When I became a work at home mama, I had this image of everything happy and peaceful. The thought never arose of becoming a victim of everything needing to be perfect in my home, the ocd ness of clean floors, laundry done, dishes put away…AT ALL TIMES. I had become so materialistic. If only I had this head-board, this tile, this picture frame….It kind of made me become a little sick to my stomach. I am not this person. In 2018 I wanted experience, memories, life to have a spark of excitement again with my family. These are the things that matter not the materialistic things of life. I started a jar….(yes going back to piggy bank style) of savings for nothing other than adventure, vacations, and memories.

Knowing I am not the only mama that may struggle with this I wanted to create a list of free or in expensive adventures to do with your family in the area (and some adventures you can create any where!)

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  1. Take a hike….Literally. We live in one of the most beautiful places in the country (in my opinion.) Nature is our backyard. Many people are not blessed with this opportunity. An app I recently learned about is AllTrails. This app tells you trails around you, directions, and has over 50,000 trails to explore.
  2. Gaze at the stars…In majority of the cities in our country you truly can not see the stars. Right here in Cool we have a camp ground you can set up your tent for free and star gaze with your littles.
  3. Rockin Jump and REI…. For active little ones (such as mine) sometimes you need a good old fashion energy burner. Rockin jump has trampolines, rock walls, stunt areas, and dodge ball for $15. REI runs activities every weekend such as rock climbing, bike riding, etc for free or next to it. Just hop on their website and view upcoming events that are kid friendly.
  4. California State Railroad Museum… Amazing experience for littles. Three stories of history and exciting education. Best to go on a week day though when you have the place to yourself!
  5. Coloma Gold Panning – $10 per kid and you get to Gold Pan for an hour, the littles get to have a vile with their pyrite and gold they take home. (This is one of our family favorites) we also get to parooze this quaint little town after the event which is about a mile walk of history including live blacksmith action, etc.
  6. Sacramento Zoo – Fairy Tale Town – Folsom Zoo… All are so exciting for kids! Folsom zoo is small but nice because they are never overwhelmingly crowded and have the cutest train ride which the littles really get a kick out of. The Sacramento Zoo has a nice park you can picnic at after the Zoo Experience and feed the ducks! Fairy tale land is fun for 3 and under!
  7. Aquarium of the bay – Super amazing experience. The underwater tunnel is pretty amazing and they have several stories to adventure up of different themes along the way! We were shocked that all 4 of us were able to go for under $50.IMG_2519
  8. Lay in a hammock and get lost in a good book. There is something special about a good old fashion story….Remember sometimes a staycation is the best vacation. Get creative.
  9. Folsom Lake is a great and safe swimming area to go on a hot summer days with the littles. Thow a frisbee, toss a football, have some snacks. Spend the day getting sand in your toes.
  10. PowerHouse Science Center…My son is OBSESSED with anything science so this is on our go to list! Its $60 for a membership of 2 adults and 3 children. They do hands on science projects, experiments, robot races! (Basically the ultimate science kids dream.)
  11. McKinley Park is loaded with gorgeous rose gardens for miles. This is also located in walking distance of the Capitol and a fun little history walk for free with the kids in a blocked off area!
  12. Sacramento children’s Museum… 2701 Prospect Dr. Rancho Cordova…. www.sackids.org This is another science exploration one! They currently offer science Sundays, Sound Explorers, and library days for the toddlers!
  13. Greenwood Splash Pad Park… Our family loves this little gem during summer! They have a splash pad, park, and adorable creek and tunnel for kiddos to adventure in during the heat! IMG_3397
  14. Lake Tahoe Parasailing… This is one of my best memories thus far! So fun and beautiful! This cost $100 and we were out on Tahoe Parasailing for well over an hour! A little more expensive but worth the experience for sure! IMG_3712
  15. Make a scavenger hunt…IN YOUR BACK YARD. Get creative… give your child a compass and map and lead them to bugs, fake gold, fun letters, special key notes, you get the point! We did this last year and the boys were entertained for hours trying to achieve the treasure!
  16. Make some slime!!!! It’s the rage!!!! This is a solid two hours of free entertainment with a little investment in Elmers glue… (Helpful tip) DONT BUY IN STORES! They have jacked up the prices so high on glue with the slime rage! Go on Amazon and you can get a gallon for $10.IMG_4417
  17. Lake Lahontan…Locals call this the “mud hole” as the water is well…a little less than clear. BEST MEMORIES EVER! This is a camping site you can go and truly escape reality for a few days.
  18. Sequoia National Park..The trees are to die for and truly magical. This is open year round with nature walks, in park lodging and amazing views.
  19. Winchester Mystery House… Groupon currently offers a discount for $30 per ticket of this eccentric mansion which is also “haunted” yet kid friendly adventure.
  20. Berry Haven…My littles absolutely LOVE THIS. We go on a berry picking adventure for organic fruits and veggies that the kids get a solid labor of love experience. IMG_5073Adventure and experience life. Make memories and remember to ENJOY THE LITTLE THINGS because as corny as it sounds….they really are the BIG THINGS.

Hoppin Johns New Years Dish

Hoppin Johns has been a fun family tradition we started the year my daughter was born! Its considered a “lucky” dish, and I thought what fun to look into a little history behind the Hoppin Johns Recipe. (I have also worked years on perfecting this recipe, and this year my friends…. I hit the jack pot with simplicity and patience!)

The History

The first recipes for Hoppin’ John appear in cookbooks that date back to the 1840s, although the mixture of dried black eyed peas, rice and pork was made by Southern slaves long before then. It seems to have originated in South Carolina. Rice grew well in the deltas, but the white farmers had no real experience with cultivating rice on a large scale. However the slave trade and enslaved Africans who had grown rice for generations.

Any type of dried peas can be used for Hoppin’ Johns, the black-eyed pea is the most traditional. This pea happens to have been domesticated in West Africa, which led to the belief that slaves took the peas with them to the United States, planted them in their new surroundings and created a dish that would remind them of their lost homes.

 The origins of the name “Hoppin’ John” are slightly less clear. Some say an old, hobbled man called Hoppin’ John became known for selling peas and rice on the streets of Charleston. Others say slave children hopped around the table in eager anticipation of the dish. Most food historians think the name derives from a French term for dried peas, “pois pigeons.”

It’s also uncertain why the dish became associated with New Year’s and good luck. The most likely story is that slaves would often have the period between Christmas and New Year’s off, since no crops were growing at that time. Hoppin’ John was, and still is, often eaten with collard greens, which can resemble paper money, and “golden” cornbread. The peas themselves represent coins. Some families boost the potential of their Hoppin’ John by placing a penny underneath the dishes—or adding extra pork, which is thought to bring more luck. – The History Channel

Best Recipe…Like Ever.

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  • What you need….
  • Ham Hock
  • Black Eyed Peas (3 Cans) or 1 bag of dried (you must soak 24 hours prior to cooking.)
  • Stalk of Celery
  • 1 box Chicken Broth
  • Bay Leaves
  • Oregano
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Rice (I use 5 minute rice for the pure conveinence of it.)

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Lets get to cooking

Cut up hamhock into square 1/2 inch pieces.

Cut Celery Stalk into thin slices.

Take about 4 bay leaves out.

Throw into pot the following ingredients….Cut up celery, ham hock, bay leaves, oregana, Chicken broth and salt and pepper to taste. Let simmer until bay leaves become aromatic.

Next Throw in Black Eyed Peas.

Let Simmer for about 30 minutes.

Start your rice.

Once the rice is done scoop the Hoppin Johns on to the rice and add salt and pepper to taste!

BON APETIT’

 

Chicken, Bacon, Cream Cheese? YASSS!

With these three ingredients you truly can not go wrong? Am I right?! Ok this one lets just dive right in, because its mouth-watering! My kids even loved it! That is a huge 5 star for me right there!

What you need….

  • Cream Cheese
  • 1 Cup of Chicken Broth
  • 4 Chicken Breast
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste
  • Turkey Bacon (1 Pack)
  • Egg Plant Noodles or Rice *Pick  your favorite*

Lets get cooking……

Heat your crock pot to high if your inpatient like me… Put in the chicken breast and in a separate bowl put 1 cup of chicken broth and 1 full cube of cream cheese. Pop it in the microwave for 2 minutes and whip together. Add salt and pepper. Lay over the chicken in crock pot.

Let sit for about 3 hours or until chicken is white in the center.

While this is cooking, at about hour 2 1/2 put bacon in over on 400 for about 15-20 minutes or until nice and crispy.

When the Bacon is a Baking (see how I did that!) hehe. Start the noodles….or rice…which ever you want. Cook as instructed.

To serve.

Place noodles or rice first on plate. 

Top with smothered Chicken.

Top with Bacon and Sour Cream.

Bon appetite! 

By the way this takes about 20 minutes of effort.

How to Prepare for an Appraisal

As promised my friends….The ultimate guide to prepare for an appraiser. We decided to go conventional after months of debating it and going back and forth. We decided we no longer wanted to pay $200 a month to an FHA PMI Insurance and took the leap!

After completing a ton of “google” research and reaching out to everyone I knew who had been through the appraisal process before, I received so many different things of feed back in which none added up… I heard everything from make sure your windows are spotless to that you need new linen on all of your beds. (None of this is accurate.)

First and foremost….COMPS. What the comparable pricing is where you live is one of the most crucial points of an appraisal. I also learned the house does not need to look anything like yours. They go off of square footish, how many beds, how many baths, etc. when doing their compariables.

Second. PROJECTS…If there not finished. Finished them. My husband and I did a whirlwind home remodel in 8 days! Whew…My hands are still sore. The one thing I have learned through this experience is there is nothing…and I mean nothing. A fresh coat of white paint can’t fix. (Quickly)

Floors. Are huge and add value to your home, make sure they are cleaned and ready for inspection upon your appraisers arrival. You want the overall condition of your home to be “Sellable” and well cared for. This needs to be clearly apparant to your seller.

This one through me off and I only did it by pure chance of rushing before our appraisal arrived and forgetting to turn the lights off. THEY WANT THE LIGHTS ON IN EVERY ROOM. They cant take clear pictures of your home unless this is done. The appraiser not only thanked us for having the lights on, but also noted it in our appraisal.

When our appraisal came in I paid attention to key notes and things they look for. Also I asked him EXACTLY what they look for while he was here. My response received was “The overall well being and condition of home, that its liveable and taken care of. Any upgrades, remodels all add value.”

  • Lights on in every room of your home.
  • Any unfinished projects are finished.
  • No wood showing through on baseboards.
  • Fresh Paint.
  • Curb Appeal.
  • Comps.
  • Clean & Inviting.
  • All alarms, fire, etc. are working and hooked up correctly.

Hope this helps a person or two! 

 

Halloween Treat – Buttered Beer

Its Halloween and a Magical Time for fun little recipes to make with the kids! My husband had a whim last week to make this Buttered Beer Recipe from Harry Potter and it was to good to not share.

  • What you need :
  • 1 quart of Apple Pie Ice Cream
  • 1/4 Cup of Caramel Butter Scotch Syrup
  • 32 oz. Cream Soda
  • 2 tbs. Butter
  • Whipped Cream

Place glasses in freezer for about 2 hours before creating.

Mix Soda and Ice Cream together in a blender.

Divide between the frosted glasses.

Blend Syrup, Butter and Whip Cream and Poor Blended Mix on top of the drink.

Throw on your favorite Harry Potter and Enjoy the Magic!

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Shipping

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Over the years I have read several how to articles learning the ins and outs of what works for different businesses and hand-made companies. I kept seeing a shipping station repeatedly in blogs and articles and thought it was something worth investigating a little deeper. When the Holiday Season hits for most makers it’s as if you are struggling to stay above water, especially for a one man show.

An ultimate goal of every maker is to stay organized, have fun, and love what you do. I created a shipping station OUTSIDE of my office in the garage so it was out of sight and out of mind when I was creating. When I finish an item I simply place it on the table and at the end of the day I go out and package everything up. Packaging is a job within it self (if you’re doing it properly.) It’s crucial to have something visually stimulating and exciting for your customer to open up. Often times I will go with seasons and add little trinkets, ribbons, shred, etc. This is also a branding trick and customers are more likely to remember all the extra effort you put into their order. You took the time to make it special. That is why the shipping station is so crucial it gives you time to focus on one thing….SHIPPING….

It’s a known fact most creative people are “squirrelly” type personalities, so having focus, direction, and guidance is crucial. I wish I would have started this years ago, so here I am screaming it from the ROOF TOPS – create a damn shipping station! Have all your bubble wrap, ribbons, boxes, tape, and goodies to add in all in ONE SPOT! (Also toddlers can’t steal your trinkets this way! hehe)

Now let’s get to shipping!!!!

No really…

Go Now….5.4.3.2.1.

Tuna Noodle Casserole

Store run: 

  • Stalk of Celery
  • 3 tbs butter
  • 1/3 cup of Olive Oil
  • 1/2 onion thinly chopped
  • 1 pound of wide egg noodles
  • 5  cups milk
  • 1 can of drained artichoke hearts
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan

Lets get cooking ladies and gents……

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Start boiling water in a large pot and add noodles for about 2 minutes or until al dente, drain the noodles and return to the same pot.

In a separate pan heat oil in a heavy pan on medium heat. Add onions and 3 stalks of chopped celery with salt and pepper. Cook for 4-6 minutes than add in flour stirring for about a minute. Add milk until a smooth texture and let simmer for one minute.

Add mixture and noodles together. Add in tuna, artichoke hearts, and salt and pepper. Mix it up well. Place in baking dish and sprinkle over the top with parmesan! (I also added mozzarella for some extra zing!)

Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown and bubbling on top!

Enjoy~