Essential Traditions/Real Food Real Frugal

The archives for the old Essential Traditions blog and the old Real Food Real Frugal Blog

Bad influences on good children

This has been on my mind a lot lately, mostly because my own children are picking up bad habits from the neighborhood children and it bothers me greatly.  My children have been taught what is right, and acceptable and what is wrong, and unacceptable.  We are not perfect people of course, but we do try to get things right and do our best at being good.

Because my boys have done such a great job of showing good judgement in the past, and because they behave so well even when I’m not around we have been giving them a little bit of freedom and permitting them to go outside and play in the front without us.  We keep an eye out, and they have rules such as not doing anything they wouldn’t if we were there and staying where they can hear if we call for them.  It has always gone well, except lately they are slipping.

The last three times I let them out to play I had to go and find them because they’d gone too far to hear us.  Then once as I was rounding the corner to get them, I heard a word that I couldn’t believe escaped my child’s mouth!  I’ve also noticed the two big boys becoming increasingly impatient with one another, and they are playing much more rough with other children.

I thought they were learning these behaviors from other children outside, but no, in reality they are learning them from television because I am not censoring their television as much as I should be.  Yes, some of it is from other children, but really if I look hard at their television time I can see much of that behavior right there on the screen.

The easy solution is to take away TV time, and we have greatly tightened up the restrictions on what they can and can not watch, but is censoring them really the way to go?  I mean will they not encounter these things in the real world as they get older?  Do we not need to teach them how to ignore those influences and do what they know to be right, even when the wrong choice is easier?  How can we teach them to make good choices if we don’t give them a chance to potentially make a wrong choice?

They are good boys, and I know that, they just need more guidance.  I think for now we will keep them closer so we can help them to make those right choices.  We will limit television even more, and remove some programs from their acceptable list, we will observe them more often when they are outside and think we aren’t around, and we will do lots and lots of explaining and teaching as to why something is wrong and why we ought not do it. We will also be using our Bible more often when explaining why something is wrong, this way they are learning a verse or two that will help them make the choice easier in the future.

So is it really the television, and other children influencing them, or are they just stretching their legs, getting ready for the day when they won’t have mommy and daddy to tell them what to do?  Probably it’s a bit of both, so we’ll have to address it as both! Parenting is so not for wimps! 🙂


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The family dinner table, yes or no?

Before I begin, let me just say that I love my children and my family, but we do things a little different at our home.

I know the experts say that families should eat dinner together, and we do eat together, just not like the experts intended I’m sure.  They say the family should eat together at the dinner table, and well sometimes we do, but often that’s not quite what dinner looks like in our home.  You see, my husband works nights, and often dinner is about the only time during his work week that he’s home and able to relax.  In addition to that my husband and I don’t enjoy a lot of conversation with our meal, what we do enjoy is watching a movie or television show during dinner.

So often we all gather in the living room, with the kiddos around the coffee table and hubby and I on the sofa.  There we enjoy our meal together, while watching a movie, and no one is talking or fighting or arguing or yelling.  It’s the quietest time of our day and we all appreciate it that way.  We do sit at our dining table usually for breakfast, just me and the children, and the boys eat there for lunch.

On Sunday and special occasions we do have dinner together at the dining table, and often it’s just not as enjoyable as our meals with movies.  The bigger boys can’t sit together without disagreeing, or competing to see who can talk the most or the loudest, and my little one is too distracted by the talking to bother eating.

To me it’s better that we all enjoy our meal, and create positive experiences and memories with our children than it is the location we have our meal.  So where do you enjoy your dinners?

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What’s in Your Closet?

Good morning!! How did your weekend go? After a hot date with my crochet hook on Friday night, Hubby and I took a just-the-two-of-us road trip up north a ways on Saturday to meet a woman and her husband for dinner. She and the hubster went to the same school in Saudi Arabia and hadn’t seen each other since. Great time, great food, and beautiful area (we’d like to move near there someday!). Yesterday we had a couple over who has a boy not far from Bean in age, so they got to play and we got to chat over a bowl (or two, or four) of hot chili and the football game (which the Ravens won…blah). I hope your weekend was just as fun as ours!

Now, on to the real question: how do you organize the closets in your home?

We live in a too-small-for-all-of-us house, so our closets are a little wonky. The coat closet is out on a front porch that’s super cold in the winter and super hot in the summer, so we really don’t use it for much but storage. We’ve got closets in every room. However, the kids’ room closet is blocked by a bed (and is pretty full of some of my mother’s stuff anyway), so they have their dresser and “closet” downstairs in the basement.

I’ve read books and blogs about bigger families having “family closets” in their home, and I’ve been throwing the idea around lately. My washer and dryer is in the basement, so it would be so much easier to take the clothes right over to be put away stright out of the dryer. There is plenty of room, so storing clothes for all of us would not be an issue. The dressers my husband and I use in our room would have to stay in our room, so we would need to find one more dresser to put downstairs (the boys’ dresser is already down there).

Then there is the matter of organizing the clothing. Should it be hung by size and color? Type of clothing? Person it belongs to? I’m just a little OCD about clothing (in closets and dressers, so I’m not sure what would appeal to my control side. {wink}

So how does your household handle closets and clothes storage? Do you know anyone or have you ever had a family closet? How does it work for you?


What is family and who is part of yours?

I’ve been going through some things lately, minor things, but things and I’ve been helping out a dear friend as well with some things of her own.  One of her chief worries is that being a single mother, if anything happened to her there would be no one to care for her son since she doesn’t have any family to speak of.

I’ve told her over and over that I’d never let anything happen to him, but it seems the lack of family really bothers her.  This got me thinking, as children of God are we not all one big giant family?  If we are brothers and sisters in Christ should we not care for one another as such, certainly to care for EVERY child of God as we would our own child or our own sister would be asking a whole lot from us.

But our dear friends those whom we turn to when we ourselves are in need of a pick me up, should we not treasure them and be there for them as we would family?    I can think of 5 people right off the top of my head whom I call upon when I’m having a bad day, or when I am in need of guidance, support, or just a shoulder to cry on and I can tell you for those 5 dearest friends I would do anything.  If anything ever happened to them, you can bet your bottom dollar that I would in a heartbeat stand up and do whatever needed to be sure their family (spouse, child(ren)) would be ok!

I reminded my friend of that this week, reminded her that I’d never allow anything to happen to her child and that I was here for her in whatever way she needs.  I told her “we are family, and you can depend on me”.  I meant every word, family doesn’t just mean blood relative, not to me.  I take my responsibility as a child of God seriously, and I have sisters and brothers who need me, I will stand up and be their family even if no one else will.

Readers tell me, how do you define family?

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I’m not ready for spring.

Thankfully, the weather isn’t ready for spring either. The temperatures here are in the 20’s. There was a chance for snow/sleet over the weekend, but we got nothing but a few flurries. I *love* winter and snow, so this disappointed me just a little.

Anyway, back to spring. I have not started going over my garden plan yet. I haven’t purchased anything from my seed catalogs. I do have some seed starter pots that I found in some “moving out trash” from a house down the street, still in the box and everything! But that’s about as far as I’ve gotten.

While the seeds for my veggie garden aren’t planted at all, there are seeds sprouting in my heart every single day, no matter what the temperature is outside.

“The heart is like a garden. It an grow compassion or fear, resentment or love. What seeds will you plant there?” ~Buddha

While we are responsible as adults for the seeds that sprout in our own hearts, we are also responsible for the seeds we plant in the hearts of our children. Have you ever truly stopped to think about what seeds you plant? Sometimes if I wake up on the wrong side of the bed or wake up late and don’t get my Bible time in the morning, I’ve seen in the faces of my children that I’m planting the wrong seeds. Then I make a conscious effort to dig those out and plant joy, love, self-confidence. I try to make sure to always plant the knowledge that I love them no matter what, and God loves them no matter what.

Many of the plants in my small backyard garden perished last summer. We had drought conditions and high temps most of the summer, which I could fight on a daily basis. However, we went to a family reunion for a week (a week frought with peril including a car wreck and a burglary, which I’ll leave for another post). I’m not sure what I was thinking (or not thinking, apparently), but I didn’t line someone up to come water the growing plants. Upon our return, the poor plants had shriveled up to almost nothing, and what was left was overgrown with weeds. I salvaged what I could, which wasn’t much…just that short time had taken my once promising vegetable garden to a three-fourths empty plot.

Like my garden, if we leave the seeds of our children’s hearts untended for even a moment, weeds can and will sprout and choke the life out of them. Thistles of hatred, self-entitlement, laziness, resentment, and jealousy can and will take over. We must be diligent in our tending to their little heart-gardens. We must lead them to the Heavenly Father, The Master Gardener. If we do not, the world will most certainly plant seeds of its own.

Gather your gloves, rakes, hoes, and watering cans, mamas and daddies…these gardens we tend are of utmost importance and have been entrusted to us for care.

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I Eat the Bread of Idleness for Breakfast

Today, this verse has really been on my mind today.

She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. ~ Proverbs 31:27

I admit it…I eat the bread of idleness nearly everyday for breakfast! I am so easily distracted and don’t nearly complete most of the things that I need to do. My bread of idleness is TV, the internet, reading and crocheting…and so many other things! . Not that I can’t ever do these things, but I keep forgetting my three primary ministries…Husband, children and home. I’m doing pretty good on the first two, but I’m really failing on the last! My home looks like a disaster area on the best days lately. Let me tell you, God does care about the conditions of our homes, otherwise he wouldn’t be impressing this on my heart so forcefully! I am so frustrated and so overwhelmed….I just don’t know where to start, so I don’t! My heart tells me to just start, do a little at a time and I’ll get caught up. BUT my mind sees the mess and throws up it’s hands and says “I can’t do this by myself!! I don’t know where to start!!”. My heart is the correct one…I can do a little at a time, create new habits, get caught up….I don’t have to do it by myself….GOD IS THERE WITH ME! That’s kind of a revelation to me….God loves me so much that he promises to be with me ALWAYS…even when I’m cleaning house, He’s there right beside me. I clean and He makes my arms strong enough so I have the strength and courage to tackle any household chore, no matter how unsavory it is.

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. ~ Philippians 4:13

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Black Friday?

When I realized that my post would be going up on the day after Thanksgiving, modern termed “Black Friday,” I considered what I might post that would relate to everyone’s shopping on this day. Know what though? By the time you all read this, you’re probably done shopping. All that shopping happens so early that I’ll bet you’ve already had a nap and a meal since then. Yes? Thought so!

So, now that the shopping is over and the bargains have been had, what’s left?

First of all, let’s remember the reason for the season – God’s gift to us, redemption for our sin through the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth, born in a stable and laid in a manger. Did you get that? He was POOR. And not just a little bit of not having this or that. The baby was born where the animals eat. He was the poorest imaginable, but He gave the greatest gift ever given.

This holiday season, as you are out and about and spending money on more and more and more, consider using some of that money and buying from the little guys. Buy from the mom on craigslist or facebook who is selling stuff they currently own in order to buy for her kids for Christmas. Pay her twice what she asked. Buy from the Etsy shop that has almost no sales or reviews. Fill up a box for Operation Christmas Child. Adopt the family you see at the grocery store all the time and lives in the trailer park, and you’ve no idea how they make it from month to month.

We as Americans have so much, and can do with so much less. I don’t care how much you think you lack, I promise you that there are those who have less, and it is up to the church to spread the love of Christ. There is something you can do. Pray about it, and I know that our God is faithful to show you where you can be of help. We can all share, we can all love, and do it without judgment.

Merry Christmas!

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Vitamins A and D

Today I will be sharing about Vitamins A and D and some practical ways to acquire it.

Meanwhile, the bread cubes for dressing are adding up in the freezer. Thanksgiving is still on its way! Today, I am so blessed to have been able to help bring in our harvests. “In everything we give thanks!”

By now, the pumpkins are gone from my patch, and others are here on my porch waiting to be made into pies and canned for other uses. We cut them in strips (from top-to-bottom), removing the rinds and then cooking them to process for canning or freezing. My favorite way is to find that *cold* spot and keep them in winter storage, only cutting one as I need it. We favor the butternut squash ourselves, but so many different kinds of squash and pumpkins are good winter keepers. The Acorn offers more of a nutty-flavored squash, that is also one of the best winter-keepers along with the Waltham Butternut squash. This has been our experience only, and will vary depending where you are located in the U.S.

Vitamin A and D are available through most of the year no matter where you are located in the USA. To me they are important in the winter months, especially Vitamin D. Vitamin D will fight sicknesses. I suggest at least one hour of sunshine or bright light every day to all those who find themselves short on vitamin D in their diet. Its been found to be wonderful in combating that “winter depression” that hits so many people.

Nothing feels better on a cold winter day than to curl up at a cozy spot, by candlelight or soft lighting, and sleep or read. While you need both sleep and relaxation, discipline your body to receive this kind of *pampering* only when its time to relax 🙂 . I needed to learn this myself several years ago.

While fall is one of our busiest times in the growing seasons, it is also very rewarding to see the harvest and know you will be able to enjoy the fruits of your labors in the next few months. A small raised bed, or key-hole garden can offer spinach for your salads or quiche the whole winter long. We enjoy young beet leaves mixed in with salad greens. many times I have combed my yard for *clover*. This is an excellent salad green and has helped me appreciate the *weeds* that keep growing! Sorrel is a wonderful liver cleanser. It’s leaves are shaped very much like clover, but have a small amount of yellow with a black marking next to where the leaf is connected to the stem. While Clover has a mild flavor, sorrel is much more tangy. Using young dandelion greens, and flowers in salads are also boosting to your liver and help in common female problems. We can often do with less than what we think, and at times I need to hear from others, their secrets to living more frugally. My need for greens in my diet, is what really encouraged me to seek out more herbal plants in our front yard, especially those with good proprieties for cleansing my body and bringing rejuvenation and restoration to my health personally.

Be blessed today, there is so much to be thankful for, before we ever reach Thanksgiving Day!


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Teaching Kids the Value of Giving Thanks

I want to take a minute to welcome and tank Kelsey Clark for guest posting here at Finding Beauty today!  I’ve enjoyed reading your article today and I know my readers will as well.  Thanks again Kelsey!

As parents, we feel it’s our job to teach our kids all of the important lessons in life. There are the little lessons, like teaching them to tie their shoes, showing them how to brush their teeth, and helping them learn how to pick out clothes that match. And then there are the big lessons, like teaching them to be upstanding citizens, telling them to always put their best foot forward, and showing them how to be compassionate to others. One of the biggest lessons we can teach our kids is the value of giving thanks every day. Learning to approach each day with gratitude is one of the best things we can impart on our children, and we can help them learn to approach life with appreciation by doing the following:

Get your children involved with those who are less fortunate.

You can tell your kids ‘til you’re blue in the face that they need to finish their meal because of the starving kids around in the world, but if they’ve never seen people who are truly less fortunate than they are then how can they ever empathize? Instead of harping on them about those who are less fortunate than they are, get them actively involved with people who have less. Volunteer at a local food bank or take old toys to a homeless children’s shelter. Let your kids see first-hand that there are people in the world that have much less than them and they’ll likely have a renewed appreciation for what they are blessed with.

Incorporate being thankful into conversations with your kids.

Before you tuck your children into bed each night, have them tell you one good thing that happened in their day, big or small. Taking time to reflect on all of the things that you’re thankful for will help your kids develop a bigger appreciation for those moments, and will teach them to recognize them more readily.

Model thankful behavior through your own actions.

Live the life you want your children to live. If you want them to be thankful, you have to be thankful as well. Children often emulate the behaviors of their parents, so make it a point to express appreciation to your spouse, your kids, your family and your friends. Celebrate the little things. These actions won’t go unnoticed by your children, and they may pick up the same habits without even realizing it.

Make it a habit.

By making expressing gratitude a habit, you’re likely to instill a sense of thankfulness in your children for a lifetime. Don’t just teach them to say thank you, teach them the value of meaning thankfulness. Your children’s actions largely start with you, so model the type of behavior you want to see, expose them to situations that demonstrate true gratitude, and regularly talk about the things in life you’re truly thankful for.

About the Author

Kelsey is the editor in chief for She loves to write article and ideas that parents & nannies would be interested in hearing. She helps society on giving information about nannies through nanny services. She is a professional writer & loves writing on anything.

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Thanksgiving at a Discount

Fall is here. I am thinking pumpkin pies, pumpkin bars, pumpkin spice cookies, even pumpkin spice dip for a fruit platter. By the way, Pumpkin isn’t the only thing I think of at Thanksgiving time. God does have unique ways for us to get our Vitamin A. In the summer we have carrots. I can just about live on carrots, juice that is. Of course your skin may discolor as well, mine did. The liver processing the juice begins to show itself in your skin color. Back to thanksgiving preparation day. How can one have the traditional Thanksgiving meal as a low-priced meal, where any frugal housewife or even a penny-pincher like me can enjoy and be creative?

About 3-4 weeks prior to Thanksgiving begin saving your bread crusts from bread pkgs. or any half pieces that the kids may have discarded in favor of something more tantalizing. These can be cubed and frozen as you come across them. Now to pumpkin pie: You may not be able to buy a pumpkin or even to spend 1.78 for a can of it. Did you know that often carrots are less expensive and can be used in place of pumpkin? If one does not know, it is very tasty, seasoned just as regular pumpkin pie. On the mission field where we were stationed, pumpkins were hard to come by, they were raised for winter cow fodder, and not considered to be “people’ food.

If you can afford only one box of the mashed potatoes, Dollar Tree is the best priced all around. we raise corn in our gardens, so there is usually plenty till Thanksgiving time. I’ve found the turkey is usually the priciest part of the meal. But as I look at it, that *blessed turkey* will make us more than one meal! I can usually count on a 12-15 lb. turkey will make no less than 4-5 meals for us. I am counting on them being as low-priced as .68 a lb. Our family usually enjoys a jello salad as well for this special meal, again if you frequent Dollar Tree you will be blessed to find 3 pkgs. inside one large box.

How much is this *frugal* meal I am describing? You are looking at an approximate figure of $ 16.98 Mashed taters 1.00, jello 1.00( includes spec. ingred.)Stuffing 1.00, sweet corn 1.00, turkey 12-15 lb. 10.68, pie 2.00 If your pie has whipped topping, that would change the price a small amount.

In the coming weeks I will share how to make your *stuffing* from scratch. I will share a pie crust recipe, some possible ways to spruce up that” instant” mashed potatoes. Always cooking with fresh raw items is healthiest. This is not to discourage that, but rather sharing some tips on enjoying Thanksgiving at a discount, because its what you need to do as a family.


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