Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas on a Budget

If you have been following along with me and this blog for a while you know we recently returned to our home town.  Just over a year ago we moved to Florida and tried to start a new business down there and have a change of pace for us.  A few months ago we returned to our home town and are struggling to make ends meet. This month we are struggling to make our rent payment, that kind of struggling. In the end, I am sure we will squeak through. But I digress.  When we moved to Florida we got rid of a bunch of our stuff.  Like over half of all our belongings and a TON of our holiday decorations.  Last year we didn't even dig into our Christmas decorations at all.  I am anxious to open our few boxes we did save to see what we have.

Luckily, the kids aren't asking for much this year and it looks like we will be able to get them what they are asking for with some scrimping on other things.  For others on our list, look for homemade items.  Our kids will be getting lots of homemade items too.  Over the next couple weeks I will be posting some patterns and ideas that I had while preparing for the holidays.

This year I am focusing on crafts and creations, baking and activities.  These can be fun and cheap.  We will be going to look at the lights around our town, enjoying free activities, and having family nights where we will watch holiday themed tv shows. (By the way, we don't have cable so we can't record them and watch when we want, which can make the event even more exciting because we will get one chance to see some of these shows.)

Last night I was on Pinterest and found some fun crafts that we will be doing over the next few weeks.

The above was written in the beginning of December.  Here is the update.....................

Christmas is over. We are now awaiting New Year's Eve.

We never got around to all those great Pinterest ideas.  I still want to make some snowflakes to hang on our walls for winter.

The kids did most of the decorating for Christmas and they did a great job.  I never actually dug into our boxes of decorations to see what we had and didn't have anymore.  I ended up working all but 3 days prior to Christmas so I didn't have much time.

We did some baking, made Gingerbread houses out of kits and they turned out great.  We created a pretty "Frozen" tree for our front foyer. We put lights outside our condo and on our balcony.

The time leading up to Christmas seemed to fly by, faster than in years past. My goal for next year is to slow down time.  Ha ha..... I do wish I had that super power though.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Turkey-Zucchini Soup

Here's one for the turkey leftovers!

Turkey-Zucchini Soup

1 pkg (8oz) frozen cut green beans
2 cups thin sliced zucchini
2 cups chopped cooked turkey
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
½ cup fine chopped onion
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp dried savory
Dash pepper
1 pkg (3 oz) cream cheese

1. Place first 11 ingredients in crockpot.
2. Cook on high setting for 3 hours.
3. Blend approx. 1 cup hot soup mix with cream cheese. Return to cooker.
4. Heat through.
8 Servings

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Quilted Place Mats

 I had this bedspread I bought and my husband doesn't really like it.  So it has been sitting in the linen closet taking up space.  I keep meaning to take it to Goodwill when I had this brilliant idea to cut it up and make place mats out of it.  It is quilted on both sides with two different patterns.  This is the same style of fabric I have bought in the past at Joann's to make place mats.  We use place mats all the time at all our meals.  It makes clean up so much easier and gives the plate a place to stay.

The first thing I did was make the pattern.  I don't want huge placemats but ones that will hold the plate and the fork, knife and spoon.  I used a paper bag to cut my template.  I used my plate as a guide and cut about an inch above and below the plate and about two and a half inches on each side.  Again, not too big.

Then it is a simple process. You can take a permanent marker or a fabric marker and trace the template onto the fabric, but in my case I just held it in place and cut around it.  I am lazy like that.

Once you cut them out they will have an open edge on them so we now have to sew it up.  You can take double folded bias tape in a coordinating color and sew it around the edges, but I didn't have enough in one color to do that so I just used my serger and serged all around it.

Voila!  Here the are all done and ready to use.  If you have stray strings or if it looks like it is going to unravel, put a bit of fabric glue on the stray threads and that will hold them.

It is a perfect size for my plates.  If you want it bigger to fit a glass on it then make the template bigger.  If you want to make smaller coasters then you can do that too. You can also make a table runner. Oh the possibilities!!!

The opposite side.

Okay, here is the best part of this whole thing.  I bought this king sized quilt for $24.99 which came with two pillow shams as well.  I made 10 place mats and still have a TON of material left over.  I can buy a yard of this same stuff at Joann Fabrics for $14.99 to $19.99, but not have near as much fabric as I have here.  My thought is that I am going to get a quilt in a Christmas pattern, maybe just buy a twin sized quilt, and make more place mats for the holidays.  This is the cheapest way to get this material. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Seafood, Potato and Corn Chowder

This is another of Dad's recipes.  I loved this chowder. It is a great recipe for cool fall evenings.  I substitute crab meat for the white fish.

Seafood, Potato, and Corn Chowder

3 - 16 oz cans of chicken broth
1 onion chopped
2 large potatoes 1/2" dice
1 can whole corn, drained
1/4 cup flour
2 TBS dill
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 lb white fish, 1/2" dice (Can substitute crab meat)
1/2 lb cooked shrimp
1/4 tsp pepper
dash garlic
2/3 cup instant mashed potatoes
Salt to taste

1. In a 3 1/2 QT slow cooker, combine first 5 ingredients and 5 tsp of dill.
2. Cover and cook on low heat about 5 1/2-6 hours.
3. Increase the setting to high. Stir in rest of dill, cream, seafood, pepper, salt and potato buds.
4. Cook 35-45 min longer until slightly thickened.
5. Season with salt.

Serves 4-6.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Potato Casserole

This is one of my dad's recipes.  He passed away in 2007.  He was a great cook and I am so glad that I was able to get his recipes.

Potato Casserole

3 lbs potatoes, peeled and quartered
1/2 cup butter
2- 3 oz pkgs cream cheese softened
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 - 2 oz jar diced pimento, drained
1 small green pepper, finely chopped
1 bunch green onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp salt

1. Cook potatoes in boiling water 15 minutes. Drain and mash.
2. Add butter and cream cheese. Beat at medium speed till smooth.
3. Stir 1/2 cup cheddar and next 6 ingredients. Spoon into a lightly greased 11 x 7 x 1 1/2 baking dish. Cover and chill.
4. Remove casserole and let stand at room temp. 30 minutes, then bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.
5. Sprinkle with remaining cheddar and bake 5 minutes or until cheese melts.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tri Tip Steak with Mr. Yoshida's Sauce

The other day we were in Costco and sampling their new foods.  We came across a lady in the meat aisle and she was sampling tri tip steaks.  She had marinated it with Mr. Yoshida's Original Gourmet sauce.  Oh my goodness!  This was steak heaven on a toothpick.  My whole family went CRAZY over this!  I mean the "mom you have to get this!" kind of crazy!

So I asked the lady how she prepared it and got the ingredients while I was there.  The next night we had Tri tip steak with Mr. Yoshida's Sauce and veggie kababs.  I served them over rice.

The sauce is a sweet and tangy sauce, similar to an Asian stir-fry sauce.  It is delicious with steak and veggies.  So delicious that the next day I cut up the left over steak and veggies into smaller pieces, made some more rice, and stir fried the steak and veggies.  Super yummy.

To cook the tri tip I cut it into a little larger than bite-sized pieces and marinated them for about 30 minutes in the sauce.  I cut the veggies into chunks and then put the veggies and meat on skewers.  I grilled them for about 8 minutes total, until the meat seemed done enough for us (medium).  I let the kababs rest for about 3-4 minutes before serving.

You can also cook tri tip steak on the grill in large long lengths.  Cut against the grain to make a more tender slice.

I know you can get Mr. Yoshida's Original Gourmet sauce at Costco.  I looked at Kroger when I was there but didn't see it.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Cute Crochet Coasters

These are so cute and fun to make.  They whip up in no time flat.  I can make one in about 35-45 minutes time and I am a slow crocheter.

I got the pattern off someone else's blog.  I can't seem to find it again unfortunately.

I am an intuitive crocheter when it comes to making things I look at a bunch of patterns and then put a couple together to make what I am looking to create.

My pattern may not be exact nor might it be exactly what you are looking for.  I will try to explain it as best I can though.

Coaster Pattern:
1 skein of 100% cotton base color (you will be able to make several coasters with just one skein)
1 skein of edging color (100% cotton)

Chain 14.
Single crochet in 2nd loop and each loop after.  (13 SC) ch 2 and turn.
Next row: SC in first SC. *Skip next sc, dc and sc in next sc* to end.
Next row: sc in first sc. skip dc, dc and sc in next sc. You will be doing a dc and sc in every sc in previous row. 

Continue until it looks like a square, about 10 or 11 rows. 
Change colors and sc all the way around the square, with three sc's in each corner. Then slip stitch around the entire thing again to finish it off.

And there you have it.

Pens, Pens, Glorious Pens!

I love to do pen work on my pages and cards.  I love how it gives a little bit extra to whatever project I am working on.

My go to pens are usually Sakura Souffle or Glaze pens.  I also love my Micron pens.  The points are awesome and gives such detail to things. Use the .05 and the really fine tips, .01.  LOVE them!!

When I am journalling I love my Creative Memories colored pens.  The CM pens are about a .05 tip. The thin tips are awesome for journalling. 

I have several cups of pens on my desk.  I love that they are right at my fingertips. I also have some markers, from Creative Memories in thick  point that I use sometimes.  Watercolor pencils are also on my desk. I do love shading with those when using stamps. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Teachers need cards too!

I was a classroom teacher for 19 years.  Now we homeschool our kids so I am not in the classroom anymore.  When I was teaching in school I always needed note cards.  I would use them to write a quick thank you to a child for doing something awesome, a thank you for a parent who contributed to the class in some way, a thank you to another teacher, principal or guest speaker.  I used the cards to write a quick note home to a parent about their child (usually a good note) or requesting something from a parent.  Anyway, I loved it when I would receive gifts of a note card set from others.

Here is a set that would be fun to receive if I were teaching again.

I used the DCWV Grade School (with glitter) stack.  I love the foil and glitter on the papers.  I had the 4.5" by 6.5" paper stack that I had gotten on sale a couple years ago.  These are so much fun.  I used pen on the edges to draw the dots and lines.  The pens were Sakura Glaze and Souffle.  I love these pens!!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Scrappy Goodness-Note Cards

I haven't scrapped in like forever (in my best Valley Girl voice).  So I decided to start with some cards.  Everyone needs a few note cards laying around the house for when you need to write a note. People still do that, right??? Write????

I was unpacking my FEW supplies I still had and came across some old scrapbook kits I had never used.  Well I did use this kit but I didn't like it.  So I had a lot of paper and embellishments left over. I decided to dust off the rust with this kit because if I didn't like what I created it wouldn't really matter.

However, I really liked what I came up with.  These all came from the same kit.  Like I said, I didn't like the kit so much for scrapbooking so I had a lot of paper left.

Time Flies:

 I used pen around the edges to make the dots.  This pen was a thick point pen.  I stickled the butterfly's body with Gold Stickles to give it some bling.

True Love:

I had fun with the Diamond Stickles on these cards to really make them shine.

You're such a HOOT!

These cards were a lot of fun and I used more layers on them.  I blinged them out with Gold Stickles and made them really extra shiny.

I am taking these up to a local store where people can sell their handwork. Maybe I might actually sell a few. Who knows!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Moving - What happened to my craft stuff?????

Last year we moved out of our house.  We sold the house and put all our belongings in storage.  We had lived in this house for 13 years and accumulated a LOT of stuff.  No big deal.  We can weed out the stuff we don't really need and have a yard sale.  So before packing a single box we went through the house and gathered all the stuff we didn't need and had a yard sale.  We got rid of a lot of stuff!  It was great.

Then we gathered some more stuff and had another yard sale.  We got rid of a bunch more stuff. It was good.

Then we started packing.  While packing we found that we still had stuff we didn't need so we had yet another yard sale.  After each sale we gave all our leftovers to the Goodwill. They loved us! :)

With each yard sale I got rid of my yarn stash, paper stash, and material stash. I still saved stuff but I got rid of a LOT of stuff.  Everything else went in storage.

This past April we came back into town and went through our stuff one more time.  We had the MOTHER of all yard sales and got rid of HALF of all our belongings, including ALL of my yarn stash (save a few hand dyed items), ALL of my paper stash (save for a few boxes), and ALL of my material.  We didn't want to move it 1000 miles away.  It is really far and the less we had to move the less money it would take. I was saving money.

Now plans changed and we actually moved back to our hometown and are in a new house. The reality has hit me that I no longer have my awesome yarn stash, my awesome paper stash and my awesome fabric stash.  I want to make curtains but can't because I have no material for that. I want to scrap a bit but am missing paper that I got rid of. I want to make some placemats but have no yarn to crochet them.  Oh and did I mention that there are only 20 weeks until Christmas???  I have no stash from which to make presents yet.

I have learned my lesson.  I will no longer listen to my husband when he says I have too much stuff and need to get rid of it.  I will no longer listen when he tells me that "we can just buy new later".

Sunday, August 3, 2014

A bit of hospitality in the south

One of the truly shocking things we discovered when we moved to Florida was the lack of southern hospitality.  Well, the lack of anything southern at all in Florida.  From the beginning I teased that we didn't move to another state, we moved to another COUNTRY.  Florida seemed to have more northerners there than southerners.  I even learned to speak with a New York accent!

As we were traveling back to Richmond, me in the suburban that just turned 200,000 miles towing a 12 ft. Uhaul trailer and my husband in a 1996 Dodge Ram Diesel Truck towing our 40ft fifth wheel (16,000 lb of weight) we happened upon a bit of trouble. While prior to our departure we had some work done on the truck it seemed to be having some other troubles on the road.

It developed the "Death Wobble".

This is a real term and a very scary real thing.  Watch the front driver's side wheel.  It looks like a floppy fish.  When I saw my husband's wheel doing this it looked much floppier.  We pulled over on the next exit and we lucked out.  We didn't know where we were or if we would be able to get it fixed.

We pulled into a Walmart there (we were lucky there was one on the exit). I walked into the store and headed straight to the automotive section.  I hoped I would find someone there shopping who may look like they could help us find a mechanic who does front end work.  A Death Wobble occurs when there is any type of play in the suspension. I didn't find any shoppers but I did find out that they sold tires and had a shop right at Walmart.  I walked around to one of the open bay doors and called a mechanic over.  He told me that they don't do any front end work, just tires, rotations, and oil changes. Great.  I ask if he knows of anyone in town who does work on front ends.  At that time a lady came over who had a Walmart tag on but she wasn't dressed in mechanics clothes.  She asked if she could help.  I explained my situation and told her I didn't even know where I was.  She was so helpful.  She told me where I was, where the best place to get the work done was, the address of the shop, the phone number, and their hours.  She also told me we could keep the trailer in the parking lot, no problems.  She also told me where to find a hotel for the night.  Her name was Julia and if you ever happen to be in Walterboro, SC at the Walmart and see her, say hello!

I take all this information back out to my husband who is still looking under the front end for damage, something broken, etc.  Even though the shop we need to get to is closed, my husband calls anyway.  He gets an answering service who patches him into a mechanic.  The shop also works on commercial trucks so they are available 24/7 for road emergencies on commercial vehicles.  We are not their kind of emergency but they tell us to bring it in the next morning at 7:30 am.  They will have someone on it immediately for us.  We spend the night.  Everyone is friendly.

The next morning we take the truck over to the repair shop.  They immediately put it up on the rack and discover we have a bad steering suspension.  The part is 45 minutes away and will arrive by delivery driver at 1:30 pm.  They then say that they are trying to contact a brother of another mechanic to see if he can go get it and bring it to them earlier.  The brother can't do it but no problems we are stuck until 1:30.  I leave but my husband and son stay behind with the truck and trailer.  I had to get to our destination to meet the realtor and get the keys to our new place.

Once the truck part was put on the truck they did a test drive but that didn't solve the problem.  They found another issue and solved it but this put them possibly not leaving that evening.  The mechanic who had been working with my husband invited him to his home for dinner that evening.  How nice was that!  Southern hospitality at its best.  My husband and son considered it but felt they needed to get back on the road and put some miles under them that evening.  They were still 8+ hours away from us girls who went ahead.

At one point during this ordeal, my husband said to me, "We are back in the south and it feels so good to be here."

So much can happen in a month

The long and short of it......

Short: We've moved.  We are no longer living in a trailer in Florida.  We are now living in Richmond again and my husband starts his job tomorrow morning at 8 am.

Long:  Just after Independence Day we received our first flavor sample. At this same time we asked the manufactured to work up some numbers for us.  We needed to know how much this was going to cost us per bag, per case, etc.  We had many potential retailers ready for this information and we were ready to get some real numbers put together for them.  The flavor sample came and it was bland.  We asked them to work on the flavor some more.  They did and also sent us some preliminary numbers.  We were shocked at what they sent.  They were quoting a 1 1/2 lb bag of jerky for double what we were expecting.  In the beginning we had told them our price range and they said they were sure they could hit that mark.  They doubled it!

After two solid days of pencil to paper we just couldn't figure out how to make this figure work for us.  We were the middle man but the manufacturer cut us out of any profits on our end.  We would do all the selling work for them and make zero in return.  It just didn't make any sense to us.  We had to tell them to put the project on hold.  The numbers were just too high.  The manufacturer understood and thought it may be a problem.  So that was the end of the jerky.  We definitely tried and it was a great learning experience for us.

Now what to do?????  My husband had been working hard to find a job, any job that paid more than minimum wage but just couldn't find a thing.  We agreed that we would move to where ever there was a job for him, including back to the same city where we had just moved from a year ago.  He made one phone call and lo and behold he had a job.  It was more than minimum wage and he has the opportunity to start up his lawn care business again.

In two weeks time we found a house, sold our flea market booth, packed everything up and we have now moved.  We are living in Richmond again and so far all is good.  We have been here three days.

Currently my view is a sea of boxes and jumbled furniture.  The trailer is currently parked on the street but will be going into storage in a day or so.  The kids have their own rooms again but last night I heard them all together giggling.  While they will enjoy their own spaces I love that they are each other's best friends.

We have had many excitements recently but I have to say one of my biggest excitement is that I have a dishwasher and two refrigerators in my kitchen right now.  I can't wait to go grocery shopping and fill them up and begin cooking again on my real sized stove and real sized oven.

I have lots of things I want to write about and will get to them in time.  Please keep checking back!  And leave me a comment or two.  It makes my day to see a comment posted on my blog.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Slow Times=Slow Adjustments

Right now it is really slow at the flea market so we are adjusting our schedule to accommodate the slow times.  The market is open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays but since it is so slow on Fridays we are opting to stay closed on Fridays for a while.  We will work Saturdays and Sundays and see how things go.

We had another meeting about production with our manufacturer of our beef jerky. Things are coming together quickly. We are getting more and more excited and nervous every single day.

Luckily with the holiday week this week, I have been given a ton of hours at the Michaels. This will be so nice when it converts to cold hard cash in a few weeks.

I have also been working on some "samples" for the classroom where I will be teaching some classes. Baby hats, scarves, tablet covers, etc.

So we are adjusting to the heat, slow times, and learning patience in the waiting game for jerky.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Easy Chicken with Onions and Mushrooms

Last night I had mushrooms that I needed to use and we are overrun with onions from a botched attempt and having a produce stand last week.  (Don't even ask, it isn't worth the tell).  AND I had some chicken.  So what do you do with those three items.

Chicken with Onions and Mushrooms of course!

I didn't have a recipe but went on what I knew and came up with a pretty good dinner that everyone enjoyed.

First I cut the chicken breasts in half long ways to make chicken cutlets.  I had three chicken breasts to I ended up with 6 cutlets.

Next in a large non-stick pan I put about two TBS of veggie oil in the pan and heated it up on medium high heat.  I added a whole Vidalia onion, sliced into the pan and sauteed.  When they were about half way done I added the sliced mushrooms, about 2 cups. Maybe more. I put a top on them to begin to cook them down. When things began to get nice and caramelized I added about  1/2 a can of chicken stock to the pan.  At that point I turned off the heat for a few minutes.  I wasn't ready to finish the sauce yet.

In a cast iron pan I heated the pan and about 2 TBS of veggie oil and cooked the chicken about 4-5 minutes on each side until the cutlets were done and had a nice brown color on them.  I then took them out of the pan and let the sit for a minute on a plate.

Back to the sauce.  I heated the onions and mushrooms back up with the chicken broth.  I stirred together 1 1/2 TBS of cornstarch with about 1/4 cup of broth and stirred it up until it was nicely blended and had no lumps.  Then I added this to the pan with the onions and mushrooms.  I stirred letting it thicken a bit.  For me it was a bit thick and I added a bit more chicken broth to the pan until it was a bit thinner but not watery.  At this point I also added about 1/4 tsp of ground black pepper and about 1/2 tsp of salt.

I put the chicken in a serving dish and poured the onions and mushroom sauce on top and served it over penne pasta.  Next time I will put the penne on the bottom of the serving dish, then the chicken and then the onions and mushrooms sauce.  It was really yummy and the kids even ate it well.


Chicken with Onions and Mushrooms

6 chicken cutlets
3 TBS vegetable oil, divided
1 can chicken stock or broth (about two cups), divided
1 large onion sliced
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
2 TBS cornstarch
1 lb Penne pasta, cooked
1/2 tsp fresh parsley, chopped

In a cast iron pan (or non-stick)over med-high heat 2 TBS of vegetable oil and cook chicken cutlets about 5 minutes on each side until done.  Set aside on a plate.  In same pan (or different pan if you choose) add additional TBS of oil and saute the onions until about half way done, then add the mushrooms and continue until all are caramelized (about 15 to 20 minutes).  They will be a medium brown color. Add 1/2 the can of chicken broth and bring to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer.  In a dish add 2 TBS of cornstarch to about 1/4 cup of chicken broth and stir until smooth and no lumps.  Add this mixture to the onions and mushrooms pan and stir until all is medium brown and thick like sauce.  Adjust the sauce thickness with the remaining chicken broth until desired consistency. (not too runny) Sprinkle ground black pepper and salt to taste.

In a serving dish cover the bottom with cooked Penne pasta, then add the chicken and pour the onions and mushrooms sauce over the entire dish.  Sprinkle with fresh parsley for color.

For a fun variation add a cup of thawed frozen peas at the end. Heat until hot in the sauce and serve as above.  The peas will add some much needed color.

Additional side dishes can include fresh bread and garden salad or fresh green beans or peas on the side.

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Lord Provides Once Again.

No I am not surprised but I do need to begin to trust more.

About a week ago we had a huge storm that came through here.  Our canopy on our RV was destroyed.  It was a bent and mangled mess of aluminum.  We called our insurance company and an adjuster came out on Tuesday to take a look at the mess and report back to our insurance company.

This morning I called the retirement organization where I am cashing out and we aren't to expect a check until late July. Sigh.  Last week we were asked to set up a produce stand about 15 miles away from us.  We agreed and bought $100 in produce from a guy at our market (wholesale) and we set up Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday and we sold $28 total for all three days. By Wednesday evening most of our produce was at the end of its prime.  There was no way we could sell it another day.  We had to cut our losses.  I cut up the fruits and veggies and froze what I could. It was a gamble that didn't pay off this time.

Yesterday my husband and I were discussing our finances again.  I suggested I ask for more hours.  He is going to apply for some more jobs. We will be super poor for a while longer.  It is frustrating and weren't quite sure what to do.

This morning while my husband was on the computer scanning the jobs listings he got an email.  A guy wants to buy our old digital camera we have had on ebay for a while.  Yay!  That is $100 in our pocket.  That will get us some groceries at least until I get paid next Thursday.

On his way to mail off the camera he got a phone call from our insurance company.  They are sending us a check to replace the canopy.  It will arrive on Monday.  Whew.  Now we can pay rent here and at the market, and a bill that we are behind on along with more groceries and gas.  Whew.  Just when we needed it, He provides.

We have been reading a book recently "The Man Who Gave Up Money".  It is a book about David Suelo. One of the themes of this book is reliance on God to provide when we need it.  This has happened so many times in the past couple years and we feel so blessed when it does happen.

Yes, we will get our canopy replaced when I get my retirement money.  We can wait another month.

Fresh Peaches "Dump Cake" Cobbler

Last night I made a peach "dump cake" cobbler.  I went out on the internet, like I do many recipes and scanned several recipes and read the reviews. Most of them were pretty much the same thing. So here is what I did.

I had fresh peaches instead of canned peaches.  I put sugar on the cut peaches and let them sit for a couple hours to let them macerate.  They got good and juicy.  I put them in the bottom of a baking dish.  Then I poured a box of cake mix on top.  The dry cake mix.  I used Spice Cake mix because 1. that is what I had and 2. I thought it would be good with peaches. (spiced peachy right??)  Then I cut butter into bits and put it all over the top of the cake mix.  I baked at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  It looked done and I pulled it out and let it sit for about 30 minutes to cool slightly before busting into this.

The top was crusty and the peaches were soft and juicy underneath.  I topped it with some vanilla ice cream, sat down and dug in.  Peaches, yummy and tangy, not too sweet at all (note to self - put a bit more sugar in it next time).  The cake part was crusty like you would think peach cobbler would be.  I couldn't really taste the spice part. It was more like just the crusty crumbs of a topping. The taste I tasted though was strongly tainted with baking powder.  I was a bit disappointed.  I was expecting some sugary, buttery, crunchy taste or even a spicy(cinnamon and nutmeg perhaps).  I just got a strong baking powder taste. Hmm....

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Freezing and Putting Up

Yesterday we had a bunch of peaches that were starting to get soft, like too soft for eating.  I cut them up and peeled them and tossed them in a ziploc bag to freeze.  I plan to use these eventually to make peach jam.  I just don't have time right now.  So in the freezer they go.

I also cut and froze onions and red peppers too.  I will take some of these out to put in recipes, spaghetti sauces, and meat loaf.

Just a reminder that we can still salvage veggies and fruits that get a bit past their prime by freezing.

People Who We Thought Were A Threat

Back in the flea market world we have found people who have become our friends and those who we label as a threat to us and our business.

In the beginning of our endeavor at the flea market we began to attempt to "protect" our product.  We didn't want others to swoop in with our product and set up close or even far from us and sell the same product.  We identified one person, Chad, who owned a dip business three aisles over as a potential threat.  He had spoken to us and we had gotten to know a bit about him through our conversations and watching his actions.  He wanted to expand, take other dip businesses out, and take over the dips business in all of the flea market.  He began to expand quickly to two other locations with a possibility of a third location in the market.  Another dips business had "words" with him and he was hot to take them out of business. In casual talks with my husband Chad was told (by my husband) that we were looking into expanding to bakery items (pastries, cookies, breads, etc).  Next thing we know Chad has bought and opened a booth on the busiest aisle of the market and is selling breads, cookies, and pastries. Hmmmm..... wonder where he got that idea. Chad came over to our booth one day and bragged about his new booth and him selling baked goods and he mentioned he would also be selling jerky as well.  My husband reminded him of their "gentleman's agreement" that we wouldn't sell dips if he didn't sell jerky.  Chad responded with, "It's just business..."  Again, this man was labeled a threat.

We kept doing what we intended to do in the time we intended to do it in.  We opened up a booth with baked goods but ended up closing it within a month. It wasn't making money and it was taking away from our focus. We did it on our time and in our way, not because someone else was trying to swoop in on our ideas.

Chad eventually put jerky in his booth on the busiest aisle but the jerky is exotics and we don't deal in exotics.  So he ended up not a threat at all.

In January on aisle C, about 10 booths down from our jerky booth that my son ran for us, another vendor switched her product to jerky.  This time it was the same jerky that we sold. We identified her a threat. She tried to undercut us slightly which didn't work.  She never hurt our sales on that aisle or on any other aisle.  In February we closed our booth on C, not because of her but because we had bought a booth on the busiest aisle and my son, who had been running that booth had begun baseball practice and wasn't available to run that booth anymore.  In March, the other vendor on C had opened another booth on aisle F and by May she closed down her booth on C.  Currently, we have a vendor on aisle F who sells our product. He buys wholesale from us and he out sells this lady every day.  When we found out our number one  product had been discontinued, we cried and then decided to go with the flow and continue on.  We had other things in the works anyway.  This lady found a stash of this discontinued product and ordered 58 cases. She was going to wait for all us to run out of product and raise her prices and get our customers.  Two weeks ago we found her in another market during the week and she was unloading her product for less than what she paid for it.  Last weekend I walked by her booth on F and she had some jerky still on her table but she was also selling personalized, cartoons that you print off the computer.  She adds your name and prints it out and sticks it in a $2 frame for you.  She was never a threat and still isn't.  Again we did nothing but keep on doing what we were doing.

There was a guy who had been selling jerky in the market on aisle D for a long while prior to our arrival.  He had a whole store of all different jerkies, both exotics and beef.  He never sold our brand, however, he did have a relationship with the "honey" guy on the busiest aisle.  This honey guy has a booth just 4 booths down from us.  The honey guy would give the jerky guy on D some honey to sell in his booth.  Once we arrived on the busiest aisle the honey guy began selling our same jerky on his booth.  We approached the market since there was supposed to be a "5 booth" rule (can't sell the same product within 5 booths of the next person). However, the market chose to bend this rule since the guy had a double booth and the jerky was displayed on the far end of the booth from us.  Basically, the market chose not to deal with it. We labeled this honey guy a threat. However, he hardly ever sells any jerky that we have seen and he has never hurt our sales.  Again, not a threat in the end.

Lesson learned?

In business, most people are not your friends.

In business, you have to keep your mouth shut as to your own business plans because others will try to swoop in and do what you had planned first.

In business, label your threats and watch them. Most of the time they don't hurt your business at all if you are sticking with your plan and adjust accordingly. Be prepared to use the system in place to protect your brand (like we did with the honey guy).  But be prepared for the system not to work in your favor.

In business, those who swoop, rush, or try to take over a product that you are planning to bring in, will likely  fail in the process because they rushed to beat you.

In business, stick with your plan and time frame. With careful thought and planned actions you will succeed.

In business, often no response to those who act looking for a response from you will anger them more than any response you could have given them. Chad was looking for a response when he came over to tell us he was selling jerky in his booth.  We didn't give him one.  He was looking for a response when he began selling bakery items.  We didn't give him one.  The lady on aisle C was looking for a response when she began selling our product but we didn't give her one.  We still aren't sure why the honey guy is selling jerky. We believe the other jerky guy who is in business with the honey guy was looking for a response, but we didn't give him one either.  What we did do was just acknowledge that we knew what they were doing and selling.  That was all.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Did I ever tell you about.... the buzzards???

Once upon a time in a land not so far way.  Actually a neighborhood that was pretty exclusive and gated and had million dollar homes in it.....

There was a neighbor who didn't live there all the time but when he was there he was a bit strange.  First he decided to buy a smallish bulldozer and dig holes and ditches in his backyard of his million dollar house.  Then he made sure, very sure that the trees were growing healthy and well when trees were planted between his house and his neighbor's house.  The trees grew healthy and began to make a natural barrier.  Then there were large birds that landed on his roof.  He was away a lot so his neighbors thought something had died in his backyard and the buzzards had found it.  No real concern.  Then there was a smell, a stink that the neighbors could smell and it seemed to be coming from his backyard.  Again, no big concern but just weirdness.  Then the birds came more frequently. Then the neighbors heard he was going to fix up his house and move back in. There was some roof work done, but no other real signs of work.  Sometimes he would fire up the bulldozer and ride it around in his backyard making more ditches and holes.

The birds kept coming.  Finally one of his neighbors moved out, not because of him but because they were moving.  The new neighbors moved in and the very first weekend saw the birds and smelled the stink and got curious. More curious than other neighbors.  They peered over the back fence that separated his yard from theirs and saw a few dead deer.  A few.  They called the police and the police called the animal control and the game warden.  They finally got in touch with the man who owned the house that had the dead deer in the backyard and the buzzards that landed on his roof.  He calmly explained that he was trying to create a buzzard sanctuary for the large birds and took great pleasure in watching them pull at the dead carcasses and eat the dead deer.  He was hunting the deer somewhere else and bringing them to his house and putting them in the ditches he dug and then watched the buzzards swoop in and eat the deer.

The police left, the game warden left, and the animal control guy left.  You know why??? Because the neighborhood was private property owned by the homeowners association and the man had broken no laws.

Yes this story is true.  It was my parents' neighbor. (my parents are the ones that thankfully moved) I had snapped this photo just before they moved. from their back porch.

Stuffed Peppers - Red Pepper Style

I am not a pepper person.  I just want to make that clear.  We had ground beef and red peppers in the house and it is just my husband and I so I thought I would try something different for dinner tonight.

I thought I would share my recipe.  I scanned the internet and took some basic ideas from the several recipes I saw and then ad libbed the rest.

Stuffed Red Peppers

1 lb ground beef
1 cup cooked rice (brown or white)
1 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced red pepper
6 oz crushed tomatoes
2 tbs bread crumbs
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt (or less to taste)
4 red peppers

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook the rice.
Cut peppers about a third of the way down the pepper.  Scoop out any white veins and rinse out any seeds. Dice up the tops of the peppers for the meat stuffing.
In a skillet brown the ground beef, onions and diced red peppers.
In a large pot boil some water to par boil the pepper bottoms. Just a few minutes until they are just soft. Take them out of the water and set aside to cool slightly.
Once the meat, onions and peppers are cooked drain off any extra fluid then add rice, tomatoes, black pepper and salt.
Stuff the pepper bottoms with the meat stuffing and set in an oven safe dish.  Pour water in the bottom of the dish until it is about 1/8 inch from the bottom. Top the peppers with bread crumbs and bake for 25-30 minutes.
Let cool slightly before serving.


Monday, June 16, 2014

Awesome Stuffed Peppers

I am not a pepper person.  I just want to make that clear.  We had ground beef and red peppers in the house and it is just my husband and I so I thought I would try something different for dinner tonight.

I thought I would share my recipe.  I scanned the internet and took some basic ideas from the several recipes I saw and then ad libbed the rest.

Stuffed Red Peppers

1 lb ground beef
1 cup cooked rice (brown or white)
1 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced red pepper
6 oz crushed tomatoes
2 tbs bread crumbs
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt (or less to taste)
4 red peppers

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook the rice.
Cut peppers about a third of the way down the pepper.  Scoop out any white veins and rinse out any seeds. Dice up the tops of the peppers for the meat stuffing.
In a skillet brown the ground beef, onions and diced red peppers.
In a large pot boil some water to par boil the pepper bottoms. Just a few minutes until they are just soft. Take them out of the water and set aside to cool slightly.
Once the meat, onions and peppers are cooked drain off any extra fluid then add rice, tomatoes, black pepper and salt.
Stuff the pepper bottoms with the meat stuffing and set in an oven safe dish.  Pour water in the bottom of the dish until it is about 1/8 inch from the bottom. Top the peppers with bread crumbs and bake for 25-30 minutes.
Let cool slightly before serving.


Saturday, June 14, 2014

I Was Going to Complain

I started a post on the 10 things I hate living in a trailer, but I was interrupted and walked away from it in the middle.  I actually only got to 4 and had to really think hard to get a 5th thing I hated.  When I returned to finish it, I wasn't in that same mood anymore.  So no more complaining....

Well, I could complain about the smallness of my world right now, the fact that it is hot and muggy outside but in reality I am pretty content.

I love that we are ONLY paying $385 a month for our rent.  I love that we can pick up and move if we want. I love that it only takes me a few minutes to clean the entire place. I love that I don't have to worry about extra household bills.  I love that we have a pool that we can take a dip in when we want and not have any pool maintenance to go along with it.

I love that we are so close to the beach.  I love that our expenses are pretty small right now. I love that this lifestyle allows us to experiment with different ways of making money and that failing isn't so horrible that we lose our house.

Am I missing our old house? any house? space? Yes. But I am fine for now.  FOR NOW!!!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Summer Camp

We just got back from a shopping trip for summer camp. It is a week long sleep away camp that is run by our diocese.  The kids are excited and can't wait to get packed and ready to go.  They leave this Sunday.

Whew. I am tired of shopping.  It is amazing the stuff kids need nowdays to go to camp.  My kids are going to a church camp. On the list for our camp is the normal stuff, toiletries, shirts, shorts, etc. Our camp, being a church camp, asks the kids to bring their Bible (all ours are in storage right now), a one piece bathing suit (my girls wear the tankinis that go all the way down to the bottoms showing no belly), and two twin sheets and a blanket.

Since we are still living in our trailer right now and all our stuff is packed away in storage 5 states away from us, we had to go shopping for the basics.

Do your summer camps require specific things for the kids to bring/not bring? What odd things did you need to get? Anyone know where I can get three Bibles for cheap?

Monday, June 9, 2014

Reactive Parenting vs. Proactive Parenting

I was out at the store the other day and I saw a mom fuss at her son.  He was only 2 or 2 1/2 years old.  He was out of the cart and he picked up a gift card of the rack by the cash register.  He looked at it, turned it over and then tasted it.  Typical toddler behavior.  His mom turned and saw him sticking it in his mouth and fussed at him. She grabbed it out of his hand and said, "don't put that in your mouth. Stop that!"  He was confused. You could tell from his eyes and the expression on his face.  But he went on looking at the other things on the racks by the register and grabbed something else.  Again, his mom turned and grabbed the item out of his hands and said, "Quit grabbing things. Don't touch."

Now I stood there silently watching the mom get all frustrated and the little boy not understanding why he can't touch.  The items are right there at his height and look so inviting in their pretty wrappers and packaging.  It also seemed that this little boy didn't understand why his mom was so frustrated with him and he didn't understand why he was being scolded.

It reminded me of a time when my kids were younger and I would get frustrated by them in similar situations. What was different was that I remembered that I hadn't taught my kids that skill or the rule before I scolded them.  I would then get down on their level and tell them my expectations and tell them how I wanted them to behave instead of scolding.

We teach our children many things but mostly through reactive parenting rather than proactive parenting. We teach them by scolding them when they do wrong and forget to set them up for success. By proactively teaching them how and when we want them to behave and what behaving means we can avoid many of these situations.

Before I would take all three of my toddlers in a store we sat in the car in the parking lot and talked about what I expected them to do and how I expected them to behave. For us the conversation was similar to this:

"When we get out of the car, I need you to hold my hand while we are walking to the store.  I want you to hold your sister's hand and I will hold her hand while I carry the baby in my other arm.  When we get into the store we will get a cart but you two will have to walk next to the cart while the baby sits in the cart.  You MUST hold onto the cart while are in the store.  You will see lots of things you may want to touch but don't touch it. If someone says hello to you say hello back.  If we can do these things then we can be quick.  If we can't do these things then we will be in there a long time and you won't have time to play when we get home."

I never promised my kids a toy or a piece of candy.  It was just my expectations and praise at the end of the shopping trip for their good behavior.  My kids did great with this because they wanted to please me and they knew the consequences if they misbehaved (no play time later, mom fussing at them, etc.)

While we were in the store if I saw other children that were misbehaving (crying or screaming in the cart, running away from their mom, picking up items, etc) I would point that out to my kids.  I would show them the misbehaving child and let them see what misbehaving looks like.  I would also ask my children to look at the mom of the misbehaving child and see her frustration in her face and her actions. I would say something like, "look at that mommy and see how upset she is that her child is screaming. See how she is fussing at that boy. We don't want to act that way in the store.  We want to be quiet and follow all my directions so we can get the things we need and get home to play, right?"  They would see the behavior and understand what I am trying to teach them not to do in a store.

Did this take me a while to teach? Yes.  Was it worth it? YES!

We need to remember that if we teach our children correct behavior by talking about the good behaviors we want them to show and by talking about the bad behaviors we don't want them to show.  We show them poor behavior when we see it in others and talk about that.  We can then prevent having to reprimand our children in public as well as set them up for success and praise.

Do I fuss at my kids? Yes, when I know I have shown them how to act and they choose to use poor behavior.  Do I fuss often? No, because I set them up for success.

Montessori Methodology goes one step further in their teaching style. The students are no allowed to touch or "play" with anything until they have had a lesson in how to interact with that object.  They await for instruction on how to build the "pink tower" or how to arrange flowers in a vase, or even how to put a puzzle together.  The teacher explains the proper use of the puzzle pieces and what not to do with those pieces.  If the student uses or plays with something improperly then the teacher assumes they need another lesson.  They receive another lesson and another if needed. There are right ways and wrong ways to explore their world and experiment with an object.

This makes sense if you think about it. We hand our child a toy and he bangs it on the table. We say NO don't bang.  He then tastes it.  We say NO don't lick it. He then throws it. We say NO, don't throw.  We never told him how to play with it.  With another toy we show him how to twist the knobs and it makes noise.  He twists the knobs like we showed him and it makes noise.  We say, YAY you did it!  We set him up for success. The child smiles at the praise.

My kids are teenagers now but I am still proactively teaching them.  We talk about new experiences that they may have, discuss options for when they find themselves in a specific situation, and practice those options.  I can't tell you how often my kids come to me and say, "Mom I am so glad you told me about........ I was ready......." (I'm a big smiley faced mom when I hear those words.)

Hoot! By Carl Hiaasen

A week ago we began a new novel.  It is called Hoot, by Carl Hiaasen.  It was published in 2002.

It is a story about a kid who moves to Florida and has some trouble with some bullies.  In the process of dealing with this he ends up in a mystery that involves a new pancake house being built, alligators, poisonous snakes, and some burrowing owls.

We are thoroughly enjoying this novel and find ourselves laughing at the antics.  We are also learning a lot about the nature in Florida including burrowing owls and how to deal with a bully.  This novel does have some "language" in it and I find myself changing some of the cuss words to more appropriate words.  My kids are teenagers so they have heard these words before but still try to replace these words as best we can when we can.

Hoot lends itself to a science research project.  So far we have researched the Burrowing Owls and the laws that protect these creatures.

My older two began to work on lapbooks about the owls. They are not completely finished but so far this is what they look like.

This novel was also made into a movie and we were excited to watch it.  However, when we did we all felt that we enjoyed the book so so so much better.

Here is a You Tube video of burrowing owls.  There is no commentary, just the owls.
This video has commentary and while pretty "dry" gives lots of information about the owls.

This website is all about the Burrowing Owl and has lots of great information and videos about them.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has good information about the Burrowing Owl and other wildlife in Florida.

We love incorporating learning through our reading.  It feels more natural that way.  It feels more purposeful as well.

Carle Hiaasen has also written other novels as well.  We will most likely be reading more of his novels.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Opportunities arise!

Three weeks ago I took a part time job working in a big box crafting store.  So far I work about 12-15 hours a week.  I love my job for the most part, but it is long hours on my feet on a hard, concrete surface.  A week ago my husband took a job working about 25-30 hours a week for a guy who rehabs houses that have been foreclosed to get ready for resale.  It is good, sweaty work.  At this point we are making about $9 an hour each.  It isn't bad and certainly is helping us make ends meet.  But that is not what this post is about.

Each week we meet so many interesting people who stop by our booth in the flea market.  Sometimes they are just tasting our product and other times they are buyers.  Whichever, we always try to strike up a bit of a conversation with them.  Sometimes they want to talk and start a conversation with us and other times we ask them questions to get them talking.  Typical conversation centers around where our jerky comes from, if we make it ourselves or not (not), or where they are from.  We often get visitors from out of state so it is fun to talk about their state, why they are here, and sometimes what they do for a living.  We share that we are recently moved here, starting up this business, and a bit about our family.  Sometimes our kids are with us and we will take a bit about them, our homeschooling life, baseball, and our church life.

Several months ago we had a guy and his wife come by one of our booths.  I had a fairly lengthy conversation with them about their product that they were interested in selling.  They had been in the food business for a while they said and were in the process of bottling a bbq sauce. They also had soups they said and other items as well.  I told them that I would be interested in trying some of their products and considering putting it in our booth to sell.  I told them to bring me some samples when they were ready.  I never heard from them again.......until yesterday.

They stopped by our booth on the produce aisle and spoke with my husband.  They had their bbq sauce bottled and wondered if we were interested in selling it for them.  We can't because the market has a rule that you can't sell the same item or product as someone else within 50 ft of your booth.  We are in the center and right across the aisle from us is a hot sauce and bbq sauce shop.  So we directed them over to the other shop.  BUT  the guy said that he had jams and jellies that he was interested in selling as well and we may be interested in that.  We are and will be getting in touch with him.  He also gave us some awesome information about possibly being able to set up a produce booth with jams/jellies/pickles and our jerky.  We will be looking into that as well.  We can set up during the week and extend our week from just a Friday-Sunday business to a 5-7 days a week business.  This would increase our sales as well as our visibility in the communities around here.

We have some trepidation about this as well. One, we are creating our own line of beef jerky.  How will this help this goal.  Two, we will be making more money and have a bit more flexibility in our hours as well as giving us time for developing our beef jerky business as well.  Three, there is no guarantee of income.  We make what we can but can't guarantee making any money with this. (We can guarantee our income with our other jobs working for others, however, it is limited.)

We have lots of things to research right now--where to get fresh produce, permissions to set up in this new venue, setting days and times and much more.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Catching Up...... Sorry for the pause in posting

It is one of my downfalls.....when stress hits I tend to get silent.  It is a downfall in blogging, social media, and in real live relationships as well.

Needless to say, we have been a bit stressed around here.

In March we received an email from our jerky manufacturer that they would no longer be making our brand of beef jerky.  We placed our last order and started saying some prayers.  We contacted another meat company who used to make beef jerky but hadn't in some years.  They said that they would be interested in entertaining the idea but would get back with us.  (Boy am I making this very long story short!)  We didn't hear from them for a week or so and we contacted them again.  The guy asked if we could send him some samples of the popular brand of beef jerky.  We did and didn't hear from him again.  He was on vacation, out of the office, probably just avoiding our calls.

In the meantime we had to do something. We negotiated with our existing beef jerky manufacturer that we would be the ONLY people selling another brand of jerky that they have.  It comes in a smaller bag, half the size of the bags that we are selling, and costs more than the bags we were selling.  Not good, but we bought some and just had to deal with the cards that we had in our hand.  It sold okay the next couple weekends.  We were so glad that we still had our beef sticks that were selling well.

April came and at Easter we decided to head back to our old home town to celebrate the holidays with our family still living there and to get our stuff out of storage.  We spent the last of our money to get there and rent a trailer to bring our stuff back.  Unfortunately it was a bad move on our part.  Well, honestly we aren't sure if it is a bad move or not. While we were home we went through every single box we owned.  We put our hands on every single thing!  We weeded out about 50% more of our stuff.  Some was trash, some slated for donation, and the rest went towards a gigantic yard sale.  We sold about $600 worth of stuff!  Woo hoo!  We thought we did pretty well.  We also went through our furniture and cleaned out our storage unit that we were keeping our furniture in.  We took a bunch of stuff to a new consignment shop that had just opened and was happy to receive our things.

We ended up bringing back only some things.  Some basic furniture and some other items we had been missing terribly. We still have a truck load sitting back there in my stepmother's basement.

The end of April my parents moved down here to southwest Florida.  Their house is in the process of being built and will look beautiful when it is done. In early May we went down to visit them.  We loved the area and thought that perhaps we might want to live there too.  It is a growing community and lots of new building is going on.  We thought we would try to get a job there and then move.

We came back two weeks ago from our visit and immediately began putting in applications for jobs.  We also didn't have any money to buy new product from our manufacturer and didn't have but $300 in product sitting on our tables.  Luckily, a vendor we had been wholesaling to decided he didn't want to sell the product anymore and we were able to consign his product he had leftover back.  Basically, we took it back and are selling it for him.  He gets the amount he put into it and we get the profit because we did the selling work. Bonus for each of us.  He gets rid of his product and we get product to sell.

We have also put our booth up for sale.  We can sell the space and move to another area in the market and continue to sell our product.  We are not excited about this but again, we are totally broke and need the money.  We are willing to part with our best selling spot to make ends meet at home.

A week ago I got a job and began work.  I am now working at a national chain store that sells craft supplies and home decor.  It is part time and I have already put in 17 hours.  I love it.  I really do.  I feel useful, valued (not that I am not valued at home or in our other business), and I love the store.  I was already a customer there so I was familiar with the products, placement and the basic policies.  When I applied and interviewed for the position apparently my interview went well because the manager decided to hire me for a different position I had applied for and gave me a 50 cent raise immediately! Double bonus!

And to top everything off last Wednesday we got a phone call out of the blue from the other meat manufacturer (the one we had sent the samples to and never heard back).  They said they were in the development phase and about two weeks out on sending us some samples of their new jerky. WHAT??? We thought they weren't doing anything after not hearing from them for so long. So we are waiting on them to send us samples and we might be back in the jerky business after all.

So that is pretty much where we are and how we are doing. We are waiting on samples, broker than we have ever been before, late on bills, working a part time job, and putting in applications everywhere for anything.

I would love to say I am enjoying my time here in sunny Florida but right now.....not so much. We are at the end of our patience living in a 40 ft. trailer.  It is still big enough for all of us but it is the little things.  The water in the kitchen turns off when someone flushes the toilet. The lights go out when we overload the circuit breakers which doesn't take much to do, and everyone seems to be in each other's way.

And yes, I promise to post a bit more often.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Look What I Found at Sam's Club! Awesome Addition to Your Food Storage

Check this out!  I found this box of dried potatoes, hash brown style at our local Sam's Club this week.  We bought this 2.125 lb box for $5.98.  It makes 72 1/2 cup servings. It is lightweight and easy to store and pour.

These Idahoan Fresh Cut Hash Browns were so easy to make too.  I was a bit concerned because you have to rehydrate the potatoes prior to cooking but they soaked up the water quickly and left no mushy mess at the bottom of the bowl.  I rehydrated according to the package, about 30 minutes prior to cooking and then stored the left over hydrated potatoes in the fridge for the next day.  The next day they turned out as perfect as the first day.

rehydrated potatoes

The first time I served these my family went nuts!  They loved them.  I fried them up in oil with a bit of onion (like Waffle House does).  Now mine didn't come out as crispy as theirs but they were still delicious. If I had a flat top griddle like they do, mine would be as crispy as theirs.

This will become a staple product in our food storage.  This with a bit of dehydrated onions and it makes a great hash brown.

I found this at Sam's Club but with a quick search on line you can also get it from Amazon and eBay or online at in the case (6 cartons) for $36.98.

*I was not paid to blog about this item.  These words are all my own and my honest opinion.  I just thought you all might want to know also!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

What to do with your kids on a snow day???

Most families who live in a region where there is a possibility of snow should come to expect a day or two or more SNOW DAYS where school and offices are closed.  My most unfavorite Facebook posts are those where moms complain that their "kids are home yet again from school" or "I think I will go crazy if they are  home again tomorrow" sort of comments.  First, I have no patience for these moms.  These are YOUR kids, you shouldn't be complaining that you were blessed with whole day with your children.  Second, prepare for these days.  Have something up your sleeve for some fun activities that you all can do together during these days that you are snowed in.  Make some memories and enjoy the time you have with your kids.  They are only kids for short time. You WILL miss these days when they are no longer living in your home.

Prepared Mom Tips:

1.  Scan Pinterest for fun, easy activities to do with the kids. You can do this the morning of. I mean you are already awake from the 5 am phone call notifying you school was closed.  Hop on the computer right then and start planning your day while the kids are still asleep.

2. Bake something with them.  Make it easy like a box cake mix and then decorate with snowflakes and celebrate the snow. Or make cookies with snowflake cookie cutters or whatever you have on hand. Better yet, just make the "drop and bake" cookies.  Mixes last a long time in your pantry so stock up on a few cakes and cookies mixes when they are on sale.  Nothing better than a cup of hot cocoa and a warm cookie.

3. Play board games, card games, or even I Spy with them.

4. If you can, go out and play in the snow with the kids. Build a snow man or even a snow family in your yard.

5. Hike to a local convenience store and buy some hot chocolate or hike to a friends house and visit with them for a bit.

6. Pop popcorn and have a movie marathon of everyone's favorite movies. Have them write the title on a slip of paper and then draw the strips out of a hat for fairness and random selections. If you have a sofa bed in the living room, open it up and everyone lay on the bed to watch TV.

7. Create a scavenger hunt in the house for random objects or for things you have been looking for.

8. If you want to get overly ambitious, use the snow days for a major cleaning in their rooms.  Sort and organize toys, make piles for donation, and maybe even rearrange the furniture.

9. Sit together and go through old photo albums and tell stories of when the kids were really little.

10.  Get out those cookbooks and cook up a great big dinner with everyone helping. Don't worry about the mess, you are making memories!  Take a few pictures while you are at it.

11. Pull out old wrapping paper or butcher paper and the crayons and markers and make huge wall murals.

12. Pull a book off the shelf and read it out loud to your kids.  My teens still love to be read to. I will bet that yours will too.

13. Have a family competition using your Wii, XBox, or Playstation games. Get everyone involved.

Nothing frustrates me more than a mom who says, snow days are an unplanned day "so we have nothing to do".  Plan for these days. Tuck some activities in a box in your closet and pull out the "fun box" on these days. Don't be frustrated because you have to spend yet another day with your kids.  Make those days fun and make some memories.

I hope these suggestions get your creative juices running and you are able to make the best of these snow days.

Storm Preparations - Tips from A Prepared Mom

With the recent rash of winter storms plaguing the eastern half of the United States I am blessed to now be living where these winter storms don't hit.  However, upon reading my Facebook wall and newsfeed I am compelled to write this blog today.

When we were living in a place where we were crippled by any type of winter storm I learned several easy to follow rules to follow.  One year we were crippled by an ice storm that took out our power.  We arrived home one evening late from a dinner with family and saw our neighbors putting suitcases in their minivan and heading out.  It was late and when they drove down our road they stopped and said they were going to a hotel room.  The power was out in our neighborhood because of the ice storm and they said it would be 5 days before we would see power again.  We, of course, didn't believe them and went inside and put an extra blanket on the bed that night.  The next day we still had no power and in the end our neighbors were right. We had no power for 5 days. It was our first year living in this neighborhood.  After that we worked diligently to make sure we had enough provisions, ways to cook and ways to heat our house when we had power outages.

When it came to our BIG hurricane, Isabel, we were prepared.  We had everything we needed and didn't have to really worry about not having power for 14 days.  No, we didn't leave our house during this time and we had three kids under the age of 5.  We were fine because we were prepared.

In winter storms we made sure we had enough wood and propane (our two alternative sources of heat) to make it through any power outages.

I learned that the worst time to prepare for a storm is just before the storm hits. Yes, I said it! BEFORE THE STORM HITS is the worst time to prepare.  Why you ask??  Easy.  That is when everyone else is preparing.  The stores are packed and the stores know that everyone is coming to get provisions.  None of the items you need are necessarily on sale so you won't be saving any money either.

The BEST time to prepare is AFTER the storm hits.  Once everything settles down and you can safely drive again restock the items you used during the storm and then you will be prepared for the next storm.  Now doesn't that make sense???

If you aren't prepared prior to the storm then shop at the first mention of a "possible" storm.  If it hits you are prepared and didn't have to deal with empty shelves, fighting for the last loaf of bread, or crowds of people. Then shop again after the storm and restock any provisions you used so you are ready for the next storm.

Use the following below as a guide to help prepare.

Winter Storm Prep Checklist

To Do:

  • Pick up all toys and tools in the yard and straighten up the leaves and twigs that fall from the trees.
  • Cover lawn furniture and the wood pile.
  • Stack firewood.
  • Finish winterizing the garden. 
  • Enough food and water storage for at least one week.
  • Get generator, snow blower, snow mobile, etc. in good working order. 
  • Top off oil and gasoline so it is ready to use.
  • Prepare for an alternative source of heat and cooking.
  • Check battery supply, alternative lighting supply, emergency items. 
  • Top off other gasses like propane, kerosene, or any other fluids.
  • Unpack winter blankets, flannel sheets, and freshen them for use.
  • Unpack winter clothing such as coats, boots, gloves, hats.  Try them on to make sure they fit and are wearable this season.

Monday, February 3, 2014

God is GOOD!

This past weekend we continued to have more and more "drama" at the flea.  I told you the start of the weekend and on Sunday I was at the information booth chatting with our friendly "rules enforcer" Billy.  He is nice enough but he is the one when there is a problem with a vendor or someone selling the same stuff too close then he gets involved.  He also makes sure that all the booths that are taken are paid for and that someone isn't using an empty booth for free, etc.  So he and I are chatting about stuff in general.  A lady walks up and she is looking for a map and then she turns to me and asks me if I work here.  I am thinking she is looking for a particular booth and I say yes.  Billy says, "This is one of our vendors, how can I help?"  She then says, is it okay for a vendor to cuss at a customer?  Billy says, "This is a family friendly place, cussing at a customer is not allowed, no."  She says, well I just heard a vendor cuss at a customer.  Billy asks if she could describe the vendor, where he worked, etc.  She says, "His name is Chad and he sells dips. He just told a customer that he could F---ing do whatever he wanted."  I then walked away, and told Billy I would talk to him later.  Ha ha.... Chad is getting in trouble!!!!

I don't know the end of that and probably won't.  I do know that there are many people in the market who don't like him or have had run ins with him.  The market should throw him out but in the end he will get what he deserves whatever that is.

We came out of this weekend making our average.  It was rent weekend at the market and I went up to pay the rent on Sunday.  Billy was at that window and I told him I wanted to pay the rent and he handed me my bill.  So I hand him my cash and the lady who normally works the booth starts telling me that she was able to adjust our account and get one booth off the bill (the eggs booth) that we don't want anymore.  At the same time my husband calls me and tells me NOT to pay the rent.  He had already talked with the lady who works the rent window and they agreed to wait until next weekend to let her get everything straight.  Well, too late.  I had already given the money to Billy and he had already put it on my account. Sorry. My husband had asked my son to tell me not to worry about the rent payment that he had already taken care of it.

Because of the rent confusion, we ended up not having enough money to make an order from the factory this week.  We woke up this morning knowing that we couldn't make an order and that we would have to wait another week before we could.  We hoped that there wouldn't be anything on the inventory list and we wouldn't feel bad about not being able to make an order. However, we got a phone call about 10 am.  It was a guy who wanted to buy beef jerky wholesale from us.  He wants to sell it at his flea market that he owns about 25 miles away.  He said he got a bag from a guy selling it at his market and wants to start selling it when the guy leaves.

So we discussed it and decided to wholesale to him.  We also knew that he would help us make an order this week.  So we call him back and tell him we will sell to him.  Now we just need to wait for the inventory list to come out by email. The inventory sheet comes out and there are some great  flavors on there that we are desperate for.  So we go ahead and place the order adding the new guy's order too.  Thank GOD we had his order because otherwise we wouldn't be able to pay for the order. Nor would we have been able to make an order at all for us.  We make about $3 a bag selling it wholesale. So we are making a bit of money on his order too.  This is what we used to pay for part of our order.

God is so perfect and has perfect timing for everything.  We are so thankful.

We met up with the guy, today and he tasted some of the flavors that he would be getting from us.  We hit it off right from the beginning.  He is from our home state and he reminds me a lot of my uncle.  We talked for a long time and he told us to put our label on the jerky that we put on it for us to sell.  He said he would be happy to promote our website. He also asked if he could sell our product at local festivals and at the speedway during their events and such.  UH YEAH!!  We have wanted to sell ours there but the fees to get a booth is high and we don't have enough manpower to do that.  So by him doing it then our product gets into more hands and it will promote our website!!  :D  We love that idea.  We don't have to pay the fees, he will and we won't have to man the booth, he will.

So now we are in the wholesale business and we are still promoting our website too.  What wonderful blessings.