Friday, March 27, 2015

Traveling with Kids- Travel Binders

Traveling with young children isn't easy.  Especially when you have to travel a long distance.

We recently drove to South Carolina to visit my oldest son.  We live in Iowa.  We could have drove straight east to South Carolina, that would have only taken us 16 hours.  But why would we do that?  We have never been south.  We wanted to drive through and experience as many states as we could.  So we drove south, and then headed east.  We spent 7 of our 9 day vacation driving  We stopped at random places and got out and walked around and explored.  We visited the St. Louis Arch in Missouri, Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, stopped and had some BBQ in Memphis, and spent a few hours at Tybee Beach off of Georgia, to name a few.

My point is we spent many hours driving in the van with our 3 youngest children, 9, 8, and 4 years old.  Before we left I made up these binders for each of them with activities to do while in the car. They were such a hit I thought I would share them with you.

Each child got their own binder (with names on the front, so no one fights over who is whos). 
Inside the binder I included a print out of the United States.  This way the could color the states we went through or see what state is next and follow along the trip. 
 I printed off a packet of information for each state that we were to visit (11 states in all!)  As we entered each state I gave them the packet.  I three hole punched them so they could add them to their binders as we went along.

The packet had fun facts about the state, such as state bird, flower, motto.  I also included a picture of the state and an area at the bottom to write what they had learned about the state.  For the older boys I also included a word search.  Here is the link where I found the printables for the states!  

We bought some travel BINGO cards but to give it a little variety I printed off some different versions for us to try.  I bought little prizes and treats that I kept up front with me and whenever someone got BINGO they would win a prize.  The kids loved it.  We played A LOT of BINGO!  I put the BINGO cards in plastic sleeves and gave everyone a dry erase marker so we could reuse them.
Momsminivan has lots of great travel  printables.  I printed off these travel cards below for each of the kids.  I laminated them, punched a hole in the corner and held them altogether with a ring clip.
Being prepared and having entertainment can make those long car rides a lot more enjoyable for everyone.  I am very lucky because all 3 of my younger kids are great travelers!  However, having these binders made all the difference.  It kept them busy, they learned about the states we were visiting and we played some games together as a family.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Roasted Tomato Soup

Roasted Tomato Soup
Serves 2

2 lbs tomatoes
1 small yellow onion
3 cloves garlic (I doubled this)
2 T tomato paste (I used 1/3 cup sauce)
1 T olive oil
2 T fresh chopped parsley
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup whole milk or heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Cut tomatoes and onions into wedges.  Tuck garlic into tomatoes so they don't burn.  Toss with olive oil, parsley, salt, and pepper.  Bake in oven for 30-45 minutes or until tomatoes are half their original size.  

Add vegetable stock to pot over medium heat.  Add tomato paste (I didn't have paste so I used homemade tomato sauce) and stir till dissolved. Once cooked add roasted tomatoes and onions to pot and simmer for 5 minutes.   
Add mixture to blender or food processor and blend until desired consistency.  Add soup back to pot over low heat.  Add milk or cream.  Allow to simmer for a few minutes.  

Pour into bowl and enjoy!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Raising Backyard Chickens-Care and Maintenance

Chickens are surprisingly easy to take care of.  There are some daily chores that will need to be done as well as some maintenance each month in order to maintain a happy, healthy flock.

Daily.  Make sure you supply your chickens with fresh clean water daily.  This is essential.  Chickens do not like dirty water  It's  important to always have clean water available so your chickens do not get dehydrated. .Make sure food is readily available as well.  Laying hen pellets or crumbles should be the bulk of your chickens diet and should be available at all times.  There are many different brands of chicken feed out there.  It's all about your preference.

Along with pellets you should offer your chickens oyster shells.  This provides them with the added calcium for egg production.  Grit should also be available.  Grit, which are tiny rocks, help the chickens gizzard grind up food.  Both of these should be offered to your chickens.  You can either mix them in with the feed or you can offer in separate feeders.

Ideally chickens should be allowed to free range daily to add variety to their diet.  They will find plenty of things to eat while wondering around the yard.  However, free ranging isn't always an option for people.  Chickens will eat just about anything.  You can toss out your kitchen scraps.  Chickens will pick through and eat what they want.  You can put the remainder in a compost pile so that the run doesn't become a smelly mess.

It's important to take a few minutes each day to look over your birds and make sure everyone is healthy.  It's pretty easy to tell if a bird is not well.  She usually will be away from the flock, not eating, her comb could become pale in color.  Separate any bird that is ill immediately as to not infect the rest of the flock.  If she is ill, chances are some of the other birds will know and they could start picking on her.

One last thing to do each day is to collect the eggs.  This is the best part!  We check for eggs twice a day.  Usually early afternoon (most of ours tend to lay in the morning) and then again at dusk when we put them away for the night.

Monthly or as needed.  Cleaning your coop is important to maintain healthy chickens.  I use the deep litter method.  I add a bale of straw to the house and then add pine shavings on top.  Every couple weeks I add more pine shavings.  About 3 times a year I completely clean the house, removing everything and starting the process over.  I add clean pine shavings to the nesting box every few weeks.  Once a week or so I use a shovel to clean out any clumps and fluff up the bedding that is in there.  I have 11 chickens currently.  This schedule works well for me.  You may need to clean more or less often depending on the side of your chicken house and the amount of birds you have.

Sorry for the Absence

Sorry for the lack of posting.  We've been a little busy.  Our family traveled to Fort Jackson, South Carolina to see our oldest son graduate from basic training for the U.S. Army.  We are so proud of him!

It had been 11 weeks since we last saw him.  His baby sister was so happy to see him, as were all of us.  She stuck by his side the entire time we were there.

Here is a picture of all our children.

Proud momma and poppa!  

And while we were there visiting, my son asked his girlfriend to marry him!   So exciting!

It was a great trip and it was so good to see our son.  He makes us so proud!  
Love you Private Figgins!  

Monday, March 2, 2015

Menu Plan Monday

Here is what is on the dinner table this week.

Monday-Chili, green beans
Tuesday-Baked chicken legs, mashed potatoes, corn
Wednesday-Scrambled eggs with peppers and onions, bacon, peaches
Thursday-Turkey tacos, green beans and pineapple
Friday-Clean out the fridge

To see what others are having this week head over to I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Review Your Budget

It's the beginning of a new month which means it's time to review your budget. Can you believe it is March? Spring is just around the corner! Check out all your categories. Make sure you are staying within your budgeted amounts. Are you spending more in any areas?  Has your income changed? Maybe you need to do some adjusting.

Have you started planning that summer vacation?  You may want to add that category to your budget.  It makes it easier if you start setting a certain amount of money aside each month.

Take the time to sit down and go over your budget, it's there to help you know where your money is going and keep you on track.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Paying Off Debt

I am so happy to announce that we have finally gotten our credit card debt payed off!  We got our income tax refund back and we put the majority of it to our credit card.  It feels really good to not have to worry about that anymore.  We also got some medical bills paid.

It was tough.  We really wanted to go out and get or do something fun.  However, paying off those lingering bills feels so much better than any new gadget or fancy dinner!

Now our focus is on SAVING money.  We would love some day to move and buy some land out in the country.  It won't be anytime soon.  We have a LONG way to go, but it's a dream both me and my husband share.

I'm trying to find some new ways to earn and save some money. I'm planning on doing an eat from the pantry challenge in April.  I'll be planting more vegetables this year in hopes to put up a lot more food for the winter months.  All of these things I plan to share with you.

If you have any recommendations or suggestions I am always interested.