How To Take Your Cornbread To A Whole New Level

Read how to take your favorite cornbread recipe to the next level! #castiron #cornbreadrecipe #comfortfood

Cornbread.  It’s a welcome addition to every Southern meal.  But, I’ve noticed through the years that people are very loyal to their favorite cornbread.  Some have a favorite mix, while others swear by their grandma’s time-tested recipe.  Some like it unadulterated, while others like to dress it up with everything from jalapenos to blueberries.  

No doubt, our strong feelings about cornbread  stem from nostalgic childhood memories around the dinner table.  It takes us back to a simpler time of conversation, food, and family–uninterrupted by constant busyness and electronic devices.  No matter what recipe or mix you love, these tips can take it to a whole new level!   

Find out how to take your favorite cornbread recipe to the next level! #comfortfood #cornbreadrecipe #cookingtips #castironcooking

First of all, when it comes to cornbread (or a lot of things for that matter), you can’t beat a cast iron skillet!  In fact, I have a skillet reserved just for cornbread.  It’s seasoned just right, and I only have to wipe it out and  rub on a little oil between uses.  🙂  Just find a skillet that is the right size for your recipe and your family.  I use a 12″ skillet for two boxes of Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix.

Here’s how you can take your favorite cornbread recipe to the next level:

  1. Place the cast iron skillet in the oven and preheat.  
  2. In a large bowl, mix the cornbread batter as recommended.  
  3. When the oven reaches the desired temperature, carefully add 3/4 stick (6 Tablespoons) of butter to the skillet and return it to the oven.  (This is the amount of butter I use for a 12″ skillet.  You may need to adjust the amount for your skillet.  But, remember, lots of butter is key!)
  4. Watch the butter constantly.  As soon as it melts, remove the skillet.  
  5. Pour the cornbread mix in the middle of the skillet.  As the mix spreads, it should push the butter against the edges of the skillet.  This will create a buttery, crispy edge!  
  6. Place skillet on the middle oven rack and cook for the appropriate time.    

How often do you have cornbread at your house?  Do you have a favorite recipe or mix?  I’d love to hear it!

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Why You Need A Zero Based Budget and How To Make One

Sometimes, it’s easy to look at someone’s success and only see where they are right now without seeing the many hours of hard work and years of blood, sweat, and tears that they have invested to get there.  However, the truth is there are very few overnight successes.  Our journey to debt freedom is another one of those stories.  (And, it all began with the zero based budget.)

How To Make a Simple Budget | Budgeting | Get Out Of Debt | MoneyOur story is a story of almost two decades budgeting, planning, and saving…  Two decades of being selective about extra-curricular activities, vacations, nights out, and play dates.  Two decades of saving wherever we can–making my own worksheets for homeschooling, meal planning, limiting unnecessary driving to save on gas, and couponing.  Two decades of holding down the home front while Mister worked 60, 70, and 80 hour weeks.  (Shoot, we’ve even seen a 100 hour work week a time or two.)  Overall, it is the story of learning contentment

Because, it’s not what we have that brings happiness, but an attitude of appreciation for the blessings in our lives.  And, as we reach the goals that we have sacrificed for, it is sweeter than it ever could have been had we given in to instant gratification.  

As you can see, I’m big on frugality.  It’s one of my very favorite subjects, because, no matter what your dreams and goals are, getting your money in order is essential to your success.  And, the very first step is the secret to our debt free homestead–the budget.  

This post contains affiliate links.  Please see my full disclosure in the left sidebar.

 

Here’s a quick outline of the video.

To keep up with your bills:

  1. Each year, get a calendar.  On each month, make a master list of all bills that are due that month on the bottom of the page.
  2. Put all paydays and bill due dates (as well as amount due when you get it) on proper dates on the calendar.
  3. Add up all of your 6 month or annual expenses (taxes, insurance, car tags, etc.).  Divide by your number of paydays.  List that amount to put into a separate account each payday.  This allows you to save a small amount each payday instead of having to come up with a large amount to pay insurance or taxes.  If you would like help with this step, we have a free worksheet to help you get started!
  4. On payday, pay all bills that are due.  Write the check number or confirmation number under the bill and amount on your calendar.  Also, cross off that bill from your master list at the bottom of that month’s page.
  5. If you keep paper bills, also write the confirmation or check number on the bill and file it.
  6. Be sure to balance and reconcile your checkbook at least every payday.

Your calendar will serve as a valuable tool to make sure that everything is paid on time and will help you make a monthly budget.  We (along with Dave Ramsey) recommend operating on a Zero Based Budget.

 

To make a Zero Based Budget:

  1. Before the month begins, write your monthly income at the top of the page.
  2. List all of your expenses, subtracting them from your income.
  3. Find a category for EVERY SINGLE DOLLAR.  The total at the bottom must be zero.  If not, decide what categories will have to be adjusted to make that happen.  
  4. Make sure your spouse is on board and you are in agreement.  If you have differences of opinion, discuss them now, not after the money is already spent.

Check out this post about the envelope system to manage expenses such as groceries, eating out, and household goods. For more information on making a budget or getting out of debt, I highly recommend The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey.  It has a great straightforward game plan for getting your finances in order.  It isn’t easy, but it’s totally worth it.  🙂

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18+ Make-Ahead Breakfast Ideas To Make Your Morning Better

It can be hard getting a healthy breakfast and getting out the door on time in the morning! Check out over 18 great make-ahead breakfast options! #recipes

As I’ve mentioned before, breakfast is always the hardest meal for me to get on the table.  We have a couple of make-ahead breakfast recipes, like crockpot oatmeal and breakfast burritos, that we enjoy frequently, but I still turn to cereal more often than I like to admit. 

We’re trying to cut down on processed foods and reduce our grocery bill and saying good-bye to cereal is a good way to accomplish both of those goals.  I needed more make-ahead options, so I asked my friends at the Homestead Bloggers Network to share their favorite make-ahead breakfast ideas!

It can be hard getting a healthy breakfast and getting out the door on time in the morning! Check out over 18 great make-ahead breakfast options! #recipes

Not surprisingly, egg recipes were high on the list of favorite breakfasts for homesteaders (made with their farm-fresh eggs, of course)!  Check out these 5 reasons you should eat more eggs too!  In order to make scrambled eggs fit into your busy morning, make your own healthier and more economical “egg beaters” by cracking several dozen eggs into a clean container (like a milk jug or mason jar), shaking, and refrigerating.  The eggs will stay good for several days.  

If you’re tired of eggs and toast, try making up these sourdough pitas or English muffins the night before.  Both of these recipes can be stuffed with scrambled eggs and frozen–just follow the same instructions for freezing as these make-ahead breakfast burritos!

And who doesn’t love recipes that you can put together the night before and pop in the oven as you get ready for your day?  It’s the best of both worlds–a hot, fresh-out-of-the-oven breakfast with no prep time!  Breakfast casseroles are so versatile with options for eggs and fixins only to recipes that add in hash browns or bread!  Speaking of eggs and bread, overnight french toast is another great make-ahead breakfast option.  Try is as-is or with raspberries (or another fruit of your choice)!  If you need grab and go, try these mini quiches!  They’re totally easy to customize, and I would even let my kids eat them in the car if needed!  

Even cooking pancakes or biscuits can be quick and easy with a little planning.  And, I’m not talking about store bought mixes here.  Check out these great mixes for biscuits and pancakes, plus the handy-dandy printable labels!  Then, smother your biscuits with this freezer sausage gravy.  If you’re really strapped for time in the morning, make and freeze these waffles.  Simply pop a couple in the toaster in the morning!

Are you still missing your boxed cereal?  Give homemade granola a try!  Trust me, it’s easier than it sounds.  Here’s a great basic recipe to get you started.  Also, read about the benefits of soaking your grains first and how to do it.  If you are gluten-free, this raw buckwheat granola is a great option.  Enjoy any of these recipes on there own, as a cereal, or sprinkled over homemade yogurt!

I hope you give some of these options a try and they give you an easier, more peaceful start to your day!

Do you have a favorite make-ahead breakfast?  I’d love to hear it!

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Five Tips For Teaching Kids To Cook

Five Tips for Teaching Kids to cook.

As I’ve worked to re-organize our days, I’ve looked at a lot of chore charts.  The chores that I see for kids are all pretty standard–wipe the table, pick up toys, make the bed, etc.  Some chores (like load the dishwasher) even get the kids IN the kitchen, but I rarely see meal preparation as part of that list.  I think that is because the thought of getting our kids in the kitchen is a little intimidating to many of us.  So, today I’d like to give you five tips for teaching kids to cook.

Teach your kids to cook (even if you can't). Teaching Kids To Cook is teaching an important life skill.

This post contains affiliate links.  If you make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.  I work hard to only recommend products that my family uses and loves.  Thank you for supporting our family!

5 Tips For Teaching Kids To Cook:

Remember your “why”.

We spend so much time worrying about our kids’ academic success, but many of us rarely think about teaching them life skills.  Of course, they will need to have a good career to make a living.  However, we often forget that no matter what they do professionally, they will need to run a household.  And, most of them won’t make enough money to hire a maid and a cook.  If we don’t take the time to teach our kids how to cook, we are sabotaging all of those years of making sure that they eat healthy foods.  Because, if they get out on their own not knowing how to cook, they will likely turn to take out, fast food, and microwave dinners–which will be bad for their health and their finances.

Prepare before bringing your kids into the kitchen.  

Trust me on this.  Nothing is more frustrating than running into the pantry to grab an ingredient only to come back to a spilled mixing bowl because one of your kids wanted to help stir.  Lay out your recipe. Gather all of the kitchen tools you will need.  (I even set them up in “stations” according to what task each kid will be doing.)  Bring in stools or sturdy chairs for your kids to stand on, if needed.  Sit out all of your ingredients.  (I also group them, if needed.  For example, the recipe has you mix wet and dry ingredients separately.)  Lastly, take a deep breath and muster up all of your patience.

Work from left to right.  

Put your pan or mixing bowl in the middle with all of the ingredients on the left-hand side.  As you add each ingredient, move it to the right-hand side of the pan/bowl.  It’s easy for me to forget if I already added an ingredient when I’m cooking on my own.  Add in a few kids, and I have NO CHANCE.  LOL!  Please, save yourself the frustration, and use this system.

Let go of perfectionism.  

I know that sometimes it can be almost painful to watch little hands fumble to do what is easy for ours only to end up with a…umm…less-than-perfect result.  You may have to eat a few burnt pancakes or have dinner an hour late.  But, just remember, you are making an investment in your kid AND yourself.  Not only will they go into their adult lives confident in the kitchen, but, before long, they will be a HUGE help to you!  Think about how much time it will save you when your 12-year-old chops all of the vegetables, your 9-year-old measures out all of the spices, and your little ones set the table.  Even if you don’t have a bigger family, like me, any one of those things is a time saver!  And, even though it is a little chaotic at times, the kids really do love being a part of what you’re doing and doing “adult” things.

Last of all, get help!  

Honestly, I had a hard time letting my kids into the kitchen because I wasn’t really comfortable in the kitchen.  Most of what I knew, I figured out the hard way so I wasn’t even sure if I was doing it right.  Google was (and still is) my friend when it comes to all of those cooking terms like sautée, blanch, or al dente.  So, how on earth was I supposed to teach all of these things in the middle of a kitchen full of kids, knives, and an open flame?  LOL!  For that reason, I just didn’t.  I needed help.  I needed a plan.  I needed somebody that knew what they were doing.  And, I found exactly that when I stumbled across the Kids Cook Real Food course by Kitchen Stewardship.

 Teaching kids to cook is as important as math and history!(Check out our affiliate info in the sidebar.)

Honestly, I have been looking at this course for over a year.  I am extremely frugal and am always trying to do stuff myself to save money.  But, guess what happened in that year that I waited.  My kids got older, and they didn’t learn anything about cooking.  

So, at the beginning of this summer, as I was looking at a one week art camp for my daughter, I had a realization.  It was $95 for her to get 15 hours of art instruction.  That was not much less than it would cost me for a lifetime membership to all three levels of the cooking class for all four of my kids and a lot more than some of the annual plans!  So, since my youngest kids are at the beginner level, I am going to get a lot of bang for my buck as they move on to the intermediate and advanced classes at no extra charge!  And, they are all learning a very valuable life skill.  

Now, I am not saying that art isn’t important, but eating is absolutely necessary, and it’s much more important to me that they can prepare wholesome, healthy meals.  And, as a bonus, after we finish a lesson, we have a healthy snack, side, or meal instead of another craft project adding to the clutter I’m always fighting!  I highly recommend checking out the curriculum here!

So, what about you?  Have you taught your kids to cook?  What are some tips you can share with the rest of us that are interested in teaching kids to cook?  Is teaching kids to cook important to you, but you haven’t done anything about it?  Why or why not?

Are you having a hard time figuring out how to fit cooking classes into your schedule?  Check out this post.

Why you need a daily routine instead of a daily schedule. Plus, a free printable to help you get started!

 

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Stressed out? Procrastination could be the cause. Check out these 5 tips to overcome procrastination!

 

Five Tips To Help You Get Up Early From A Lifelong Night Owl

tips to get up early

I have always been a night owl.  My mom eventually gave up on enforcing bedtimes earlier than 10pm because I simply couldn’t turn my brain off and go to sleep any earlier.  But, now that I’m a mom, I have discovered that waking up after my kids means waking up to chaos, which, in turn, makes me not want to wake up at all!  However, I still crave that quiet time where I can just BE without everyone needing something from me.  So, after years of fighting it, I have learned to get up early so I can get a little time to myself and be awake and prepared for the day before the kids start stirring around.  

How to get up early

Here are my top five tips to help you get up early in the morning.

  1. Prepare the night before.  A messy, cluttered house and a kitchen sink full of dishes is enough to make even natural early birds pull the covers back over their heads.  Take some time the night before to prepare for your rising.  Pick up the house.  Clean the kitchen, and sit out everything for your morning coffee (or other favorite morning beverage).  I even like to start breakfast.  This crockpot oatmeal or these freezable breakfast burritos are my favorites, but I also turn to several of these quick morning recipes when I want to switch things up.
  2. Swallow the frog!  I know.  You’re wondering what on earth that means.  Whatever it is, it sounds like something that makes you want to hide UNDER the bed, not get out of it.  LOL!  It actually refers to a quote by Mark Twain:  “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”  A lot of people use it as motivation to do their hardest jobs first.  Then, the rest of their day is easier.  I love the concept, but for a life-long night owl, getting up early is the thing that I dread!  So, as soon as I wake up I “swallow the frog” by hopping out of bed.  Since I just did the hard thing, I have better things (like a clean-ish house, my favorite drink, and breakfast) ahead of me.  I may actually have another frog to eat once I get my day going, but I can deal with that once I’m fully awake, showered, satisfied with good food, and ready to take on the day!  Not swallowing the frog is actually just a way to put off the hard or undesirable things that we all have to do, if you struggle with procrastination, check out my tips for overcoming procrastination.
  3. Spend at least 15 minutes out in the sun shortly after you wake up.  Sunlight turns off the flow of melatonin (which makes you feel sleepy) and causes your brain to produce serotonin (which is thought to produce feelings of well-being and fight off depression).  
  4. Be consistent with your sleep schedule.  It’s tempting to sleep in, especially if you were up late the night before.  But, sleeping in will make it harder for you to sleep well that night which makes you sleep in the next morning, and it becomes a vicious cycle.  
  5. Get a good night’s sleep.  It’s easy to be unrealistic about the amount of sleep you need when you are deciding on a sleep schedule.  Don’t give in to the temptation to cut yourself short on sleep so you can get more done.  You may accomplish more in the short term, but eventually lack of sleep will catch up with you and you will suffer from lack of focus, exhaustion, poor health, and general moodiness.  To figure out how much sleep I need, I went to bed at the same time for several nights in a row and paid attention to what time I consistently woke up without an alarm clock.  When I woke up, I got up and started my daily routine. 

By the way, if you struggle with keeping a daily schedule, I have a free worksheet to help you develop a daily routine–a general flow to your day to keep you on-track without the stress of keeping a strict schedule.  Following a daily routine instead of a schedule revolutionized my days at home with kids (because we all know kids have a way of blowing even the most perfectly thought-out schedule).  I call it my schedule with grace!  Get the free Daily Routine Worksheet here!

daily routine builder

What about you?  Do you find that your days go better if you get up before your kids?  Do you have any tips for someone who is struggling to get up early?

Four Reasons You Should Invest In Yourself

reasons you should invest in yourself

Anyone that knows me, knows that I am really cheap frugal.  I love being a “home economist” and spending my time and efforts making the most of our financial resources.  And, honestly, it has served us very well.  We are now completely debt free (including our mortgage) and are able to focus on saving and investing for our future!  I’m always a little hesitant to share that, but I do because I want others to know that it can be done with the power of budgeting and having a plan.  But, with all of my intentionality, there is one area where I really struggle and have failed many times.  And, that is my refusal invest in myself!  So, today, I would like to encourage you to invest in yourself, because if I need to hear it, I’m sure somebody else does, too!

invest in yourself

We live in a time where information is EVERYWHERE!  So many times when asked how I learned to do something, I have just smiled and said, “You Tube“.  But, the challenge with having so much information available is that it can be hard to weed through what is truly useful and what is fluff–or even worse, completely wrong.  But, because of my frugality, I have spent hours digging through various websites and gleaning bits and pieces of information so that I could develop a plan or a system to accomplish a task.  Yes, I did eventually accomplish what I needed to without spending money on training, but I was not taking into the account the amount of hours, lost sleep, and frustration this was costing me!  In fact, just last week, I spent over ten hours trying to figure something out (technical stuff for the blog).  I finally broke down and spent $30 for a different service provider (instead of the free one I was trying to retro-fit).  I learned the new system and created what I needed in an hour or two.  And, I now have something that is easy to reproduce EVERY TIME instead of constantly trying to make something work in a way that it was not intended to work.  My stress level has dropped immensely.  I am able to be more productive.  And, I am nicer to my family.  (Let’s face it.  When we are stressed, it’s hard to be patient with those we love the most!)  And, that is all because I simply chose to invest in myself.  

Here Are 4 Reasons You Should Invest In Yourself:

  1. Your time is valuable!  Whether we realize it or not, our lives are made up of time.  So, when we don’t value our time, we are not valuing our lives.  No matter how much wealth, fame, or prestige we achieve, we cannot add to the days we have been given here on this earth.  Spending money on the tools we need to accomplish our day to day tasks is an investment that pays dividends in time to spend with our families and enabling us to achieve our goals.  
  2. You believe that you are not worth it!  This one is especially common for–but not exclusive to–moms.  If you don’t believe me, think about the last time you went shopping.  You may have looked at that new outfit that you would love to have, but at the end of the day, you put it back on the rack and headed to the cash register with something for your kids.  Many times, we will spend time and money on everyone else but feel guilty about using any resources for ourselves, even when it will help us serve our families better.  Listen to me!  I need you to set that guilt aside and invest in yourself!  Trust me.  When you invest in getting the tools and knowledge that you need to do your job better, not only you, but your whole family, benefits!  Yes, you can find all of the information you need on the internet for free, but there are many people out there that have spent the time and money to package up everything you need into one convenient resource.  Let them be a blessing to you and your family by providing you with that time-saving product, and bless their family by paying them for their efforts.
  3. You think you wouldn’t be able to follow through with it anyway!  Let me tell you, I have tried about every free resource that I have come across.  And, I have fallen behind, given up, or lost interest somewhere along the way.  However, when I invest our family dollars into something, I approach it in a whole different way.  That financial investment drives me to push through the hard stuff and not give up because when I look at the budget, I don’t want to have to admit that I wasted money.  By sacrificing part of our family budget to invest in me, my whole family is giving me a vote of confidence that I can learn and grow and WIN.  And, that, my friend, is incredibly powerful and encouraging.
  4. Your kids are following your example!  We encourage our kids to never stop learning and growing.  We tell them that it is important to invest in yourself.  We want them to learn a trade or get a college education to make themselves more valuable in the workforce.  We need to set the example by being life-long learners who are not afraid to invest in learning new things.

So, don’t just set goals and spend your days banging your head against the wall or give up on them all together.  Set a goal, then look for ways to invest in yourself so that you can be successful!  

Your time is valuable!  

You are worth it!  

You can follow through and achieve your goals!

You are an example!

What about you?  Do you have goals that you have given up on?  Are there resources that you should invest in, but you are hesitant to invest in yourself?  Have you found an on-line class or other resource that you love?  How has it helped you achieve your goals?

Establish A Daily Routine Without The Schedule

daily schedule with toddlers

When I was a new mom, I was suddenly thrown into the world of trying to keep the house under control and dinner on the table with the added responsibility of a tiny human being relying on me for his every need.  I was overwhelmed to say the least!  As I searched on-line for guidance, the re-occuring advice was that I needed be on a schedule.  By the time I had several years (and several kids) under my parenting belt, I was the queen of making schedules.  But, it wasn’t because I was succeeding in my role as a mom and homemaker.  No, it was because I had made so many schedules!  And, within weeks, each one would fall flat, leaving me flat on my face crying because I just couldn’t get my stuff together!  It wasn’t until many years into this vicious cycle, that I was introduced to the idea of creating a daily routine!

a daily routine instead of a daily schedule

A daily routine is similar to a daily schedule but without the strict time constraints.  It is the order, or the flow, of your day.  You see, the reason my schedules kept failing was because I had kids!  (Ironically, I needed a schedule so badly because I had kids!  LOL!)  But, kids can completely obliterate even the best of schedules with a single diaper explosion or melt-down over a math problem.  My day would be going along exactly as planned, then an unexpected incident would completely de-rail my whole operation.  Before I knew it, I was two hours behind with no hope of ever getting back on track.  It doesn’t take very many days of that to make you completely give up… again. 


daily routine builder

But, a daily routine is a schedule with grace.  When un-expected events occur, it’s okay.  Since you are not under time constraints, you have the freedom to deal with the un-expected, then move on to the next thing.  Yet, your daily routine is always there to give you the next thing.  Without that, you waste tons of time and mental energy between tasks trying to figure out what you should do next.  My daily schedule has truly given me the structure that I need without taking away the necessary flexibility required for successful, peaceful parenting.

Have you found yourself in the same boat?  If so, follow these simple guidelines to give the daily routine a try:

  1. Write down everything that needs to happen in your typical day.  This includes getting up, daily devotions, meals, nap times, school drop-off, homeschooling, housework, computer tasks, play time, self-care, bath time, bedtime… Everything.
  2. Establish “check points” with grace.  Check points are a way of giving yourself accountability with grace.  Check points are times during the day where you would like to be to certain points of your routine.  For example, the best check points to begin with are when you would like everyone to get up and go to bed.  The time between when you (the parent) get up and when you go to bed is the time-frame for the rest of the family’s daily routine.  Next, establish a few check points during the day.  These mid-day check points should include meal times, nap times, and necessary obligations (where you have to be somewhere at a certain time).  Write these check points in order on a piece of paper with plenty of space to “schedule” the time in-between.  Block out the 30 minutes before each check point.  This is were the grace comes in to your daily routine.  That extra thirty minutes is going to serve as “catch up” time for that portion of the day.  You are always going to have unexpected things pop up.  Knowing that you have several thirty minute periods scheduled for catching up during the day removes that stress and allows you to deal with your kids in a kinder, more patient way!
  3. Fill in the rest of your time with the remaining necessary tasks.  Go through your list of remaining tasks for the day and jot down how long you think each task should take.  Then, fill in the empty space on your paper with those tasks.  For example, if you have three hours between breakfast and lunch, pick tasks that add up to 2 1/2 hours worth of time (remember, the other 30 minutes is your grace period), and add them to your routine.  
  4. If you have more tasks than you have time slots, re-evaluate.  If the tasks on your list outnumber the hours in your waking day, it’s time to re-evaluate your list.  Can you get up 30 minutes earlier and still get a decent amount of sleep?  Can some jobs be done every other day?  If so, they can share the same slot on your routine.  Are you constantly falling behind because your home is full of clutter, or are you exhausted because you have poor eating habits?  There are great resources to help you on-line.  Invest in them!  Here is why it is worth it!  Are you doing too much?  If you can’t fit everything into your daily routine, it’s time to have a family meeting to decide what you can cut out of your schedule or delegate to someone else.  This one is hard because we want to do everything, but it is necessary for your quality of life!  Seeing everything written down is good for you and your family to really understand what you are asking of yourself on a day-to-day basis and will provide clarity when making those hard decisions!
  5. Adjust your daily routine as needed!  You are not going to get everything perfect the first time.  Write your daily routine in pencil, and spend the first couple of weeks tweaking it!  You will settle into a rhythm that works for you and your family, and you will be so glad you stuck with it!
  6. Don’t wait.  Do it now!  Don’t put off making a family routine until later.  If what you’re doing isn’t working, then something needs to change.  Simply click the button below, to get our free Daily Routine Worksheet, and give the daily routine a fair try.  If it doesn’t improve your life, you can go back to how you are doing things now.  I promise.  If you’re struggling with getting started, here are some tips to overcome procrastination.

daily routine builder

How about you?  Have you tried and tried to establish a schedule and failed?  Do you create the perfect schedule only to have it de-railed by life?  Do you have any tips that have worked for you?

Are you struggling with mom guilt?  Read this.

Processed food and other mommy wars...And the reason behind them. #parenting #mommywars

You may also like these tips for getting your kids involved around the house:

 

Buying Baby Chicks For Kids? Read This First

Spring is here!!!  And, with spring comes the tubs of baby chicks in the feed stores.  Their cuteness is almost irresistible.  Even as an adult who has raised chickens for over five years and knows all of the work involved, I can barely walk into the store without taking a few home.  So, I completely understand the temptation to surprise your kids with a cute little fluffy-bottom on Easter morning.  But, before buying baby chicks for kids, consider this.

Over the last few years, I have seen various articles explaining the realities and long-term effects of people taking home animals without the proper pens or education, and I agree wholeheartedly!  However, I have seen how my own kids have grown and matured with the responsibility of caring for their animals.  I also love that they are growing up knowing where their food comes from and everything—the joy of new life, the pain of death, the act of putting the needs of a sick animal before themselves—that goes into it.  I am saddened by how far removed a lot of kids are from a basic knowledge of nature and our food system.  And, I am passionate about doing what I can to change that.  

So, I feel conflicted and hypocritical telling parents that they should never buy these animals for their kids.  I understand that not everyone can move to a farm and have the ideal situation of seeing the whole process, but I believe a basic awareness is better than nothing.  And, my hope is that any exposure kids have to farming will peak their interest and inspire them to do what they can with what they have as they grow.  Maybe that little girl that had some chicks for a few weeks will grow up to have a few hens and a highly-productive garden in her backyard.  Maybe that little boy will remember the joy of new life and the feel of dirt on his hands and consider a career in agriculture.  

If you want to give your kids that experience, please understand that you are taking on a big commitment.  Lack of education and planning before buying baby chicks for kids WILL result in a bad experience for you and an even worse experience for the animal.

 

buying baby chicks for kids

Here are some things you need to consider before buying baby chicks for kids:

  1. Chickens need more than a cardboard box in the garage.  Baby chicks are kept warm by the mother hen until they are able to regulate their temperature.  They will need a safe heat source for the first several weeks of their lives.  Many cardboard boxes with lights clipped to them have resulted in fires. They also need a constant source of fresh water, bedding, feed, and grit. Please research proper brooder set-ups (where the baby chicks live until they are able to move outside with the other chickens).  Their bedding will need to be changed daily.  They poop a lot!  It stinks!
  2. Chicks are fragile!  You will need to teach your child how to handle the chicks properly and supervise all interaction if your child is not old enough to be trusted to treat the them gently. They also need to wash their hands before and after handling the chicks to prevent the spread of diseases.
  3. Within a couple of weeks, the chicks will not be as cute.  They will enter an awkward juvenile stage as they get their feathers and lose their cute fluffy down.  They will poop even more! And when they do poop, they will do it in their food and water so you can clean them again.  I’m pretty sure that is their goal in life.
  4. Chickens can live to be ten years old or more!  Are you ready for a ten year commitment?
  5. Are you able to keep a full-grown chicken…actually, at least two?  Chickens are social animals and need to live in a flock.  Are you willing to provide them a coop in your backyard to keep them safe from predators?  Are they allowed in your city/neighborhood?  

If the answer to any of these questions is “no”, then you need to make arrangements for your chicks’ forever home BEFORE YOU BUY THEM!  I have offered to take chicks at a few weeks old in order to let friends’ kids experience them.  I am more than willing to discuss what the chicks do and don’t need to be happy and healthy until they come to live with me.  However, I do have requirements.  For example, I only have heavy breeds and don’t want to add bantams to my flock.  

I suspect a lot of farmers or small homesteaders would do the same if you speak to them ahead of time and find out what their wishes are for breeds, sex, feed, etc.  Having this discussion ahead of time shows that you are being responsible and thoughtful about your purchase and respectful of the homesteader’s time and resources.  Do not be offended if the answer is “no” or “not right now”.  With Avian Flu and other diseases being a problem, a lot of homesteaders quarantine any animals coming onto their property.  This requires additional cages and space, as well as additional work for several weeks.  Sometimes, our lives are too full to take on the additional work.  Also, be aware that if you give your chickens to a working farm, they may  become dinner.  It’s just the nature of the job.

If you are unable to find someone willing to give your chickens a home, there are companies that rent chickens and incubators!  You can rent laying hens and everything they need for a summer of entertainment and farm fresh eggs.  If it’s babies you’re interested in, you get an incubator full of fertilized eggs.  After watching the chicks hatch, you can enjoy them for two weeks.  This is a great science project for home, schools, enrichment programs, etc.  Both programs give you the experience of having chickens without the long-term commitmentClick here to see if either program is available in your area!

I know this seems like a lot, but doing the proper research and planning before buying baby chicks for kids will prevent a bad outcome for you, the chick, and whoever has to deal with the consequences of an impulse animal purchase.  Thank you for reading, and please pass this info along!  Do it for the chickens.  🙂

Breakfast Burritos (And The BEST Way To Freeze Them)

Every spring, we go from hoping that our chickens will provide enough eggs that we don’t have to buy any from the store to an egg explosion!  And, I always want to scream, “How do I turn these chickens off?”  

Need to use up lots of eggs? Check out this freezer breakfast burrito recipe! #frugalrecipe #eggs #farmfresh #farmtotable

Unfortunately, chickens don’t come with on and off switches!  Now, don’t get me wrong.  It’s a good problem to have, but until our normal egg customers get back into the habit of getting eggs from us, it can be overwhelming!  So,  I always try to take an afternoon, and make up a huge batch of breakfast burritos for the freezer.

Need a quick and easy breakfast to keep you out of the drive-thru? Check out this freezer breakfast burrito recipe! #frugalrecipe #eggs #farmfresh #farmtotable #makeaheadbreakfast

Without these pre-made breakfast burritos, we would probably end up going through the drive-thru on mornings that we have to get out the door.  And, of course, it’s always nice to have them on hand when I just don’t feel like making breakfast or in the dead of winter when we’re missing our farm-fresh eggs!

By the way, if you would like an alternative to store-bought tortillas, check out the easy 4-ingredient recipe at the bottom of this post, or these recipes for whole wheat or sourdough tortillas!

Breakfast Burritos (And The BEST Way To Freeze Them)
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • Taco sized tortillas
  • Eggs
  • Butter
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Cooked bacon, sausage, or other meat (optional)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Sour cream and picante sauce for topping, if desired
Instructions
  1. Beat eggs, salt and pepper in a bowl.
  2. Melt butter in a skillet.
  3. Fry eggs and set aside.
  4. Place one tortilla on a plate (or a paper towel for freezing).
  5. Add fried eggs, cheese and optional meat.
  6. Microwave for 15-30 seconds (or heat on griddle) to soften tortilla and melt cheese.
  7. Fold up bottom of tortilla and roll into a burrito.
  8. Add any desired toppings and enjoy!
Notes
To freeze, wrap burrito in paper towel after you fold it. Then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap before placing in freezer.

To re-heat, remove plastic wrap and microwave in paper towel.

Do you have a favorite make-ahead breakfast recipe?  

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In a rush every morning? Prepare this crockpot oatmeal the night before and wake up to a healthy, hot breakfast! #crockpotrecipes #crockpotoatmeal #frugalrecipes

 

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How To Make A Citrus All-Purpose Cleaner

This citrus All Purpose Cleaner is completely non-toxic and costs only pennies to make! #homemadecleaners

When my kids were babies, I would spend their nap times in the bathrooms with the vent fan running, scrubbing away and trying not to breathe the toxic fumes.  However, the day came when they no longer napped, and, even worse, they wanted to help!  I didn’t want them in the room, much less handling the chemicals in those cleaners.  So, I set out to find a better way to a cleaner home. 

Honestly, I didn’t think natural cleaners could live up to the cleaning power of chemical products.  But, for the most part, I have been pleasantly surprised.  In the cases that I do have to turn to a chemical cleaner, I simply rest in the fact that our exposure has decreased substantially.  

This citrus All Purpose Cleaner is completely non-toxic and costs only pennies to make! #homemadecleanersThe staple of a great natural cleaning arsenal is a great all purpose cleaner.  This easy-to-make cleaner combines citrus (which works as a degreaser, stain remover and freshener) and vinegar (which serves to break down mold, grease, mineral deposits and bacteria).  It’s completely safe for the kids, cheap to make, and smells amazing!  Use it to clean and deodorize sinks, stovetops, countertops, bathtubs, floors, toilets, and more. 

Grab the printable recipe below!

How To Make Citrus All-Purpose Cleaner
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • Glass jar
  • Orange peels (or any other citrus fruit peels)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of salt
  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Spray bottle
Instructions
  1. Fill your glass container with orange peels. (You can save orange peels in the freezer until you have enough and are ready to make the cleaner.)
  2. Lightly coat the orange peels with salt and let them sit for at least 30 minutes. This will pull the oils from the peels for a great citrus smell and more cleaning power.
  3. Fill your container with vinegar and water. I like about half and half.
Notes
Any combination of citrus fruit peels can be used. Experiment to find a scent you love! Essential oils can also be added along with the vinegar and water.

Now that you have a cleaning product that’s safe for your little ones, check out these tips for getting your toddler to help around the house!

Do you cringe when your toddler wants to "help" you around the house? Read why you should let them help and how to deal with the messiness. #parenting #momhacks #toddlers
Are you concerned about the chemicals in your home?  Have you made any of your own cleaners?

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