How I survived my Cabin Adventure with NO HOME INTERNET for a month!

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This post is sponsored by Wilson Electronics / WeBoost.  All comments and opinions are my own.
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Last year, my husband and I purchased a small “fixer upper” cabin in Kentucky!  This was a dream that we had worked towards for many many years.  It is a simple little place tucked on a mountainside on the Cumberland River.   It is livable but in need of a full renovation to make it work for our needs in the years to come.  I will be blogging on the experience and sharing all of the fun stories and adventures that we encounter along the way here
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One of the most important things on our “must have list” when looking for a place was internet service since we work from home and I am online at least 12 hours per day.  With an extremely limited budget and our desire to have our own piece of heaven in a very rural area, we found that to be a major issue.  After researching every option available, we were told that we would be able to have satellite internet and scheduled the installation for the day after we arrived at our property.  It was going to be pricey but it was our only choice so we bit the bullet, paid the fees and were ready to get it going.
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Our drive to Kentucky is 10+ loooooooooong hours from our home in Florida.  We timed our trip between work responsibilities and I gave myself a day or two just to get the installation done and me back online seamlessly. Unfortunately, as soon as the satellite internet guy got to our property and took one look around at the 200 ft trees in every direction and elevation on a mountain side he said there was NO WAY we would get service there.  I could not believe it.  I had called no less than 10 times to confirm that service would definitely be available prior to closing on the property and spoke to the technician before leaving Florida to confirm again.  He got out his gauges and walked around from every angle and no signal was strong enough to do an installation.

EEEK! WHAT THE HECK?!

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Rosco keeping an eye on the satellite guy from his porch swing
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I was in a complete state of panic.  Before leaving Florida, my backup plan was to use my cell phone service and “tether” to my laptop if absolutely necessary, but once we arrived I found that my cell service was only strong enough to send or receive VERY SLOW text messages outside (and down the hill a bit) but was not strong enough to make calls or connect to the internet.  For the next few days I would make multiple trips up the hill to the top of the mountain until I found a strong enough signal and would work from my car to get things done.  As you can imagine, this was not an ideal situation and was extremely stressful since as you guys know I am in the facebook chat group and on social media most of the day and night answering questions, getting excited about your haul photos or posting deals. 

WeBoost to the rescue!

I decided to start asking everyone that I came into contact with how they were able to access the internet to see if there were any options that I may have missed.   Most people laughed when I asked about internet in our area or just said good luck with that (how do you live without internet?!).

Fortunately, I ended up getting some AMAZING information from a lady that owns a campground in the area and provides free wifi for her visitors.  She told me about a company called Wilson Electronics and their product line called WeBoost!

Basically, what a WeBoost unit does is connect to a cell tower to access voice and data signals.  It then BOOSTS that signal 32x and sends it to an inside antenna, the INSIDE antenna then broadcasts the signal to all devices in your home.  Sounds amazing right?!  At this point I was DESPERATE so I sat in my car with my laptop connected at her campground and I literally ordered a WeBoost Home 3G unit right then and there with next day delivery.  We had to travel to the nearest UPS station to pick it up due to our location, but it arrived the following day.  It was seriously my ONLY hope and my fingers & toes were crossed while my husband installed it hoping that it would work.

IT DID! IT WORKED!

We went from NO PHONE or TEXT ABILITY inside our cabin to FULL Phone, Text and DATA!  I was able to connect to my laptop via my Verizon Mifi hotspot and was able to work just like normal with no issues!  I could not believe it!  Fortunately, I am on the Verizon unlimited data plan so it didn’t cost me anymore on my cell phone bill to work for the entire month!

I was SO EXCITED about it that when we got back home I decided to try out the unit at my house here in Florida and was able to cancel my home internet service which was costing me almost $100 per month!  At my home in Florida, I literally had to pay for internet service monthly THEN had to get what they called a MicroCell unit to boost my cell phone service on my phone just so that my cell phone would work, it was ridiculous.  If the internet went out for any reason I would also lose cell phone service.   Now with the WeBoost installed I ALWAYS have service since it is not dependent upon the internet at all, it is boosting straight from the cell tower!

The WeBoost unit is AWESOME and they have a BUNCH of other products too!

We will be heading back to Kentucky very soon to start our next round of repairs and improvements and I will be doing some live streaming from there and I feel confident that I will have no issues at all!  The customer service at WeBoost is AMAZING as well.  I have spoken with them a few times to see what all of my options are with the wide range of products they offer.  They have products for your car, RV, home, office, etc that will boost your service wherever you are! I seriously feel like this is the future of how we will connect to the internet.   Why should we have to pay for cell phone data AND home internet too right?!

CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT ALL OF THE WEBOOST PRODUCTS

I am super excited that the fine folks over at Wilson Electronics / WeBoost sent me the Whole House Connect 4G-X unit to bring with me on my next trip and to try it out! I am very thankful!  I was using the Home 3G unit and it met my needs so I can only imagine how fast and amazing the Connect 4G-X will be!  I will keep you all posted!!

Once we were able to get our internet situation resolved it allowed us to relax and enjoy the area and explore around a bit when we weren’t working.  We have a BIG JOB ahead of us working on the cabin but would LOVE to share our adventure with those of you that are interested in following along.  I have created a facebook page HERE for this and will be posting all of the things that we learn along the way!

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Rosco and Moozy enjoying an afternoon of hiking

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Finally able to relax and explore once I had my internet working!

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Make sure you check out our new  Simple Cabin Living Facebook page about our new cabin adventure!  We will be blogging on our DIY projects, renovations and all of the calamities we are sure to encounter!

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Easy Spring Upcycle: How to Repurpose an Old Chair

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Are you looking to spruce up your space for less? If so, give this easy spring upcycle project a try. You can repurpose an old chair in just a few ours, and create a look that is fresh and new. You don’t need a great deal of supplies, and you don’t even need a lot of time or crafty know how. In fact, the chair below we made for around $5 and in less than two hours. Want to try to repurpose an old chair yourself? Take a look at how to repurpose an old chair and get a fresh new look for less.

Supplies needed:
Old chair (ours was a curb find! FREE!)
Spray paint or brush on paint
Scrap fabric (about 1 yard)
Painting supplies (if needed)
Scissors
Staple gun

Use what you have on hand and really save. For our project we had a can of ivory spray paint on hand leftover from another project. It worked perfectly. We found the chevron fabric at Walmart for less than $3 a yard, making our total cost around just $3. Should we have needed a can of spray paint, our total cost still would have been about $5. Now that is a great deal!

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Directions:
1. Begin by cleaning your chair well with warm, soapy water. Wipe clean.
2. Remove the seat cover with a screw driver. This is so easy! It will just pop right off.
3. Cover the seat by wrapping it face down into the fabric and securing the sides tightly with a staple gun.
4. Give the chair a coat (or two) of paint. We distressed ours a tad with some sand paper for a natural look. You can do this if you wish or opt for a clean finish.
5. Return the seat cover to the chair. Replace the screws.

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Your chair is now ready for use. Can you believe this is even the same chair? I can’t! It went from curbside trash to something that looks like it would be in a Pottery Barn catalog.

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Give this easy spring project a try, then share your results with us on the Facebook page or Community Chat page!

Happy crafting!

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Frugal Crafting Fun: Easy Spring Wreath

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Let’s bring some color into our spaces, shall we? There is no better way to do this than this easy peasy spring wreath. You can make your own wreath just like this using less than $5 in supplies and in just minutes. Yes, minutes! You don’t need to be super crafty, you don’t need a lot of time, you just need a few supplies and you can adorn your door, space, or even office area with a wreath that screams WARM WEATHER IS HERE! So are you ready to get crafty? Take a look below at how to get started!

Supplies needed:
Grapevine wreath
Spray paint (optional, only if needed)
Mini paper drink umbrellas
Hot glue, glue gun

Directions:
1. Begin by spraying your grapevine wreath the color of your choice. We found precolored wreaths at our local Hobby Lobby Store for under $4 that worked perfectly. If you can’t find something similar, find a grapevine wreath at your local dollar store and give it a coat or two of the color of your choice.
2. Once your wreath is dry, and you want to be sure it is totally dry, you are going to add your drink umbrellas. Open your umbrellas up so they are nice and full. Apply some hot glue to the stems of them and press them into your wreath. Hold them in place so the umbrellas attach and stay attached to the grapevine.
3. Don’t cover the entire wreath, just apply umbrellas to the corners of it in clusters and bunches.

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When you are done, you can add a ribbon for hanging or just display your wreath as is. As you can see, it is the perfect pop of color to a bland space or any space that needs the look and feel of spring.

So are you ready to craft your own? Go for it! Then, share your creation with us on the Facebook page or Community Chat page. We want to see how crafty you are!

Have a great day, friends!

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Easy Easter Craft: Eggcellent Easter Picture Frame

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If you are in the mood for some fun and frugal Easter crafting, this easy Easter picture frame is for you! How sweet will this little dandy look perched on your mantel or bookshelf? It can even add some instant Easter charm to your office. Take a peek below at how to make your own eggcellent (like that?) Easter picture frame in just minutes and for just pennies. Yep, pennies! Take a peek!

Easy Easter Picture Frame

Supplies needed:
Picture frame
Spray paint
Foam eggs
Knife
Craft glue

We found the eggs we used in this project at our local dollar store. The frame and paint were all leftovers we had around the house. So our total cost for this project was just $1. Before you go and buy, look around and see what you may have on hand that is usable.

Directions:
1. Begin by removing the glass of the frame. You will not be needing it.
2. Apply two coats of paint to the frame allowing drying time in between. You want to paint right over the insert and everything creating a matching canvas to your frame.
3. Take a knife and cut your foam eggs in half.
4. Apply some glue to the egg and press it to the inside of the frame. You can add as many eggs as you wish. We thought two were perfect for our frame, but you can decide what works for you.

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There you have it! Your picture frame is now complete. Display your frame wherever you need a pop of spring color.

When you are done, share your creations on the Facebook page or Community Chat page, won’t ya? We love seeing your unique spin you put on these projects, and so do your friends. So gather your supplies and get inspired, and inspire others while you are at it.

Happy crafting, and Happy spring!

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Spring Family Fun: Yarn Eggs Kid’s Craft

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It is time to start thinking about spring and how with Easter approaching, the sight of pastel eggs will be everywhere. Make your own colorful eggs perfect for displaying in a basket or centerpiece when you give this yarn eggs kid’s craft a try. Made from just a few simple supplies, these yarn eggs are the perfect craft for little hands. They only take minutes to make, and in no time you will have a fun little Easter accent. Take a peek at how to make your own. Your kiddos will love these!

Yarn Eggs Kid’s Craft

Supplies needed:
Plastic Easter eggs
Craft glue
Yarn
Scissors

We found all of these supplies in our own crafting scraps but if you need any of them, your local dollar store should have them. It doesn’t matter what color the plastic eggs are as they will be covered, but find yarn that is a hue you enjoy. We used some rainbow yarn for lots and lots of color.

Directions:
1. Begin by pouring some craft glue in a bowl.
2. Cut a long length of yarn and dip it in the bowl. Cover it with glue.
3. Take your fingers and squeeze off any additional glue.
4. Begin wrapping the yarn around your plastic egg. The glue will help it stick and adhere nicely.
5. Set the egg in a sunny window to dry and harden.

When your egg is dry, it will be nice and hard. These eggs are quite sturdy and durable and are sure to survive little hands. Display them in an Easter basket or on a mantel for some instant Easter charm.

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Kids will love getting their hands all sticky with this simple Easter craft. Gather your supplies and give it a try. When you are done, come see us on the Facebook page or Community Chat page and share your creativity. We love to see it!

Happy crafting!

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St. Patty’s Day Cupcakes! Super cute and tasty too!!

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Hey everyone!  FRIDAY, March 17th is St. Patrick’s Day so it is time to get ready with this tasty treat!

When I was growing up, my mom always did something special on every holiday and one of the things that I remember was her DELICIOUS Mint Chocolate Cupcakes on St Patty’s Day!  I am not a big mint eater, but there is something really good about a moist chocolate cupcake with a light and fluff frosting with a touch of mint.  If you haven’t tried it yet, you should!  It is a tasty combination!!

I have never been one to make frosting from scratch, but this recipe makes it super simple and fun to do with the kids!  Pick up some glittery clover decorations at the dollar tree like shown in my photo above and everyone will feel Lucky as a Leprechaun!

MINT CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES

(Makes up to 24 cupcakes)

Ingredients:

 

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1 box of chocolate cake mix (plus ingredients called for on the box, i.e. eggs, oil & water)

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

4 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons milk

¼ teaspoon peppermint extract

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 bag of Andes mints (found at dollar tree)

Green food coloring

 

Directions:

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  1. Make cake batter according to box instructions. Evenly divide into cupcake liners.
  2. Bake cupcakes according to box instructions. Allow to cool in pans 15 minutes before frosting.
  3. To make frosting, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy.
  4. Slowly add powdered sugar, scraping down sides of bowl between additions.
  5. Add milk 1 tablespoon at a time, and then mix in both peppermint and vanilla extracts.
  6. For mint green color, add 6-8 drops of green food coloring into the frosting until you reach your desired shade of green.
  7. Frost cupcakes and garnish with an Andes mint
BAM!  That’s it and you look like an expert baker!!

Let me know if you decide to try this recipe!
It is super easy and super fun to help celebrate St. Patty’s Day!!

Be sure to share a recipe with us on our Facebook page or Chat page.  Get inspired to craft and cook frugally on our Pinterest page too!!

Enjoy!

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Cheesy Cajun Sausage & Tator Casserole! Yummy!!

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OH MY LAWD!  You are going to LOVE this dish!

Many of you have asked for recipes using the Eckrich Sausage that we just scored super cheap at Publix.  I have a really tasty option that is really easy to make that the whole family will love!

Smoked Sausage and Kielbasa is delicious when cooked together with potatoes.  There is something about the mix of flavors that is wonderful on the taste buds!  My mother is from Louisiana, so I have a lot of cajun influences in my cooking and I love my food well seasoned.  The combination of ingredients and seasoning in this dish are just perfect to me, it is not spicy, but extremely flavorful.

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Prep time:  10 minutes max

Preparing this dish was really easy for me.  In all fairness though, I want to mention that I use a Vidalia Chop Wizard for my potatoes and onions.  If you haven’t ever seen one of these, you should really check it out.  I have used mine for YEARS and can’t imagine having to chop up potatoes or veggies for soup or stews by hand.  Basically, you peel the veggies that you are going to use, put on the chopper and press down.  It quickly cuts the veggie into perfect size pieces.   I am not sure if it is designed for potatoes since it is called a “Vidalia Chopper” but I have used it for years on potatoes and every other kind of veggie out there.  I also use it for eggs when making egg salad and cheese for bite size chunks.  You can pick these up on Amazon for $19.50 with free prime shipping.  It is worth it to buy the original, the copy cat doesn’t get great reviews.  This is what mine looks like, you will see it in one of my prep photos as well:

Ingredients

  • FIVE Medium Size Potatoes
  • One Package of Eckrich Smoked or Kielbasa Sausage
  • One Medium Onion
  • Weber N’Orleans Cajun Seasoning ($.15 at Publix now)
  • Olive Oil (or vegetable oil if necessary)
  • 1/2 Cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Directions

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  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Peel Potatoes and cut into bite size pieces (not too big)
  • Peel onion and cut into similar size pieces
  • Slice Sausage into small bite size pieces.  I have found that if the sausage is almost frozen it is easiest to slice into small pieces.
  • For easy cleanup it is best to line your pan with aluminum foil or use a disposable pan, spray or rub bottom of pan with olive or vegetable oil (I use olive oil personally but either will work).
  • Mix all ingredients together by hand in pan and sprinkle generously with Weber N’Orleans Cajun Seasoning.  I personally like to see the seasoning throughout the mixture like this:

 

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  • Place in oven and cook for 75 minutes uncovered, I stirred it once at about 40 minutes to make sure that it was cooking evenly.  We like ours to be well cooked with the onions cooked down and the potatoes nice and soft with a little crispy edge on the sausage and potatoes which is why I go 75 minutes.

REMOVE FROM OVEN

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  • After 75 minutes, remove from the oven and turn the oven on HIGH BROIL.  Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese on top and place back into the oven for an additional 5 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly.  You can use more cheese, but I find that about a half of a cup to one cup is more than enough for this dish.

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Let cool for just a few minutes before serving to allow the cheese to settle and ENJOY!

Be sure to share a recipe with us on our Facebook page or Chat page.  Get inspired to craft and cook frugally on our Pinterest page too!!

Enjoy!

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New Years Eve Traditions for GOOD LUCK & MONEY!!

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A NEW YEAR IS UPON US!!

New years eve traditions

How do you bring in the New Year??

New Years Eve is a day of celebration, letting go of the past and looking forward to the future.  Many people host huge parties with friends and family while others attend celebrations at local venues to ring in the new year!

For many years we have chosen to stay home and have a little fun of our own by participating in some of the age old traditions that are supposed to bring good luck and fortune to you in the new year!  I have been asked by many people to write out all of the things that I do each year for fun and why!  All of the children in my family know of these traditions because I do them pretty much every year.  One year I didn’t and lets just say it wasn’t the “best year of my life” so I never skipped even one after that!!  Some call them traditions, others call them superstitions, but whatever you call them, it can make your New Years Eve a ton of fun and fire you up for the new year!!

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I don’t know where each of these traditions originated but here they are the reasons why I do them!

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PREPPING FOR MIDNIGHT:

  • Place SEVEN coins (heads up) in each window sill to guarantee that money will come into your home in the coming year.
  • Fill one pot of water sometime during the day for each person in your household and have it ready for midnight with a big spoon (more on that later), the water should sit throughout the day.  Some people believe that you should mop your floors and keep the dirty water for this same purpose.
  • Gather TWELVE GRAPES for each person in the household (don’t eat them yet), each one will signify a full circle of good luck for each month in the year.  If you hate grapes, you could do peas, I know that sounds gross but it is the price you pay for not eating grapes 😉
  • For peace in the coming year wear WHITE on New Years Eve, for fortune and money make sure you wear YELLOW.   You are supposed to wear RED underwear but I have no idea why but do it just in case I forgot something important 🙂
  • Get your suitcase out and unzipped and leave by your front door (more on this later)!
  • Have a broom sitting by your front door (more on this later too), just get it ready, yes really!
  • Make SURE that you have some money in your wallet or purse, even if it is only a dollar, this is to make sure that money will flow throughout the year!
  • While waiting for the new year to hit with your Dollar Store party hat on (this is a MUST), grab a note pad and tear off  TWELVE pieces of paper.  On each piece of paper write out anything negative that has been weighing on you the past year, one for each piece of paper.  Keep it short and sweet.  IMPORTANT:  Don’t get all ninny-pooperish and start talking about everyone that annoyed you or it will ruin your good time, just write each thing down swiftly.  Once you have written each down it is now time to BURN EACH ONE!  I prefer to throw them in a bon fire, but a simple plate with a lighter will work too if you don’t have a bon fire.  It is time to LET IT GO.. each and every one of them to start the new year with a fresh start.   Say whatever it is you have to say to make yourself laugh while you burn each one.  I personally like the phrase “GOOD RIDDENS YA DIRTY RASCAL” when letting go.   This is really cleansing, you can thank me later 🙂

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GET READY FOR
MIDNIGHT!

AT THE STRIKE OF MIDNIGHT THIS IS WHAT YOU DO IN THIS ORDER:

  • Watch the ball drop in Times Square on TV
  • Kiss the people you love that are close to you (make sure they are cool with that first)
  • YELL HAPPY NEW YEAR!
  • Grab your grapes, you must eat ALL TWELVE in the FIRST MINUTE of the new year!  Note:  Don’t try to shove them all in your mouth at one time, TRUST ME, it doesn’t end well, take your time, you have thirty seconds left, get on it!
  • Run and grab your pot of water, THROW THE WATER out the front door and yell “OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW!”  and beat on your pot with your big spoon while yelling HAPPY NEW YEAR loud enough for the entire neighborhood to hear you!
  • Go back inside and grab your suitcase, walk out the front door and back inside with your suitcase, this will bring you travel opportunities throughout the coming year.  If you prefer to stay home all year skip this step 😉
  • Next, take the broom and sweep out towards your front door, this is symbolic of sweeping out all of the negativity in the previous year.  I say something like “OUTTA HERE NEGATIVITY!” while I’m sweeping.  Make sure you pass the broom to anyone else in the house so they can do the same thing.
  • Square dance and dosey-doe at the front door as you are going back in.  JUST KIDDING on that one, I just thought it was a funny visual to add, haha

Happy Dance Laurel and hardy

If you complete all of these tasks you are SURE to have a new year filled with GOOD LUCK and PROSPERITY!!

NEW YEARS DAY FOODS TO SEAL THE DEAL

First let me say that I am from the South.  My mother was born and raised in Shreveport, Louisiana and I was raised on southern cooking.  I am sure that there are other traditions in different parts of the country, but I have always been told that eating certain things on New Years Day is a MUST so I never ever skip out on these traditions:

Black-eyed peas and Corn Bread

This is a MUST, if you don’t do anything else, you MUST eat your black-eyed peas and cornbread.  This is a well known tradition to attract good luck and financial good fortune.  Beans symbolize money or coins.  The Corn Bread resembles a block of gold, some people will add corn kernels to their corn bread which is symbolic of gold nuggets for extra fortune.    We cook our leftover Christmas Ham or ham bone with our black eyed peas and we love sweet vadalia onions with ours as well.

Pork on New Years Day

We cook a pork roast on New Years Day but there are many ways to cook pork to your liking.  It is said to eat pork on New Years Day but NEVER eat chicken or cow.   The reasoning is that a chicken scratches backwards, a cow stands still but a pig roots forward.  It is symbolic of moving forward in your life in the upcoming year!

Greens are a must for money!!

Turnip Greens, Collard Greens, Spinach, any green will do!   Greens are symbolic for money, so if you want to have money in the new year make sure you eat your greens!!  If you aren’t used to eating greens it is best to cook them WAY down.  We like to put fresh turnip greens in a big pot and cover with water, we lightly fry up about a half of a package of bacon and throw it in the pot with the greens, add some salt and pepper and cook them way down for flavor.  I personally like to put a little bit of tabasco sauce on mine but my husband loves them just the way they are.  Eat all of the good luck foods together, it is a perfect combination for your taste buds!

Cabbage and Potatoes

We cook down a full head of cabbage.  This is for good health in the new year.  I didn’t do my cabbage last year and learned my lesson so I will be eating a big bowl this year, haha!  We cook ours very simply.  We quarter a head of cabbage and break it down in a large stock pot.  I use two 32 oz cartons of chicken broth and add more water to cover the cabbage completely.  We cut up a few potatoes (the rounder the better since it is symbolic of a full circle) and add those to the pot with some salt and pepper.   We cook it WAY down until it is soft and has almost a soup consistency but the cabbage is still in decent size pieces.

Dessert:  Ring shaped cake

We don’t personally bake our cake, we usually buy one from Publix.  A ring shaped cake symbolizes that you have come full circle.  I have heard of people baking trinkets into their cake but I have never done that myself.   Not a bad idea, but you could end up with a tooth repair which wouldn’t be fun to start off the new year if ya know what I’m sayin’ 😉

So that’s it folks!!  Simple and fun ways to celebrate the new year and maybe even get a little bit of good luck and money thrown your way at the same time!!

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Do you have any new years traditions that you do every year?  I would LOVE to hear about it!!

Make sure you check in on our facebook fan page or our facebook chat page to say hi and hang out with all of couponing friends! We are having a blast over there!

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What I did different in 2016 and how I restarted my life…

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What I did different in 2016 and how I restarted my life…

It is a New Year which is the perfect time to let go of all of the old things weighing you down and experience a fresh start, but how do you do that exactly?   I came up with a plan of action that worked for me and would love to share it with all of you.

For those that know me personally, you will agree that 2015 was one of the most difficult years of my life.  I was under extreme stress, had a major health crisis that lasted almost the entire year, had two unexpected deaths in my family and was betrayed on a very deep level personally.  It was a year of many painful moments and I just couldn’t seem to get my footing back and was at one of the very lowest points in my life.   I knew that I had to do something and was not willing to do another year of “chaos & heartache”.

By November 2015 my husband and I were both at a point in our lives that we had to make some decisions moving into the next chapter of our lives.  No matter what the conversation was about, it seemed to always circle back around to how hurt we were about things that had happened through the year or those that had hurt us or things that had happened and we would relive it all again.   This was affecting our health and our happiness.    We decided that enough was enough and we committed to doing something about it.   That “something” was taking our lives back and finding our personal happiness again.

With the new year approaching we spent most of December 2015 reflecting on the goals and dreams that we had for ourselves that had been shelved for most of the year.   We decided that as each painful moment or thought surfaced we would stop and write it down on a piece of paper and fold it up and put it into a box and leave it there.  One after another sometimes on a daily basis a negative thing would come to mind and we would quickly write it down and put the note in the box.     We also had a separate box where we would put notes of ideas or dreams that we had that we would like to accomplish in 2016.   By the end of December the “painful box” was full and the “dreams and idea box” had just a handful of notes.   It was clear that in 2015 negativity and pain had taken over and we needed to change that cycle.

 

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On New Years Eve 2015 we sat out on our front porch with home made party hats on and  a large candle lit on the table with commitment to let go of ALL of the negativity and leave it in 2015.   From 11:00 pm – 11:59pm we would take out one negative note at a time, read it out loud, allow ourselves only a short moment to feel that experience but not dwell on it, say a quick prayer asking God to take this from us and allow us to let it go and then we would burn the note.   Between notes we would listen to music or chat about other things but did not “pick back up the problem” or discuss it again, it was gone, burned in the flame of the candle.   One by one, we read each note, spoke of who hurt us or of the issues we needed to let go of and one by one we burned them and let them go.   At 11:59 we said another prayer, thanking God for the blessings in our lives apologizing for focusing on things that we couldn’t change or things that shouldn’t be our focus and thanked Him for taking it from us and healing our hearts.  We then prayed for the new year and the many blessings to come and prayed SPECIFICALLY for our dreams and ideas to become a reality.

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We rang in the new year with a clear heart and mind with a commitment to let go of all of those things that were holding us back, hurting our hearts or taking our focus.   We agreed to not speak of them again, to not focus on those that hurt us or on things that we couldn’t change.  We would only focus on moving forward.

We blew out our candle at the turn of the new year and we sat for another hour discussing ideas for 2016, things we wanted to accomplish and got excited about the possibilities.  We focused on FIRST STEPS, not the big picture which seemed impossible but the very first step towards our dreams.  After all, in reality, reaching your goals always starts with one step in the right direction.  Most of the time we have no idea how it will actually work out or even what the next step will be, just stepping forward in faith and taking one step at a time leads you to your goal.

 

In 2016 we started out by writing down notes each time something GOOD happened in our lives.  We wrote down the little things and we wrote down the big things.  In January we fixed up an old camper that we had and the first person that came to look at it bought it on the spot which gave us the money to pay off a boat loan that we had been paying on for years.  There was enough money left over to buy materials for my husband to work on an old car we had sitting around for years.  In March he finished working on the old car and we sold it to the first person that came to look at it which gave us the money to work on a small property that we had that sat vacant for years and was in serious need of repair and renovations.   By May 2016 the property was repaired and cleaned out and we put a for sale sign on it and had two offers on the first day and sold it in June of 2016.   We had struggled for years making the payments, taxes and insurance on the property and finally not only did we sell it, but we had enough money to reach our FIRST DREAM of buying a small cabin in Kentucky.  This was a dream that we have had since we first got married over 20 years ago.  Through the rest of the year we documented each and every good thing that happened in our lives.  If something bad happened or negative we would allow ourselves to process those things but not dwell on them, we would discuss them but refocus ourselves on all of the good things that had already happened.  It was truly life changing to focus our attention on the POSITIVE instead of the negative.

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So here we are today, the last day of December, 2016 preparing for our New Years Eve celebration.  We will once again sit on our porch reflecting on the past year.  We will have a candle lit again, but this year we will only have one box.  This year we will keep all of the the notes in the box.  A box full of experiences and memories.  A box full of encouragement.  This year it is a box full of blessings.    Yes, bad things happened this year too, things that were unexpected and painful at the moment but we didn’t dwell on those things and they don’t easily come to mind at this point.

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Earlier today I asked my husband if there was anything that he could think of that we needed to write down and let go of before midnight and he couldn’t think of even one thing.  I couldn’t either.   This year our candle will be lit as a flame of hope and a symbol of the fire in our lives to reach for our dreams and focus on the light.  This year from 11:00pm – 11:59pm we will discuss one by one all of the positive things that happened in our lives.  We will take out each note, read it aloud and laugh about the silly things in the process or how crazy it was that it happened the way that it did.  We will say a prayer of thanks and again ask for the things that we hope for in 2017.  Our goals this year are to simplify our lives even more, to sell our home and get rid of a few of the bills that still weigh us down.  To strive for simplicity in the next chapter of our lives.  We know that it won’t always be easy but if we focus on the positive and let go of what we can’t change we can experience peace and happiness in our lives and reach our dreams one at a time.

 

How do you bring in the new year?  Do you have a strategy that works for you?  I would love to hear it!  I hope that each of you are abundantly blessed in the new year!

caroline

 

 


Holiday Treat Idea! Chocolate Dipped Gumdrops!!!

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Kids love cooking and creating during the holidays just as much as adults do. If you are looking for the perfect kids treat that they can make themselves, look no further than these chocolate dipped gumdrops. Easy to make, these tiny bites of sugary goodness are sure to become a new holiday favorite. Take a look below at how simple it is to make your own!

Chocolate Dipped Gumdrops

Supplies needed:

  • Assorted gumdrops
  • 1 cup of milk chocolate chips
  • Assorted candy sprinkles
  • Toothpicks

Directions:
1. Place the chocolate chips in a microwave bowl. Heat on low for 30 seconds at a time until melted.
2. Remove the bowl and stir the chocolate well so it is nice and smooth.
3. Place a gumdrop on the end of a toothpick. Dip the bottom half of the toothpick into the chocolate mixture.
4. While the chocolate is still wet, quickly dip the gumdrop in candy sprinkles. They will stick and decorate the bottom quite nicely!
5. Set the gumdrop on wax paper or a cool plate to set.

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After about 30 minutes, your gumdrops should be ready to eat! The chocolate will have hardened and you will have the perfect bite sized sweet treats. How simple was that?

Gather your own supplies and give this easy chocolate dipped gumdrops recipe a try! It is sure to become a new holiday tradition in your house.

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