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Monday, August 31

For Whom the Bell Tolls (Metallica)

When we visited Pennsylvania last year, we didn't make it out to Philadelphia, so it was high on our to-do list for this trip!  With one afternoon to spend, we hit Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and the US Mint before heading back to home base.  But what a fun-filled day!

Resources used for this trip :
It’s free to see the Liberty Bell, and you don’t need tickets – just show up and get in line!  Tickets to tour Independence Hall are required but are also free, and for $1.50you can reserve them in advance online.  It was worth it to us to not drive all the way there and get turned away.  As a side note, parking is available in an underground garage that opens directly into the Independence Visitor Center in the historic area, and I highly recommend it. It’s worth the cost to be central to all the historic sites!

If you have the time, the Franklin's Footsteps Walking Tour looked like a good one! But you'll want to budget the better part of a day for that.  In two and a half hours, we toured the US Mint, grabbed a city slice (even my pre-teen couldn't finish the big thing!), and headed for Independence Hall.

The tour of Independence Hall is short, but informative.  And how inspiring to be standing where the founding fathers set our country into motion!!







We even got to see Benjamin Franklin's specs (from National Treasure)!
As they usually do at National Parks, the kids completed the Junior Ranger Program : Independence Hall booklet, and they earned their badge and Junior Ranger Trading Cards.
With a little more time, we would have visited the Betsy Ross house and museum to learn about the history of the American flag.  Maybe after going on your own trip, you can tell us about it!

Sunday, August 30

Homemade Cereal : Cheaper & Healthier...Still as Quick!


If you're like me, breakfast is soooo not your time of day.  Until I've been up an hour or so, I'm not fully functional.  Therefore, it's every man for himself at breakfast.  I want my kids to be able to make their own breakfast, but I want them eating healthy, too.  Cereal is always a great option for this...

Did you know, though, that cereal is actually pretty unhealthy?
  • Lots of sugar
  • Artificial colors
  • GMOs
  • Pesticides
  • Preservatives
These are all things I do not want going in my kids' bodies!!!  So I learned how to make my own cereal, and they eat it just as well as the boxed stuff.  (As for the cheapo prizes...I never bought the name-brand stuff anyway.)

One thing I wanted to do with my homemade cereal was get some protein and good fats in there.  One of them refuses to drink milk and only eats his cereal dry...they're a finicky bunch.  But I found a few easy tricks to make the morning bowl of cereal a healthy blend of carbs and protein.  And it's really easy!! 

 One of the 'tricks' I learned was Manitoba Hemp Hearts.  If you haven't heard of these, you're probably in good company.  They have a nutty taste (but are nut-free) and people are using them on salads, yogurt, and baked goods.  We are using them in the cereal recipe below.  They're vegan, kosher, and non-GMO, and have 10 grams of protein in a serving!! 

The same company makes Hemp Bites, which are great for the car.  Don't be confused....hemp does not equal pot.

Supplies :
This is a low-key recipe.  Mix up the amounts as you desire.



Directions :

**I first make up a mixture of hemp hearts, chia, and flax seeds - a bag will keep for nearly a year in the freezer.  I typically only use one to two cups of this mixture for a gallon of cereal.**

  • In a very large bowl, combine all ingredients and thoroughly mix.
  • Store in a freezer bag (double bag it) for up to six months.  
  • For easier morning use, fill a quart jar with cereal from the freezer, and leave it out for daily use.  Re-fill as needed.

Friday, August 28

Running on Empty (Jackson Browne)

If you've ever seen a John Wayne movieForrest GumpThelma and Louise or even Back to the Future 3, you've been to Monument Valley, and you may not have known it.  {Forrest ran through Monument Valley as Jackson Browne sang 'Running on Empty.'}

Why is it called Monument Valley?  Well, it's because they have monuments, carved by forces of nature over millions of years.  For centuries, they've been revered as hallowed by the native peoples. 

Other films set in the iconic western region are:
Hollywood filmmakers are not alone in their love affair with The West, with this inimitable landscape of grandeur.  Travelers the world over flock to the Utah/Arizona border. In fact, estimates at Gouldings Lodge and Museum suggest that only 10% of visitors to Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park are American.  The other 90% hail from Europe and the Orient.  Wow!

We found very few people, as we drove the Valley floor and took in the beauty, who spoke English.  Amazing and inspiring that so many flock to our country's great sites!

My boys are actually pretty darn good with their geography...mainly all the travel, reading, and living it!  We also pick up these Which Way USA books for each state we visit or travel through.  The Rand-McNally Kids' Atlas has great maps that correlate with each state, and are really kid-friendly!

Now, I have to introduce those of you who are not in the know to a delectable area treat....Navajo Fry Bread!  This lovely lady sold us a loaf AND offered me the recipe after my family enjoyed every morsel.

It's a staple on the Najavo Reservation......and extremely popular with tourists!

Fry Bread

INGREDIENTS
Makes six servings
  • 2cups all-purpose flour
  • 1tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 1cup steaming tap water
  • vegetable oil (for frying)

DIRECTIONS
  1. Mix ingredients together with a fork in a medium bowl. (will be sticky)
  2. Liberally grease your hands with vegetable oil and shape dough into a ball. Leave dough in bowl and cover with a towel and set in warm place for at least 20 minutes, but leaving longer makes the bread fluffier.
  3. When you are ready to make the bread, heat vegetable oil, at least 1 inch deep or deeper in a frying pan or electric skillet. (around 375 degrees) Test a small ball of dough in grease, it should float in grease, not sit on the bottom.  If it doesn't immediately float, oil is not hot enough.
  4. When oil is ready, grab a ball of dough a little bigger than a golf ball and stretch out in your greased hands until dough is flattened out about the size of a large cookie. Poke a small hole in the center of the dough with your fingers, and carefully lay in the hot oil.
  5. Let dough brown to a golden brown before turning over and frying other side.
  6. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.
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Today's guest writer, Chris, writes for Campfires & Cleats.  You can find her on Facebook.

Thursday, August 27

Baby You Can Drive My Car (Beatles)

We had a good run with Bessie, our old Saturn Vue.  She took us through hundreds of thousands of miles and made a great home-on-the-road for eight long years.  But it was time to say good-bye...
So meet Rosie, the newest member of the family!  "Why Rosie?" you might ask.  Well, it's because, much like Rosie from the Jetsons, this car seems to do everything!  And to be honest, I really am NOT a fan right now.  Everything is touch-screen, or touch-of-a-button, and it's all just very confusing to my old-fashioned temperament.  I much prefer manual...but the hubby is sure that it will grow on us.

In the meantime, if you see me on the road, steer clear!  Rosie is quite a bit bigger and sturdier than Bessie, and it's a learning curve.  Especially learning to park!  Send up an extra prayer that it will be mastered soon...and in the meantime, look for us in the back-40 at "the walmart."
Catch you out on the road!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, August 26

For the Love of Money (O'Jays)


My children despise math.  But they love money!  So what better way to get into a new year of math than a visit to the US Mint?  Here, we learned about the history of money, how money is made, and why we use money.  We also got a little lesson in why knowing your basic math facts will help you not get cheated when the cash register malfunctions...

Did you know that the US Mint has its very own police force?  It's one of the oldest federal police forces in the nation.  Officers are responsible for protecting over $100 billion in government assets, including the gold supply at Fort Knox.
The mint is HUGE!  As you follow the long hallways, you can see money being produced each step of the way.  Be sure to check out the unit study below to see each step in-depth and create your own money!
Did you know that the first public building constructed under the new Constitution was the mint in Philadelphia?


The mint at Philadelphia is the oldest of the U.S. Mint facilities. There are also mints in San Francisco, Denver, and West Point.  Philadelphia is the location responsible for manufacturing the dies used to mint coins, making Congressional medals and uncirculated coins, and making commemorative medals.  This is all in addition to producing regular, for-circulation, coins.

Here's an extensive unit all about the history of money and using money in your math.  It is appropriate for elementary and middle school...and Chester Comix are even entertaining for older kids!


Money Unit

Draw two circles and have your child design the front and back of his/her own personal money!

Tuesday, August 25

Take it Easy (Eagles)

We all know that prolonged stress can cause :
·         Anxiety
·         Depression
·         Digestive problems
·         Heart disease
·         Sleep problems
·         Weight gain
·         Memory and concentration impairment
It's not knowing what stress does that we need to focus on, but rather how to manage our daily stressors.  It won't be the flight-or-fight stress that will get you - it will be the chronic, everyday stuff!

When you're frustrated and fed up and feeling like you have zero control in a situation, try one of these :
  • listen to music
  • get out into nature
  • take time for yoga, meditation, or exercise
  • talk it out with someone - better yet, laugh!
  • go take a nap
  • work on managing your time
  • ...........if all else fails, remember how to spell stressed! *wink*

Take it to the Next Level

Practice yoga and the art of deep breathing on a regular basis.  Incorporate it into your routine.  Gaiam has a great yoga starter kit, or there are numerous guided breathing exercises for use during your daily commute.

Monday, August 24

Penny Lane (Beatles)


A penny won't get you very far these days, but a quarter will during our annual city-wide garage sale!

If you saw my post on Money Saving Mom, then you know I'm a believer in garage sales - GO GREEN!  (Go cheap...go green...in this case, it works out the same.)  Each year, our local town sponsors a city-wide garage sale in honor of my birthday!  Ok, not really, but it does coincide nicely...  Anywhere from 70-100 garage sales take place within two square miles.
 
Last year, we had a pretty successful event...scoring quite a car-load for only $34.  We spent just a hair more this year, but it was completely worth it!

We always start with a plan....a list of the garage sale sites and a map of town.  

Many of the streets were so congested, that it was easier to just park and walk to ten or twelve sites before driving to another spot.


This year we spent a combined total of $40.70.  What does that look like in garage sale finds?
Sold for quite a bit more than we found them....and it was still a great deal for the buyer!!
Fantastic set of bar stools!  We initially bought these for the house, but decided to get a set with a table from craigslist instead.  Sold for more twice the finding price...and we had a very long waitlist to buy them...so again, a good deal for the buyer!
By now, you know that we can quite a bit!  So when we found boxes of good jars (the lids will be replaced) for a dime apiece (that's a dime for the BOX!), we snagged them in a hurry!  Jars get expensive...
We found some vintage prints with frames for a nickel apiece.  The top ones match the bathroom color perfectly, and the bottom ones are hanging on a seaside apartment wall, sans-frames.
We had a special guest along with us that picked up some vintage stuff and miscellaneous household items for her seaside apartment....again, for pennies on the dollar.
The boys used their own money to purchase a new pocketknife, coca-cola lamp, nunchucks, foreign coins, and some other odds and ends for their enjoyment.  They had a strict budget, and had to figure out how much was remaining after each purchase.  Math class!!!
In addition to helping write fun curriculum (to sell), they have been buying and selling from garage sales to earn this Lego Mindstorms EV3 set.  It's always good to have something to fall back on for a little extra money.  **Here is the curriculum the boys wrote.**

Total score for city-wide garage sale weekend...
  • pocket knife
  • coca-cola lamp
  • foreign coins
  • nun-chucks
  • candle holder
  • new boy's swim trunks
  • new boys' nike pants
  • 3 bar stools
  • k-cup holder
  • running shirt
  • ice cream scoop
  • 1/2 gallon glass jar with lid
  • vintage tea tin
  • vintage christmas book
  • set of new knit washcloths
  • saxon algebra 1/2 set
  • saxon algebra 1 set
  • saxon advanced math set
  • set of carpet squares
  • two boxes of canning jars with lids (approx 40)
  • vintage saltines tin with lid
  • two chocolate chip cookies
  • two blouses
  • set of vintage paintings
  • cute vintage two-piece suit
  • metal rolling pin
  • tupperware sets with lid
Check out last year's garage sale finds!  What's been your best discovery??