All posts by c0ffeemom

Show Me The (Saved) Money!

Happy New Year!  Did you set “resolutions” or “intentions” for this year? Last year I committed to a money saving challenge.  I’m sure you’ve seen them – there are about a million different versions on Pinterest.  Some you are supposed to save a penny a day, some a dollar a day.  I was pretty successful last year, spending only saved money over the summer when I “stay-cationed” with my kiddos at our camper home.  I didn’t save as much as I had intended, though and I think it was because I didn’t follow any plan.  I mean, I “pinned” about a dozen different plans but I didn’t actually print one out and FOLLOW it.  As a result there were some weeks that I didn’t add money to my jar and I’ll be truthful, there were some weeks that I took money OUT of the jar to buy an unplanned pizza so that I didn’t have to cook! LOL

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I decided that 2017 would be different. Not only would I save money but my kids would save money too!  We already have several vacations planned for 2017 so I knew I wanted to do some sort of mega savings with the intent of “withdrawing” from that savings throughout the year when those vacations happen.  I also wanted to keep the weekly “deposit” amounts reasonable so that even on financially “tighter” months it would still be feasible for me to earn the extra money needed for my savings plan by adding a freelance assistant task or two or a holistic client. I ended up creating my own Savings-Challenge and a Mega-Savings-Challenge

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My kids are excited to follow the Kids-Savings-Challenge.  Honestly I think most of the fun is the competition between them to see who will actually save the most!   kids-savings-challenge

Whatever their motivation I am hoping that it will also serve to instill in them the practice of saving.  Myself – I’m going with the Mega Savings Challenge.  I’ve also started a second jar for myself to follow the Kids Savings Challenge as well.  (That way if I feel the need to raid a jar for that unplanned pizza dinner or emergency coffee run I won’t mess up my Mega Savings!)

Will you be doing any kind of savings challenge in 2017?  Comment below and let me know…and don’t forget to pop back in and share updates on your progress!

Worried about how you’re going to stick with a money saving challenge on those days/weeks when money seems so tight? Check back here on Thrifty Thursdays for ideas/tips for “finding” extra money!

As always…Be Well and Spread Kindness ❤

Kristina

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The Brain Is A Funny Thing

Remember when your children were little and you would look at them – for hours…and they would look at you and you both would smile?  You could just about see the love radiating between those two smiles! Flash forward 12 years and imagine that same moment…it’s one that I have been experiencing for the past week and a half with my daughter.  Sadly, it’s not such a lovey moment…she feels it’s pretty much torture! I mean, the upside is that I now have discovered the absolute best punishment for future offenses!

She was a good sport though, because for 3 days the only thing she could do was sit with me quietly and talk.  To a 12 year old that’s definitely a form of torture!   I don’t think she’s ever been so happy as when she was able to spend time reading, watching tv…even if it was only for 15 minutes at a time!  See, my Lovebug (guess that since she’s 12 I should probably come up with another nickname for her shouldn’t I?  Let’s go with just L) got a concussion.

I’ve learned several things from this experience.  First and foremost I’ve learned that the brain is a funny thing.  The amount of force needed result in a concussion can vary almost as much as the time needed to recover from a concussion.  We are working on Day 12 and L is still is exhibiting symptoms!  Still, we are thankful because we know people who had concussions and it took months for recovery!  Symptoms can vary greatly from person to person.  This infographic from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia illustrates it pretty simply.  L is still experiencing headaches, sensitivity to light & sound and excessive tiredness.

Secondly, I’ve learned that my daughter’s teachers are some of the most kind and compassionate people. They have really supported and been accommodating of L’s limitations and restrictions so that her high honor roll grades aren’t affected by this.  It’s a shame, then, that this injury is a result of improper seating on a school bus.  I’ve spent HOURS talking with someone on the school board, reviewing applicable laws and I still am not sure what I want to do with it all or if I want to do anything.

The fact of the matter is that concussions stink.  That is all.

 

And Now We Will See…

How are you doing this morning? I know it’s been a while since my last post. Believe me – there are about a dozen drafts that I’ve written over the past couple months but none seemed right for sharing. I’m working on being more consistent here but I wonder sometimes!  But this morning…after month’s of deliberate public silence regarding the election I feel compelled to write.

For the past year my son has had anxiety and nightmares about the possibility of Donald Trump becoming President because of the hateful words and intentions that were being broadcast. I repeatedly assured him over these months that we had to have faith that people would recognize that someone who was willing to shout such hate towards other human beings, such disrespect towards women, such flippantly ignorant comments about bombs and war would not be chosen as the figure head of our country. This morning I had to tell both him and my daughter that I was wrong – that Donald Trump would indeed be our next President. I had to see the look of shock and anger on my daughter’s face because she is old enough to know and has heard the things that were said about girls/women/minorities/special needs/disabled people by Mr. Trump. I had to see the look of fear and sadness on my son’s face. It breaks my heart. What do you say to help them feel secure when someone that will be in such a powerful position not only was applauded but rewarded for such behavior?!? Well..in our house we teach respect, kindness and love. We talked about the importance of respecting others, spreading love and kindness, speaking up when someone is being treated unfairly. We talked about treating others with respect, particularly we talked about the importance of boys/men treating girls/women with respect and not accepting anything less. My daughter and I talked about the capabilities of girls/women and how it is important to lift each other, support each other because there are still so many who believe that women shouldn’t have basic equalities/choices/opportunities and many people still who do not see anything wrong and/or excuse sexist offensive actions towards women.We talked about making small differences every day by the choices that they make. We talked about the hope that our government checks and balances will make sure that this one mean, ignorant, hateful man can not do widespread harm. We talked about continuing each day to be compassionate and kind to others, be respectful even when you don’t agree, always speak out about bullies and injustices. Now we will see…it’s a little terrifying to be honest. We will keep spreading love and kindness here and hope that others will do the same.

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Ice Cream Challenge: Lapp Family Farm

Travelling to Lapp Family Farm was an adventure!  It isn’t that far from us and should have taken only about 42 minutes, but the GPS caused it be more like an hour.  A is away at “sleep away camp” with his Grammy & Pop so L’s good friend K came along for the ride…and she is super excited about it!

Lapp Family Farm is located in New Holland, PA.  It is a family run farm with an on-site store selling ice cream, milk, butter and eggs. 

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There were a variety of flavors to choose from:  chocolate, coffee, mint chocolate chip, cookie dough, peanut butter, cookies & cream, but the appealing thing was the homemade waffle cones.  They smelled AMAZING!  L chose cookie dough, her friend chose chocolate marshmallow and  I was able to convince them to give me 1/2 scoop of peanut butter swirl and 1/2 scoop of cookies & cream.  L chose the waffle cup but K stuck with the tried and true cake cone.  We all were surprised at how CREAMY the ice cream was! 

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We enjoyed eating our ice cream on the large outside porch at Lapp’s.  While we were eating we were surprised to hear….a peacock in the tree across the driveway!

After we finished our ice cream we were able to tour the farm a bit and check out some of the cows whose milk helped to make the ice cream!  If we were there at milking time we would have been able to watch the process in the milking building but we weren’t…so we didn’t!  We did, however, get to see quite a few cows!

 

L’s Review:  “It’s so creamy! Look at all the cookie dough chunks Mom!” Scale of 1-5*: 5

K’s Review (L’s friend):“This is really good!” Scale of 1-5*: 5

3rd Review: The ice cream was unbelievably smooth and creamy!  The cookies and cream seemed like a very subtle chocolate sweet cream with cookie crumbles.  It was delicious although different from any other cookies & cream I’ve had before. The peanut butter in the peanut butter swirl was so delicious.  You could tell it was real peanut butter and not a peanut butter “spread.” The base was more like sweet cream as opposed to the vanilla base that I’m used to but the “real” peanut butter balanced out the sweetness perfectly!  Overall the ice cream was super creamy but the flavor I found to be very subtle. Scale of 1-5*: 4

Ways we think it could be better:  Stronger mix in flavors.

OVERALL RATING*:  4.7       (Our ice cream rating scale is at the end of this post!)

As we were leaving we noticed that Lapp Family Farms has a drive through!  As we passed there was a woman loading gallons of milk, dozens of eggs and a few cartons of ice cream into a cooler in the back of her minivan!  Excellent idea!  We definitely would recommend making the trip to Lapp Family Farm to sample the super creamy ice cream and see all of the cute cows…you might even see (or hear) a peacock!  If you go, pop back here and let us know what you thought! Would it make YOUR top 10 best ice creams in PA?

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*Our Ice Cream Rating Scale

  1. Awful…do not want
  2. Blah…only make the trip if you’re a super fan of the flavor or think the establishment theme is worth the trip
  3. Ehh…just ok could take it or leave it.
  4. Above Average…excellent flavor.  We think you should try it!
  5. Amazing!  You MUST try this ice cream…NOW!!!!

Great Day for Ice Cream

Every year I ask my bugs to make a summer bucket list.  They’ve done this the past 3 or 4 years.  Past lists have included things like:  pick strawberries, go bowling, make ice cream sundaes, go to skyzone, eat at five guys, have family game night, go to the movies, etc.  There have been very few items (if any) that we haven’t been able to cross off the list by end of the summer.  This year, however, I was facing some  resistance to making the list 😦  So this year I decided that we would do something a little different.  This year we would visit (and taste test) The Top 10 Ice Cream Parlors in PA, eat at The Top 10 Burger Joints in PA and hike The Top 10 Trails under 5 miles in PA.  I shared my idea with the kids and they weren’t quite sure about it… we have 13 weeks of summer so if we are going to do it all we will need to check off 1 from each list each week or so.  We are at the end of week #1 already!

Today we are able to check off the first on our list of 10 Best Ice Cream Parlors in PA:  The Udder Choice in Ephrata, PA.  We put our list together using several lists we found online.  We originally found the list on http://www.onlyinyourstate.com but some of the ice cream parlors listed were either closed or too far so we compiled our own list from there and a more local “best of” list.

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The Udder Choice, Ephrata PA

The Udder Choice is located on Rt 322 in Ephrata, PA.  They have a restaurant with a variety of sandwiches and salads too although Bug #2 was extremely disappointed that there were no burgers on the menu!  There were about 10 soups of the day with Parmesan Kale being one of them which sounded delicious to me!  Since we hadn’t really eaten much for breakfast we did order some lunch. Bug #1 approved of the grilled cheese sandwich and Bug #2 thought the chef salad he ordered was “the best salad ever!”

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But the real reason we were there was the ice cream!  We even told our server how we were going around PA to the best ice cream parlors and The Udder Choice was our first! He thought it was a pretty cool idea and when we paid for our food afterwards, another staff person said that he told her about our plan and that the two of them were going to do the same! (If either of you are reading this – leave us a note!) Anyway back to the ice cream!

The flavors change and if you want to sample any you can go up to the counter and ask to try out a flavor or two! I think the Bugs would have sampled EVERY flavor so since they were pretty “normal” flavors I told them no samples. So here’s what we selected:

Bug #1 Review:  “I think this might be the best coffee ice cream!”  Scale of 1-5*: 5

Bug #2 Review:  “This is the best mint flavor ever! You can taste that it is real mint and not the artificial flavor!”  Scale of 1-5*:  5

#3 Review: “The ice cream is super creamy!  It was a nice chocolate flavor but I would have liked more peanut butter.”  Scale of 1-5*: 4

Ways we think it could be better:  The ice cream was super soft, almost melting a little when we got it.  We thought if the ice cream was a little colder it would have been even better!

OVERALL RATING*:  4.7       (Our ice cream rating scale is at the end of this post!)

We really liked how creamy the ice cream was and how the flavors tasted REAL not artificial! There was a large selection of flavors like Oreo, s’mores, vanilla & chocolate (of course!), peanut butter and others!  We think you’d love the ice cream…if you go tell them you read about our ice cream review!

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*Our Ice Cream Rating Scale

  1. Awful…do not want
  2. Blah…only make the trip if you’re a super fan of the flavor or think the establishment theme is worth the trip
  3. Ehh…just ok could take it or leave it.
  4. Above Average…excellent flavor.  We think you should try it!
  5. Amazing!  You MUST try this ice cream…NOW!!!!

Summer Fun Has Begun!

First week of Summer Vacation 2016!  We have BIG plans this summer and we don’t plan on wasting any time! We are starting our summer vacation with a Kids Cooking Camp hosted at our house.  I’ve been hosting Kids Cooking Camps for the past several years and my kiddos look forward to it every year!

This year we started with a Cooking Competition theme.  Day #1 Kid Cook Campers had fun sabotaging the other teams!  Sabotages included:  no talking to partners during cooking time, wearing winter gloves, spinning and squatting before any cooking action!

Cutthroat Kid Cook Campers used a variety of ingredient to make trail mix.  Later in the week they created commercials for their trail mix too!

Their lunch cutthroat challenge was to make foil packet meals.  They worked together in teams to prepare:  Cheesy Potato Fries, Taco Nachos, Shrimp Fajitas and Lemon Chicken!

Day #2 was filled with commercial making (and filming!) and some Chopped Cooking! Kid Cooks were placed in teams (Blue and Orange) for the day.  For the Snack Round the Blue Team made smoothies and the Orange Team made parfaits.  Their secret ingredients were: yogurt, sunflower seeds and banana!

For the lunch round the Blue Team was given alfredo sauce and broccoli and the Orange Team was given pesto and olives.  Both teams created pizzas using their secret ingredients plus pantry ingredients.  They really did a great job and enjoyed eating their creations!

Days #3 and #4 continued the fun with more Chopped and FoodFu competitions. Spaghetti, homemade sauce, garlic bread and more! Delicious and fun!

 

 

 

 

YES the Pool Is Open!!!

The Bugs probably started asking when the pool would be open in January.  You know when it was cold enough for snow but there was no snow?  But the sun is shining?  Those are the days my bugs think the pool should be open!  If only I had a quarter for every time they asked when it would be open…

Fast forward to Memorial Day weekend…we were having a heat wave here in PA.  It was HOT HOT HOT! Close to 100*!  Luckily the pool was open!  Even luckier for my quirky anxiety filled mind it’s our own private pool – because if you’ve read any of the recent articles exposing bacteria and gross*ness (technical term my friends) in public pools you know the benefit of a private pool (thanks Dad!)

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The Bugs were so HAPPY! They swam their required laps, practiced diving…and their G had fun scaring them with the new pool addition.

Do you see it? Bug #2 was slightly startled…Bug #1 fell for it 100% with screams and all!  Hysterical!

We still have some time before our Summer Vacation really starts but the first pool day is like a sneak peek! Our pool days are filled with swimming, games (water lacrosse, water basketball, monkey in the middles) diving board tricks and more!  They are also filled with picnic lunches, snacks and chasing after the ice cream man!

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Do you spend a lot of time at the pool during the summer?  What do YOUR pool days look like? I’d love for you to share by commenting below!