Who I am (A Child’s Voice)

Who I am (A child’s voice)
Kay Rice

A childish voice yells, “I’m Batman Today”!
Dressed in pajamas and a sheet for a cape,
A serious pose, holds back his grin,
In HIS world, he’s the hero to all his friends.

A childish voice whispers “Today, I’m a pony”.
I gallop around in a field full of posies,
A happy-go-lucky clap, he mimics for hooves,
and a scarf tied to his jeans for a tail to swoosh.

A childish voice proclaims out loud “Today, I’m a rock-star”!
I sing and yell and I travel so far,
As he dances to the sound of his radio blaring,
and dreams of fans, his name they are yelling.

A childish voice cries out “Today, I am afraid”.
I don’t know what to be or what I have made,
I’m me, but who am I, deep down inside?
I’d like to find out, but today I’d much rather hide.

A young man steps forward, from dreams and school days,
All grown up from childish things, ready to make his own way,
A hero, a mustang, a rock star, he stands tall and with grace,
All his dreams have given him the courage to find his place.

 

Written for my wonderful blessing of a son, Jon.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
KAY RICE

Trees

Trees
by Mrs. Kay Rice

On a tall grassy hill so far away,
Two little trees softly did sway.
In the spring a warm and gentle breeze,
Waking up, from a long winter’s freeze.

Far from each other yet close at hand,
Reaching up from the new warm moist land.
Dancing together through each spring shower,
Each day growing as they began to flower.

Spring turns to summer as each little tree,
Reaches up higher as if trying to see.
The world around them so far and new,
Looking up into bright skies of blue.

Summer to Fall as green leaves turn to gold,
Listening to stories from birds they are told.
Of coming winters when cold winds blow,
And life goes to sleep in blankets of snow.

With the first snow flake the trees bow down,
To prepare for sleep under winters new gown.
Leaning over from their long winter’s nap,
Their branches together began to over lap.

Warmth once again, came to the hill far away,
Calling and waking the trees to a new day.
And as they slowly awoke, what did they find?
That in the cold their branches became entwined.

Now swaying together in wind and in rain,
Their branches grew stronger together again.
As if holding on to each other in sun and storm,
Silent vows given to up the wind and was sworn.

Spring flowers from one were pink and so bright,
The other bloomed flowers so large and pure white.
Branches entwined so one could not tell them a part,
Impossible to know where one ended and the other did start.

Spring turned to summer and then on to Fall,
By now their branches were so strong and so tall.
Lifting branches together reaching up to the sky,
Wrapped together they watched the seasons go by.

Seasons and years passed by as they grew,
Never cracking or falling as strong winds blew.
Their branches keep reaching to the sky up above,
Entwined forever, together, in eternal love.

Mrs. Kay L. Rice
3/12/2010
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

(A poem I wrote for my loving husband)

Paths

I’ve been mulling this blog post over in my mind for several months now.  I knew what I wanted to focus on, what the message was and the purpose.  My obstacle was primarily fear.  That big thing of what other’s might think or presume or judge me on.   In an age where everyone is easily offended, but everyone has strong opinions, I do my best to NOT rock the boat.  I keep my dreams to myself, so to speak.

So, let me jump in and give you some background.  I have always been a nerd.  I love my books, I love writing, reading and imagination.  When I was little I decided I wanted to grow up to be the Science Officer of the Starship Enterprise C class.  When I was in middle school I was already fascinated with technology and sci-fi.  I would read everything I could get my hands on.  When Star Wars came to the big screen that was it, I knew I had to work with robots, then came War Games, then Tron and before I knew it, I was going to college to be a programmer.  I grew up when Women’s Lib was starting to roar loudly and sending the mixed messages.  I went to college when I was one of the very few women in data processing.  It was scary, but it was exciting.

My Grandma, was always encouraging, but warned me about false paths.  The yellow brick roads in life.  You know the ones; they have the bright jewel encased castles and grand ballrooms, but really they are ran by deception, the fake behind the curtain.  I fell into that trap.  I fought and fought for “independence”, which ended up trapping me in a world that was cold, lonely and very, very frightening.  I remember, crying to my Grandma shortly before she became ill with Alzheimer’s, that it wasn’t fair.  Life should come with instructions.  I remember very clearly what she told me, and it haunted me for years.  Her answer was; “It does, and I handed them to you a long time ago.”  She was referring to the Bible she had given me in High School.  I have grown up in church, but to be honest, I never read that Bible.  Throughout time, it became lost, even more so than me.  It took an angel, my husband Bob, to bring me home and turn my life around.

Deep inside, I always longed to be just a wife and a mom.  My choices prevented me from having that life.  Too many times I listened to the lies of the world and people who were not firm in faith to believe that I needed to push for success outside of the home, to make more money, to obtain more paper certifications, to obtain more education.  More, more, more.  I’ve always had a “giving” personality, but that became twisted and distorted by the life I chose.  I took the burden of “doing it myself” and believing in the “I am Woman” chant.  The truth was, my heart was breaking the entire time.  I longed to be with my children, I was happiest baking cookies and pies for the neighborhood kids and my kids.  I loved cooking for friends or families that needed help, even though we were having difficulty rubbing two pennies together ourselves.

Now, here we are today.  It hasn’t been a perfect or even a complete transition, but I have finally found my way back to that path.  My loving husband is strong in his faith, he keeps me centered and balanced and keeps me focused on “reading the instructions”.  No, he’s not my original husband, he is not the father of my children, but he is the angel that lead me home.  I know I’m broken.  I’ve found though, that God uses the most broken for his greatest challenges.

A few weeks ago while visiting with friends, I heard the words come out of my mouth.  “Please, think this choice through, don’t make the mistake I made.”  It was in reference to a friend taking a job that would take more of her time.  Totally opposite to who I was even a year ago, proudly boasting of my successes as a programmer.  Careers are those emerald castles, but in all honesty, there is no place like home.

I have been on a journey to better understand who God intended me to be.  I am grateful for my talents which have benefited me and my husband with my job outside of the home for income.  But now, I don’t look at it as my job, my career, my goals.  This job helps me help my husband, its not all about me and what I want.  This job is a tool, it isn’t my life.  My greatest joy is my husband and my home and my children and my ‘children-by-choice’, family that aren’t by blood by have been drawn to us, or us to them.  I understand now that I am my husband’s helper, his partner on this journey.

When my husband and I bought our little house in the little woods, or as I call it, our homestead.  Happiness and hard work followed.  The hard work created more happiness.  We started truly living what we believed and cherished.  We laugh and cry together and we hold on to each other closely.  We encourage each other, and even when we disagree, we respect each other.  I love cooking, gardening and living simple.  I love that I am no longer a slave to the world.   I still work outside of the home, but it is with joy and not as a burden.  I feel more and more a draw to the instructions my Grandma gave me when I was younger.  When I don’t know what to do, I open those instructions and read them.  A lot of the times, it causes me to reflect on the bad choices I’ve made in the past, sometimes I feel like a brat and my inside voice is whining “but I don’t wanna!”, in the end though, I take comfort in knowing that even though I don’t always understand, I can see the correct path and work my way to it and to stay on it.

So take it for what it’s worth from this older woman, who has gotten lost, found the wrong paths, chased after imaginary treasures, wondered in labyrinths filled with monsters, and finally found her way home.

  • Before saddling yourself with a burden of student loan debt, DON’T.  Just don’t.  Pay as you go for your education and don’t go in debt for it.  Use your talents for good.  You don’t need an expensive piece of paper to be happy.
  • Don’t become a slave to a career or to debt.
  • Choose your husband wisely.  Lust, passion and money fade away; Love, respect and honor grow stronger.
  • Your children are your legacy, nothing is more important than your relationship with your husband and your children.
  • Learn to help your husband, not hinder.  You are in the same boat together, fight  together, back to back and side by side.
  • Put God first, keep your faith strong and don’t listen to the lies of the world.
  • Most of all Pray, don’t nag.

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay Rice

 

 

Less is More

This last month I’ve been discussing a scary word.  Budgeting.  It is a subject that is on my mind quite a bit and funny enough, comes up in many of my daily conversations.    I enjoy hearing the perceptions of others on this topic.  One conversation, really got my wheels turning.  It started with one sentence.  “I don’t budget because I want to enjoy life now.”   I’m sure you can see where this is going, already.

The world today tends to push us into the “I want it now!” behavior.  Yes, that spoiled child syndrome that makes us all cringe.  Does anyone remember who fell down the rotten egg chute in the original Willy Wonka movie?  Yup, the “I want it now!” girl.  There was a time when this type of behavior was frowned upon and actually quite embarrassing to those around that self-centered and demanding person.  Now, the world has embraced this behavior.  Why save, when you can use a credit card?  Why put away for your old age, when you can travel the world now?  Television, radio and the internet are always pushing some new and grand thing for you to throw your money away at.

Take a step back and take a look around you.  The race to have more is really not worth jumping into.  The more things you acquire the less time and money you have for the truly important things in life.  Money and things do not obtain happiness.  In fact, what happens is there is more stress and less happiness.

Budgeting should not be looked at as a tool that gives you less in life, it is a tool that helps you to acquire more in life.  More of the good things.

When you budget you create:

  • Knowledge:  You know where your money needs to go.
  • Control:  You control where your money goes.
  • Peace: You don’t have to stress about the unknown (as much).
  • Money:  When you control your money and think about its use, it begins to grow.

Budgeting is not meant to make you feel guilty, insecure, angry or like a failure.  Budgeting is a tool and when that tool is used properly, you gain from it not suffer from it.  Ignoring your money and pretending the debt doesn’t exist will only create a bigger monster in the end.

monster illustration

A Budget is a Living Thing:

Your budget is not something you scribble on a notepad and shove in the drawer and forget.  It is something that is “living”.  Now, with that said, it is not something to obsess over.  Set aside some time weekly to review your budget, if you are married, make sure you do this with your spouse.  See how you have been spending your money, assign it to a category.  Do NOT put credit card purchases in a ‘black box title’ such as Credit Cards.  Actually list out what you made that purchase for.  You will very quickly be surprised on how much a week you may be spending on things like breakfasts, lunches, coffee, snacks, entertainment without even blinking an eye.  When you put a name on them, they become real.

My goal, or happy place, is to be able to budget for three-quarters (or better yet, half) of our house income.  Yes, you read that correctly three-quarters of our total house income.  That does not mean that this happens every month there are times I don’t make that goal.  What it means is it gives me a line to shoot for.  This way, heaven forbid, if something happens to the “good times” income and it gets cut, we can still thrive without too much stress.  Notice I said thrive, not just survive.  It also gives me a challenge and I love a good challenge.

I’ve mentioned this many times, but I love the way that Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace utilizes their online budget tool Every Dollar .  It lays it out perfectly.  Especially when paying off those credit cards because in reality, when you pay these off you are gaining money.  Once they are paid off, close as many as you can, especially the high interest rate ones.  The Every Dollar budget tool offers a subscription version and a free version.  I tell people to utilize the free version for 2 reasons:  1) It’s free and not another expense.  2) It forces you to physically write what you spent the money on.  The paid subscription version allows you to connect to your savings, checking, credit cards to automatically bring in transactions, but you have to place them in your built budget.  Their paid subscription also will not allow you to add an American Express Card, or pay for the subscription using a credit card, you must use a debit card or a checking account to pay for the annual subscription.  Both the subscription and free versions are available on both PC and phone/tablet app versions for Android and iPhone apps.  With any budgeting tool, it works best when you work with it often.  I budget daily or nothing less then once a week.

Put extra money that you are no longer wasting on things to paying off debt.  It is not as hard as you may be thinking it is.  The outcome is less stress and fear.  Now, when you do pay it off, don’t go “celebrate” with some big shopping spree or dinner out or a vacation.

Budgeting allows you to live below your means which gives you freedom from stress and freedom from being a slave to needing more.  It allows you to give time to what is truly important; relationships and your health as a whole.

So don’t look at budgeting as this big scary monster lurking in the dark, look at it as a garden just waiting for you to plant and watch it grow.

white and green ceramic pig decor

Until next time,

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice

Lunch Time

A big part of saving time and money goes into planning your meals.  The world likes to show us the convenience of grabbing on the go, but look what that has done to our waistlines and our wallets!  Yikes!  The best plan is to plan, prepare and work in your meals during a less busy time of the week.

I’ve said before that I like to do my meal prep on Sunday afternoons.  I do work outside of the home during the week so I understand when there is the argument of time.  However, packing lunches does not need to be a time hog.

The benefits of packing lunches greatly outweighs the time argument.  Whether you are packing for yourself, your spouse and/or your children, the benefits are all the same.

  1. You control the portions.  Everything from fast food to sit down is all greatly increased in the area of portions.
  2. You control the contents.  When you make, pack and measure, you know exactly what is going into your body.  If you or a family member have allergies, you no longer have to worry about ingesting something bad for them.
  3. The cost is greatly less.  The cost of putting together a lunch is greatly less then buying on the go.  Journal it and you will see it for yourself.
  4. Less waste. This is a huge item, you aren’t added to the garbage issue and if you pack wisely, you will cut down on your own disposables!

What you will need:

  1. A Lunch Box.  I know the picture shows a brown paper bag.  But I really do not advise using one for many reasons.  You will want a stable lunch bag/box that can hold some time of cooling pack, easy to carry or put into a backpack (good idea for kids and adults alike), but big enough to carry what you need for the day.
  2. A Reusable Cooling Pack.  These are very inexpensive and can be used over and over again.  I have one that is very thin and does a great job of cooling my lunch bag very well.  Just put it in the freezer every day when you get home and it will be ready for the next day!
  3. Reusable item containers.  You can pick these up at the dollar store.  Make sure you get microwaveable safe ones if you are planning to need to reheat items.  A Soup Thermos is also a great item to have so you don’t have to use a microwave!  I am not in favor of using disposable wrappings and bags, trash is trash, whether it comes from home or from somewhere else.
  4. Reusable Coffee/drink mug.  Avoid buying bottled water or coffee.  Make and bring your own and refill for free during the day.
  5. Reusable utensils.  Have a specific set for your lunch box(es).  Again, avoid disposable.

But what do I pack?

This is where it gets fun.  You are only limited by your imagination!  For kid lunches those are just super fun!  You can make your own “lunchables” of crackers, bread cut out using cookie cutters, meats, cheeses… but we will get to that.  Here are some ideas, adults enjoy the fun stuff too, sometimes even a little more!

  1.  Sandwiches do not need to be boring!  Use a large shaped cookie cutter to cut bread, meat, cheese and stack together.
  2. Afraid your sandwich will get soggy?  Pack the bread in one container and the items in another as and use a small condiment container for your ketchup, mayo or mustard.
  3. Subs.  Hot and cold subs are so simple to prepare at home with what you have on hand when you plan ahead!
  4. Hot Dogs.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Hot dogs.  My kids would love it when we would have “Hot Dog” week.  I would grill up hot dogs ahead of time and each day they would get a different type.  Monday, Pizza dog; Tuesday, Chicago Style Dog; Wednesday, Taco Dog (Chili dog with taco seasoning) and so on.
  5. Do not fear the dinner left overs!   When I make casseroles, I will make enough to put aside for some lunches for myself.  Especially in the winter to have a nice hot lunch.
  6. Soup and Salad.  How often to you pay $12+ for soup and salad at a fast food place?  So inexpensive and easy to do at home and pack!  I will make a pot of soup during the week and set aside portions for my lunch (and even freeze some like chicken noodle).  Salads, easy peasey.  Toss in some mixed lettuce, tomato and cucumber and whatever else you like and use a condiment container to carry our dressing.
  7. Chicken nuggets.  Chicken nuggets are so easy to make at home.  Do not buy the frozen ones.  Pre-make a batch by taking chicken thighs and or breasts and cutting into bite sized cubes.  sprinkle with fine bread crumbs if you like and cook in a skillet.  They freeze up perfect and you have a much better nugget.
  8. Sweet Tooth.  There is nothing like a sweet treat in the middle of the day.  The best thing is to bake and portion out a cookie a day.  Make a healthy sweet treat, or better yet, add in some fresh in season fruit!  My children when they were young liked something called “dirt pudding” which was simply chocolate pudding with crushed a crumbled cookie on top and I would put in a gummy worm or a gummy flower in each little cup for them.
  9. Homemade Lunchables.  These things are expensive in the store.  Make your own.  Using small cookie cutters, cut shapes out of cheeses and meats and add to a decorative container.  Add in grapes, pretzel sticks and other finger foods as a side.  Avoid the bad preservative packed snacks!
  10. Pizza.  I’m not talking about left over take out.  If you don’t make your own pizza and save some for lunch, make mini pizzas by using biscuit dough (I make my own), and putting on toppings and bake.  You can store these for the week and even freeze them after baking for later.
  11. Burritos.  My husband is responsible for getting me to love burritos for breakfast and lunch.  The possibilities for fillings are endless.  My favorite is a breakfast burrito with chorizo, eggs, potatoes and green chilies.  I enjoy it for breakfast and lunch.
  12. Egg Bites.  These are great for breakfast and for lunch!  Here is how you make them.  Breakfast Egg Bites

Here is a hint.  If you see it “prepackaged” in the store with cute enticing packaging, you can make it at home cheaper, with less preservatives and much better for you!  Another thing to remember that buying individually wrapped is much more expensive then buying a larger size and parsing out on your own.   Apple slices are just as easy to slice yourself, and a boiled egg is just as easy to do yourself instead of buying it boiled, and honestly, probably safer.

With all the food health warnings coming out in regards to fast food chains, take the time and responsibility over your own food.  Buy in season, enjoy variety and enjoy the health and saving benefits!

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice

 

 

 

 

Planting Seeds

I bet you expected this to be about gardening, didn’t you?  Well, in a way it is.  We are growing a garden that will feed us for the rest of our lives if we are wise, or we are creating a barren plot that will cause us to fall.  I know, that isn’t a very positive way to start an article is it?  Truth be told, today’s world has us creating a barren plot.  How can we avoid falling into the trap of World View?

Think of pennies as seeds.  Every penny placed wisely grows, pennies cast to the side are lost.  I remember overhearing a conversation that pennies are useless in today’s society and should be “discarded”.  Now even a child knows that when you put a penny in a jar each day by the end of the year you have $3.65.  When you start finding pennies in the couch cushion, in the car, on the sidewalk, and you pick it up and add it to the jar, well, you just increased your income.  Seeds that grow into a crop.  One seed gives birth to a crop of fruit.

As with seeds and a garden, the soil must be primed, there is maintenance and care and daily pruning involved.  A seed will not grow on rock.

woman standing on pasture

How to prime your soil:

  1.  Budget.  I talk about this all the time.  A budget should be a living thing, not something you do once and shove in the drawer of a desk.  It is constantly changing, growing, shrinking.  Working with your budget weekly will allow you to see upcoming storms, droughts and be able to prepare accordingly.  During good times that your ‘crops’ are doing above expectation, work on saving and giving.
  2. Revisit your wants vs. needs.  Another subject I talk about all the time.  This is a subject that should have lots of communication around with your family, especially your spouse.  Exactly what do we need as a family?  What do we want?  Is our want justified?  Just a clue here, just because the neighbors are going on a one month cruise does not mean you have to do the same thing.
  3. Making your home work for you.  No, I am NOT talking about a refinance loan.  I’m talking about utilizing the spaces.  Instead of just flowers, plant herbs and vegetables.  This will help with your grocery bill and your health.  If you have land, put in a full garden and learn to preserve by canning, freezing and dehydrating.  Berries and fruit are also a great addition for visual as well as food.  Do you live where you can have poultry?  Chickens are a wonderful source of protein in both eggs and meat, but be prepared for lots of work.  Meat Rabbits are also a great way to supplement your meat intake.  You will need a to understand that meat rabbits are food, not pets.  With bringing on livestock you will need to look into your homeowner’s insurance, community rules, etc.
  4. Family Rules.   Seeds are best planted early.  With children its the same way.  Teach your children well in the areas of money and work.  Give them chores, teach them young to keep track of their earnings.  Encourage work at the proper ages and teach them responsibility of their earnings.  Every adult & young adult who is healthy and living under the roof need to have responsibilities both in work and finance.  Do not permit anyone to slide.  You are responsible for raising the next generation.  Here is also the difficult conversation section, do not be afraid to confront misuse of finances, even if it is with a spouse.  Do not attack, do not fight, find common ground and discuss to avoid the storm in the future.  Everyone is in this together.
  5. Find your leaks and areas of waste.  This is not only in the area of actually spending money, but in how you are spending time.  If you are “too busy” to cook at home, look at why?  Are you spending time in front of the television instead of meal prepping?  Have you overbooked your kid’s activities so much that no one has time to rest and focus on each other?  Time and Money both are things that we can control how they are used.
  6. Invest.  I’m not talking necessarily about the stock market.  I’m talking about investing in your home, future and self.  Use your money and time wisely to build not to break down.  Instead of spending thousands of dollars on a cable bill, cut the cord, and spend the time outside with your family building and doing instead of spending time in front of the television or all on different devices in different rooms.  Spend pennies on preparing a garden and watch your grocery bill go down.  Take the money you normally would spend on a daily coffee shop coffee and put it in a penny jar, you’ll be surprised how much money you have at the end of the month.  But don’t go out and reward yourself with it, pay off some bills instead, put it back into the crop to grow more.
  7. Pay off and get rid of the plastic.  I talk about this one often as well.  In today’s world, yes unfortunately, we do need a credit line.  But watch how you utilize it.  Ask yourself, do I really need <item, service> right now?  Can I save for it?  How much will this cost me in interest?  Can I buy it used for less and still save money on maintenance of this item/service?  Can I make it myself?  If you do run up a card.  Pay off your smallest debt first, then take the money you would be spending on it and add it to the next in the list of debt, doubling that payment amount, leaving the larger ones at their minimum payment until you move up the ladder.  This is called the Snowball effect, Dave Ramsey teaches this.  I am a huge follower of his and his Financial Peace University.  I love his budget tool at everydollar.com .
  8. Keep a small amount of cash on you at all times.  I will keep $5.00 on me in cash and if I am out and about and need something like water, I can use the cash and not a card, it also makes me more aware of how I’m spending things.  Keep track of your cash use as well.
  9. Utilities and Insurance.    It is wise to review your utilities and insurance at least quarterly or after a big life change.  I know you are thinking why utilities.  Here is the thing, if your electric bill jumped spiked the previous month/quarter you should ask yourself why.  Was it an overly hot or cold month?  If it was, do you really need the air conditioner set cold enough to support penguins?  Do you need the heater going like a dragon on overload.  There is a difference between comfort and access.  learn to acclimate a little better with alternative methods.  Dress appropriately for the weather inside and outside.  Adjust the thermostat when you will not be at home.  It’s all about adjusting behaviors and expectations.  Your insurance should be looked at periodically to make sure you are being covered for what you really need to be covered for.  There is no reason to be insurance poor.  You can also save up in an emergency fund to offset costs here as well.

I will continue to discuss these items throughout the blog.  I hope you enjoy them and that they help you think of ways to be more efficient and cost sensitive in your life so that you can grow a most productive crop.

“She goes to inspect a field and buys it with her earnings she plants a vineyard.  She is energetic and strong, a hard worker.”  Proverbs 31: 16-17

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice

A Tough Conversation

Money.  When you hear that word, what do you think of?  Does it make you worry, depressed, happy, longing, dreaming?  In this world no matter what, we need money to survive.  No matter how self-sufficient you are, you still need money.  The trick is to manage what you have wisely and not get caught up in the world and the tricks that are played to separate you from your hard earned wages.

There are more arguments in a relationship about money than any other subject.  It causes strife and worry.  But it doesn’t have to.  It all depends on how you view it.  Money is a tool, it is not your life and its not meant to be that.  We work to earn money to live, we don’t live for work.  Many times our priorities get shifted to the world’s view and we become trapped in that more, bigger, better trap.  The ease of credit, the thoughtless buying or lack of planning, these all lead to leaks in our financial, and eventually our mental well-being, and even sometimes the end to wonderful relationships.

Tips to simple rules of being healthy frugal:

  1.  Understand your wants from your needs.   This is a big one.  TV, internet, friends, the world in general preaches that our wants are our rewards and pushing our wants to become what we think are our needs.   You need shelter, food and water, clothing (basic) and previsions, and of those, you don’t need the biggest and the best.  All of the other points will follow this mentality, if you know a need from a want that is your biggest hurdle.
  2. Eat at home and make your drinks/coffee/tea at home.  I am still amazed at how many of my friends will spend $3-$5 on a cup of coffee.   Make it at home and buy a nice carry mug.  We buy a dark roast coffee at a local bulk store that is better than any coffee shop grind.  Also, when you eat at home and pack your meals for work you know exactly what is going into your body.  Keep it natural, not only will your wallet thank you, so will your waistline.
  3. Buy second hand clothes.  While there are items that should never be bought second hand (underwear, hair items, personal stuff) most all of your clothes can be bought second hand and be in style.  If you do need something ‘new’ then utilize your discount and outlet stores.  I enjoy an online store called ThredUp  they will even pay for your gently used clothes you no longer want.
  4. Garage Sales, Thrift Stores, Friends/Family.  Consider it a treasure hunt for something you really need.  By utilizing the mentality of looking for a needed item, it will also give you the time to really think about if you really need it.  Keep a list.  We do a lot of canning especially when our garden is coming on, in the store canning jars are high priced, but you would be surprised how many you can find in good condition in garage sales and thrift stores, and even better yet when someone is cleaning out their basement and finds a box of them!
  5. Grow your own food!  This may seem extreme to many, but to be honest, its not that hard, and you will watch your grocery bill shrink, especially if you preserve by canning, drying and/or freezing what is in season.  Even if it is only greens, tomatoes and cucumbers you will quickly notice a difference in taste, quality and your grocery bill.  For those who can house AND TAKE CARE OF chickens, this is a great source of eggs and meat as well.
  6. Stop relying on credit cards.  This is a hard one, especially in today’s society.  Unfortunately, we all need at least one, especially to travel.  Choose wisely and use wisely.  Do not use it as a “just put it on the card” excuse.  We all fall into that moment of over using a credit line and then feel the pain later.  Learn from your mistakes, pay it off, close what you can, move on with your life.
  7. Home.  A home falls under the need topic but it does not mean you have to move into the Wayne Mansion.  You don’t need to have the biggest and the best.  Keep in mind your purpose.  Do you want minimal maintenance (every home will have maintenance).  Do you really want to own a home?  There is nothing wrong with renting until you reach a point in your life that is right to own a home.  Just don’t pay ridiculous rent for nothing.  What purpose is the home to have?  Do you have children?  Will you have children?  Do you want a homestead to be more self-sufficient?  Does the location really suit you?  What kind of taxes are you looking at?  So much can become overwhelming quick, and if you are building, keep in mind that you do not need to get the top of the line of everything in that home at the time you build.
  8. Budget, budget, budget!    I know, its boring and stressful and makes you accountable.  Don’t just set the budget and ‘fudge the numbers’, actually add what you are spending to each item so you can see it.  I like Dave Ramsey’s Every Dollar program (everydollar.com).  Trust me, it will help you become more aware of where your money is going.
  9. Save your money for a rainy day.  The storms will come.  It is not a matter of if but when.  Your car WILL break down.  There WILL be medical needs and emergencies.  There WILL be accidents.  There will be times when money is tight.  Just because you get that big bonus, don’t go hog wild, feed the piggy bank instead.
  10. Fix the leaks.  What is a leak?  This is where your money invisibly disappears.  Interest rates on credit cards and loans are a horrible leak and you need to get those stopped immediately.  Other leaks can be not looking at your car or home insurance often to tweak as life changes.  It could be that daily stop at the coffee shop or bar, or the quick meal on the run through a drive through.  What about online subscriptions or cable that you rarely if ever use?  A leak can seem like nothing but if you start recording those leaks you can see how quickly they add up.
  11. Work.  If your income isn’t cutting it then its time to roll up your sleeves and put more into it.  Everyone who adult age and healthy must be pulling their weight.  Children who are not adults and living at home can help with chores and they too can have certain responsibilities so they can learn the value of a dollar as well.  If you realize you are over your head in debt or a situation arises for the need, then look into ways that can help your financial situation.  Do you have a hobby that can add some added income, cleaning, cooking, a craft.  You will need to look at local licensing to sell out of the home and many times into your homeowner’s insurance.  Now, here is the hard part, don’t spend the extra because now you have an extra income.  PAY OFF THAT DEBT so you can get back to enjoying life more.

These are only a few of the basics of becoming money wise and I hope they help calm your mind and help you on your way.

“The earnings of the godly enhance their lives, but evil people squander their money on sin.”  Proverbs 10:16 NLT

Until next time,

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice

 

Finding Time

More than often I get questions and comments from friends and colleagues such as: “How do you find time to do everything you do?” or my favorite “Do you ever sleep?”

My morning and evening devotions have found their way to focus on this subject here lately. As a result, I’ve felt the urge to write about it.

Finding time, makes it sound like time is this object that is fleeting and always out of our reach, but in fact, its right there, in our hands at all times.  Time isn’t fleeting, its the choices that we make to cause it to fly away or be used productively.  Time, as well as money, are two things that in reality we have a choice on how to use them.  We can use them wisely, or we can waste them.  A wise person, saves and uses wisely a fool wastes them on fleeting things.

There is also a very big difference in resting and being lazy.  Resting is a refueling, lazy is a waste of resources.  Resting comes as a result of hard work and productivity and finding calm.  Being lazy, is relying on others and outside sources to provide for us.  Do you remember the old story of the Ant and the Grasshopper?  The grasshopper mocked the ant for working so hard in the hot summer months, he insisted on singing, playing and being “lazy”.  The Ant worked diligently to fill its home with food so it could survive the harsh winter to come.  The story has a harsh lesson in the end.  The Grasshopper starved, the ant survived.

Here are some of the ways that allow me to focus on what is truly important, I hope they will help you on your journey.

  1. Wake up early and be consistent throughout the week. rooster
  2.  Morning is very important; how you start it will be the direction of your day.  Because of this, I will slowly wake up.  Laying in bed until my brain isn’t fuzzy anymore and then start moving to get ready.
  3. Make your bed.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Making your bed each morning gives you a sense of accomplishment from the very beginning.
  4. Daily Devotions and prayer.  I start my day with a simple devotion time and prayer to ask for guidance and wisdom in the upcoming day.  I also give thanks for having another day and for my husband.
  5. Keep your clothes simple.  Plan the night before what you will be wearing the next day and know what you have to wear.  In short, don’t have a department store in your closet or most of it in the laundry basket.
  6. For those of us who must work outside of the home as well as at home, remember this always.  We work to live, not live to work.  Your worth is not measured by your job and career.  I make sure that my job (as a programmer in the Tech World) has specific hours.  I work 40 to 50 (if uncontrolled deadlines are needed) a week.  When I am at work, I am at work.  I also allow myself a lunch break, which normally I write or take a walk during good weather.  Breaks are very important for keeping the mind clear.  I also spend the first 10 minutes of every morning, organizing my day with the tasks for that day and moving them along as need be, utilizing an Agile methodology.
  7. For both home and work I have outlined in a journal of what my goals are for the day, nothing lofty, just what needs to be done.  Keep It Short & Simple.
  8. I keep track of what I spend or earn.  This helps me with my budgeting and keeps at the front of my mind to not waste funds.
  9. At home, I keep a strict rule that home is for home and family.  This includes preparing the pantry for winter from our garden and supplementing with items from local farmers.  This is how I am able to can fruits and vegetables in season and bake homemade breads and rolls.
  10. I do not stay “tied” to my phone or computer.  I have found that keeping a written bullet journal handy to keep track of my to-do-lists, ‘shopping’ lists, moods, favorite scriptures and other things is better than being “plugged in”.  This way I’m not distracted to waste time on other “apps”.  I also have found that “helpful” apps are really not helpful at all, in fact they waste time more than anything as you grow to having an obligation to them.
  11. Shopping:  Okay this is a touchy subject.  I know that that the grocery apps are becoming a huge thing now days.  But convenience creates its own demons.  Plan your grocery needs, take the time to go and get only, what is on your list.  You will save money and be more prepared.   Keep a rule that if you don’t have an item in between runs, you will agree to go without, period.  If it is a necessity, say yogurt, make sure you have it on your list to pick up on the grocery run.  Keep your runs to once every other week, maybe longer if you can.  The time and money saved continues to grow. Also, non grocery shopping apps suck you into spending more money and time then what you really need, they speak to your impulse voice.  Its amazing how much you can spend in this way.  UNPLUG.
  12. TV is not a priority.  In fact, for us, it’s rarely on with the exception of some news and maybe an old TV show now and then, even then if my husband and I are enjoying the television, I’m knitting, crocheting or sewing while watching.  We have also cut the cable cord.  This saves us over $100 a month, another frugal tip.  Getting rid of TV will save you a ton of time and a ton of stress.
  13. Understanding your needs versus your wants.  Being plugged into the world tends to make it very confusing on exactly what a want and a need really is.  Especially when the new car, vacation, food, clothing, personal ads are constantly talking to you, even if you say you don’t pay attention to them, they become that little voice saying you need this, you need this to be popular, to be better, to be wanted.  Turn them off.  You don’t NEED any of it.  By not cluttering your life and not spending more and more money on things (wants) the stress will start to melt away.
  14. We eat at home with basic ingredients.  I have heard the argument that it takes too much time to fix good meals at home.  Hogwash!  The time and money you spend driving, waiting, eating and driving home, not to mention the health effects on your body, you could have had a much better meal and not spend half the money and the time.  If you have a tight work schedule, then meal-prep on the weekends.  Plan ahead for the week with a schedule.  This will also help you save money.  Oh, and make your morning coffee at home don’t hit the drive-through.  The money you spend on a good coffee maker and a travel mug, is pennies compared to the monthly cost of that daily/multiple coffee shop run.
  15. Enjoy the moment.  Instead of worrying about what you need to do tomorrow.  Schedule your week so you can sit back and enjoy the moment with the ones you love.  Now, when I say schedule your week, this DOES NOT MEAN DOWN TO THE SECOND!  Keep your load light, make room to enjoy life as life comes to you.  Do NOT over schedule.  Especially, if you have children.  Do not schedule an event every night.  Set limits for you and for them.  Take in a board game, enjoy conversation, a walk, and do chores together.
  16. This one goes with not over scheduling your time.  If you can’t give it at home, then don’t give it away somewhere else.  What does this mean?  If you are too busy to cook for your family, don’t volunteer to bake for the bake-sale.  If you don’t have enough money to buy your kid’s school supplies, don’t go out with friends to dinner and or a bar.
  17. Pack your lunch and prepare your breakfast the night before.  This way there is no rush and no temptation to hit the fast food place on the way to where you are going.
  18. Tidy up before bed.  Make sure the dishes are done, items are put away.  When you take care of things as they arise, the job is not near as daunting.
  19. Now here is the big one:  REST.  Yes, REST.  Take some time to unwind, read a calming book or an evening devotion.  UNPLUG, do not pick up that phone or tablet before bed, it stimulates the brain.
  20. Go to bed “early”.  We try to be in bed between 9 and 9:30 pm each night, this means we easily obtain 7-8 hours of good sleep before we start all over again.  A good night’s sleep is important for your body to refuel and repair.  It’s directly tied into your mood, weight, stress levels and energy.  Get some good rest.

I know this really sounds like a lot, but it all falls into place easily.  I’ll be writing more about bullet journals in the future, but keeping these are a wonderful way to stay organized.  It also helps me to remember what I did several days back.

Enjoy, and until next time.

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice

Bread Crumbs…

I don’t like wasting hard earned money on things I can make myself, especially on groceries.

I use breadcrumbs in many dishes, from meatloaf to chicken breading. Store bought is not only ridiculous in price it normally has additives.

I like using left over bread I’ve baked, but any stale (not molded) bread works fine.

I use my dehydrator to completely dry the bread after cutting it up into cubes. You can use an oven on the very lowest heat. You want to make sure there is absolutely no moisture left in any of the bread.

Next I toss the cubes into my ninja blender and pulse until the crumbs are the texture I prefer. You can also add in dried herbs or dehydrated onion, ramps and or garlic if you like for seasoning.

I keep one jar with an easy access Los for immediate use and other jars I will vac-seal to store in the pantry.

I hope you enjoyed this frugal tip for your kitchen.

Until next time,

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice

Preserving Wild Ramps

Wild Ramps, also referred to as Wild Leeks, are an amazing spring treat that grows in the wooded areas around the same time that morals (mushrooms) and Pheasant Back Mushrooms start to peek out.  April to the end of May these wonderful natural treats cover select patches of wooded areas.  They originally were gathered and enjoyed in the Appalachia Areas (that I know of).   Ramps taste like sweet garlic.  Some people say they taste like green onion, but to me they are more garlic.

This year my husband and I went foraging and were blessed with an abundance of Ramps and some Pheasant Back mushrooms.

Since I work in the city all week, I long for my evenings and weekends in the country.  I love coming home to simplicity, and it doesn’t get much more simple than this.  Enjoying the gifts strait from God.  The wonderful afternoon hike proved to be more than just good for my soul, but it provided a bountiful addition to our pantry.

We love both of these items fresh, but honestly their natural shelf life is not very long.  So what to do with all the wonderful goodies, without over eating or worse, wasting them?

My favorite recipe this year is Pickled Ramps.  A very good friend of mine from church sent me a link for a recipe she uses for her pickled radishes.  I’ve tweaked it a tad to include water bath canning time and preferred taste:

Recipe 1:  Spicy Pickled Ramps  (Makes 2 pints)

Preparation:  Clean your ramps.  Wash thoroughly, peel away the outer layer, cut off the roots and just below the leaves.  (Keep your leaves separated for the next recipe)

 

Once you have your ramps ready, pack them tightly in clean and sterilized Pint Canning jars.  I pack mine to where there is a layer bulb down and a layer bulb up so that they are nice and tight but not squished.

In EACH Pint Jar Add 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes and 1/2 teaspoon of whole mustard seed.

Set the jars two the side, while your water bath canner is heating up.

Off to the side on another stove burner in a Simmering Pot Add:

  • 3/4 cups of Apple Cider Vinegar (canning grade)
  • 3/4 cups of Water
  • 2 teaspoons of canning salt
  • 3 tablespoons of raw honey

Heat your liquid mixture, constantly stirring until it is boiling.  Make sure you don’t stop stirring so your honey doesn’t scorch.

Pour your liquid over your ramps in your jars until the ramps are covered (1/2 inch head space for the jar).

Wipe down your jar rims from any splash.

Place your lids on the jars and tightly (but not like Hercules tightly) put on your rims.

Place the jars one by one in your water bath canner.  Water should be one inch over your jars after all jars are loaded into your canner.

Once your canner comes to a boil, you will want it to remain boiling for 20 minutes.

At the sound of the timer, the end of twenty minutes, I turn off the heat to the canner and let it sit until the boil is gone.  Then using canning tongs I take my jars out and put them on a clean covered area where they can cool for the next 12 hours.  Each sealed jar will give you that wonderful “POP”.  Let cool for 12 hours and put away in the pantry.

These are best if you can wait 5 days before opening, however, we opened one jar 24 hours after it was canned, we couldn’t stand it any longer, and it was absolutely heavenly.

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Refrigerate after you break the seal.

Recipe #2: Dehydrated Ramps

Remember when I said, don’t throw away those leaves?  Well here is why, they make yummy soup & stew & Stock greens.  Using your dehydrator (or oven on the lowest temperature), spread your leaves out and dry, then crumble up.

For the bulbs, we slice thin and put in the dehydrator at 100 degrees for overnight (or until they crumble).  Dehydrated ramp bulbs are so yummy to just eat like chips if you like garlic, which we do.  They are also perfect for dried goods for your pantry to be used anywhere you would use leeks, garlic or green onion.

We have a Vac-u-Sealer with a lid attachment, so we put our dehydrated goods in a canning jar, then using the lid attachment vac-seal the jar.  This is a great way to store without crushing your dehydrated goods.  NOTE:  You must use a clean jar and a clean canning lid each time you seal the jar.  You can not reuse lids.20180508_200148742386972.jpg

We also cleaned, diced and stored our Pheasant Back mushrooms this way with the dehydrator and the vac-u-sealer with the lid attachment.  The centers will be used for stew and soup stock while the tender outer areas will be used for pretty much anything.

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I really hope you enjoy this recipe and ideas to use what you have and venture out into nature to enjoy the beauty and bounty provided there.

But remember this, don’t take more than YOU can use.  Don’t be greedy.  Use a netted bag when collecting mushrooms (that way the spores will fall to the ground and make more next year).  Leave plenty for the animals and nature.  Oh and if you don’t know for sure if something is not edible, don’t eat it.  😉

Until next time,

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice