Sunday, December 15, 2002

Teter Nature Trail Geocache

We used to live in El Dorado, Kansas-- moved to Idaho in 1998-- and had hiked this trail in years past. Now we're back for a visit, and it was cool to get to do it again and look for a Geocache this time! We brought our 13-year-old nephew along for his first cache. After quite a little while of searching the area, he was the one who first spotted it.

Monday, October 7, 2002

Cache Art, Study in Camo IV

Whoo-hoo! I'm proud of myself! (Well, at least I'm not saying neener-neener-- just almost!) I guess I'm learning to think like a 'Bum! I walked right to this geocache! Now I see why this took so long in the Artist's workshop. Clever hide!

Wednesday, October 2, 2002

Geocaching on our way home from Boise

McCall Series #3 (the river) - We took a detour around the lake just to get to this cache, and I'm so glad we did. The drive was just beautiful. The forests are beginning to show their fall colors. It was a sunny crisp day. Just gorgeous. We enjoyed getting out to stretch our legs and let the dog run.

River Ratt #1 - We were passing through Lewiston and wanted a quick and easy one to stretch our legs. I looked at that mountain of rocks and was afraid we would never find it, but then, of course, we did!

Tuesday, October 1, 2002

Geocaching in southern Idaho

Pickled Cache - Great hiding spot! My brother who lives in the area was with us. This was his first Geocache.

Uncle Lane - This was our second find of the day. RacerDude had the GPS and was rummaging around in the bushes several feet away from the hiding spot. I walked right to it because it was hidden just exactly where I would have hidden it! Loved the spot!

Sittin' By the Dock o' the Bay - Great little hike, and looks like a good place to fish, too.

Lower Wilson Creek - Quite a drive in for our old van, and then quite a hike for our old out-of-shape selves! But, we made it! And it was worth it! Beautiful area!

Prehistoric Cartography - We had a cache to hide somewhere and leave for my brother to maintain, and he suggested Map Rock as a neat location. As I was thumbing through my print-outs, I told him that someone had beaten him to it! So, of course, we had to make a special point to find this one. Very interesting historical site!

MD's HideAway - We arrived at the parking lot and saw signs which said ALL PUBLIC ACCESS PROHIBITED... RacerDude thought we shouldn't attempt it because of that, but I thought maybe it would be okay if we went around the signs way off to the side. Dummy me! I should've listened to him! We got to the area where the GPS said the cache should be when all of sudden BigSister (age 9.5) let out a blood-curdling scream!!! She had been stung by a hornet. We rush to help her when LittleBit also started screaming. She had also been stung. We took off at a dead run for the van, but not without all four of us (and the dog!) getting multiple stings!!! (From 2 to 5 each.) OW! OW! OW! We literally had to fight the things off, and had the kids hide under blankets in the van while we chased away the hornets that had followed us to the van. That was our first experience with Attack Hornets! I have never seen insects be so aggressive before! We wondered if that was why the signs had been posted?

Bumpy Ride - Didn't find this one. Climbed all over the place, looking in all the nooks and crannies, but no luck.

Lake Lowell - We didn't find this one either. We spent way too much time looking for it! Too many hiding spots.

Old Scout Camp - Here is where we hid the geocache we brought along for my brother to maintain.

Sunday, September 29, 2002

Geocaching on our way to Boise

Traveled to Boise and hit a few geocaches along the way:

Early La Grande Geocache
A Woman's View
Hatton Coulee Rest Area

Perfect for stretching our legs and letting the dog run around a bit!

Saturday, August 31, 2002

Labor Day Weekend Geocaching

Welcome to Priest Lake: This was Cache #1 for our Labor Day weekend day trip to the Priest Lake area. Great cache to start with. First we hiked down to find the cache and enjoyed looking through the post cards and reading the logs. Back at the parking lot we read the kiosk for information on the area and picked up a visitor's guide booklet. Great start to a fun day!

Soldier Creek Stash: This was our second find of the day. We drove around in circles a bit trying to decide on the best way to approach the location, but did end up parking fairly close. We had noticed several dirt-bikers on the road, so when we located the cache we smuggled it back to the van to log it and look through it. Pickin's were gettin' kinda slim in this one, so we left more than we took to kinda help restock it. I think maybe it had been found accidentally a time or two recently and maybe those folks didn't have anything to trade or something. Anyway, we left a batch of goodies for the next finders! The bridge was very interesting-- cool seats-- although we didn't have the nerve to try them!

Cougar Rock Cache: After a couple of easy finds to start the day, this hike was more of a physical challenge to us. As we were hiking up the last part of the road I told RacerDude that I was hoping for a nice view at the top to make it worthwhile. He said he suspected I would get my wish. And, boy, did I! It was well worth hike. We sat on the rocks and enjoyed the gorgeous view of Priest Lake as we caught our breaths and logged the cache.

Shoe Tree Stash: Campers VERY near the tree and we decided to not bother them. We would've had to go right through their campsite to look for the cache, so decided to try again another trip. Very fascinating landmark, though. The kids were full of questions! I only had one... WHY???

Hunt Falls Cache: I'm starting to lose track, but I think this was find #5 for today. We were able to drive fairly close to this one, to give us a break from the previous two moderate hikes. Beautiful falls! Thanks for showing us the way. We would have never found this area on our own.

Hanna Flats Stash: Find #6 of the day. I love these easy hikes through ancient forests! So peaceful and relaxing. The history of the area is fascinating. We stopped to read each marker. Beautiful area. Thanks for letting us know about it.

Bigs Flat Tire Blues Cache: Cute theme for a cache, Don! And a great hiding spot! I can't believe how soft the forest floors are in this area. Just years and years of decaying vegetation building up to make a carpet, I guess. It was pretty cool. We left a bungee (that almost fits the theme, doesn't it? kinda? maybe?) and bunch of car-safety stickers and an old-time radio comedy tape to help you forget your blues! This was find #7 for us for the day.

Huff Lake Cache: Another interesting site. Find #8 for the day. I'm so glad there are caches hidden at so many of the Must See sites around Priest Lake. It makes us go out of our way to find them, and then we are so glad we did. This was a fascinating area. The kids loved the floating dock!

Roosevelt Grove Cache: This was our 9th and final find for the day. Good thing, too, 'cause this hike just about did us in. The nice thing was there were two highlights to the hike-- the breath-taking falls and the awesome ancient trees. THIS is where I want to camp when we get to come up here camping sometime! Thanks again for taking us places we would've never found on our own! It was a great day!

Friday, August 30, 2002

Cache Art, Study in Camo 2

This cache was located in a park close to the print shop where my husband works. The kids and I went back several times before we found it...

July 21, 2002: Well, it goes against my grain to post a Not Found but I suppose to be fair, I should report that we attempted to find this one, but finally had to give up... for the day anyway! After about 2 hours of wandering around in circles in the blazing hot afternoon sun, we finally decided to cool off and try again another day. I guess we're not yet up to niskibum's sneakiness! Looking forward to posting a Found It! soon!

August 30, 2002: I found it! I found it!! I'm still not gonna tell you how many times I went back to look for it. (Although, I did confess in the actual cache log.) Great hide... and it's been such a fun challenge! Now, on to the next challenge!

Sunday, August 25, 2002

Cache Bash

The Cache Bash picnic was fun!! We had a great time. The girls loved the kids' cache and had a great time playing afterwards. Then I left Racerdude at the shelter to watch the kids and took off after the multi-cache. For the first three I just kinda let the arrow point me in the right direction and then headed toward where-ever the crowd seemed to be gathered. Lobo said he'd seen me do that before! LOL! (We came upon them on one of our early caches.) After the slime cache I decided to strike off on my own and head for the other coordinates that for some reason most people didn't seem to be going for. Wonder why? Along the way I met up with Rick (not sure what his screen name is) and we had a great time hiking up (and then back down) a completely unneccesary mountain! Back down by the river we met up with Donad_D and another guy (not sure who it was, sorry), so the four of us thrashed around in the bushes looking for the elusive something else. I finally found it cuddled up against a log, snuggly wrapped in pine needles and bark. I pulled it out but when I saw that it said, This is not the final cache. You don't want to open this. Really you don't. I convinced Rick that HE wanted to! Lovely screech!!! THEN Donad_D tells us that he and the other guy KNEW it was not the final cache. They'd already been to the final one and gotten their tickets. They just wanted to see what something else was! SO Rick and I backtrack to the real final cache and after just a little bit of searching we got our tickets, too!

Oh, and there were a couple of guys eating their lunch down by the river who asked me exactly what we were trying to accomplish! I was glad I was with a bunch of other idiots thrashing around in the bushes looking at our little gizmos! I just told them we were playing a game, looking for a hidden box using coordinates. They probably still thought we were idiots!

Back at the shelter we enjoyed good food and good company. Great bunch of people! RacerDude and I later commented on how interesting it was that it was such a diverse group of people. Lotta fun!

Sunday, August 18, 2002

Snakepit Cache

We placed our first cache today, and when we checked back later to see if it had been approved, we saw this brand-new one. Another rookie cache within 10 miles of the one we placed! At the beginning of the summer there were no caches in Shoshone County... now there are several!!

We've been waiting a year for this bike trail to open up, so were very excited to see a cache there. We grabbed the bikes and took off. Beautiful bike ride! The segments that we've been on so far promise that this is going to be a really great bike trail when it's all opened up. (RacerDude tells me it's due to be officially open by the end of September!!)

Great spot for a cache. It was late in the evening so we didn't take a picnic, but it would sure be a good place for one! Oh... and we decided to pass on the mountain oysters!!!

Saturday, August 17, 2002

Saturday Geocaching

Osprey Point: We loved this cache! Not too long of a hike. Not too hard to find. Great hiding spot! Great view! The kids played in the lake for a little bit and we took a few minutes just to relax and enjoy the scenery.

Mustang #1: We took the long way in (unintentionally). It was a nice hike, but kind of a hot day for it. By the time we reached the cache location we were huffin' and puffin'! RacerDude gets the credit for finding this one. Good hiding spot!

Tubb's Hill Cache: Interesting to find an active cache that's so old. (I guess a year can be called old, huh?) Still a pretty good little cache. This was our second one on Tubb's Hill today. Found Mustang 1, also. After a long hike all the way around the hill it was nice to have 2 caches to look for!

Cache Art, Study in Camo 1: Boy, was I tickled to find this one on the first try, after the luck I've been having with Camo 2!!! I actually discovered this one myself, then I quickly rehid it and called RacerDude over to see if he could recognize it. He did, after I pointed him in the right direction. Love the camo! Reckon the Wall gallery has more works of a similar nature?

We were a little baffled as to why this area has a sign proclaiming it a park... but whatever! LOL!

Thursday, August 8, 2002

Treaty Rock Geocache

Nice little cache... The kids found this one. They took a yo-yo and a button. We left a different button, a compass, and some stickers.

Sunday, August 4, 2002

Settler's Grove Geocache

Whoo-hoo! This is the first niskibum cache we've found! After our failed attempts at Camo Art 2 I was beginning to wonder if I was just an idiot, or what! It gives me great comfort to be able to log this one as Found... and we were the first finders, at that!

We thoroughly enjoyed the hike. The trail is simply beautiful! It's amazing to me that more people don't know about these gorgeous places, but I guess they're off the beaten path far enough to not attract the general run of commercial-type tourists. The kids took off their shoes to wade in the creek but they didn't last long as the water was COLD!

It took us a long time to finally find the cache once we got to the hillside... (In my out-of-shape book it's more than a hillside! LOL!) Even with the spoiler picture it was quite a challenge to find. We had no signal at all on the hill.

Friday, July 26, 2002

Ethan's Kingston Cache

Yay! Another cache in Shoshone County. Success at last! We looked for this one yesterday but had no luck. We decided to try again today, and after quite awhile of searching, we finally found it!

Sunday, July 21, 2002

Geocaching

Post Falls Cache: Fun little cache! Great size for a microcache, IMHO. RacerDude and BigSis get the credit for finding it. BigSis took the yo-yo, and Li'l Bit nabbed a little car. We left a pocket tire-gauge, a bungee cord, and some stickers.

English Point: Great hike! We've discovered the neatest hiking trails around here with this hobby. RacerDude found this one. BigSis selected a pin-on compass. Li'l Bit took a flashlight key-ring. I took 2 state quarters. We left a comic book, a pocket tire-gauge, a bungee cord, and something else, but I can't remember what.

Thursday, July 4, 2002

4th of July Geocaching

Yellow Dog: What an absolutely FANTASTIC hike!!! We had NO idea this was here. The falls are absolutely beautiful! Thanks for sending us up there!

It was interesting to note that the cache location was only 15 miles from our home, yet it took us 45 road miles to get there! We enjoyed the drive!

After we turned on Yellow Dog road and at the dead-end discovered we were still a 1.5 miles from the cache, we decided that there must be a different road that would take us closer. So we went back out to the highway and drove a little further till we saw the signs posted on the cache page. Then we were on the right track! We decided the hider must've named it Yellow Dog for that very reason! Great trick!

Two Mile Cache: Great spot for a cache! It's nice to have them along the interstate for those traveling through.

Ginny's Cache: Great hiding spot! What a trail! BigSister gets the credit for finding this one. Fascinating story about the Ginny ghost!

Sunday, June 30, 2002

Mineral Ridge Geocaches

Wilson Trail: Wow! What a hike! This about maxed out the kids... but it was a beautiful hike, with plenty of benches along the way to stop for a breather. And the view from the cache location was well worth it! This was our first find with our brand-new GPS.

We sat for a few minutes just to soak in the view and catch our breaths, then we headed down the trail to the other Mineral Ridge cache.

Great cache! Great location!

Saturday, June 22, 2002

Take a Break Geocache

We stopped at this geocache on our way home to Idaho from Moses Lake. It was a fun one to hunt around for!

Sunday, June 16, 2002

I-90 East @ Centennial Trail Geocache

Being still new to the game, and not having a GPS yet, we thought this Geocache along the Centennial Trail would be a quick, fun one to do with the kids on our way home from church this morning. It was a little bit hot today for the walk from the rest area, but a great hiding place! We wished we had waited and brought our bikes!

We came up over the ridge and noticed a couple of people right where I thought the cache should be. Sure enough, we interrupted Lobo and his companion. (I hope we didn't rush them! ) But it was fun to introduce ourselves, and he had some good advice about getting a GPS.

We left an OTR cassette tape and a little craft kit. The kids took a bike license plate thingy, and a golf ball!

Thursday, June 13, 2002

Mullan Tree Geocache

This was our very first find!!! I heard about Geocaching several months ago, but didn't think there were any in our area. Someone mentioned it again yesterday, and I checked out the website again just out of curiosity. I discovered that there are indeed several in our area! We don't have a GPS, but we love to go for drives and find interesting out-of-the-way places, so this looks like a perfect hobby for our family!

This cache at the Mullan Tree nature trail sounded like it would be easy enough to find using the spoiler picture, and my kids are young enough (6 and 9) that it was a challenge just for them to find the right area by looking at the picture. Thank you SO much for making it accessible without a GPS! It was a perfect start to what looks to be a fantastic hobby!

We've been meaning for 4 years to stop and do that little hike, but after hundreds of trips over the Pass, today was the first time we stopped long enough to do it. It was absolutely beautiful! Well-marked trail... perfect for young children, but lovely enough for everyone to enjoy!

We left 3 South American coins, a small bean-bag animal, some small plastic stencils for kids, and a button. We took an old penny and a different bean-bag animal. The kids were absolutely thrilled!

Geography Quiz

Which states (of the 50 United States) are the furthest east, west, north, and south?

The answers weren't what I thought...

North: Alaska

South: Hawaii

West: Alaska

East: Believe it or not... Alaska! (Apparently Alaska straddles the line of the Western and Eastern Hemispheres, so that makes it both the furthest east and the furthest west! Pretty tricky, huh? )

Monday, June 3, 2002

Ava's Man

I read a really good book last week called Ava's Man. It is the biography of the author's grandfather, who lived in Alabama and Georgia during the Great Depression. I love the writing style! Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

"Some people are just interesting. They can't help it. They just are."

"A yellow school bus came and got them and took them to school, and they only had to walk three miles to catch it..."

"The coffee would boil, the smell mixing in with everything else, and Charlie would begin to make the gravy. Ava would make grits, and fry up a mess of eggs, and twist open the top of a jar of preserves, and they would eat like rich people, only rich people don't really eat this good."

"Charlie would scoop up the fish and turtles--turtle soup was a fine thing then, even if you were not hungry--and leave the snakes. It may taste like chicken, as some people said, but it probably also tastes a little bit like snake, and even a little bit is a reason to gag."

Monday, April 22, 2002

My Cooking Marathon Day

I decided to try the once-a-month cooking method. I've had the "Freezer Cooking Manual from 30-Day Gourmet" for over a year, and while I've tried several of the recipes in it, I still hadn't tried doing a mega-cooking session. Today was the day! I didn't attempt a month at a time, but I think this should last us a couple of weeks any way... taking into account a few left-over and sandwich type meals.

Today I made---> 6 Sausage/Egg Muffin sandwiches... 2 Lasagna casseroles... 1 Rice Pie... 1 batch of Taco Rice for burritos or taco salad... 1 Chicken Divan... 1 Chicken Supreme... 1 Sausage/Rice casserole... and 2 pizzas!!!!!!

I also cooked---> 10 pounds chicken parts... 5 pounds ground beef... 3 pounds of sausage... and 9 cups of rice... some of which I used in the above dishes, and some I just bagged up to have pre-cooked in the freezer.

...I'm pooped!!!

The thing is, now I don't want to eat all these wonderful dishes I have my freezer... I just want to admire them!

Wednesday, April 17, 2002

Gilligan's Island

My kids have been hooked on watching Gilligan's Island on TVLand lately. They get such a kick out of it. I think Gilligan's slap-stick antics tickle them more than anything else. What tickles me is not so much the fact that those poor castaways could never seem to manage to get rescued, but that they could always turn on the radio right after their most recent chance slipped away, and hear exactly what happened to their would-be rescuer! I mean, right that minute, the one-and-only station they could tune into just happened to be broadcasting the news which just happened to include a report from the South Pacific!

I found this website about Gilligan's Island and enjoyed this blurb on their welcome page:

Welcome to the "Gilligan's Island Fan Club" run by the 7 stranded castaways. The Professor found a way to make a computer out of coconuts and bamboo shoots located near the lagoon. Broken transmitter parts were also salvaged and used to make excellent conductors. During a heavy storm a telephone cable was washed ashore and we tapped into the internet in hopes that somebody would find us (The 300 baud modem was built from an old projector). The computer isn't the prettiest thing in the world but it works. Oh I almost forgot to mention..... SEND HELP!!!

LOL! They're still stranded but they managed to access the internet! What more could they need?

Friday, April 12, 2002

Taco Soup

By request!

1 lb. hamburger
1 onion, chopped
1 can whole-kernel corn
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1 can pinto or red beans
3 tablespoons taco seasoning
2 chopped jalepeno peppers (optional)

Brown hamburger with onion. Add all other ingredients and heat through. Add extra water if needed. Serve with tortilla chips. Top with shredded cheese and sour cream, if desired.

Road Trips on a Budget

We love to travel! Many of our favorite memories both before and after kids involve road trips. Obviously, traveling can be quite spendy... but we are learning to economize in this area, too. I'd rather be frugal on trips, and get to go more often, than make one big splurge and then have to stay home for a long time afterwards. Here are many of the ways we have learned to save money, and some good ideas we haven't tried yet, but probably will.

Lodging: The cheapest lodging for road trips is often camping. While camping typically involves carrying along a lot of extra gear, or pulling a travel-trailer, it can be done quite simply when you just need a place to sleep for the night. We spent one night in the van as we traveled through Yellowstone Park last summer. Seems like the camping fee was about $15. Much cheaper than staying in one of the lodges, but it still allowed us to spend more time in the Park. Another year while traveling, we rented a cabin at a KOA campground rather than a motel room. It was very comfortable, with a double bed, plus a set of single bunks. We needed our sleeping bags and pillows, plus towels for the bathhouse... and of course, there was no TV, but the cabin was heated and completely adequate. The campground had a playground and a pool. It cost about $25 as compared to $50 or more for a motel room.

Food: Take a cooler! Pack chilled, canned pop rather than buying it from the convenience store every time you stop for gas. Although, some convenience stores do have a good deal on refills, so it might be worth it to take along your travel cup to fill up when you come across deals like that. Sometimes they will let you fill up your cup with ice for free when you purchase gas, too. Also, fill some water bottles three-quarters full and freeze them. They will help keep your cooler chilled, and when they melt you will have cold drinking water.

Plan to stop at rest areas or parks for picnic lunches rather than fast-food places, if the weather allows. If it's too cold or wet, you can also eat as you drive along, but we don't do that much as it's good to stop to stretch at mealtimes. Buy your picnic stuff at a regular grocery store before you leave home, or a regular grocery store along the way... Yes, picnic foods are more expensive than cooking but regular grocery stores are typically much cheaper than convenience stores where you get gas.

Pack snacks to take along, too, rather than buying them at the convenience stores. I usually make a big batch of oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies to take along. These are great for breakfast, as well as snacking. Pop some corn the night before and put in bags for snacking. Buy large bags of M&Ms or Skittles and divide into smaller zip-lock bags for traveling. Do the same thing with chips... get 2 or 3 kinds and divide into smaller bags. If you have stuff like this in the car, you won't be tempted to buy the over-priced snacks when you stop.

Take along your coffee pot if you will have electricity when you stop for the night. There are several things you can make with hot water... ramen soup in a cup, oatmeal, hot cocoa, tea, coffee, etc. If you won't have electricity, a good thermos will keep water hot for several hours. Another idea is to pack a thermos full of heated hot dogs for a hot picnic lunch.

When you do eat out, order ice water to drink. It's usually free with a meal, but I've noticed some fast food places charging a dime for it recently. (That annoys me, if I'm ordering food!) Pop at restaurants is way over-priced and can add quite a bit to your meal cost. If you have chips and drinks in the car, sometimes just a .99 sandwich from a fast food place is enough for a meal. (I know, most sandwiches are more than that, but you can usually find at least one for that.)

Entertainment: I am somewhat of a history buff, and over the years that has "somehow" rubbed off on my family. As we drive along, if we have time, my husband knows I always want to pull off and read the historical markers to know what happened on this site. Before a trip, I will scout out the road atlas for historical places, and then research to see if it looks like there might be some interesting museums, visitor's centers, or state parks along the way. We've hit a few duds, but typically these types of places aren't very expensive (often free) so we just go on our way. Usually, though, we find the stops very interesting, educational, and yes... fun!!! We try to plan in time for "scenic detours" like this when have a long roadtrip to visit relatives or another destination. It breaks the trip up, creates memories, and is not very expensive at all.

Last summer we took our bikes along. We planned one night's stop at a place that had a bike trail, so that was our "entertainment" for that evening. It was a beautiful trail along a river and through a park... something we would have never seen from the car. If you don't have room for bikes, the same trails can be used for walking or roller-blading. Also, we often try to plan to stay at places that have a place to swim included in the lodging cost.

Well, there's much more I could post on the subject, but I guess that's enough for now. I'm posting this for my own future reference... if anyone has any other tips on this subject please post them!

Thursday, April 11, 2002

Fruit Smoothies

I made this to go with lunch today. (Taco soup with tortilla chips and shredded cheese.) My family loved it! I adapted it from a recipe we made years ago that we called Orange Julius. I don't know if it's really the same recipe as the Orange Julius stands in the malls. Probably not. But it's still yummy!

6 oz. frozen fruit juice or beverage (doesn't have to be 100% juice)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup water
1 cup milk
5 or 6 ice cubes

Blend on high until the ice cubes are completely crushed. Serve immediately, if possible. (My husband was late getting home for lunch, so I actually stored it in the freezer for about an hour before serving, and it was fine.)

I used a 12-oz. can of frozen juice and made two blenderfuls for my family of 4.

Wednesday, April 10, 2002

The "Luxury" of Being a Stay-at-Home Mom

I'm an old-fashioned kinda gal... "just a housewife"... I know, that's an out-dated term, and personally, I prefer to be called a "homemaker" because I think it's more accurate. I'm not married to my house, but I do try to make my house a home! I make no apologies for being a homemaker. While there are many things I could have been, this is what God has called me to do at this point in my life, and I am very happy with that. There are some in today's society that seem to have the impression that being a homemaker must mean you're too lazy to get a "real" job, or at least not very smart. That doesn't bother me much. I know different, and I'm not going to argue with them about it. What does bother me are the "working" moms who seem to think that staying home is a luxury that they can't afford. "It must be nice that your husband makes such good money that you can afford to live on one income." Ummm, no, that's not how it works! I'd like to share how we afford the "luxury" of me staying home.

As with any "luxury" this one takes some planning and personal sacrifice... We don't yet own a home. We currently live in a rental, and we may need to move soon to a smaller house to lower our monthly rent. Would I rather have a nice house of our own? Of course! But would I rather have a nice house, or raise my kids myself? No contest!

Last spring I totalled our one-and-only car. It was an 8-year-old station wagon with 200,000 miles on it, but it was paid for, it ran good, and it got good gas mileage. I was just sick! Especially since we were only carrying liability insurance, and there was no money to replace it. For 3 months we borrowed a vehicle, and now we are making small payments on an even older full-size van with 150,000 miles on it, that gets horrid gas-mileage. Should I have put my kids in day care so I could get a job and we could afford a decent vehicle? Not worth it to me!

I spend more time cooking to save money on convenience foods and eating out. I buy most of our clothes second-hand. Our kids don't get everything they see advertised on television that strikes their fancy. Are we depriving our kids? I don't think so. Thirty years from now which will make a better memory in their mind: "Oh, remember, we got McDonald's happy meals twice a week... and remember that one toy that looked so cool on tv, but broke the second day we had it... and remember the great frozen pizzas we used to eat?" ...or... "Oh, remember, Mom used to play board games with us... and she took us to the park, and for walks, and on bike-rides... and remember the stories she used to read to us?" Those are the "luxuries" my children enjoy. Probably they don't see them as luxuries now, but one day they will! I can say that with certainty, because I had the exact childhood I'm describing... not many material things, but a mother who stayed home and raised her own children!

To begin with, if I got a job, we would undoubtedly need a second vehicle, plus insurance, gas, and maintenance. So subtract that from my take-home pay... Then subtract the cost of child-care... And I'd probably need a nicer wardrobe than I currently have, to wear to work. Would there really be very much money left after all that? Maybe there would be... then we could afford a nicer house, etc. In any case, I am willing to fore-go whatever we "might" could afford for the privilege of raising my own children.

In future blogs, I will share ways I have learned to save money on the "cost of living," as well as creative ways to plan family fun times without spending a lot of money.

Wednesday, April 3, 2002

Thoughts on Being Frugal

I spent quite a bit of time yesterday browsing the sites listed below on how to save money. Many of the ideas are things I already do, and have always done so they don't help me a whole lot. I did get a few good ideas, though. Mainly what I was looking for was how to create something out of nothing! LOL! Well... at the very least, how to stretch what you do have to last as long as possible. And, no, I'm not doing this just to see if I can... I really do need to stretch every dime just as far as possible.

Once in awhile I'll pick up a magazine at the library and read articles on "economical" fashion alternatives. They'll show how you can put together an outfit very similar to a $900 designer outfit for "only" $150!!!! Only?? Excuse me?? $150 for one outfit? I don't think so! One article I read recently was telling how some of the stars are willing to scrimp on one thing, I guess to justify the item that they splurge on. There was one that "scrimped" by buying $30 Old Navy jeans so she could splurge on a $300 sweater. I sat there thinking, my splurge would be a $15 pair of store-brand jeans, only because I can't find jeans in Tall at garage sales, while my scrimp would be a .25 t-shirt from the garage sale! LOL! Okay, so I know how to economize on clothes. Fashion's just not that important to me... as long as it fits, and is neat and clean and has been in style within the last 5 years I'm happy! Right now, I'm not even concerned about clothes. What we have can and will last us through this tight spot!

But how to stretch the grocery budget, that's another question. Years ago our grandparents rarely bought anything. They raised everything they ate. Since we live in a rental with a very small yard, and the rental contract does not allow vegetables gardens, that's not an option for us.

Many of the articles on the websites suggested things like: buy store-brands or generics (already do), stock up when things are on sale (already do), only shop once every week or two (already do)...

Some of the more practical suggestions involve more work, but as I have more time than money at this point in my life, these are the ones I'm going to have to learn to apply: Give up non-nutritional food. (No more coffee, pop, potato chips, candy). Cook from scratch. (No more box mixes). Use up left-overs. (Don't waste food!) Plan menus ahead. (No more waiting till 30 minutes till time to eat to decide what to have.)

Here's a couple of interesting articles on "bare bones" grocery shopping... and who knows? It may come to that!

The $5 Stretcher Challenge (Can you eat for a week on $5?)

The-Cupboard-Is-Bare-And-The-Money-Is-Low Grocery List

Another thing I thought of was to learn to get by without things like paper plates and paper towels. Again, more work. But I can wash plates and towels. Haven't figured out how to get by without toilet paper, though! An old Sears catalog isn't exactly an option! LOL!

What are your best money-saving tips? And please don't tell me something like-- Eat out at lunchtime instead of dinner! When eating out at all is not even an option, that's not real helpful! LOL!

Monday, April 1, 2002

Easter weekend

We made the "Resurrection Cookies" on Saturday night. Unfortunately, I hadn't read the recipe thoroughly enough to "get" the part about "beat on high speed for 12 to 15 minutes until high peaks are formed"... I had just checked to make sure I had the ingredients, and then just jumped in. The bad thing about it is, I don't currently have an electric mixer!! Good thing I had the foresight to ask DH to join us for this project. I had him reading the scripture verses as the kids and I mixed up the recipe. And then we ended up having to beat those egg whites by hand!!! Do you have any idea how long it takes to form stiff peaks beating by hand? A long time. DH and I took turns for a full 30 minutes, beating until our arm got tired then handing it back and forth. But it was worth it! The "cookies" turned out perfectly! The only thing is, I wouldn't exactly call them cookies. They are actually kinda like divinity candy. Maybe we should change the name of the recipe to "Resurrection Confections"! Yummy!

I also made the bunny cake. DH took the kids out for two or three hours on Saturday morning, so I made it and had it sitting on the table for them when they came home. The kids were very impressed!

Friday, March 29, 2002

Good Friday

Wow! What do you say to commemorate the greatest event in the history of mankind? (I know... the Resurrection was really the greatest, but there would've been no Resurrection without there being a Crucifixion first.)

Our pastor's wife said something last Sunday that has really stuck with me. She said something that really bothers her in the story of the Crucifixion is not so much that Jesus died... after all, that's what He came to do, for our salvation... but how awfully rude the people were to him about it. Jeering and spitting on him and beating him and all that... That was not necessary! I've been told that dying on a cross is one of the most painful, excruciating deaths there is. Wasn't that enough? Why did the people have to be so mean to Him on top of that?

As I thought about this, I decided that probably the shadow of the Cross was weighing so heavily on Him at this point in time, that maybe the rudeness was just a minor nuisance... but I also find it comforting to know that He understands when people annoy us and are out-right rude to us. He has been there!

"Oh My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will."

Wednesday, March 27, 2002

Southern Gospel Music

I enjoy a variety of music, including some Southern Gospel. This past Sunday one of the special songs at church was When He Was On the Cross, I Was On His Mind. It was an absolutely beautiful arrangement done by a ladies trio. So all week that song has been going through my head. This morning I decided to look for the lyrics, so I could actually sing it and not just hum most of it! In looking for those lyrics I came across a really cool site that lists the lyrics to quite a few popular Southern Gospel songs, plus accompaniment midis! It's Dave's Southern Gospel Midi Tracks.

And here are the lyrics I was looking for!

WHEN HE WAS ON THE CROSS, I WAS ON HIS MIND

I’m not on an ego trip, I’m nothing on my own
I make mistakes and sometimes slip
Just common flesh and bone
But I’ll prove some day just why I say
I’m of a special kind
For when He was on the cross
I was on His mind

A look of love was on His face
The thorns were in His head
The blood was on that scarlet robe
And stained it crimson red
Though His eyes were on the crowd that day
He looked ahead in time
For when He was on the cross
I was on His mind

He knew me, yet He loved me
He whose glory makes the Heaven’s shine
So unworthy, of such mercy
For when He was on the cross
I was on His mind
For when He was on the cross
I was on His mind

Tuesday, March 26, 2002

Letter Writing

I used to love to write letters. No, I don't mean dash off an e-mail. I mean actually sit down with a pen and a sheet of stationery, an envelope and a stamp! With the advent of cheap long-distance and e-mail, I've gotten out of the habit. I looked forward to getting replies to my letters, usually at least 2 weeks later. The thing I love about email is how instantaneous it is. You hit "Send", the person gets the letter almost immediately (if they're at the computer) and can reply within a matter of minutes. That is fun! Still, there's something about receiving a hand-penned letter in the mail that I miss. As expensive as greeting cards are getting, I think it would be a good idea to take the time to actually write a letter (on nice stationery perhaps) instead. I haven't yet started doing that, but I might. Wouldn't you rather receive a nice chatty letter than a pre-printed greeting card with just a name signed to it? I would!

Here's a good article on The Art of Letter Writing that got me to thinking about this.

Friday, March 22, 2002

Visitin'

This is something I've been wondering about...

Does anyone do much entertaining any more? During the 16 years I've been married, we've done relatively little entertaining... nor have we been invited to others' homes very often. Is that a geographical thing or is it a generational thing? I've always heard about "southern hospitality" but since it's been many years since I've actually lived in the South I wonder if folks down there entertain their friends more than people around here do.

But then again everyone everywhere always seems to be so very, very busy... with work and school and church and recreational activities, that lots of people don't seem to even be in their own homes much any more, much less visiting friends. And when we *are* home we have computers (the internet), dozens of cable channels, videos, etc. to where we don't "need" to visit, or play games, or interact with other people at all to be "entertained." So I wonder... is "visiting" something else that is "gone with the wind?"

Take me back to Mayberry! I'd love to sit out on the porch and rock with Aunt Bea, while Andy plays his guitar, and Barney suggests goin' down to the fillin' station to get a bottle of pop! Doesn't that sound SO relaxing??

Well, anyway, what got me thinking about all of this was the this article: Hospitality vs. Entertaining

Thursday, March 21, 2002

Spring Has Sprung!!! ...Where???

This is my house just a few minutes ago. See that bright stuff? That's sunshine! We hadn't even seen that for weeks and weeks, seems like... but with clear skies come cold temperatures. It's below freezing with several inches of snow blowing all over the ground, and icicles dangling off the buildings. I thought spring started yesterday???

Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Easter Nest Treats

12 oz. butterscotch chips
1/2 c. peanut butter
1 c. Spanish peanuts
5 oz. chow mein noodles
egg-shaped candy (jelly beans, M&Ms, malted milk eggs, etc.)

Melt butterscotch chips, add peanut butter and blend. Add peanuts and chow mein noodles and blend well. Form into nests on waxed paper and cookie sheet. Tuck several egg-shaped candies in the middle of the nests. Cool in refrigerator.

Tuesday, March 19, 2002

Anne of Green Gables

Another of my favorite book series growing up was Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. A film trilogy has been made based on the characters of the books. The first movie was fairly close to the book, the second one not-so-close, and the third one only had the same characters, not the same story-line at all. It's kind of like the Little House on the Prairie TV series as compared to the books. Enjoyable, but disappointing if you're expecting the same story as the books.

Of all the Anne books, (there are 8) it's a toss up between the first one, Anne of Green Gables, and the last one, Rilla of Ingleside, as to which is my favorite. I think I lean a little bit toward favoring Rilla the most. It's a beautiful coming-of-age story about Anne's youngest daughter set during World War I.

Here are some good links to all-things-Anne!

Sullivan Entertainment (the movies)

Project Gutenberg (e-text of several of the books)

Virtual Green Gables (on the official PEI website)

The books at Amazon.com

Saturday, March 16, 2002

Juvenile Series Books

As I mentioned below in my post about Cherry Ames, I was an avid reader as a child. Some of my favorites were the popular mystery series such as Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and the Bobbsey Twins. I didn't learn until I became an adult that all of these books (and many more) were published by the "Stratemeyer Syndicate," a company started by a man named Edward Stratemeyer. The company had several authors for each series. They would provide an outline for each book, and then the "ghost writers" would write the actual stories. For example, Carolyn Keene was a pseudonym for several writers who wrote for the Nancy Drew series. Although I would've argued with you about it at the time, these books were not considered good literature by the school teachers of the day, and now I can understand why. They are wholesome, fun stories, and yes, I will encourage my children to read them... but they really are just literary "fluff!" That's okay, though. We all need a little "fluff" in our lives, huh?

There were other similar series that I enjoyed that were not a part of the Stratemeyer Syndicate, but some of them were probably produced in much the same way. These included Trixie Belden, Alfred Hitchcock and Three Investigators, The Boxcar Children, and others of a similar genre.

I've been exploring around the internet, taking a trip down memory lane. Here are some of the neat places I've found:

Stratemeyer Syndicate
The Series Bookcase
Jinkies! It's a Trixie Belden Web Site!
Three Investigators Headquarters

Many of these books are now out-of-print, but you can often find them at public libraries. Here are a few that I did find still in print at Amazon.com:

Nancy Drew #1: The Secret of the Old Clock (facsimile of a first edition)
Hardy Boys #1: The Tower Treasure
Bobbsey Twins #1: Of Lakeport (revised edition)
Three Investigators #1: The Secret of Terror Castle (reissue edition)
The Boxcar Children, Books 1-4 (boxed reprint editions)

Thursday, March 14, 2002

Cherry Ames

I recently picked up an old Cherry Ames book at a thrift store or a library sale or somewhere. (I'm a major book hound!) My sisters and I read all the Cherry Ames books growing up. I just loved them! Cherry made nursing seem SO glamourous! I was convinced I wanted to be a nurse till the summer after high school when I worked as a nurse's aide in a nursing home for 3 months. I figured out *real* quick that I was *not* cut out for nursing. However, one of my sisters did go on to become a nurse, and a good one at that, so I guess dear little Cherry did have an influence on one of us anyway! I'm re-reading Cherry Ames, Cruise Nurse just to see what the story is like from an adult point-of-view... and oh, my, just too good to be true! Exciting, glamourous, adventurous! But, hey, they wouldn't have a story if they weren't, would they? Watch for more books from my childhood... I was (and am) an avid reader!

The Cherry Ames Page

Wednesday, March 13, 2002

Spring Cleaning

As of today, we are still having snow... so unfortunately, no, it's not spring yet. However, I am trying to get in gear to get some major decluttering and organizing done. Expect more posts about this as I work through it...

Here's a great site for decluttering and getting your home under control... still working on it here!

Fly Lady

Here are some a few more helpful websites I've found with ideas for decluttering. What it boils down to is that we just have too much stuff! Way too much stuff! Why is it so easy to accumulate and so hard to get rid of? Maybe that's why we think we have to work as hard as our grandmothers did at maintaining our homes. We have all these modern conveniences, but about 40 times as much "stuff"! And maintaining "stuff" is work!

Calico Pages
Get-O-Life
Clutter Bug

Oregon Trail

On our way home yesterday we visited the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. It was a very cool museum that the whole family thoroughly enjoyed. As we went up to the reception area to pay the lady asked, "Do you homeschool your little ones?" When I said, "Yes," she said, "Well, you're home free, then. Go right on in!" I thought that was so nice! I don't believe we've ever received any "perks" before for being homeschoolers! The museum consisted of hallways of life-size dioramas of life along the Trail. We didn't have time to study everything as thoroughly as we would've liked, so we will plan to return.

Website for the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center

The lady in the gift shop gave us a Educational Resource Guide. It lists all sorts of activities that you can do to build a unit study about the Oregon Trail. It included a section of recipes. Here is one that intrigued me:

Trail Lemonade To make this proper you want real vinegar, one with the "mother" in it. If you don't already have it, ask around; it is like sharing and passing a sourdough starter. The lemon essence was often added to improve the flavor of brackish water found on the trail. This "lemonade" is refreshing. Some emigrants claimed that when ginger was added to cold water, a body could drink as much as one wanted without feeling bloated or get an achy stomach. Start with 1 cup real vinegar. Add cup of sugar (try raw sugar for a more authentic taste), 2 oz. Lemon essence, 2-3 cups water. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Taste. Adjust sweetness to your liking.

Okay, so does anybody have "real vinegar" with a "mother" in it? I never heard of that, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the "mother" must be some sort of fungus growing in it that keeps the vinegar fermented? Sounds absolutely nasty! Wonder what regular apple cider vinegar that you can buy at the grocery store would taste like. And what is "lemon essence"? Is that different than lemon juice?

Honestly, I'd be willing to give some of these old pioneer recipes a try if I knew where to get the ingredients! I'm not sure that we would actually like them, but it would be a good learning experience, huh?

Time

We were out-of-town the last 3 days. We live on the edge of the time zone, so often when we travel we have to change our watches. My husband was complaining, "That's one thing I hate about going down here. Every time we do, we lose an hour!" That sounded so funny! I laughed at him, "But, honey, we get the hour back when we go home... it's not like we lose it permanently!" That reminded me of a fasicinating little fact I learned awhile back... on the internet, of course!

Prior to 1582, every year divisible by 4 was a leap year. Since a year contains only 365.242199 days (slightly less than 365.25 days), an error of ten days accumulated over the centuries. To compensate for this error, Pope Gregory XIII (after whom the Gregorian Calendar is named) decreed that the ten days between October 5, 1582 and October 14, 1582 would be eliminated from the calendar. This made October 1582 the shortest month, with only 21 days. After 1582, years divisible by 100 are not leap years unless they are also divisible by 400.

Is that not weird? What about the people who were born during those 10 days? Did they not get a birthday? It makes researching genealogy during that era very interesting to say the least!

Perpetual Calendar

Saturday, March 9, 2002

Migraines

Boy, I had a doozy of a migraine yesterday. Didn't accomplish a blessed thing from about 11a.m. on... just tried to lay perfectly still in a dark room. My "wonder drug" Imitrex didn't even help this one! I'm feeling better this morning, just the usual "hang-over" I have the day after a severe head-ache. I was trying to do some research on migraines on the 'net this morning, but didn't have a whole lot of luck. Oh, there's plenty of sites out there on the subject, just most of them want to sell you some product that supposed to help. I don't want another another drug, or herb, or anything. I want to figure out what causes them and try to change whatever it is to stop having them. Seems like I get them way too often!

I did read one site that was by a doctor whose theory was that all head-aches (migraines included) were caused by caffeine-withdrawal. In other words, if you were used to having caffeine and then went too long without it you would get a head-ache. That can't have been the cause of yesterday's head-ache, because I did have my coffee yesterday! Interesting theory, though.

Caffeine and Headaches
Understanding Migraines

Thursday, March 7, 2002

Spring Time!

Isn't it spring yet?? With the white stuff still piling up outside, I wanted to brighten things up a bit with some spring-time flowers. I know it's still at least a month before my tulips will bloom, but just wanted to have a little encouragement that, yes, spring *will* come again! Here's some links for free downloadable springtime wallpaper for your computer desktop.

Birds and Blooms
Springtime in the Ozarks

For lo, the winter is past, The rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the
earth; The time of singing has come, And the voice of the turtledove Is heard in
our land. --Song of Solomon 2:11


Wednesday, March 6, 2002

Table Graces

I've been working on putting together a cookbook for my family. My relatives are sending in their recipes, but I've been trying to come up with some appropriate quotes for the little blank spaces that will invariably occur at the bottoms of pages, or between recipes. After searching the net for appropriate food-related quotes without much luck, I came across 2 or 3 traditional table graces in a magazine. That's the very thing I needed! So now, I'm surfing the net (with much better results) for short little table prayers. Here is where I found some:

http://www.homiliesbyemail.com/Special/Thanksgiving/graces.html

http://www.gbgm-umc.org/AldersgateUMCMI/graces.html

http://www.geocities.com/Athens/3680/gbm001.htm

For food and drink and happy days
Accept our gratitude and praise.
In serving others, Lord may we,
Express our deepest thanks to thee. Amen.

Eleanor of Aquataine

I was at the library last night and picked up a dusty ol' book on "Eleanor of Aquitaine". With my interest in genealogy, I recognized that she is (supposedly) one of my ancestors. At least I've traced my family line back through several branches to her. I don't know how well documented all that is, but since she lived nearly 1000 years ago I think it's entirely possibly that just about anybody of European ancestry could trace at least one branch of their family tree back to "royalty." But anyway, since I have made that connection, I thought it would be interesting to read about her. She was married to 2 different kings, King Louis VII of France (whom she married at age 15 and later divorced), and then King Henry II of England. I want to research some more about her this morning on the internet.

Looks like that "dusty ol' book" is still in print! Must be a good one to have stayed around this long. Eleanor of Aquitaine and the Four Kings

Who was she? http://www.womeninworldhistory.com/heroine2.html

Tuesday, March 5, 2002

Journaling

I think recording our day-to-day lives is very important... for our children and others who come after us, and also for our future-selves, to look back at where we've come from. I'll add some links to articles about journaling as I find them... hopefully this will inspire me to get started again, writing down all the things I want my children to know.

Legacy Journals.
The Tradition of Journaling.
So You Think Your Life Is Boring?
Creating Journals for You
Inspired to Journal

"This shall be written for the generation to come; and the people which shall be created shall praise the Lord." Psalm 102:18

Monday, March 4, 2002

Homemaking

One thing I've been thinking a lot about lately is how to simplify my life to allow more time for the "important" things. Think of all the time it takes to maintain all this "stuff" we think we have to have. One of my goals for this spring is to do some major decluttering and getting rid of stuff we don't actually need or use. But, oh, my... where to start? It's still pretty much winter where I live, so I've been surfing the net for ideas on cleaning and organizing. I'll be posting some links to some good sites I've found on the subject. Hopefully, that will have me all psyched up to really hit the cleaning hard once spring finally does arrive!
She watches over the ways of her household, And does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; Her husband also, and he praises her: "Many daughters have done well, But you excel them all." Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, And let her own works praise her in the gates.

Welcome!

Hello!

Welcome to my "blog" site. I tried this once about a year ago, but wasn't sure what direction I wanted to go with it. After all, I have a regular website... but finally I've decided that I would like to have a quick and easy place to go to quickly jot down some of my ideas and thoughts as I'm surfing the web. I'm always coming across an interesting website or article, so I'll bookmark it... and then later I'll forget about it... or come across it so much later that I'll forget why I bookmarked it to start with. So I thought this way I could comment on places I find... and share some of what I think about along the way. Maybe you'll find something you enjoy here, too.
But, to start with, I gotta this place decorated! That's the first thing I always do when I move into a new house. I can't feel at home until I have my curtains up and my pictures on the walls! So I'm off to find some pretty graphics!

Watch for more "content" soon!