Monday, February 28, 2011

A Little Walk in the Woods

Sunday was such a nice day here!

It was 60 something degrees with a cool breeze every now and then.  So making it an absolutely beautiful February day!

A great day for a nature walk...

We needed to mark the property lines before the leaves come out.  We are getting ready to redo the fences so that we can raise cattle. 

My grandfather had a herd of polled herdfers until he passed away.  That was 20 years ago and the fences are in pretty bad shape.   The pastures are still in good shape.  So when we get the fences fixed, the cattle should have plenty to eat.

So today we walked the property lines to not only to mark them but to see just how bad the fences are.

We live in the Southern end of the Appalachian Mountains so there are lots of hills and valleys.  So we had to cross a couple of creeks and gullies.

Knox found a tree to get across this creek with.

Hubby found another tree to cross another creek.

We found a tortoise shell.

We found were the beavers had been.

We found a waterfall--made by our beavers.

Hamp found all the leaves he could play with!

But he finally gave out and Daddy had to carry him the rest of the way!

We finished with the fence and found the fescue is greening spring is coming!

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Friday, February 25, 2011

How I Stopped the Grocery Store From Taking All My Money!, Part 3

This post is part 3 of a 3 part series on saving money at the grocery store. Click here to read Post 1 and click here to read Post 2. This is a series on what I have found works for me and is my own opinion that I wanted to share with my "groupies" so that you may find an idea or two that you can use! Please read and leave comments of other ideas that you use...

For the past year I have read countless bloggers and how they have slashed their families grocery budgets. If there is one thing I have learned from this is that nobody has one cookie cutter way that works for everyone. You just need to find the way that works for you!

I have taken different ideas from different sources and have come up with my own grocery slashing tips that are working for me. This is the last post I will be sharing these with you, my bloggy friends!  I hope that you can find tips that you can use too...

Gardening:  There is nothing like fresh vegetables!  They not only have more favor but are better for you and your family's health.  It's even more satisfying when you know you have grown them with your own hands.  Working a garden is also an activity that the whole family can enjoy working together.

Gardening is not hard.  I know, I know, I have heard "But I can't grow anything" thousands of times from people!!  But really you CAN grow your own vegetables.  People have been growing vegetables for thousands of years and so can you!  It just requires you to be patient and to think of your plants like you do your animals.  Remember that plants need food (good soil) and water (especially during the heat of summer).

If you have a small plot of land you can easily till your land and prepare your soil for planting.  Don't worry if you don't have a tractor.  Just go to your local rental store or hardware store and rent a garden tiller for a few hours.  You can use your grass clippings and leaves to build organic matter in your garden.  Remember that more organic matter means not only better "food" for your plants, but will help with holding in more water during those dry summer months.  Those food scrapes can also be used to get your soil ready for planting!

Even if you don't have land that you can get your hands dirty in, try container gardening.  Many vegetables will do well in containers and small areas.  Containers can be picked up at yard sales and thrift stores for fractions of new ones.  The one thing that I would not be frugal with would be the soil that you put in your containers.  Use of a good quality soil will insure that your plants will get a good start, so that extra money will pay off with higher plant yields. 

If you are unsure of your gardening skills, just start small.  With a small amount of money you can purchase small seed packs and start planting!  Read the seed packs for planting times in your zone.  You can also find tons of resources online.  Once you get more comfortable with your gardening skills, start getting a little bigger. 

The amount of money you spend on your garden is so small compared to the return in the money you will save!  You will also know where your vegetables come from, how fresh they are, and who has handled them. 

Canning, Freezing: When you get your garden going, you are more than likely going to have more than you, your family, and your friends can eat before everything goes bad!  There's an old saying here in our small town where almost no one locks their cars when they go to church on Sunday except during June...that's so no one puts squash and zucchini in your car!

This is when canning and freezing come in handy.  It is a way to keep those vegetables from going bad and allow you to enjoy the freshness of your garden in the middle of the cold winter months. 

Canning and freezing is not that hard.  If you ask around your family and friends, you will be surprised who can help you learn how to can.  We are really lucky in our community to have a local Cannery.  Cannery's use to be in just about every community before refrigeration became accessible.  Local Canneries were where you could bring your fruits and vegetables to safely preserve them.  Our Cannery is a wonderful place to go and do all your canning.  You can use their cans (tin quarts) or bring your own glass jars.  There is a small fee but you don't have to buy the equipment needed or have to heat your home in the hot summer months.

Local Farmers Market:  You may not be able to grow everything, so use the farmers market to buy your vegetables.  These vegetables are usually picked that morning so you know they are fresh.  You'll get to know the farmers growing them and can even sometimes request certain vegetables.

Also visiting your local farmers markets on a regular basis is the best way to get advice! Most farmers love talking about how they got this and that to grow! You can better your own gardening skills by asking questions and listening to the answers.
To me, the best reason to use local farmers markets is that I know the money I spend at my local farmers market is going to stay in my community.  Let me explain...say I buy 2 apples for $1.00 at the grocery store but only get 1 apple for $1.00 at the farmer's market.  On the outset, the grocery store looks like the better deal, but if we look closer at that $1.00 we'll see that the farmer's market is the better deal in the long run.

Of that $1.00 I spent at the grocery only about $0.02 stays in my community.  The rest goes to the grocery store chain, the middle man, and finally some goes to the farmer in another state.  But that $1.00 I spent with at my farmer's market is going to stay in my community!  It's all going to the farmer!  That farmer lives in my community and is going to spend it in this community.  So I know that the $1.00 I spend in my farmer's market will come back to me at some time down the road.  That, to me, is a more frugal use of my money!!

These are ways that my family and I use to cut our grocery bill.

What do you and your family do?


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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Monitoring Your Child's Cell Phone

Do you know who your kids are talking to or texting on their cell phones?

Do you worry about your child sexting or being cyper bullied?

Do you worry about who is calling or texting your children?

If given the opportunity, would you use spyware to monitor your child's cell phone use?

Did you know that this is illegal?

Even if you are paying the bill for the phone, in our state, you have to tell your child if you install spyware on their phone.

I have a problem with this...

If I am paying the bill, my child should have no say-so as to what I install on their phone!  If I want to be able to know who and how my child is communicating with others, I feel I should not have to tell them or ask their permission.  I guess it's the teacher in me...

I am an alternative school teacher.  I deal with students that have little or no parenting.  They are students that are allowed to do whatever they want with few or little consequences.  As I heard this on the last news tonight, I was totally appalled!

It brought back this memory...

We had a student a few months ago who was being bullied by another student through texting.  She gave us permission to look at her phone to read the text messages between the two girls.  As we looked at the text messages, we stumbled upon some sextexting the girl was doing with her boyfriend! 

Just so you know, naked pictures where the LAST thing we wanted to see!!  But there they were...

Pictures of him, pictures of her!

We knew the young man.  He was 19.  The young girl was 14.

As a mother I was appalled.  The girls mother had no idea.  The young man was a convicted sex offender!

If we had not stumbled on this sexting, the mother never would have known!  It's illegal to use a spyware on your child's phone (that you pay for!).

This spyware can be abused...

A mother put spyware on her 3 year old phone and listened in as the child talked with her ex-husband. 

This is pushing the intented use of the spyware.  But if she is paying the bill, the phone is in her name, doesn't she have the right to listen in to her child's conversations?

Don't you have the right to listen in or see what your child is doing on a phone that is in your name?

Should we as parents only go by what our children say they are doing on the phone?

What are your feelings.....

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: The Book Worm

Hamp loves tractors.

Hubby has lots of tractor books.


Every night, Hamp is getting out Hubby's tractor books and "reading" them!

Let's just hope the library at school will have enough books in it when he starts school...

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Are You Ready To Get Some Free Stuff??

For the past four months, I have been able to get FREE diapers!

How you ask?

It is as easy searching for my favorite blog...
Frugal Tractor Mom!

I Swagbuck!

Yep! I said Swagbucks...

And it's Swagbucks that have allowed me to earn enough Amazon gift cards to get my diapers for free along with books, cooking supplies, and a few other things.

Swagbucks (the best place on the web for free stuff) is turning 3, and the celebration they have planned for the 28th is going to be HUGE!

It'll feature...

 a bunch of Swag Codes (one just below for my "groupies")...
 a new look and feel for the Swagbucks Blog...
the launch of two new features, one of which will redefine the way you use their search function.

You definitely won't want to miss it, so be sure that you're on the site bright and early the morning of the 28th for your chance to earn big and be a part of the biggest birthday celebration on the web!

If you are not a Swagger, join now and start getting lots of free stuff!

For my "groupies" that aren't Swagbucking, now's your chance to join!

My friends at Swagbucks are letting my "groupies" who have not joined the Swagging revolution to join and earn not only 30 Swagbucks for joining but an extra 50 Swagbucks!!

That's 80 Swagbucks for my "groupies"!!

Click here to join Swagbucks and type in this code: 3rdBirthday30 is a site where you can earn 1,000s of free products for doing the things you do every day. Whether it's searching the web, watching videos, playing games, shopping or more, we've got a way for you to be rewarded with free stuff.

No strings. No gimmicks.

Come see what your missing...

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Monday, February 21, 2011

The Tractor Driver

I know I have shown pictures of Knox driving the big tractors before, but I just had to share another one with you...

He was actually driving the neighbor's tractor.  Jeffery (our neighbor's son) was on the tractor helping Knox with the gears and making sure he didn't hit anything!

It always crack me up how much he concentrates when he is driving!

Let's just hope he stays that way when he starts driving a car!!

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Friday, February 18, 2011

Time for a Salad!

I don't know about the rest of you, but I am like to know where my food comes from; especially my vegetables.  I also like to be frugal about my food bill.  So it was only natural that I started growing my own vegetables. 
We love a fresh salad, but bag salads are really expensive.  Especially, if your family is like mine, the bag is almost always never finished and part of it is thrown away!  I had grown fresh salad a few years ago and we loved it!  We just went outside and picked just what we needed for that meal.  What we picked, would grow back in a few weeks.  But I had direct seeded those greens in my garden.  This time I wanted to do something different; something that I could bring indoor when the weather got bad this fall.

After buying a bag of good potting soil, mixed green seed, spinach seed, and liquid fertilizer, I decided to plant my salad in a container that I had on my back patio.  I chose this container because in the area I live in, mixed greens do great in the spring, but struggle in the hot, humid summer.  In this container, I can find a good shady, cool spot that would be a better environment for my greens to make it this summer.  Then, when the weather gets too cool, I can move my container to a more protected area.  Here are the step I took to get my salad garden started growing.

 I placed a old bag of sand in the bottom of my container.

I then placed my potting soil in the container.

Then my trusty helper, Knox, came along and spread the mixed greens in 2/3 of the container.

Knox then covered up our seeds.  He then planted the spinach in the last 1/3 of the container.

We finished up by watering in our seed with a good liquid fertilizer.

Our salad should be shooting up from the soil in about seven days.  We will just have to keep the chickens out of the container!
Let me know if you have done some creative gardening of your own!
I'll be sharing my recipe for homemade salad dressing soon!

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

How I Stopped the Grocery Store From Taking All My Money!, Part 2

This post is part 2 of a 3 part series on saving money at the grocery store.  If you have not read Part 1, click here.  This is a series on what I have found works for me and is my own opinion that I wanted to share with my "groupies" so that you may find an idea or two that you can use!  Please read and leave comments of other ideas that you use...

For the past year I have read countless bloggers and how they have slashed their families grocery budgets. If there is one thing I have learned from this is that nobody has one cookie cutter way that works for everyone. You just need to find the way that works for you!

I have taken different ideas from different sources and have come up with my own grocery slashing tips that are working for me. So for the next few posts, I want to share these with you, my bloggy friends, to see if there are any tips you can use...

Cooking From Scratch:
To me, cooking from scratch is a key if you really want to save money.  This is one reason I stopped using as many coupons.  I found that most coupons were for processed or what I call convenient packaged food.  Most of these foods are filled with preservatives, hidden sugar, and fats.

I found that when I compared packaged food to what I could cook from scratch, even with coupons, the homemade cooking was much cheaper. 

An example of this is wheat bread.  Now let me start by saying that I like my family to eat healthy.  Wheat bread is much better for all of us but does cost more than white bread.  This is something that I do not like to slack up on! 

Normally wheat bread costs me around $2.50 a loaf.  I could occationally get it for around $1.00 with a coupon stacked with a sale.  Because the coupons were so infrequent, I would have to buy in bulk, freezing what we didn't eat.  This would take up freezer space that I could use for other things.  

I can make my own bread for less than a $1.00 a loaf whenever I need bread.  I also know what is in this bread because I grind my own wheat.  I now know how fresh my flour is and that it is not filled with preservatives.  I also know that fresh ground wheat is so much better for my families digestive health than store bought bread and boy does the house smell great while it's cooking!

With the use of the internet, I can find a recipe for just about anything and everything!  I have found that it doesn't take me any longer to cook a meal from scratch than loading everybody in the car, going to a restaurtant, ordering, and waiting on a meal!  It just requires a little thinking ahead.  Many times I cook a meal one day and use parts of it for multiple meals.  Click here for my favorite example with cheap dried beans.

Making Just About Everything:  I try to make most of my cleaning products.  This is not only cheaper, but in most cases in better for the enviornoment!  Things like lanudry degrentant and clorax wipes are simple to do and so much cheaper than just about anything you can buy. 

Now they do require a little more time, but if you are serious about saving money, the extra time shouldn't be a big deal.  Just think of it as the time you would spend looking for deals, driving to the store and waiting in line to check out.

Keeping the House Stocked: I work at always keeping things that we use on a regular basis stocked somewhere in our house! When I buy shampoo, I never buy one or two, but 10 or more. When I buy toilet paper, I buy a case at a time, or more if there is a sale.

A good example is when I buy Cetizian (generic Zertex). I buy the 120 count store brand. The drug store I use, has their store brand Cetizian at a buy-one-get-one-free.  I have enough points on their discount card that I get a 20% discount everytime I buy thier store brand items. For 240 tablets that should cost me ~$74.00, I only pay ~$26.00. That's a ~$48.00 savings! So when these go on sale, I always try to stock up. 

Always remember that if a store is out of the item you want, ask for a rain check! I have found that most stores don't mind this and they don't always put a "use by" date on them. This makes it easy to group with a good coupon!

I also keep a running grocery list on my ToMarket app on my Driod phone.  I work really hard at keeping the pantry stocked with most everything I use on a regular basis.  When I take something from the pantry, it goes on my shopping list.  This also helps me to see how much of certain items I am using between shopping trips. Knowing how much you are using between shopping trips allows you to know about how much each shopping trip will cost you.  This helps with monthly budgeting.

Check back next week to read part 3. I'll share more tips that I use to save on my grocery bill! If you have any tips that you use, fill free to share them.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday...Sweet Lips

Today when I picked up Hamp, I found that he had been watching Grandmoma REALLY close! 

He was watching Grandmoma put on her lipstick...

Yes, that is Grandmoma's lipstick on my little boy!!

Don't tell my Hubby...

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Monday, February 14, 2011

I've Never Been More Proud...

Saturday, Knox and I drove to Rock Eagle 4-H Center for Cloverleaf DPA.

He was doing a demonstration on the History of International Harvester.

This meant that he had to get up in front of a group of people and give a speech.

My Knox had to give a speech!

Now this may not sound too extraordinary except for one thing...
Knox has a server speech problem.

When he was 4 years old, the only words that you could understand were "Trains, Trucks, and Tractors".  If you were not around him on a daily basis, you could not understand anything he said.  Strangers could not understand him until he was around 8 years old. 

Knox struggles still with phonically pronouncing words.  He has to really practice to pronounce certain words that have difficult constant sounds throughout the word. 

When Knox came home and said he wanted to do a 4-H demonstration for cloverleaf DPA, I was shocked!  But he was persistent and we got it together!

He practiced and practiced and practiced some more...

He struggled with pronouncing words, speaking clearly enough to be understood and practiced some more...

He even practiced when he didn't want to practice and practiced some more...

So Saturday we made the drive to Rock Eagle...

Knox got up and did a fantastic job!

It was the best speech I had heard him give!

Just listening to all the other speeches, I knew he had worked harder than anybody else in the room!

He didn't place, but...
I couldn't have been prouder!!

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Party Day!

Yesterday was Hamp's Birthday Party!

We had to get ready.

I made Hamp a birthday suit to wear.
(I found a really cute iron on at Hobby Lobby.)

Then we had to bake...

These were made for take home party favors for the adults.
I had bag of toy goodies for the kidos--forgot to take a picture of them!

Then Corrie brought the cake...

It tastes as good as it looked!
Did you think it would be anything BUT a red tractor??

The table is set and ready...

But with 2 years old, you have to play...

We had to play with the chickens...

We had to ride the petal tractors...

We had to play in Knox's tree house!

Now it's time for cake!

Because it was so windy, we couldn't get the candle to stay lit.  So we had to do without the candle blowing out.


We did eat cake!

Then came Hamp's favorite time...


Big Brother had to help--a little!

But poor Hubby...


Had to get the toys out of their packaging!!
There are somethings that never prepare you for parenthood!!

But Hamp showed Daddy how much he loved all his hard work...

Happy Birthday, Hampton!!

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Friday, February 11, 2011

Guest Post, Happily Domestic

I'm guest blogging at Happily Domestic today!

Get your coffee (or hot tea) and go by and say hello!!

I'm talking about growing your on salad on your patio or deck.  Can you tell I'm ready for spring....

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