is faster!

For more crock-pot recipes, please visit Debbie over at ""

Finally, the Christmas Gift from 2008

On Christmas morning last year, my children unwrapped a Minnie Mouse ornament. The attached note said..."Minnie says, see you in October!" Katie, Will and Amy were so excited. Amy has been to Disney several times, Katie and Will have never been. The time has come....we drive to Orlando on Friday!

We are staying in a timeshare in Kississimee about 10 minutes away from the front gates of Walt Disney World Resort. The clothes are packed, the food we are taking is prepared and frozen, we've got projects to work on in the car and books to read.

My Mom is going with us!

We are ready to roll.

There are just 2 little hitches in our plans but they aren't stopping us. My Mom has developed arthritis in her knee and has now gotten 2 cortisone shots to help with the we are taking Katie's wheelchair for Mom to ride in. This will be the first time I have been to Disney in 25 years and not had a stroller, but we have a wheelchair! And Amy got a runny nose yesterday and we went to the dr. this morning, she has an ear infection and upper resperitory infection. She also has an antibiotic shot in her hip and 2 prescriptions.

Walt Disney World here we come!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Walgreen's & CVS Deals

I have been reading about the deals everyone is getting at Walgreens and CVS and decided to see if this was a bandwagon I needed to jump on. So, I have tried for a couple of weeks and had pretty good success.

Today at Walgreens I got 6 walgreens water bottles @ .49 each, 9 pk. Northern Toilet Tissue @ $4.29, 2 bottles of Vitamin c Tablets @ $2.99 (buy1get1free), 2 boxes of jello @ .50 ea., 2 Dove Body Wash @ $3.49 ea., 4 Dove Ultimate deodorant @ $3.36 ea., 4 Quaker Oats Boxes @ $2.50 ea., 6 Russell Stovers pumpkins @ .39 ea.

Then my coupons came off....$8 off Dove Deo. (had 4 @ coupons), $2 off Dove bodywash (had 2 $1 coupons), .50 off 2 boxes jello, $1.25 off Northern Tissue & $1.25 off 2 oatmeal boxes.

Subtotal was $34.84
subtract 25.00 gift card I received for transferring prescription

That left $$9.84 that I paid out of pocket. AND then they printed off my register rewards $5 for purchasing $10 of Quaker Oats & $6 for purchasing 6 dove products! So I have $11 to use on my next Walgreens trip.

Then onto CVS...

Very small trip

2 Revlon Clear Nail Polishes $3.99 each
1 Secret Deodorant $1.49

Used a $1 off secret deo, coupon, paid $8 extra care bucks and $1.13 out of pocket. AND more extra care bucks printed $6. for buying revlon nail and $3.50 for prescriptions filled this quarter.

So I feel like it has been successful. If I didn't have the gift card to Walgreens, I wouldn't have bought the stuff. But it was put to good use and my childrens Christmas stockings are getting filled! Will is set on his Oatmeal packets for a long time!

Chocolate Chip Muffins

I found this recipe several years ago at It is a wonderful muffin recipe and really easy. I will give you my tweaks to the recipe at the very end, the following is the original recipe.

2 cups plain flour
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 cup milk
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted & cooled
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
6 oz. (about 1 cup) milk chocolate chips
6 oz. (about 1 cup) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugars, baking powder and salt.

In another bowl, stir together the milk, butter, eggs, and vanilla until blended. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Add the liquid ingredients and stir just to combine. Stir in the chips.

Spread the batter into greased muffin tins or paper lined tins. Bake 15 - 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center of one muffin comes out clean. Remove muffin tin to a wire rack.

Cool muffins in pan for 5 minutes. Remove muffins from pan and finish cooling.

Yield: 12 muffins

****Donna's changes****

Use fresh ground wheat for flour (either hard white or soft white - have used both successfully)
Use sucanat for brown sugar
Use kefir for milk
Use coconut oil instead of butter
We use 12 oz. semi-sweet mini chocolate chips (lots of little chips throughout the muffins)

I have not substituted all of the sugars for sucanat. Don't know why, I just haven't tried that yet. We usually double the recipe and freeze the muffins in gallon freezer bags for busy mornings.

For more muffin and cupcake recipes please visit

Monday, October 5, 2009

I Am A "Kept" Woman

I got this in an email from a friend of mine, "Miss Pat" and I wanted to share with everyone! I hope and pray we are all kept women!

I Am a ' Kept ' Woman

You see, there were a few times when I thought I would lose my mind,
But GOD kept me sane. (Isa. 26:3)
There were times when I thought I could go no longer,
But the LORD kept me moving. (Gen 28:15)
At times, I've wanted to lash out at those whom I felt had done me wrong,
But the LORD kept my mouth shut.. (Psa. 13)

Sometimes, I think the money just isn't enough,
But GOD has helped me to keep the lights on, the water on, the car paid, the house paid, etc.., (Matt. 6:25 -34)
When I thought I would fall, HE kept me up.
When I thought I was weak, HE kept me strong! (I Pet. 5:7, Matt. 11:28-30)
I could go on and on and on, but I'm sure you hear me!
I'm blessed to be ' kept '
Do you know a ' kept ' woman?
If so pass it on to her to let her know she is ' Kept '
I'm "Kept" by the Love and Grace of God.

There are many times in my life that I know the Lord has Kept me going. He has been there through many trials & tribulations that I just didn't know how we were going to survive. His love, strength and grace are sufficient for all circumstances. He has listened to my "groanings" for my children when all I could pray was "Oh God" or "Why God" and he offered his comfort as my heavenly Father. I praise the Lord that all 7 of our children have accepted Christ as their personal Savior.

Friday, October 2, 2009

It Is Finished!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Well, I can't believe it but ALL of our fair entries are finished and ready to go get checked in.
Here is what we have accomplished.....

1 oil painting
1 jar green tabasco type sauce
1 jar green chili salsa
1 jar pickled jalapeno peppers
set of wooden lighthouse salt & pepper shakers

1 wooden pirate ship
1 football goal post
1 decoupaged clipboard
1 small oil painting
painted ceramic football bank

1 machine quilted quilt
cross stitch butterfly picture
y0-y0 pillow
tote bag
decoupage clip board
snowman napkin holder
flower pot holder
cross stitch ornament
strawberry jam
canned green beans
painted ceramic hippopatomus

1 hand quilted quilt
y0-y0 pillow
nautical cross stitch
tote bag
decopauge clip board
flower pot holder
cross stitch ornaments (3)
peach jam
painted ceramic piggy bank
knit scarf
oil painting
cross stitch jelly bean jar

red, white, blue rag quilt
"craft" rag quilt
Cross stitch tractor
cross stitch tropical drinks
Hand-beaded ornaments framed (6)
4 christmas ornaments
2 smocked jumpers
1 smocked Bishop dress
rag quilt tote bag
machine quilted tote bag
cross stitch Santa picture
strawberry jelly
peach jam
sweet tomato/peach/onion salsa
sweet pickle relish
decoupage clip board

We have been busy, busy, busy!

Thursday, October 1, 2009


This is a super simple, really tasty Chili. A bowl of Chili and a slice of cornbread are perfect for the cooler fall weather and football game viewing. And you don't need any fancy mixes with unprounceable (is that a word?) ingredients, just uses stuff you probably have in your pantry.


1 lb. ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
16 oz. can kidney beans, undrained
8oz can tomato sauce
16 oz. can chopped tomatoes, undrained*
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tsp. salt

Brown ground beef and onions. Remove the grease, stir in the remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Top with your favorite toppings and enjoy.

*I use crushed tomatoes because we don't want the larger tomato chunks in the chili.

I have made this in the recipe time frame and I have also put everything together and made in my crockpot. Recipe doubles, triples, or quadruples great. You can freeze it after its cooked and thaw and eat. Great over hot dogs.

There are 40-50 more soup recipes over at, she is hosting the Ultimate Recipe Swap.

Food Additives and Butter vs Margarine

About 2 years ago, I seriously started looking at everything we were eating and started researching all the non-pronouncable stuff on labels. And wondering why a box of saltine crackers had to have a 20 + ing. list. Let me first start out by saying you have to find reliable sources for your answers that are not funded by the "Corn Growers Assoc." or "Parkay Margarine" or whoever else. They have to be independent sources with nothing to gain but the truth. So the following is what I have discovered, don't take my word for the research yourself.

I will start with the big 2 HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) and MSG (monosodium glutamate).

First HFCS...............its in everything! I don't think you can avoid it if you eat processed foods. Here are some of the culprits: soft drinks, ketchup, sweet pickles, barbeque sauce, cookies, crackers, Hi C & Hawaiian Punch, Capri suns, Koolaid boxes, Sunny Delight, breads, buns, sweet rolls, salad dressings, the list goes on and on. How many of these items are on your shelves right now? If you are like I was, everything. Food Companies started adding HFCS to their products because they could get it cheaper than sugar. It is made from Genetically Modified Corn.

The following is an excerpt from RN Vickie Koenig entitled: "High Fructose Corn Syrup: Natural or Not" that I recieved in January from Stonyfield Farms.

HFCS is not found in Nature
HFCS, widely used as an inexpensive sweetener, is made from genetically-modified corn. It’s processed by 3 different enzymes to take it from cornstarch to a liquid sweetener. One or two of the enzymes are produced by a bacterium which is also genetically engineered. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said that HFCS that’s processed with synthetic fixing agents is not natural. Some HFCS may not have contact with these agents and can be called natural. Still, it’s hard to think of HFCS as natural after its complex processing using enzymes and acids. There is also no organic form of HFCS available because organic standards prohibit the use of GMOs in agricultural practices.

It has been linked to glaucoma, attention deficiet disorder, obesity, hyperactivity, and many more...why take a chance. Some companies are waking up and realizing that folks are reading labels and making food choices based on those labels. You have to be vigilant but you can find products that are Natural and state no HFCS on the label. Which should make us all question: "If its a safe product, why are they eliminating it now and returning to sugar?"

Now MSG.
Technically " Its a neurotoxic substance that causes many adverse reactions. Can manifest in dizziness, violent diarrhea, long term can lead to Parkinson's & Alzheimers in adults and neurological damage in children. Has been link with brain lesions, retinal degeneration and obesity." MSG could be labeled as different things on labels...hydrolized protein, calcium casienate, sodium caseinate, & textured protein. Soy based products and meat broth substitutes contain large amounts of MSG. (the preceding info came from the book "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon & Mary Enig) Why take a chance? In Honduras we noticed that you can buy bulk MSG at the grocery stores. I haven't found anything positive about the use of this product. Google MSG and read about it for yourself.

Now to something really interesting....I didn't know this. Do ya ever wonder how Margarine is made? I always bought it because it was cheaper than butter and then I read the following.....
"To make margarine and shortening manufacuters begin with the cheapest oils - corn, soy, cottonseed or canola and mix them with tiny metal particles - usually nickel oxide. The oil with its nickel catalyst is them subjected to hydrogen gas in a high-pressured, high-temperature reactor. Next, soap-like emulsifiers and starch are squeezed into the mixture to give it a better consistency: the oil is yet again subjected to high temperatures when it is steam-cleaned. This removes its unpleasant odor. Margarine's natural color, an unappetizing grey, is removed by bleach. Dyes and strong flavors must then be added to make it resemble butter. Finally the mixture is compressed and packaged in blocks or tubs and sold as health food." (from "Nourishing Traditions" page 14) Does that sound like something you want to spread on your toast or biscuit? Yuck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I threw it all away and went and bought butter.

Oh, and on a side note many products now say "no added trans fat"...don't believe it. If its hydrogenated, it contains trans fat. The process of hydrogenation causes the formation of trans fat. I have found a type of shortening that is naturally-expeller pressed that is safe to use minimally. Its available at Kroger in the organic section. I use it to make decorator cake icing.

Currently we use butter and coconut oil in our cooking. Coconut oil can be kept at room temp. without becoming rancid. Coconut oil contains lauric acid which has antifungal and antimicrobial properties. There is a great book called the "Coconut Oil Miracle" by Bruce Fife that tells all about the good properties of this product. Do ya know who lobbied to get Tropical Oils taken out of products and replaced with unhealthy was the Vegetable Oil Industry. Whose health were they concerned about? Ours or were they more interested in selling their product and scaring the public?

As you begin to read and research on your own, get the "behind the scenes look" also. There could be a great article stating research done on a product is safe but who funded the research? The Corn Industry is not going to promote research that says their product is unsafe or unhealthy. Find some research done by individuals not associated with the industry, who are looking for their own knowledge. They don't have an agenda, they are selling or promoting anything, they are just looking for the truth.

While you are looking, research Splenda. I loved this product and last spring researched it...lets just say its not made from sugar like the company says.

So its butter, coconut oil, sugar, etc at my house....kinda sounds like my grandma's kitchen pantry staples!