Frugal Living/ Budgeting, General, Ways to be More Content

16 and Pregnant….Let’s Get Real Here

 

16 and Pregnant   Okay, I must admit, I love to watch Teen Mom 2 (and Teen Mom OG) on MTV. It’s pretty engrossing to watch other peoples’ lives, I think that’s why those cheesy reality shows do so well. We all love to see what other people do. But let’s get real here, all those “reality” shows aren’t really that “real”. I mean, nobody really lives like the Kardashians, unless they are the Kardaashians.

The Teen Mom shows, the follow up to the original 16 and Pregnant show, follow moms who were teenagers when they had their babies. It airs on MTV and is a huge hit. We fans love watching those babies grow up and seeing their moms succeed (yay!) and we feel their pain when they do not. We cheer them on as they navigate their lives in the right direction, find new love, have more sweet babies, find their way in this thing called life. I smile as I watch Chelsea being truly loved and finding happiness. I am proud of Leah as she shows her girls she can be strong and independent. I love that Kailyn is so fierce in her love for her boys.

For me, I have a much more personal reason for watching this series, as I myself was 16 and pregnant once upon a time (23 years ago). I was that teen mom, navigating growing up myself, balancing a marriage, and trying to be a good mom and make good choices. I look back and I am proud and happy with my life. I am married to my baby daddy (23 years in December), I have my own business, and I work as a nurse. My daughter is married and doing wonderful, and my son, my youngest, just graduated high school in May.

But saying all this, let me take you back to when I first began my  journey. My husband worked full time, our daughter was born 9 weeks early and was in and out of the hospital (2 1/2 hours from home) for her first few years. We really struggled financially, my parents really stepped in and helped us a lot. I didn’t finish high school (got my GED before she was born) and missed a lot of “teen” things. We were broke, our kids didn’t get vacations, they got second hand clothes many times, we didn’t get to go out to dinner much. Am I painting a picture that is shown on the show? Nope, not at all. I wasn’t being paid to be on a TV show. And neither are most teen moms. The majority of teen moms live in poverty, they receive welfare benefits and never finish college (many not even high school). That’s a much different picture, now isn’t it? Yep. That’s the reality of teen pregnancy.

I am writing this to say, what we see on TV (not just that show, but all of them) is just not real. We live normal, everyday lives that aren’t scripted, they aren’t filmed and edited. But our teens need to know that when they have a baby at 16 (or in their teenage years) it won’t be like on the show. No big new houses, no expensive SUVs, no fancy island vacations, no designer clothes, nope. It’ll be much, much different. It can still be awesome, just with less stuff and much more work. And college will be a struggle all the way. You’ll be studying, wishing you had more time with your kids.

So, go forth and watch your favorite reality show! Just know that real life is what “reality” really is. No editing things out, no big paycheck, no makeup and special lighting, just the real deal. And it can be ugly, it can be painful, and it can stink sometimes, but it’s real.

I hope all are having a blessed Monday! I hope you have a marvelous week ahead! Summer is winding down, the kiddos are all back in school, we are all looking forward to fall around here! God bless y’all!

Eating Real Food, Frugal Living/ Budgeting, Homesteading, Ways to be More Content

Spring Around the Homestead

  Spring is here! This is a busy time around the homestead, getting ready for gardens and harvesting, new baby animals and weather too darn pretty to be indoors!

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  We’ve been bottle feeding a few calves, breaking up the garden, planting a few things, burning out the fence rows, and just generally being outdoors enjoying the weather.

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I painted these cute rocks for my potted herb plants. I also made some for my garden, for when all the plants go in. I just painted the rocks, used a fat Sharpie to write on them, then added a coat of spray on clear sealer. I loved quick simple projects that turn out cute!

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Here are my two bottle babies! These guys are cute, and I do love caring for them, but I know that come fall, one of them will be feeding my family. Growing your own food can be hard, but knowing what goes into what you eat is an awesome feeling too.

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Here’s my son, burning off sections of the fence row. We do this to keep the fences cleaned up, and to reduce ticks and fleas. The fields get burned off too. It just gets rid of the old/dead stuff and makes the grass come back fresh and green. When this gets done we are careful to watch the weather (no wind!) and usually burn off after a good rain, when things are dried out, but not too dry. And of coarse, always having some water nearby.

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I hope all are having a fabulous Saturday! The weather is beautiful here, and I’m fixing to head out and work on my chicken coop!

What are ways you get ready for spring? I’d love to hear back from you! I’ll be in the jam making mode in a few weeks, as strawberries are starting to come off. Stay tuned for a jam-session!

 

 

Family Vacations, Frugal Living/ Budgeting, Ways to be More Content

Hiking to Hawk’s Bill Crag

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  Isn’t that just breathtaking? This place was so beautiful, I decided it needed it’s own post here on my blog!

   See those tiny dark specks at the edge of the rock? Yeah, well that’s my son and a friend of his.  I tagged along on this hike, because Hawk’s Bill Crag was on my bucket list.

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 Here’s my son, Nicholas, overlooking the valley below. This rock is not Hawk’s Bill (also known as Whitaker Point)  but a smaller rock along the trail. there are many beautiful rock formations along the way.

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  Here is another pic of my son, sitting exactly where they tell you not to! And I am holding my camera, a ways off, yelling “Back up! You’re not supposed to go that far out!” like the worry-wart momma that I am. He and his friend find this amusing and are yelling back “Get good pics!”.  So I am hurriedly snapping photos yelling, “Okay, got them, now get back!”

   All teasing aside, the websites say it is not safe to go to the tip (the lower dip just where my son is sitting here) so please follow that, not the whim of teenage boys! I myself didn’t go anywhere near the edge, I am so afraid of heights. I wasn’t even going to venture out to the crag, but my son insisted I conquer my fear and go. I did and it felt great, even from my way far back vantage point. And my son took photos to prove it.

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That’s me there, the one further away from the edge! It was such a rush looking out over all that beautiful nature. I was in awe.

   Now we went towards the end of winter, which was nice weather wise, but not scenery wise. Albeit still gorgeous, I know colors would’ve been amazing in spring or fall. I plan to return this fall to see it again, when my daughter and son-in-law can go, and maybe I’ll talk my hubby into it to. He’s not much of a hiker, but for this view he might go along.

   I’m going to share links to the Harrison Web page, which has good information about getting to Whitaker Point trail head. I’m also sharing the link to Roadtrippers, which has some reviews as well as some pictures.

http://www.harrisonarkansas.org/c_upe_view.php?id=77

https://roadtrippers.com/us/boxley-ar/nature/whitaker-point-hawksbill-crag

   A few tips from me to you:

1. There are no bathrooms at the trail head, so plan accordingly. I was assuming there was at least a camp-type potty, so I drank a ton of water and coffee, oops!

2. The road is like a “pig trail”, not much of a road and pretty steep, rough, and narrow.

3. The trail is steep, so if you’re like me and a bit outta shape, you may need to stop for breaks along the way. No worries though, there are lots of awesome scenic spots you’ll want to stop and look at anyways.

 I live in rural Arkansas and am always looking for new places to go and see within my area. Go out and explore where you live! Or if you’re visiting Arkansas, look at the state park websites, there are so many awesome places to go and see! These type of activities are not only fun, but frugal as well. And what a great therapy to boot!

   Happy Hiking!! God Bless Y’all!

Eating Real Food, Frugal Living/ Budgeting, Recipes/ How To, Weekly Meal Planners

How to Meal Plan Like a BOSS!

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Okay y’all, so it’s a weeknight, about 5 pm and you have no idea what’s for supper and you are in a panic. Sound familiar? Yep, we’ve all been there before!

  So let’s talk meal planning. I’m going to give you tips so you can meal plan like a BOSS! You’ll know exactly what meals you have all the ingredients for, what’s fast and easy and what you’re saving for when you have more time in the kitchen.

   To start this meal planning lesson, let’s start right in your kitchen: do a quick mental inventory (or if you’re obsessive like me, jot it down)  of what you’ve already got on hand. This will save you money, you won’t be buying extra stuff you really didn’t need. This list will be our base for the meal planner.

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 Check your freezer, fridge and pantry. Please overlook my messy-ness, apparently I need some help with organizing!

   Once you have your “inventory” list, you’re ready to start planning! Now this is where it’ll be a bit different for everyone: I plan for 6 meals for each week, we usually go out one night a week. When planning, I may jot down specific meals for specific nights, but it can always be swapped around. I try to plan for leftovers, for my lunches. I typically plan 2-3 chicken dishes, 1-2 beef dishes, 1-2 pork dishes and 1-2 “other” dishes (like pizza, hot dogs, tuna sandwiches, fish, etc).

   I keep a list of meals my family likes in a little notebook. I have them categorized by meat type: chicken/beef/pork/ other. I also have them marked with a star if they’re for the slow cooker. If I’m wanting something different/new I turn to my old pal Pinterest! How did we survive without it? I will only add one or two “new” things per week, because my bunch is picky and we tend to stick with old stand-byes. I don’t cook super fancy, we tend to like basic type foods.

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  Here’s my pretty notebook (I’m kind of a notebook geek, I have way too many!) that I keep meals we love written in. This little step makes meal planning much quicker.

  The last step is matching up meals with what you’ve got and making your grocery list. So just based on my inventory (as seen in above pics) I’ll jot down a quick plan:

1. Chicken Fajitas

2. Marinated Grilled Chicken and Grilled Asparagus

3. Pulled Pork sandwiches and Potato Wedges

4. Green Chile/Pork Nachos

5. Meaty Italian Sauce with Spaghetti Squash

6. Tuna/Egg Salad with Veggies and Dip

   Now I would look at each meal and see what components I was missing, grocery shop once for those items and be eating for the week!

   Here’s a link to a weekly meal planner template that I love! It has spots for planning breakfasts/lunches too! And a grocery list on the side. I keep one printed out and use them.

https://www.vertex42.com/ExcelTemplates/meal-planner.html

 

   There you have it! No more wondering  “What’s for dinner?”. And no more looking forward to a specific meal, then not having all the ingredients for it on hand. By planning out meals, it’ll save you stress, time and money.

  I hope you all have a very blessed day! If you have questions/comments I would love to hear from y’all!

Family Vacations, Frugal Living/ Budgeting, General, Homesteading

Here We Go Again!

I’m back!

Well, to be truthful, I wasn’t really gone! I had taken a hiatus from blogworld, but I am back and ready for BIG things to come!

I have made big changes in my life, one being I left my job as a school nurse to become a full time business owner. I had started my kennel 8 years ago part time, but I was to a point I needed to be here full time, so I made the plunge!

It was a bit scary going from a full time, regular income to irregular pay schedules and managing it on my own. But I have been so blessed with great success, and I give all the glory to God! He provides for me so richly!

I will be updating you all with a link to my new Kennel blog site (under works as we speak!) so you can check out my sweet baby puppies and their mommas and dads.

I will also be adding some awesome projects I am working on around the homestead! (including a cute new Chicken Coup up-cycled from an old swing set!) Garden season is upon me and I am so ready to get into harvesting and preserving mode!

So I hope you’ll continue to follow me in my homesteading journey!

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This pic was taken a month or so back- I hiked up to Hawks’ Bill Crag with my son and his friend.I am very afraid of heights and had decided I wasn’t even going onto the crag. Thankfully my son convinced me to get out there,that’s me with my hands in the air, that was as far as I was going. It felt to exhilarating to conquer something that big! It was a beautiful piece of my state I really enjoyed seeing.

Here’s a link to info, if you’re ever in the area, I really suggest going. Just a few notes from one gal to all of you:

  1. There are no bathrooms at the trail head, plan accordingly. (I drank a pot of coffee and 2 bottles of water, oops! I had to squat!)
  2.  It is beautiful, but the hike for this fat girl was a bit rough. Coming back up out of the holler was a doozy! If you have any type of handicap, be careful please!
  3. I would go in spring or fall, we went in late winter and it wasn’t as pretty.
  4. The road in is rough! You’ll think you’re lost and picture a scene from a scary movie (think, Wrong Turn!) but nope- that’s the right road!
  5. Leave it the way you found it! Nature is best without your empty bottles and cig butts! I always hate to see junk messing up natures beauty!

http://www.buffaloriver.com/pages/whitaker-point-trail-hawksbill-crag/

I hope all have a wonderful week ahead! I am about to head out and get my broccoli and cabbage plants in the ground and put some lettuce seeds out. God Bless!

Frugal Living/ Budgeting

New Year- New Goals!!

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Happy New Year! Time to re-evaluate my goals and get ready for the new year!!

So last year I set some goals for 2015- accomplished some- still gotta work on some. We did take on a little new debt (our son needed braces) and we also were able to pay cash for a few new expenses (our daughters wedding and a newer vehicle for me). We also paid off a larger credit card (big ole yeah!!) but have a few more to work on.

So- Financial Goals for 2016:

  • Pay off 2 remaining credit cards
  • Pay down my student loans
  • Pay off sons’ braces
  • Pay cash for summer vacation
  • Start using the envelope/cash only system for weekly budgeting!!!!
  • Stick to a budget better!!!

So, as you can see- some of these things have been on my list for a few years!! I am determined to get it down eventually!

Health Goals for 2016:

*Continue adding healthy habits to my diet

* Try using new herbals and essential oils (doing research on this, love keeping things all natural when I can)

 

Other Goals for 2016:

*Keep in touch with friends better (sorry I am not better at this guys!!!)

* Get more organized!!

* Get back to meal planning (to help stay on track health wise and also to help with budgeting!!)

 

 

So- there you have it! There are my yearly goals!

I hope that all have a very blessed year!! I feel like such a blessed gal!!

 

Remember to thank God for your good times as well as your bad times: the bad times help you appreciate the good times more and and the good times give you hope when your in the midst of the bad times.

God bless y’all!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frugal Living/ Budgeting, Thrifty Fashion

It’s Back!! Frugal Fashion Friday- 8/21/15

Okay so with back to school I will try to get back into the swing of things! So here goes another round of Frugal Fashion Friday!!

My daughter started working at a local bank, so she needed some dressier clothing. She went and bought a pair of dress pants (for like $30) but still needed more.

Leave it to cheap-o mom to the rescue!! We took a hundred bucks and came home with tons of great “new” clothing! She loves thrift shopping as much as her momma!!

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Here we have this adorable outfit- total cost? A whopping $5.50!

She found this top at Goodwill for $3.50, what a deal! But wait- those super awesome pants were a find at Salvation Army and they were half price to boot (normally $4, sale $2).

I will share more of our shopping trips in the weeks to come! We are just a frugal, thrift loving family!!

I hope all are having a marvelous week, I know I am! My baby boy turns 17 today, wow! I am truly a very blessed lady and I give all the glory to God! He blesses me much more than I ever deserve and I thank Him daily for it.

Have a wonderful weekend- God Bless!!

Frugal Living/ Budgeting

Time for some Mid-Year Updates!

Okay so we are about halfway through 2015 already, so time to re-evaluate my yearly goals and see where I am at. As I said back in December, I try to shy away from “resolutions” and instead make myself a yearly goal list along with “mapping out” how to attain those goals.

In the eating more healthy part of my yearly goals: I have achieved a few small changes this year and although haven’t lost a ton of weight, I am establishing new healthier habits, so I feel good about that. A few changes I have made: not drinking soda on a daily basis, drinking my coffee black in the morning (no more creamer and sugar), I am eating at least 5 servings of fruits/veggies on at least 4 days a week, and I am trying different foods more often. Baby steps!!

In the financial part, where I had set more goals for this year, I am head above water, so to speak. I have paid off 2 small credit cards and am in the process of re-financing my home to a lower interest rate and consolidating the 2 major credit cards that have been a huge hurdle for me. I will be very happy to have this done and to cancel those accounts out for good! I try to stress to both my children, no credit cards! Once you have a bigger amount of debt, it becomes a burden and is very hard to ever get paid off. I have also taken on more financial debt as my son needed braces. We are also in the midst of wedding planning with our daughter, we will be gaining an awesome new son-in-law and are very happy for them.

So far this year I have been unable to switch back to the “cash only” or envelope budget method, and haven’t really been focused on it. I would still like to re-focus and get it down, because our weekly spending is just crazy! We don’t really follow a weekly “budget” per se, and it is really burning money up quick! I am not going to lie, July is looking quite busy with running- so I am going to plan for August to be the month I get back on board with the cash only weekly budget system. Fingers crossed I can get my hubby on board and we can really focus and get on track with it! I know it would work- it’s just a matter of sticking with it. It’s breaking a bad habit, which is just spending without really knowing how much until it’s too late.

I know that come the end of this year I will be able to cross off most of my list, and that makes it all worth it! I am not a money guru, I just have to take it step-by-step and try to get better with financial decisions.

How about you, how are you doing with goals you may have set for the year? I would love to hear from you! I hope all have a very blessed weekend! Happy Independence Day to you and yours!

Crafty Fun, Frugal Living/ Budgeting

DIY Spoon Necklace- Frugal Fun

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I got into a crafting mood, so I pulled out my spoons and stamps and decided to make a few new spoon necklaces!

These are super easy to make and cost so little, yet they are too cute and make great gifts. This one above I made using a spoon I bought at a thrift store, a wing from the craft store (8 in a pkg for $2) and then I have a chain I use for all my different “spoons” and charms, but to get a new one would cost just a buck or so. (I get them on sale at Hobby Lobby in a pkg of 2)

Now my art creations are not perfect by any means- I have fun with it and make stuff I love. They are usually for me or a family member or friend.

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This one was hard to get a great photo of, it says “Make it Count”

This is a great example of my “imperfect” style, I started out by hammering the spoon flat and then buffing it smooth. Then I flubbed up and messed up the lettering on the top part of the spoon! Oh was I mad at myself. It then sat for months in the “junk” pile of my crafty junk. Tonight while working on more spoons, I saw this one, then had an idea. What if I just “covered” my oops with a pretty?

It worked- I re-stamped the words on the lower half, then placed a pretty heart over my mistake on the upper half. The cute little heart was a piece of broken jewelry from my daughter (I keep all that junk, cuz you just never know!) I used some crystal clear E600 glue to adhere it to the spoon. Viola! Cuteness!

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My messy work area- I hammer on the porch or out in the shop, depending upon my mood!

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After I hammer the spoon down flat, I use the hand stamping tools to add letters. I then use some of my scrapbooking ink to add depth to the letters. I apply the ink to the spoon, then use a paper towel to wipe off excess. The letters have better visibility that way.

DSC_0033This is the ink I use.

DSC_0039Another pic!

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So to re-cap: Get some funky cool spoons, hammer flat, buff out, using a hand stamp system- add quotes, Bible verses, names, etc. , use ink to add depth, cut down and bend the handle over to hold the chain (keep for use as a charm if it’s pretty!), add baubles if you like, place it on chain of your liking and you will be getting requests from your friends and family!

I hope all are having a wonderful week so far- I am! I worked today in my office, getting paperwork ready for next school year, then came home and played in the garden a bit, and then made a few pretties!  God Bless!

Frugal Living/ Budgeting

Frugal Ways to Plan a Fun Summer

So last weekend was a beautiful weekend and we decided to take the boat out to the lake for a little summer preview! Granted it was much too cold to do any swimming, we had a great day just cruising around and soaking up the sun.

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Just pulling to the boat launch makes me happy! I love to go to the lake, just so relaxing and peaceful! It was just me and my hubby that headed up, then my daughter and her fiance met us at the dock and we all went out for a cruise.

I say it was relaxing and peaceful, but I must confess, when me and the hubs first launched the boat we had some engine trouble and thought the day was shot, but thankfully it was just a small problem and was quickly fixed and we were back on. I love the fact that my hubby is very handy and can fix just about anything!

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Now this looks so still and quiet, but just wait til summer and it’ll be teaming with activity! Tubing, jet skis, and boats galore out there! That’s when it gets fun and exciting!

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Here are one of the many camp areas on the lake. We also love to go for a camp out, camping is a great family activity that is also pretty frugal!

Make sure you check out your state for their state parks, state run camp sites and hiking trails. We live in North Arkansas and we have access to many different places and things to do that are fairly cheap (at least when comparing to other family vacation activities). Missouri isn’t too far for us either and they have some great sites as well.

Most of the camp sites we stay at have a full working bathroom with showers, a kids park, boat launch (if it’s on the lake), grills, picnic tables and electric hookup for around $20 a night. We tent camp, so we pack up our gear we’ve had for years and grab some “campfire” friendly foods (and some sandwich stuff), charcoal/lighter fluid, and some firewood.

Now I know that owning a boat isn’t cheap, but we have an older model, my hubby does most of the work on it himself (and has a friend that will help him out) and we have a great time out. It’s one of those things,some people see it as a waste of money, we do not.

Camping is still fun even without a boat, we went a lot when our kids were smaller and we didn’t have a boat. We played in the water at the designated swim area, went for hikes exploring, and just hung out with each other. So if you’re looking for a frugal fun family trip this summer, go camping! (or if that’s not your thing, there are plenty of great free/cheap things to do , depending upon where you live) You can google “free things to do in______” , wherever you live near and a list will usually pop up. Anytime I am doing any traveling, I do this. We have found lots of great places to go see using this method. We found out the St Louis zoo (which is amazing ) is free to go to, although you do pay a small parking fee. We took a picnic lunch and had a wonderful day for very little money.

So go forth and start planning a fun frugal summer!!

Hoping all are having a super week! We are on the countdown at school, 13 more days! We are all getting summer fever!! Have a Blessed rest of the week!