Getting What You Pay For

This is my sweet mom and my son (18).
Her eyes are not closed because she blinked,
they are closed because she treasures the closeness.
Take time today to treasure the closeness.

(Note: I wrote this to a friend 8 years ago, when my kids were 10 and 12.  I now want to SCREAM it to those with kids still at home:  Treasure. The. Time.)

I am one frugal mama!  (Can I get an amen?)

I used to call myself “cheap,” but my Man didn’t like that very much.  Suffice it to say that I see bargain shopping as a competitive sport, worthy of Olympic status.  Seriously.

What I want to talk about has nothing to do with where to find the cheapest price on cheese this week (Grocery Outlet, by the way), rather it has to do with how you invest your time.  Specifically, how you invest your time with your children. Time is money.  Time is not cheap.  Time is fleeting.

We have 18 years, give or take a few here and there, depending on the circumstances, to invest in our children’s lives.  It seems so long at the beginning! Now that we are more than halfway through this bumping, winding, ever-exciting path of parenting, 18 years ain’t nothing!  No time at all.  I remember the hospital, lots of sleeping, nursing, and BOOM! here we are staring down the teen years like a double barrel shotgun aimed straight for our eyes. YIKES!  It makes me want to shore up how I spend my time.

There are things that rob time and kill relationship.  These are a huge waste.

Things that waste my time:  the internet, facebook, netflix, arguing with people in my brain, bad memories, being mad, gossiping, carrying a grudge

Things that redeem my time:  Teaching my kids, actively ministering together, snuggling, reading, cooking, learning, being a team, building a fire, setting up the camper, taking the more scenic route, cleaning my house, writing.

As you are looking for ways to save money, I encourage you to spend equal time looking for ways to wisely spend your time. Invest that time in those things that last forever.

3 Hots: Week 5, Day 4

Today we worked on a couple of house projects.  This means that all of the meals today were prepared by our Daughter, 13, and son, 11.  Actually most (like 90%) of the cooking in our home is done by the kids.  Let’s hear it for training up kids!  WOO-HOO!


Lunch – We built a bonfire outside to burn off some odds and ends from splitting wood, so the kids decided to roast hotdogs over the fire.  We don’t eat buns with our dogs.  just not needed.
Mac and Cheese (left overs)
Greens (left overs)

Spaghetti with homemade meat sauce with hidden veggies.  When the kids were little I started hiding veggies in different foods. Meat sauce is the easiest place to do this. Tonight’s sauce had carrots, onions, and zucchini.  We saute the veggies, then use an immersion blender on them before adding them to the sauce.

Tomorrow we have pork on the menu. That went into the brine tonight so it can soak for 24 hours. This makes a huge difference in the flavor and juiciness.


3 Hots: Week 5, Day 3… naughty girl!

OK.  I know.  I make all these promises and I break them.  Naughty, naughty me.  Things are just so busy and blah, blah, blah…

So here we are on Wednesday, let me catch you up.

Monday we went for our store run.  We found the following for $1.49:
3 packs of Mushrooms
5 lb bags of Fuji apples
5 lb bags of Red Delicious apples
3 lb bag of lemons
bag of org celery
bag of baby Romaine lettuce
3 lb bag of onions

In addition, we gathered 6 lbs of Kale and Curly Mustard greens from Mom’s garden.  Their garden has been crazy productive all winter, and we are very thankful.


Apple Breakfast Cobbler
Baked potatoes
Butter, sour cream and cheese
DinnerLettuce wraps – chicken, cabbage, carrots, onions, water chestnuts
Romaine Lettuce
Hashbrowns (made from the left over potatoes from lunch yesterday)
Homemade chicken noodle soup – Yesterday I bought a pack of chicken breasts, brought them home and filleted them.  We used the meat for the Lettuce Wraps, and then boiled the bones with celery and onions and spices to make stock.  We used that to make the soup today.  To the stock we added carrots, celery, onions and noodles.
DinnerSteaks (we found them marked down to half price at the store Monday.  We bought 2 and just split them.)
Mac and cheese (such a comfort food!  We used De’Boles corn pasta for this.)
Kale and Mustard Greens from Granny’s garden
Greek Salad

So that is this week so far.

If you are interested in any recipes or have ideas to share, please feel free to.



Week 4, Day 3

Tonight is my last night with my class at the college (I teach in the Business Department), so I am making dinner for  the students.  Well, actually the Girl is making dinner… maybe we can come to an understanding that when I say “I cooked, prepared, etc,” It means that she cooked, prepared, etc.

Grits with cheese
Fried Eggs
(Could it be more Southern?!)

Chicken Salad (left over chicken, celery, onions, pickle relish and some mayo)
Homemade crackers (
Apples and pear slices

Chili with cheese, sour cream and hot sauce options
Cornbread with Cracklins (If you do not know what cracklins are, I am very sad for you. 😦  Make friends with a Southern Cook, just so you can learn to cook with Cracklins.  It is worth the effort. 🙂 )

See you tomorrow!


Week 4, Day 1: Back on the wagon…

Well, that was a crazy week that just got away from me.  Back on the straight and narrow this week.  I intend to follow through… we shall see.

Monday is our mark-down day at our grocery.  Here are my 1.49 deals on Produce:
2 – 3 lb bags of organic pears
1 – 3 lb bag of organic apples
1.5 lbs of org cukes
2 lb of Lemons
12 oz org mushrooms
8 oz org mushrooms
2 – 1 lb org Spinach
4 – 24 oz bags of grated cabbage
2 crowns of org celery
Meats today brought us a huge surprise!  There was a new boy working in the butcher area, and he marked down the pork chops, ham hocks and loin chops to .09 cents per pound.  He would not accept that he made a mistake, so we got packs of all of those for .14 – .39 a pack.  You really can’t beat that one!  Mayberry’s pork is more expensive than that!

Raisin Bread Toasted
Scrambled eggs with onions and ham

Stir fried a bag of the grated cabbage with some ground pork that we seasoned with ginger and Thai spices.  Added in leftover broccoli, rice and carrots from last night.  YUM!

Chicken wings with hot sauce and Blue cheese
Salad – had to balance out the rest of it somehow

We put a whole chicken to brine tonight.  It is butterflied and we will bake it tomorrow evening.  Brining meat ahead of time adds so much flavor to it.  Really worth the effort.

Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions.


3 Hots: Week 2, Day 4

It’s Thursday already?!  Where has this week gone?

We had our homeschool co-op group here today, and that means each family brought a dish to share. Co-op lunches are generally junk-foodier (I made that word up. HA!)  than we usually make, and today was no exception.
Nacho Dip – Velveeta (which is Gluten Free. Who knew?!), hamburger and Ro-tel, served with tortilla chips
Egg salad sandwiches on Chebe rolls
No-Bake Cookies – made with GF oatmeal, peanut butter and chocolate
Baked potatoes – Our Girl cut them in half lengthwise and put them cut side down on a baking sheet prepared with olive oil.  This cuts the baking time in half, and gives the potatoes a crisp, yummy side that reminds one of a french fry.  Nothing wrong with that!
Green Beans
Junk food every now and then isn’t so bad if you balance it with healthier foods over a period of days.
See you Friday.

Three Hots on a Tuesday

Today I was on the road for our business, so the kids had the run of the kid-tchen on their own.


BREAKFAST was simple this morning: Sausage and Eggs, and bananas.  We butchered our pig, Skillet, the week before Christmas and we have some terrific, lean sausage.

For LUNCH, the Girl made burgers, fries and carrot sticks.  This was a big hit, especially with Dad! 

I called on my way back into town tonight and was so excited to find out that they were making my favorite rainy-day dish for DINNER:  Vegetable Beef Soup and Cornbread!  YUM!  The Girl made the cornbread in our biggest cast iron skillet, so it was crispy and tender.  I like a little hot sauce and sharp Gruyere in my soup.  (My mom makes some wonderful hot sauce, sister!)   The Boy likes sour cream in his soup.  We were all quite satisfied!

One of the most used skills I have taught the kids in cooking is to build flavor profiles.  For example, if we are having tacos for lunch, we wouldn’t use Italian seasonings.  We would build the flavors with cumin, coriander, chipotle, etc.  If you stick to a consistent profile in the different elements of your meal,the dishes meld together well.

See you tomorrow! 

~Carroll Sue

Three Hots or Adventures in Meal Planning

I talk with other homeschooling moms every day.  (I dearly love my circle of friends.)  One of the recurring themes is “What are you cooking today?”  We cook 3 hot meals a day –  Everyday – and we serve 4-6 adult portion eaters at each meal. (In addition to our own two, we also homeschool 2 other young people.)  We are Gluten Free. We use raw dairy. We use mostly organic, local produce and meats.  Our monthly budget is just $450.  We grow, can, dehydrate, make from scratch and buy ahead as much as possible.  We very, very rarely use a product that is processed (the exception is my husband loves American Cheese. 🙂 )

My goal is to share what we are cooking each day, in order to

  • A. Help others with ideas for their own family.

  • B. Help me keep track of good ideas and abysmal failures.


February 18


  • Oatmeal with almonds and raisins

  • Coffee (adults)  Milk (kids) and Water

  • Bananas



  • I baked 2 chicken breasts (seasoned with a citrus rub and salt, no oil. I put them in a baking dish in the oven for about 35 min, until the internal temp reached 170.  This was the juiciest chicken I have made in forever!)  After they had cooled a bit, I took the meat off of the bone and made Chicken Salad (diced chicken – about 4 cups altogether, about 1/3 c mayo, chopped onion, chopped celery, citrus seasoning to taste. I didn’t have any sweet pickles, or I would have added them as well.)

  • I baked crackers to go with the Chicken Salad, using this recipe

  • Sliced apples



  • Pad Thai with chicken and lots of veggies (broccoli, zucchini, onion, yellow squash, celery, carrots). 

I will try to keep up with this on a daily basis, and you feel free to share recipes, meal planning ideas and what is working for your fam.

~Carroll Sue

Real-Life Home-Educating

A friend of mine and I were having coffee the other day (really strong coffee in the middle of the day, no less!), just chatting about our kids and homeschooling and all of that.  A lady at the table beside us was obviously eavesdropping, and after she paid her bill, she came back to our table.
“I couldn’t help overhearing you talking about homeschooling.  I have felt the pull to home-school my children for 3 years, they are now 9 and 8, but everyone I talk to tells me how expensive it is and how hard it is.”
“Oh, girl,” says I, “you need to talk to some real-life homeschooling moms!  It is neither expensive nor difficult.  I mean, some days are challenging, but so are days when you are working a job or running a business.”
“I have been talking to other homeschooling moms,” She said.  “They’ve told me that they spend $500 – $1000 a year. And there are weeks that they are just in tears trying to keep their kids on track and their houses are a wreck and their husbands aren’t happy…”

Wow!  I stood up and hugged her (to keep from crying or laughing out-loud).  “We are starting our 9th year of teaching our kids at home, and if you combined all the books and supplies I have bought for school over those 9 years, it wouldn’t equal $500.  Yeah, sometimes my house is a wreck.  Sometimes I want to flush my kids’ heads in the toilet.  Sometimes I wrack my brain trying to remember how to divide fractions.  But, dang!  It is so worth it.”

We don’t offer our kids a cut rate education.  They are getting the best, because they are getting me. HA!  Not that my brain is the best, but my love for them  is the best.  No one else in the world cares as much about my kids learning as I do.  We can explore and search and learn all they are interested in.  We can surge ahead or slow down as needed.  We can field trip to our hearts’ content.  And WE DON’T NEED A JACKED UP CURRICULUM TO DO IT!  HA!

Some ways to save:

  • Ask Family members for specific gifts that fit the needs of your children and their education:
    Memberships to local zoos, Nature Centers, Museums, etc.; Horseback Riding Lessons; A Kindle; A series of books your child wants/needs; tickets to a play or ball game.  Our extended family has been curious and supportive on this journey.  They really like to feel a part of our kids’ education, and appreciate when I recommend something specific.

    Horse-back Riding lessons were a big hit this Spring
  • Get a Kindle (or tablet of your choice).  ALL, and I do mean ALL, of our kids’ literature books on FREE on the Kindle.  This is true not only for the coming year, but throughout middle and high school.  ALL.
  • Join a local Home-School Support Group.  These groups often have book sales and lending libraries. You will build relationships with other parents and talk about what is working for them;  borrow and lend books; plan trips together; share your experiences and encourage one another.
  • Join a group-learning or co-op group.  Each parent can teach the group something they are passionate about!  In our co-op group, Allison teaches American History; Krista teaches Science; I teach Sign Language; Natalie does craft projects that support the learning in History.  Janelle has wee ones ones, so she tends them while the others are learning. We are an informal group that has been together for 4 years.  Our kids now range in age 2  – 15 years old, and they enjoy the benefits of long-term friendships.  We eat lunch together each week.  We laugh and play and encourage each other… and the kids do too. 🙂  My Co-Op group has been one of the greatest assets to our home-schooling experience to this point.

    Some of the kids from our Wonderful Co-Op
  • Shop the Back-To-School sales at the end of summer and grab up a pile of spiral bound notebooks, pencils, glue, tape, crayons, etc.  I spent less than $20 at the beginning of the school year and have needed to buy nothing else this year.  I am not crafty, so I don’t spend money on doing crafty things, as some of my peers do.

There are folks that spend big bucks on curriculum, books and supplies.  But they don’t HAVE to do it.  They CHOOSE to do it.   Their kids aren’t smarter/faster/cuter/less smelly… they just use a different means of educating their kids. If you are currently home-schooling, I encourage you to not put a burden on those considering doing the same.  One does not need to spend big bucks to teach their kids at home.  You may choose to do that, but don’t pass that yoke on to another.

We use a Classical Approach to education.  Lots and lots of good, classic books.  We teach the kids to think and find information.  We teach them to reason and apply scripture.  We memorize a whole lot.  But more, so much more, we love.  We love being together; we love learning together; we love traveling together; we love discovering together.  We love.

If you are feeling the pull to home-school, but are afraid of the costs.  Don’t be.  You don’t have to spend a dime more than you would buying supplies to send your kids to school.  You may have a messy house from time to time, but who doesn’t?  You may have days (or weeks) when you feel like nothing is getting through (like algebra!).  But I experienced that a million times more in my career life than I do in my home-school life.

Be encouraged.  You don’t have to be brilliant, rich or Super-Mom to teach your children at home.  Just look at me! HA!