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#DisneySide @Home Celebration

 

As everyone that has ever met me knows, I love Disney. I have been going to Walt Disney World as long as I can remember and have had an annual pass for about 20 years now. It is my first choice for a vacation spot. I have passed this love on to my children. Hubby is not so much on board with it. But the kids and I will go every chance we get.

Sadly, our passes expired in January and renewal is not in the budget for us right now. So you can imagine how excited I was when I got picked to host a #DisneySide @Home Celebration! Because I have mostly teenagers, I got the teen theme which was villians. This was perfect because we just got done watching Maleficient a million times and absolutely loved it!!

When our box full of goodies arrived, it was like Christmas all over again! There was so much fun stuffed into one box!

Goodies in our box #DisneySide @Home Celebration

Goodies in our box #DisneySide @Home Celebration

So we invited some of our closes friends and started partying!

My cake decorating daughters made and iced some cupcakes. We used the Duff Tye Dye cake mix that came in the box. But my daughters chose to use only the purple and green to represent Maleficient. Then we let everyone go to town decorating with the colorful sprinkles they provided.

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Cupcake Decorating #DisneySide @Home Celebration

 

Then the kids were off to play various games. The Maleficient nail polish was a big hit with the teenage girls. But not so much the bracelet maker. The pictures were to kiddie for them. And not all of us had an I-phone or I-pad to download the app. So the girls had fun making bracelets for the little ones.

Some of the games were a little too kiddie for tweens and teens. Bingo was basically just a game of who can yell Bingo the fastest because everyone got Bingo at the same time. Wordsearch and Matching the quote to the ride was a big hit also.

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My youngest loved pin the smile on Mickey. #DisneySide @home Celebrations

 

 

I worried about the pin the smile on Mickey. Because come on they are teens! But it was perfect for the younger siblings in attendance and surprising some of the older ones wanted in on the action too. We also added in a Beat the parents game~ Disney edition, which ended up being older kids vs younger kids, and some Disney Infinity 2.0 fun.

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And older kids too! #DisneySide @Home Celebration

 

Overall, it was a lot of fun! We got to see some friends we haven’t seen in forever and had some great activities to keep the kids busy.

 

Disclosure: I have received free products in order to host a Disney Side @Home Celebration. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Cooking with kids~ Chicken Cordon Bleu

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A long time ago, as in a few months ago, I would just buy those frozen Barber Chicken Cordon Bleu. Times has changed, money is tight and since I would have to buy 4 packs for one meal, it had to go. So I was at the store with my kids, wondering what to fix for dinner. I wanted Chicken Cordon Bleu and knew I had already thawed out chicken at home, decided to fight the urge to buy it premade and made my own with the help of Brianna.

My lovely assistant

My lovely assistant

 

This recipe is very easy for kids to make because it’s pretty hard to screw up and really doesn’t involve any measuring. So I knew it would be perfect for my special child to make. Plus there was no recipe to read just listening to Mom.

Ingredients:

chicken breast~ I use thin sliced, but if you prefer the thicker ones just adjust your cooking time.

Dijon mustard or honey mustard

seasoned bread crumbs

oil or cooking spray

deli sliced ham and swiss cheese

This is what I used, but honestly the ingredients can be switched out to fit your families taste. I would have prefered honey mustard, but didn’t have any.

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Coat both sides of the chicken with a thin layer of Dijon Mustard.

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Then coat with breadcrumbs.

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Saute in a pan until lightly brown on both sides. You can use butter, coconut oil or grape seed oil. This will take about 5-7 minutes depending on the temp of your pan.

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Remove from pan and stick on a cookie sheet. Add ham; as much or as little as you like.

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Another thin layer of mustard.

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Then top with the cheese. Then I pop these in the oven for about 10-15 minutes. I want to make sure the chicken is done and the cheese is melted. Now if you are worried about the cheese getting burned, you could always put the chicken in the oven before you add the mustard and cheese. Bake for 5-10 minutes and then add continue with recipe, baking another 5-10 minutes.

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And then VOILA! The finish project! It was delicious! I usually add a cheesy rice as a side (almost like a risotto) and some corn or broccoli.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

3 year Blogiversary

 

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Growing a large family 3 year blogiversary

 

It was 3 years ago today that I decided to start a blog. A place where I can vent and connect with the world. I also did many searches for large family blogs and couldn’t find any. So I decided that that was the direction I wanted to go. Over the years it has morphed into an eclectic collection of moments in our lives from homeschooling to homesteading. I try to keep it real, but classy and positive at the same time. I hope I have provided some humor along with some ideas and tips to help with your lives. All I ask is that you spread the word.

 

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Now let’s take a look back at my top post over the last 3 years.

First Day of School 2013

Homemade Pizza Dough

Building our Coop de Ville

 

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My Favorite Post:

I’m Southern and I can’t bake biscuits

This is my favorite post because I always ask myself why can’t I make biscuits. I grew up watching Grandma make them. I have tackled some pretty difficult recipes and have honestly impressed the heck out of myself sometimes. But biscuits are my Achilles heel! UPDATE: I still haven’t found and made a good biscuit yet!

Selfie! OH wait am I too close!

Selfie! OH wait am I too close!

 

Theses are the post that sum me up as a person. These post show who I am perfectly.

Our Frugal Disney Vacation

City Girl living a Country life

Check in with my flock

Family Dinners

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Let me know your favorite post and what you would like to see more of.

 

 

Getting challenge ready

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Creating a Master Menu

In my household, it is very easy to jump into the day and get caught up in all the things that need to be done. Homeschooling, laundry, cleaning, chickens and then there is meal time, by the time I get a chance to breathe it is 4:00 and I have no idea what’s for dinner. I need a plan. It’s one of many ways I keep my life organized and our budget on track.

This summer I took my meal planning to a whole new level. I went through my cookbooks (believe me there is a lot!) and made monthly menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner of all of my families favorites. I have enough menus for 5 months worth of dinners. We only have 1 or 2 months for breakfast and lunch, but are trying to expand on those also. We will begin using these menus in September. I love trying new recipes so the weekends are left opened for those. I also only use these during the school year. Summer is all about finding new favorites.

 

Creating a Monthly Grocery List

Another thing I am starting to do is a beginning of the month huge shopping. I make a grocery listing everything I need and then go through and cross off what I already have. From there, I go through and add things that I am getting low on that I know are necessities and we will need before the month runs out.

Now I break down the produce items by the week. Obviously, buying fresh produce for a whole month and expecting it to stay fresh until the end of the month is unrealistic. So I do a quick produce and milk shopping every week.

Why I do a monthly shopping
I live out in a rural area and it is not economical for me to be driving to the store multiple times. Not only that but I have a big family. So I choose to take one weekend to do my huge shopping. One day I drive North to BJ’s and stop at a Publix. And then a few days later, when I go to my mother in laws, I stop at Costco, Fresh Market and a Meat market if need be. These are all close to her house. I am technically not making an extra trip because I have to go pick up which ever kids are at her house anyways. Plus this just works for me. If I lived in the city or closer to these places, I probably wouldn’t shop monthly.

 

Where I Shop

I usually shop at BJ Wholesale, Publix and Walmart. In doing my research of the variety of products, I have decided to drop Walmart stores. The stores are very limited on in store organic or natural products, but online they have an amazing selection with some items cheaper than Amazon. Plus by shopping online and using the mypoints.com website you will earn points towards gift cards for Amazon, Walmart or Visa. I honestly cannot tell you how much I love this site. But that is another post.

 I also just recently purchased a Costco membership after reading many blog post about the amount of organic items and doing a walk-through of the store. I also did this through an email deal from MyPoints and earned extra points. So September will be my first month shopping there.
Near Costco, there is a meat market that sells grass-fed beef for the same price as regular beef at Publix. I am driving by so of course I am going to stop there and get my beef and anything else that looks good. Again I haven’t been there yet. This is based off of my research.
But I have been to the new Fresh Market by my Mother in Law’s house. AMAZING! It was a real food culinary dream. I will definitely be stopping there when I need fresh seafood. Very little meat is prepackaged, it all gets wrapped by the butcher when you order it. Plus they have an amazing bulk section.
I will post updates on my Facebook, instagram and of course here as to how this worked for me.
Throwing out all the junk
Now is the time to begin. Go through the house and throw out all the junk and buy all organic and natural items. NO!
The frugal side of me cannot suggest or even fathom doing this. I hate waste! It drives me crazy! Use what you got until it gone and then switch to the healthier version. This summer, we had already made the switch to organic milk because I was buying a half gallon for me, but realized it would be cheaper to just switch out our gallons for organic. My eggs are 90% farm fresh because my neighbors have been letting me buy their extras for next to nothing. Once in a while I buy eggs at the store and get the vegetarian eggs.
I am finally getting low on some items and I will be switching them over in September. I knew how awful vegetable oil is but I didn’t toss out what I had, I used it up and now can switch to coconut oil. My sugar is almost gone so I am switching to organic. And I am finishing up the meat in the freezer, but am hoping to buy 90% all natural, grass fed or wild for what I need to buy.
If you have some stuff that is unopened and really want to make the switch, then maybe donating to a local food bank is a great option for you. Remember no waste!
Don’t be too hard on yourself
Remember, nobody is perfect 100% of the time. There will be times when the kids are starving or your out running errands and you just NEED to have that Pumpkin Spice Latte to get you through. I know for a fact that this coming month is going to be hard for us because our Disney passes are back and we will be going almost every weekend. But we are going to try our hardest and not fret over the times we can’t. My goal is 80/20. If I am at home, I want to make a meal instead of loading everyone up and going out and then feeling yucky afterwards. I want to feel better not be strict. I want to know I am feeding healthy options to my family, instead of crap that does nothing to for the mind and body. But am I overly crazy about it? NO, just doing the best I can do. One day, week, month and food choice at a time.

I’m Southern and I can’t bake biscuits!?

I was born and raised Southern. But no matter what I do, I can’t bake biscuits! I have tried! And I can’t!

Every Southern Gal or Guy should be able to whip up a batch of homemade biscuits. It is a staple at meals in every southern home. But I can’t! And it’s frustrating!

I don’t know if I knead the dough to much. Or roll it out too much. I don’t know if I am suppose to use a rolling pin or if I am suppose to pat it out with my hands.

WHY? you ask. Because my mom, grandma or grandmom should have taught me right. Because that is what all good Southerners do. WELL…..they ain’t southern. I am only second generation born and raised southerner. And I am only half at that because my Dad was born….somewhere not in the south….because I don’t remember right now. But I know it was not in the south.

Anyways. My grandparents on my Dad’s side is from Illinois and my grandparents on my Mom’s side is from Jersey. And before anyone ask no I can’t make pasta from scratch either (though I might be able to but never tried).

Back to biscuits, it is embarrassing to buy a bag of frozen premade biscuits when you want some because you can’t make them.

Look here is the list to qualify as Southern:

Sweet Tea~ check

Cornbread~ check

Grits~ check

Chicken and Dumplings~ check

Biscuits~ NO!!!

So if anyone can help me out with some tips or a recipe. I am determined to learn how to make biscuits this summer. Though after all my attempts, my family may never want to see a biscuit again. BUT BY GOLLY, I am going to do it!

Here is my last sad attempt.

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It was a Bobby Deen recipe.

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Decent Flavor. But not light and fluffy at all.

Help!!!

Desperately Seeking good biscuit making tips.

Being Frugal and still have fun!

Last month, my family went and bought Season passes to Walt Disney World.

WHOA! What! Wait a minute! I know I have been posting on being frugal and then I just went and dropped a ton of money on Disney passes! How can that be? Well let me tell ya!

Back in the good ol’ days I could swipe a credit card and buy our passes and not even blink about. No biggie right? I’ll just pay it later or should I say Hubby would. Well then the economy apocalypse came and I didn’t have credit cards to rely on. All I had was cash. I knew our Disney days were numbered. I had been a passholder religiously since I was 13 years old. What was I going to do?

I ran across this website called Couponing to Disney  and I started reading about her ways of saving for Disney vacations. I thought I can do this. So the year my son was born I started a Disney fund. I would put all of the change we got when we would pay for something in a container. I also would have yard sales and sell items on craigslist. When those items sold, it went into the Disney fund. It took me a year to save up for passes and a weekend getaway. As soon as I cashed in a bought the passes we would start our next fund. Now the following year we got lucky, one of hubby’s distributors real screwed up an order of cabinet doors. Hubby sold the customer on them anyway but complained to the manufacturer. The manufacturer then issued us a refund and it was just enough to cover Disney passes.

This pass year I started adding more ways to save. When I would get gift cards, instead of going on a shopping spree for more things I didn’t need I put them toward groceries and put cash to equal the same amount into the fund. I also started using paid email websites to earn a little here and there. Any mail in rebates went in along with any random cash settlement checks from a lawsuit here and there. You know $2-$3 will add up over time. By the time Christmas and my birthday came around, I was only $300 short so hubby said take the cash as you present.

We also went out on a limb and planned a 5 day vacation. The kids and I pulled all of our gift cards together and have saved about $900 towards it. That is just from Christmas, birthdays and an awesome site called Mypoints.

This website gives you points per dollar you spend at well know retailers when you shop online. I did most of my Christmas shopping online this year and was able to rake up 15,000 points. Enough for about a $100 Walmart gift card.

These are just a few ways to be frugal but still have fun.

Our vacation is coming up in a week and 2 days (but who’s counting?). If you want to follow our trip, you can follow me on twitter  or instagram.

Back to basics~ turning frugal

6 months after we moved out here, the economy tanked and my hubby’s business took a massive hit. We had to quit paying on our credit cards and let 2 cars and hubby’s motorcycle get repossessed. It was awful feeling knowing you had a very, VERY successful business and in a blink of an eye it could all be taken away. But we kept at it and Hubby’s business was one of the few small cabinet shops to pull through. A lot of friends of his had to close their doors and walk away after years and years of being in business. We did everything we could to make it through and the best part is our children never knew we were poor. Today when I talk about the bad days, they are shocked. That I am thankful for.

During that time, I found ways to be frugal and live on cash only. Something I had never done in my entire life and something my hubby had to relearn. If there was no cash for it, then it wasn’t happening.

Now here we are 2013 and I have been looking back at all the stuff we spend money on that we really don’t need right that minute. First off, my hubby loves to spoil me and sometimes it’s very hard to say no when he wants to buy new boots (my obsession) or when he wanted to buy me an expensive camera because I said I would like to photography classes. And if a computer or TV breaks, we have to replace it ASAP. These are all things that could have been bought as christmas presents and he wouldn’t be struggling to get me something now. Hubby can be very extravagant sometimes, spend a $1000 at one time and not even blink. That shocks me.

We are still on a cash system, but have not been frugal at all. We eat out too much….way too much! And every time we go to the store the kids want drinks, snacks or toys. Hubby is constantly buying tools or other things he says he needs.

So with that said we have taken another hit. Now we need to cut back our grocery spending to just $500. I was spending anywhere from $800-$1000 and still listening to everyone complain there was nothing to eat. They also are in a phase of everything needs to brand name. My family also had an aversion to leftovers. Some family members would have a cow if they didn’t have a freshly prepared meal. I don’t even want to know how much money I threw out with all the leftovers.

Well change is coming. I am getting back to basics. The snacking all day is out! The sodas all the time is out! The fast food lunches is out!

We are self employed! We don’t have a 401K or retirement plan. We have only what we have saved. And since my hubby turns 40 next year and isn’t getting any younger. 2014 is my getting back to being frugal and saving year.

Time to break out the Dave Ramsey book and refresh.