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Friday, September 30, 2016

Friday Walk to the Park

My kids do not have school on Friday's.  Somehow the school worked out a schedule where they go slightly longer M-Th and they've reached the requisite number of school days so Friday they get a few hours of home-school work and the rest is play time!

Since I work from home, I like to take an hour off to play with them. Today they convinced me to run to the park at 10am and while there explore cat tails.

They've gotten really good at lining up for photos.  The baby gets front and center and gives me a big ol' grin.  I'm loving it!!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Random Tuesday Thoughts

Also known as Taco Tuesday since the Lego movie came out and yes, we actually do eat Taco's every Tuesday.  It makes meal planning easy when there are several set days, I learned that from my mom.

For this week of Random Tuesday I have this lovely sign to present from Sonic in Tennessee, where we broke down this past summer for 3 days while waiting for our van to be fixed.

Stacy Uncorked

Monday, September 26, 2016

Sculpting With Kids 20mo - 8 years old

My husband and I are both artists but we both did art by ourselves as kids with whatever we could get our hands on.

As parents of 4 small children, we feel responsible to teach art and encourage them in a wide range of artistic endeavors.  I have no doubt that they will figure it out for themselves if they are so inclined, but I'd like to think that an early start will give them more confidence in trying new artistic mediums.  When I was younger I just assumed each art style was a singular pursuit, like if you were a painter then you only painted and so forth.

We can see that some of our kids are more artistically inclined but they all take an interest so we end up doing an art project and adjusting them for everyone's needs and age.

20 month old toddler through 4 year old's use Play Doh:

Older kid, 6 - 8, are starting to use adult clay's like Sculpey and Premo which get finer detail and require them to use more tools and techniques.

The Sculpey clay came with reference that the kids used to create these sculptures and I think once they gain confidence they will create their own characters.

I'm feeling a little rusty but the best way to teach is to sculpt along with them so here is my little aardvark:

Note: The links in this post are affiliate links.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

How to sell books on Amazon and make money!

I went through a phase in my 20's where I lived in Florida, had no kids, and bought a new book almost every week to read on the beach.  This was pre-internet streaming and we didn't have cable so reading was my primary source of entertainment.  Now I have a massive glut of book inventory - mostly chick lit from 2001 - 2008 that I will never read again because I only read books once.  There are some GREAT books in this collection but I don't have room to store these books.  

Today I posted 14 books on Amazon, you can find my store front HERE, the link takes you to feedback, select Products to see the books. Some of these are from conferences I've attended.  Big hug from me if you buy one of my books!!  They are priced competitively and all proceeds go to the refurbishment of our house.  

I've been selling my used books on Amazon for 4 years and I've found I can actually earn more per book than through used book sellers with the right books.  Here's how it works:

  1. Set up an Amazon Seller Account - the link is right here, or you can just scroll to the bottom of your Amazon page and click on "Sell on Amazon", then set up a Seller Account.
  2. Plug in the ISBN numbers for all books you want to sell.  Amazon will give you a suggested price that compares to other vendor prices after you put in the condition of the book.  

Here are the fees involved, this is important because if your book is priced too low, you could actually lose money:

  • Amazon Referral Fee – 15% of sell price (this seems to go away when you’ve posted more than 40 books) 
  • Amazon Variable Closing Fee $1.35
  • Amazon Per Item Fee $0.99
  • USPS Media Rate $2.60 on average for paperback (hint - the post office does not post their media rate but you must use it because it's almost $1.00 cheaper then paying by weight)

My benchmark is to earn close to $1.00 per book, if I can’t get this then it’s not worth the effort in my opinion.  To reach my target, I need to price my book at $2.25.  Here is a breakdown of the fees on a book I’ve posted recently:

  • Amazon Total Fees $2.68
  • USPS Media Rate $2.60
  • Total fees = $5.28
  • Sell Price is $2.25 + 3.99 shipping = $6.24
  • Profit $0.96
Amazon is great about showing you the lowest rate that other vendors are offering so if you see a low price like $0.01, don't bother posting the book because you would lose money after paying Amazon and shipping fees.  Once you've set your benchmark, like mine at $2.25, then you can reject posting any book that other vendors sell for lower than this price.  

I’ve got 14 books that are priced at $2.25 and above which will make an expected profit of $49.51 if all sell.  This is well worth the effort in my opinion.  The rest of my inventory that is worth $0.01 on Amazon will go to a yard sale or flea market sale.  

About those $0.01 books, have you ever wondered why someone would even bother selling a book for $0.01?  It's because the book has fallen in value and there are so many re-sellers that the book is only worth $0.01 + shipping.  If you advance to paying for a monthly $39.99 professional account, that takes away some of Amazon's fees but you'd need to be sure you can sell at least 40 books a month to break even on a $0.01 book. 

Note: The links in this post are affiliate links.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Random Tuesday Thoughts

Stacy Uncorked

Over the past 2 months I've been mulling over my favorite blogging moments in 10 years and it brought me to internet meme's, of which I've participated in many but one comes to mind as the funniest and friendliest group and that is Random Tuesday Thoughts!  So I thought I'd tip toe back into the group and offer my two cents :)

Let's see - what randomness can I offer this week:

In the saving money category, we've decided to cancel our Apple Valley Trash Service, saving $50.85 quarterly.  Hubs is going to get a $130 annual dump permit and haul our trash to the dump.  It sounds nice, in theory!  

Monday was "Talk Like A Pirate Day", which we have celebrated for 7 years!  I was a little surprised at the lack of news, last year Disney jumped on board and there was other news coverage.  This year I don't recall seeing anything in the news but that just makes it more niche and special.  Our kids are so enthusiastic about this day that they actually thought we were going to let them stay home from school to celebrate all day.  Actually they first thought it was like a national holiday.  Sorry sweeties!

I noticed Stacy wrote about coffee on her post, which reminds me, we're really low!  I guess we best be planning our trip to the local coffee shop this week!  Yeah!!!

That's all I got for now!  XO to the Random community!!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Talk Like A Pirate Day - 2016

We've been celebrating Talk Like a Pirate Day for 7 years now and it's become so epic that this year our kids actually assumed it was a national holiday and they were surprised when they had to go to school.  For the last few year's I've seen quite a few businesses jump into the fray, like Krispy Kream gives one dozen free donuts to anyone who talks and dresses like a pirate and Disney was getting in on the action but this year I didn't see anything in the news or on Facebook so I guess we're back to be a niche group.  

It was kinda nice to have this as a school day because we like to create a treasure map and put clues all over our yard and we can do this while they are in school.

Here's tiny tot looking for a clue.

  Over here Evie!

In the past, we've had more than one in tears throughout the treasure hunt and this was resolved by making them take turns to read the map.  We put little treasures at every stop which kept it interesting.  In prior years we had put the entire treasure at the end. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Libby's Pumpkin is not what it seems, or so Joe Sevier would like us to believe

Y'all, I'm a self professed expert in pumpkins and I base this on my experience in growing them and using them exclusively for all pumpkin related baking since 2012.  So today, when I read this article saying that Libby's is not using 100% pumpkin, I started out feeling a little smug, but by the end I was just plain annoyed with the author because the article is peppered with inaccuracies.

The article starts by saying your Starbucks Pumpkin Latte is in fact a Squash Spice Latte because you've been conditioned by Libby's pumpkin cans to actually eat squash.  Hang on a second, isn't pumpkin actually a squash?  Also, the bulk of pumpkin flavor in ANY pumpkin recipe comes from a combination of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger - or sometimes a combination of all in what is called a pumpkin pie spice - at most you might say Starbucks drink is a Spice Latte but it's called marketing to add pumpkin in the name!    

The next point this author tries to make is that when we think of pumpkins, we think of Jack-O-Lanterns at Halloween, he then says "which, while edible, isn't good for cooking".  Now this is simply not true!  In 2012, when I first started cooking with pumpkins, I cooked a big ol' pumpkin before I even knew about those small darling sugar pumpkins.  The taste was fine!  Once you add all those spices, it taste like the pumpkin I used to buy for years from Libby's!  I've since bought many sugar pumpkins and I've found some have a brighter orange flesh which is closer to what I see in the Libby's brand and probably have been conditioned to believe is more authentically pumpkin.  I recently cooked a big pumpkin from my mom's garden that had pale yellow flesh but I think it hadn't quite finished ripening because the flesh was more textured, less dense.  I can tell you the resulting pumpkin muffins turned out awesome and were gone in 24 hours!

Next the author tells us Libby's is using Dickson Squash:

"Libby's Pure Pumpkin—the quintessential American canned pumpkin brand—is responsible for 85% of canned pumpkin sold in the world. When we think of a pumpkin, we usually imagine either the rotund, bright orange specimen that we buy up at Halloween to carve into a jack-o-lantern—which, while edible, isn't good for cooking—or its smaller, tastier cousin, the sugar pumpkin. But instead of those pumpkin varieties, Libby's grows a proprietary strain of tan-skinned Dickinson squash. "
Again, pumpkin is in the squash family, eye roll,  and I believe that this version is in fact considered a pumpkin!  Check out this page that calls the Dickson Pumpkin incredible!  So does this mean the author's only claim lies in what he believes to be the consumer's assumed belief that Libby's is using Jack-O-Lantern pumpkins when in fact they are using a Dickson Pumpkin?  This is just ridiculous.  

I personally love working with real pumpkins and I will always advocate for working with whole foods when it's a dietary staple to save money but if you're not big into pumpkin and it's a once a fall thing to make a pie then buy the dang Libby's can! 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Tomato, Mozzarella & Sausage Baked Pasta Recipe

This recipe is adapted from a Fine Cooking recipe - I tend to find their recipes have too many steps for quick evening meal and I like my baked pasta's broken down into bowl steps like a lasagna.  It's just easier for me to do one bowl/pot, walk away and come back in an hour - such is the life with small ones and a work from home job, I have to work in spurts.  I've changed the ingredients to make it easier to work with items I'm more likely to have in my kitchen liked dried herbs - I just can't seem to make good use of fresh herbs in time, I'd say if you want fresh herbs, check out the FC link above.

  • 35oz whole tomatoes with juice (or one quart of canned tomatoes)
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 t oregano dried spice
  • 1 t parsley dried spice
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t pepper
Place peeled garlic and onion into food process and dice small, then place them into a skillet with a little olive oil and cook at low temperature for 10 minutes.

Place onion and garlic mixture into medium sauce pan with the tomatoes and spices.  Cook on low temperature for 1-2 hours.

  • 12oz Italian Sausage
The sausage should be removed from casings (it can be bought without casings) and cooked at medium temperature until browned.  It should be drained of all grease and it can be then cooked in the tomato sauce or simply added to the pasta right before baking.

  • 1 bag Egg Noodles or 1 box Ziti
About 45 minutes before you are ready to eat, start a pot of water for the noodles and cook per directions on the packaging.

  • 1 cup Ricotta 
  • 1 cup Parmesan Cheese (I use the grated can version)
  • 1 egg
While noodles are cooking, stir all cheese ingredients in a small bowl.

  • Mozzarella Cheese 8oz grated
Set oven temperature to 375.  Once noodles are finished cooking, drain the water and place noodles into a large pot for oven baking.  Add sauce and stir evenly throughout noodles.  Add the meat and mix evenly.  Then add the cheese sauce in large lump segments and stir into the noodles.  Add half the mozzarella cheese and stir evenly, then add remaining mozzarella cheese to the top.  

Bake in oven for 30 minutes.  

In summary, my brain just works better for recipes that are broken down into steps.  I do love the original Fine Cooking recipe, but I find it's harder to work on a recipe from beginning to end without a break and to make sure I've got the more specialty ingredients on hand.  So this is my quick version and I hope you will enjoy it as much as we do!  

Friday, September 09, 2016

Black Bean and Corn Salsa Recipe

I have a friend who sells Tastefully Simple and one product that I love is Black Bean and Corn Salsa but at $8.00 per jar, it's expensive so after a summer of canning salsa, I decided to make my own!  It is surprisingly easy and absolutely delicious!

This recipe makes enough for canning 4-5 pints, if that's too much then you could easily cut this in half or quarter the recipe.

If you are planning to can, make sure you have 5 clean pints!  I recently ran out and the cheapest place I've found pints is Family Dollar, 12 pints for $8.00.  Walmart has them for just under $10 and Amazon has them for $14.98 with free shipping.  If you are buying jars out of season, Amazon might be your best option.

  • 7-8lbs Fresh Tomatoes, roasted
  • 1 Red bell pepper, roasted and chopped
  • 2 Jalapeno's, roasted (seeds removed) and chopped
  • 1 Jalapeno with seeds chopped
  • 1 Small Red Onion
  • 1 T Cilantro dried spice
  • 1 T Cumin
  • 1 t Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 t Salt
  • 1 Ear of Corn, cooked and removed from cob
  • 1 cup Black Beans
Start by soaking all tomatoes in a bin with a vinegar water wash that should be 3 part water and 1 part vinegar.  Based on research, only water is needed but I like how a good soak can loosen any dirt or bugs still on the tomatoes as ours are freshly grown in our backyard garden.   After soaking, rinse the tomatoes and remove green tops along with any bad spots or areas that are still green.

Roast tomatoes, red pepper and jalapeno's on a cookie sheet under Broil for 10 minutes then immediately place tomatoes into 4 quart stock pot, reserve jalapeno and red pepper for chopping.

I use a food processor to chop up the red pepper (remove seeds & pulp), onion (remove outer skin) and jalapeno's (removing stem and top first).  I don't like to touch jalapeno's with my hands and I hate wearing gloves so I strictly use tongs.  I wear contact lenses and have found that despite repeated washing my hands retain some small residue and it can hurt badly.  If I'm planning to use the jalapeno with seeds, I'll just throw the entire thing (minus top) into the food processor.  I've found that even huge slices will cook down in 5 hours.

After veggies are chopped, place on top of the roasted tomatoes in stock pot.  Next add all spices and cook the tomato sauce for 4-5 hours until it has reached a desired thickness.  Add black beans and corn for the final 15-30 minutes of cooking time.  Beans will get a tough skin if cooked too long with tomatoes so this is why they are put in at the end.

See this post for instructions on canning the salsa.

Printable Recipe Link
Note: The links in this post are affiliate links.

Frugal Living ~ September 2016

We just found out our house repairs are going to cost more than we budgeted for so it's time to go into extreme overdrive with savings and cut back spending.

Day 1 Actions:
1.  Sign up for Pinecone Research - get paid to do 15 minute surveys
2.  Close Netflix streaming account - savings $8.47 per month
3.  Husband turned up the AC and turned off my office light (not sure what to think about that last one - it kinda makes me feel sleepy).
4.  Return stuff we don't need or spent too much on

  • Husband bought all spices listed on the grocery list at Food Lion this week - total cost $17.86
  • Bought same spices at local farm market for $9.21, it's an extra stop but worth it to buy in bulk and get more quantity for less $$
  • Husband bought 4 butternut squash at Aldi for $1.99 each, then at Food Lion bought them for $1.29 lb (thinking it was also per piece), it ended up being $9.96 for 2 so I returned them
  • Big Lots - planning to return a trash can with lid.  I haven't had a trash can with a lid in a long time so I thought it would look nice.  I think I'd rather have the $22.00 in our account so I'm returning it.
  • Total returned:  $49.82
I've been working on consignment items for an upcoming fall/winter sale where they let you set your own price and the only requirement is that all items must be in really excellent condition.  It's time consuming but I need to get rid of our baby stuff anyway so might as well make something back.  So far I'm up to $804.00.  The host gets 30% so that leaves $562.80 - $10 entrance fee so if all sells I'll make $552.80.  

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Chili with Dried Beans Recipe

Canned Beans VS Dried

I've spent years eating canned beans out of convenience and taste.  My few experiences with dried beans usually resulted in a harder bean than what comes in a can.  Recently, I discovered cooking dried beans in a crock pot produces the softer bean taste I prefer and I have no plans to return to canned beans. 

Dried beans use less packaging then canned and that makes me feel better then sending tons of cans to the recycling plant.  Reduce is the first step in the 3 R's (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle).  

Dried beans take a day of prep work in soaking and cooking but it can be done around a work schedule or on a weekend.  I prefer the weekend so I can check in on the beans after 6 hours of cooking.  

Let's start with the recipe so you can get a clear understanding of what is needed:

4 Quart Recipe
  • 3 quarts of crushed tomatoes (96 ounces)
  • Red beans or Kidney (60 ounces or 7.5 cups)
  • Black beans (60 ounces or 7.5 cups)
  • 2lbs ground meat (Beef or Turkey)
  • 3/4 cup chili powder
  • 4 Bullion Cups (Beef or Poultry)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt

You will need a 6 quart stock pot and 2 crock pots (if you only have one crock pot, you can do one set of beans a day in advance).

Soaking Beans:

Some recipes recommend soaking beans all night but I find that it's not necessary with the crock pot cooking method.  

Place your beans, a few at a time, into a colander and remove all cracked, shriveled beans, and rocks, then place into a pot of room temperature water to soak for an hour.  I put black and red beans in separate pots because I'm usually doing them in bulk and want to separate what is not needed for this recipe to freeze for later.

Cooking Beans:

If possible, use two different crock pots, one for red and one for black as they may need different cooking lengths depending on the size of the bean.  Cover beans with 2 inches of water and cook for 6-8 hours on low.  If using larger red beans like Kidney's, check around 6 hours because they have a tendency to split open when cooked too long.  I've found small red beans to be rather hardy and can deal with an 8 hour cooking process.  Black beans sometimes need slightly less, around 7 hours.  Most recipes suggest to start checking on the bean around 6 hours and then every hour after until you get the right degree of softness.  
Tomato/Meat Base:
If beans are cooked in tomato's for too long, it will make the bean skin tough.  I've heard this before and found it verified on this webpage.  Therefore we've started putting our beans in for the last 30 minutes of cooking.  This works rather well considering the beans are cooking in crock pots.  I suggest to start the tomato/meat base about 2 hours before you are planning to eat dinner.  

Start by putting 3 quarts of tomatoes into a stock pot then adding all spices, bullion cubes and ground meat after it has been browned (drain fat before adding meat to sauce).  Cook sauce at a low temperature for 1-2 hours.  The tomato base really only needs to simmer for 1-2 hours depending on how much liquid you like in your Chili.  I've seen some who like a lot of liquid and others who prefer a dense Chili so I suggest to base this cooking time on your personal preference for liquid content.  Longer cooking time will equal less liquid.

Adding Spice:
If you prefer to add a little kick to your Chili, I suggest to put a chopped jalapeno into the tomato sauce, keep or discard seeds depending on how spicy you want the sauce to be (adding seeds makes it hotter).  I use a food processor to make the jalapeno really small and I only use tongs to handle the jalapeno so as to not get the oils on my hands.  They can burn hours later when removing contacts.

Final 30 minutes - add beans to the tomato/meat sauce and simmer at a low temperature.  serve with your favorite toppings.  We like grated Cheddar Cheese but I've seen it also served with finely chopped onions and sour cream.  

For more details on cooking dried beans, I suggest this blog as they have done a great job with illustrations.  

Printable Recipe Link

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

How to kill "Super Lice"

It's back to school time and that means it's time for the news to remind us that Super Lice are resistant to most over the counter products.  Well, this is not new news because I heard the same thing last year when our girls got infected with lice.

We discovered these horrid little stinkers on my oldest daughter at a rest stop in Illinois while on the first few days of our summer family vacation.  The timing couldn't have been worse.  We then found them on our three year old and my own very long thick hair.

We arrived to my in-laws a few days later with the embarrassing news that three of us were infected with lice and they couldn't have been more welcoming.  We then spent the remainder of the three weeks doing weekly over the counter lice treatments and combing wet hair to remove nits and live bugs.  It seemed like we had made progress.  We did one person each night on a rotation for about an hour and by the time we left Texas we thought we had it under control.

We came home and soaked all our brushes nightly in bleach water and gave each person their own brush so as to not cross contaminate hair.  Then right before school was back in session, we had another outbreak.  It's hard to determine if we got them all the first round, or if we got reinfected.

This time I happened to be at the kids pediatrician and with much red face embarrassment admitted our predicament and asked if she had any advice.  I love our pediatrician for her frank response.  She assured me there was nothing to be embarrassed about, lice is not an indication of uncleanliness and it happens to everyone, including her own daughters.  Then she gave me the advise that actually finished our lice debacle - Listerine.

* Buy a very secure shower cap that is double lined (not the cheap ones you get in a hotel)
* Get the biggest container of Listerine that you can find
* You will need old towels to absorb any liquid that escapes the shower cap
* Do not use the cheap little lice combs that are found in drugstores, go to a pet store and get a proper dog/cat flea and tick comb, it's got a sturdy handle and long metal prongs that work better for combing through nits and removing dead lice post treatment.

Hang one's head over the edge of a bathtub and soak hair with Listerine, squeeze excess liquid gently from hair and then coil the hair around to the back of one's head, then put the shower cap over wet hair for one hour.

Listerine makes one's head feel tremendously cold, so make sure the room is warm and when dealing with a small child and tears, have a favorite movie ready.  A towel should be wrapped around one's neck to catch any liquid that escapes the shower cap.  Put an extra towel on the couch so they can watch a movie in comfort.

I won't lie and say it's an easy treatment, it's very uncomfortable but to have all live lice killed in one treatment is better than what you are going to get with over the counter products so I'd say it's worth it.

After one hour, rinse the hair.  You should see dead lice inside the shower cap and running down the drain as you rinse out your child's hair.

The next step is careful combing through the hair to remove any dead lice and begin to comb through all the nits.  You will probably not be able to remove all nits (small white eggs that are attached to the hair) in one sitting.  It's hard on the little ones to sit more than an hour and it's hard on an adults hands to work meticulously.  One further step we've tried is a 15 minute vinegar shower cap.  It's even more traumatic than the Listerine though because the smell is stronger.  The benefits are that vinegar will loosen the eggs attached to the hair so I only recommend this if you are having trouble removing the eggs.  We have one daughter with very fine hair that required removing the eggs with our fingernails because the comb didn't budge them.  All nits need to die or be removed from the hair, I recommend doing nightly combings until you are sure the head is 100% clean and to prevent any risk of re-contamination.  We continued this for 2-3 weeks until we were positive the girls and myself had clean hair.

The last step is to wash everything their hair has come into contact with:  stuffed toys, bedding, vacuum your couch and floors, and don't forget the car seats.  Here is a great article on cleaning after lice.  Lice can only live up to 48 hours off a person so if it's an option, leave your house for 2 days.

It might be necessary to take a day off work or school to ensure child starts the day with the Listerine process and then spend the day cleaning the house and working on hair.  The more you can get in front of the battle, the shorter the duration of dealing with lice will be.  If taking a day off is not possible, then I suggest to do it on a weekend.

Once you know your child is infected, please make sure their hair is pulled back and braided if possible to keep any fly away hair from brushing against another child if they are in school for the duration of time it takes to get rid of the lice.  Dealing with lice is a huge burden on any parent so it's important to make sure the lice is not spread because maybe that parent will not deal with the situation as well and you risk getting reinfected yourself.

If you are reading this and dealing with lice, I am so sorry for what you are going through.  It sucks, badly, but once you've made it through, you can move on and put this horrible business behind you.  I'm happy to answer any questions you may have that are related to our experience.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Labor Day 2016

Labor Day is one of those free days that makes me just want to work really hard on home projects.  It's not an official "family celebration day" so I don't feel compelled to have a big meal and we always have so many things pending that it's nice to get caught up.  But then I looked into the faces of my kids and I just felt like we needed some balance.  Maybe half work day and half play day.

With our latest batch of tomatoes staring me in the face, I knew I had to process those first.  Considering we've got about 55 pints of sauce, Salsa and pinto's canned, I'm ready for something different so we decided to make Chili with fresh tomatoes - something I've never tried before.

I spent the morning getting beans ready for an all day crock pot cook and prepping the tomatoes while the big kids played outside with the neighbor kids on their trampoline.

By noon I was finished with beans and Chili base so I threw together a quick Chicken Salad for sandwiches.  I love fast recipes that have no leftovers!

Chicken Salad Recipe

- 1 12.5oz can of chunk Chicken (we buy a 6 pack at Costco), drain the juice
- 1/2 cup mayo
- 1 hard boiled egg
- 4oz Montery Jack cheese cut into cubes

Mix the above four ingredients together and serve on sandwich bread with your favorite toppings.  We love fresh tomatoes and avocado!

After lunch, husband needed to finish mowing so while he worked outside, I plowed through the morning dishes.  By 2:30, we were ready for play time!  I had checked our local pool times and thought they were open on Labor Day but when we got there they were closed so we headed to our next favorite water hole, Greenbrier Park!

In looking at past Labor Day's, I can see we've gone to the beach frequently so even though we just went to a lake today, it was nice to sit on sand and watch the kids play.  We always bring sand toys and today there were quite a few kids with no toys on the beach.  I can't help myself, I love watching kids build things in the sand so when asked I will almost always give away a bucket, they are so cheap, I can always get more.

My son asked me to build a sand castle and he's finally of the age where he was dead serious so I showed him the basics and we made this beauty.

I think we need to add more cups and shapes to our sand play kit but this was still fun.  I love building things.

When we left, the kids who got a free bucket from us asked if they could take over the castle.  It was a joy to watch their excitement at getting to work on and expand a sand castle.  I'm glad we got to contribute to their day.