My frugal productivity for the week

frugal productivity seriesAs you know we have had a busy few weeks.  With friends coming to stay, celebrating Dad’s birthday, and finally ending up at Kidfest, we have spent more out of our finances than usual.

IMG_20160425_165341  Having ice cream out for Dad’s birthday.

We planned for it and was prepared, but now that all of the sugar cereal, special treats, and sodas are gone it is time to detox off the “rich foods.”

I purposed to not spend anything on groceries this week because we had a lot of “gathering up our scraps” to eat.  One thing that I had bought a lot of last week were eggs.  The price of eggs has been high this past year here ($1.80/dz), thus the reason we got some laying hens.  This past week I saw them for 89 cents!  I couldn’t believe it.  So I bought 10 dozen eggs and we ate multiple breakfast dinners during the week and then I decided to freeze some for baking in the coming months.


When we moved here, we left behind our 25 laying hens but brought with us 18 dozen eggs.  Those don’t travel well, so I decided to freeze them.  It was so nice to be able to pull them out and use them in our baking without having to run to the store if I was out of eggs.  Last time I did it in ice cube trays, but this time I used yogurt containers, as I had those and not the trays.  I cracked 2 eggs into each cup and whisked them with a fork carefully.  Put them in the freezer and then took them out when solid.  If they sat out for a few moments to slightly thaw, they were much easier to pop out into bags to freeze.  Now I have a few dozen stored up for later use.

We also made a bunch of hard boiled eggs.  These were great for easy snacking and quick meals for myself.

IMG_20160419_083006Now that we have had our fill of eggs, I had to make meals out of my pantry and freezer.  Here is what we had this week:

  • grilled chicken and couscous with parsley,dill, and chicken bouillon
  • spaghetti—we ALWAYS have this on hand
  • ribs for men and mac and cheese and smoky links for kiddies
  • hamburgers—using canned biscuits for the buns—yes I could have bought a $1 pack of buns but remember no spending:)  for the men and tostadas for the kids with refried beans, cheese, and salsa
  • chili and corn bread—we almost always have this stuff on hand too

Lunches were mixtures of things—-creativity.  One day I took some cabbage vegetable soup that I had in the freezer and added the leftover mac and cheese and smoky links to it and made a soup?!?!?  Served it with crackers and sliced cheese.  The stipulation was if you ate some of the soup–chocked full of kale, and veges–not always my children’s favorite, then you got to have ice cream later that evening.  They ate it:)

One meal was peanut butter and crackers, string cheese, and orange slices.  If your children are not running around being super active, they don’t need tons of food to keep them going.  We ate light this lunch but made a fuller dinner.

Haitian rice and beans we ate a few times. This is easy and cheap to make as well and my children all love it.

For a treat, I had all the ingredients for granola bars, as we had leftover smores material so we made that for this week.  I added a few candy bars ground up in the food processor because I only had a couple.

We have many oranges still in the refrigerator so I push those when someone needs a snack.  I had bags of french toast sticks that I made about a month ago and froze that we used for breakfast each day.  Normally we have cereal everyday, but we ran out of milk and I did not want to buy any.

My son and husband take a lunch everyday and I am thankful that they love ground up ham with miracle whip spread on sandwiches.  I even got creative for them after I ran out of sliced bread and used my skinny buns for bread.  Normally they would not eat them, but they said they were very tasty:)  Today I used up the last of the sub bread I had in the freezer for them.  I take whole hams that I get cheaply and grind them up and store them in the freezer.  When I need some, I take it out and let it thaw.  Mix it up for sandwich spread with miracle whip and spread on bread.  Easy and they love it!

We also have many homemade popsicles that we made last month.  I bought pudding for 10 cents a box—birthday cake flavor and chocolate and I got powdered milk for less than 50 cents a box.  That was very cheap so we have a whole shelf of frozen popsicles to eat up as well.

We are definitely not starving—there is plenty of food to eat—it is just about gathering up your fragments and using what you have.  Today I have to run out and get a few household items like toilet paper, laundry soap, dish soap, and sandwich bread:)  I will pick up a few items for Collin’s birthday dessert this weekend but I am still not going to buy food items.  I will wait until next week when I absolutely have nothing left:) or so I think I have absolutely  nothing left–we always have something, its just about what we will tolerate.  Keep your meals simple.

I still have a bushel of sweet potatoes that I throw in and bake each day.  I make sweet potato fries out of them and I love eating them.  My family not so much, but it is food for your belly and good for you so that is what I eat.

I have continued to hang out my laundry only using the dryer a few times this week due to rain.  Even when we had a household of people–my dryer was broken and did not get fixed until later in the week, but I survived, it was about planning ahead.

Even when it was hot here—high 90’s we could have put in our air conditioners, instead we filled up the pool and splashed in that.  By night time the air turns cool and we are fine. Some nights it was a little warm but I knew this week was going to be cooler so we didn’t.  Saving and putting off as long as we can.

Our chickens are starting to eat scraps from our meals which is nice.  I have been letting them out earlier in the day around 2 so that they can eat off the land instead of just chicken feed.  That will save as well.  They love food and it is better for them then just feed.  So it works.  The problem is, I was used to 30 ducks and chickens eating our scraps so nothing was left for waste, well now we have only 6 so they don’t eat as much.  I have to be selective in what foods I throw out for them otherwise I will have a pile of rot!

Being frugal this week was about being laid back as well.  My children are tired from all that we have done lately and that is okay.  As a mom I recognize this and let them relax.  We didn’t do a whole lot, just enjoyed being home.  I didn’t have anyone over, we didn’t run anywhere, we spent most of our time catching up on much needed rest and quiet. That is important for emotions and such.  It is okay to not do anything but sit by the pool and chill.  I know my days will be busy but for now we enjoy some quiet.

I hope that if your week has been overwhelming you choose to do what is best for your family and yourself.  Sit and relax. Play with your children outside.  Go sit by the kiddie pool or better yet get it in it!  There is nothing wrong with doing nothing for a change:)  We as moms are busy, taking a much needed break is good.  Put down your phones and just chill.  Let your mind relax.  Do nothing and don’t worry about what you are “supposed to be doing.”

Have a great weekend!  Be blessed and know you are thought of:)

DIY inexpensive patio deck summer decorations and some family fun times

IMG_20160423_133620IMG_20160423_133620We have had a busy few weeks here at the Maryon household.  My husband has been busy with our home business, Ridgeline Carvings doing lots of extra work making signs and products for people.  We just acquired a CNC Laser machine to help grow our business more efficiently.  We have been designing new products and making new test products for our vendors.  It has been a good learning time.  Here is one that I designed recently:

IMG_20160414_191936Something to enjoy while I sit outside with the children and they swim in the pool. We spend most of our time on the deck. As we know about the poisonous spiders, snakes, fire ants, and lizards?!?!?!  I am thankful that we have a large one that affords us the ability to play and also lounge on it.   Last year was the first summer we spent here and we just had a few chairs and a hard, durable kiddie pool with slide to splash in.  They were the only items to make “the list” when we moved.  Well we learned real fast how hot it can get in the Carolinas.  We had many melted and shrunken flip flops.  We had an umbrella tent that covered an area for the children but the mountain wind whipped that off real quick one week—no more tent. We spent many hours indoors because the sun was so hot and we all splashed as much as we could in the kiddie pool starting in March!!  The lake didn’t open up until the end of May.

This year I decided to do some more options for us because we do spend much time outside.   But having this large family, I had to do it frugally. Thank goodness for the internet and ideas!

I set up this side for us to relax and chill on and then the other side of it we set up the kiddie pool.

IMG_20160504_120425My husband made us a high back bench, similar to like a park bench.  He always has wood scraps and wants to find things to make with them.   I then went to Walmart and found the navy and white cushions for $15 to use on it. IMG_20160504_120434The coffee table I bought off of Amazon for $30.  It is plastic and works as a nice table for drinks or food. IMG_20160504_120449 I then used a wooden box I had and put some different candles that I had in the house out for decoration.

IMG_20160504_130911Off to the left of the bench is a smaller plastic side table covered with a piece of navy and white material for a bottom skirt.  I then add a chunk of tree round I got from a friend to use as a large table top.  I put some more candles that we had in the house for decoration.IMG_20160504_120442I made my own chaise lounge to lay on when we were outside sunning.  I had it on “the list” for my hubby to make, but he is especially busy so I knew I probably would not get that made right away.  I had to improvise.  My son was throwing away his wooden broken futon bed and I looked at it and thought I could make something from it.  I decided to use the base of it and make it work.  All I had to do was cut some legs out of some of the scrap bars from the back, glue them, and screw them in.  Was easy and it works!  I spray painted it to match the rest of the furniture and then I made a cushion.  IMG_20160504_130207

I found a piece of that eggshell padding mat for beds.  I cut it into thirds and the tough part was finding a piece of material to match what I already had for colors outside.  I didn’t want to spend a lot of money because that defeated my purpose of doing this myself and having it be on the cheap, so I scoured Goodwills every time I went out.  I checked the tablecloth section of stores and even looked at just using material but it was still going to be expensive for the size I needed.  I wanted it to be durable and so I would have to use the more expensive yard of material and I didn’t want to spend that much money.  I then found at Goodwill a navy shower curtain.  It is durable and has a slight lining for waterproofing.  It fit perfect for what I needed and I spent $5!!! I just did a simple hand stitch all the way around the pad.


Our deck is weathered.  The wood needs to be sanded down or replaced, not something we wanted to do.  I looked at outdoor rugs and found some but they were $75 at Target.  Hmmmm….I had to do something cheaper.  I wanted to be able to sit and have my feet on a smooth surface.  I found an idea of where someone had made a painted outdoor rug.  I found a navy material tablecloth at Goodwill for around $3.  I then used some of my husband’s outdoor polyurethane and a roller brush and I was set.  I set out my tablecloth on a piece of cardboard and rolled on the paint.  It soaked through to the other side so I had no need to flip it.  I then clipped it to my clothesline, barely turning over the edges and let it dry.  It resembles a stiff wet towel dried outside in the wintertime:) It has a little bit of bend to it but not as much as it would if I did nothing to it.  IMG_20160504_120508

I then had my husband hang up my porch sign to enjoy while sitting outside.  Did you know you don’t have to drill into the brick?  They make “brick clips” for a few dollars at your hardware store.  Look for them.  Amazon sells them too.IMG_20160504_120527

Umbrellas are a MUST here in the Carolina’s  where temperatures on my deck reach 100 degrees in summertime!! I had been looking at my options at local stores and they were expensive.  A regular tabletop umbrella was around $60 and the bigger side armed ones that I really wanted were $300 with a base! Hmmm I had to come up with something different.  I then found on Amazon these umbrellas.  IMG_20160504_120627

These are the same umbrellas that you find in the stores like Lowes, Walmart, Target, etc.  The only difference is that they do not have a weighted base.  What others did was to put a couple of sand bags on it to weight it down, but what I had my son do was to use some bolts to attach it to our deck.  It has screw holes made just for that purpose.  You can turn the umbrellas all the way around depending upon where you want them.  They fold down very easily and you can open or close them as needed.  I usually keep them down and then open them slightly to keep areas of the deck covered for the children and the dog.  When we are outdoors we open them all the way up.  By keeping them slightly closed helps them to not get caught in the wind.  We have some strong winds and they are made to swing more verses flip inside out like an umbrella normally does.  And the cost……is $75!!!   I ended up buying two after we received the first one because I loved them and knew we would use them all of the time and we do!!!

IMG_20160504_120608  Next was some sort of lighting.  We have porch lights but you want something dimmer for night time.  I found the globe light bulb string set on Amazon for $20.  I took some wood strips that my husband cut from a 2×4 and painted them along with the fencing on our deck.  (1 gallon of paint)  I screwed them to the deck bars and used U hooks to attach the lights to the top of the poles.  I then weaved an extension cord under my deck over to the plug and viola we have lights!IMG_20160504_122442

The other side of the deck is the kiddie pool.  I put down a large tarp as to prevent holes in the pool.  We bought the large family swim pool at Walmart for $15.  I fill it up with an electric air pump and it takes me less than a minute for each plug.  I fill it up and when the kids swim we set up the umbrella to shade them.  I keep it down in the morning so that it can get the water warmer.  To drain out the pool, which we do every two days I scoop out as much as I can and pour it on my flowers and mini garden we planted.  Then I pull the plugs on pool and let it deflate.  All the water runs out and then all I have to do is hose off any dirt.  Let it sit overnight and fill it back up in the morning.  It works!IMG_20160504_122608 Then here is my outside shoe rack.  Yes, I am sure you can find something a little more pretty, but when you are trying to work with what you have, this is what you end up using:)  I took a plastic draw frame and painted it the same color as I did my chaise lounge.  I then cut sticks to hot glue to the rows to make shelves.  I have the children put their shoes on it everyday to keep them from melting.  This works way better than what we had last year—–a pile of shoes that had shrunken from being in the sun!!

Now we can enjoy our time outside this summer.  I keep a trashcan over the side of the deck to easily throw in Popsicle sticks from our homemade ones.  I have a plastic picnic table for the kids outside and I have their fold up chairs sitting outside always too. I keep a bucket in the corner for pool toys.  The dog spends much of her mornings up here too in the shade but when the sun is shining she is down in the yard.  I moved her dog house under some bushes to help shade her.  Which btw I spray painted with the same color brown I used for the deck stuff–makes it look way better!  This works. When it rains, I bring in the cushions to the front porch along with the rug.

Now for some family fun……………..


We had friends here this past month and we enjoyed swimming at Lake Jocassee.  It was the first time this year we swam in the lake.  We were bragging up how beautiful this lake was with its crystal clear blue lagoon look to it and when we arrived, all of the pollen here in the Carolina’s had covered the shoreline with this scummy mass!  Aghhhh after the children stirred it up it looked better.IMG_20160424_110851

My friend and I went hiking up Chimney Rock.IMG_20160424_120609

We then hiked down to Hickory Nut Falls to see the waterfall.  It was a beautiful day!IMG_20160424_194245

Here Brooklyn is enjoying some ice cream outside with friends.IMG_20160424_194255


Jadyn and friend serving up ice cream!  We had a fire later that night and made some smores.  It was an enjoyable time.IMG_20160430_084246

After they left, the next weekend the girls and I headed to Pigeon Forge Tennessee for Kidfest.  When we lived in Michigan, the older four went to Kidfest 10 years ago.  That was when we fell in love with the south and knew we wanted to move here.  It was nice to be able to take the next group of children to the event.  We had a great weekend.  Good performers, great music, and great memories with our new church.  And the drive was only 2 hours vs 10 hours!  IMG_20160501_090421Now it is back to reality.  Time to get the house back in order.  Start school back up so we can finish and get testing done. I have also been working on branching out and doing bigger advertising in Homeschooling magazines for my Home Economics books.  That is a bigger step and one of complete faith.  When you pray for direction and God gives it, you have to obey and trust.  I am excited for what is around the corner for us and being able to be part of this great journey of life.  I also am planning a bible study on my books for the summer—another complete step of faith.  I don’t know that many people as we are still relatively new, but I know God will bring the people I need for it.

My week has been laying low, thus the long post:)  It is good to ease back into normal and it is okay to take it slow and get caught up on rest.  It is best for everyone especially children and schedules.  I don’t mind staying less social for a few days, its good.

  Enjoy your day no matter what your doing.  Take the time to do what you need the most.  If you need a break, then take one.  If you need rest, get it.  Do what you need so that you can be ready for what’s next!  Be blessed.  Amy

Should you have your older children help with the younger children?

I never wanted to be one of those moms who had all of my older children do all of the work and take care of the little ones so that I could “have” my large family.  I just didn’t see that it was fair to them.  I see many older girls “stuck” in large families constantly taking care of their baby siblings and I think, “Where is the Mom?”  I know she is busy, I have been there, but I just saw it as unfair to have them constantly taking care of the little ones so that mom could do other things.  I even watched many of times and felt jealous because I was ALWAYS holding my little ones and did not get a break at all.

What do you do?  Is it wrong to have the older children taking care of the little ones?  I think you can have a balance.  As a Mom of lots of little ones I had to realize that my life was going to be busy.  There was no time to do things that “I” wanted to do.  Get on the internet for a few minutes…..forget that.  Take a shower every day when I wanted…..forget that.  Even when I was so sick in bed with the flu, I had to figure out how to do that with a nursing baby and a busy toddler.    I had to set aside my thoughts of what “I” was used to doing and start doing what my first job was to do….taking care of the little ones.

I do think that older ones can help with the younger children to a point, but I don’t feel that the majority of their care should be upon them.  I have no problem having my older ones help me take care of the little ones, especially if we are going to be doing something bigger—like getting ready for an event or even taking them all out of the home.  There was a time when if I was going to be taking them all out to even the park, I needed help or we were not going.  You have to do what you have to do, but a constant stream of older ones holding the responsibility is not good.

What we did was have times during the day that the older ones were to spend with the little ones.  This gave me a break from having to “do it all.”  As well as help teach the older ones how to be responsible, interact with little ones, as well as do something for someone else.

Some of the older ones I had to have a list of activities that they could play with the younger ones.  I printed it off and had it hanging by our activity shelf.  This way, when play time came around, they could look at the list and see what they could do with the younger ones.  I listed things that I didn’t have time to do with them (or things that were WAY too messy to do with all of them.)

  • playdough
  • coloring
  • blocks
  • puzzles
  • Go Fish
  • Candy Land
  • Paper cutting and glue

I had them play in various parts of the home so that they wouldn’t be interrupted.  If I had to keep my eye on some of them, I kept them near me where I was working, but still enough so that they could feel they were “alone.”

I scheduled it right into our school day and divided it up for the week so that everyone had a chance to play with a younger one.  I even did a time for the baby.  I have many pictures of my older one reading books to my toddler.  I didn’t even have time to do that during my busy day.  I am thankful she enjoyed reading to them.

As my younger ones are older now, I can divide up the time that the older children spend with them as well.  Now they enjoy playing things like board games as a group, going outside to play catch, or playing red light green light.  My boys love when older brother Evan, builds them creations out of Legos.  It may seem simple, but it is a time that they get to build some bonding time with the younger ones and at the same time, I can get a break.

My little ones look forward to the day and often ask, “Who gets me today?”  If you haven’t implemented this before in your large family, expect your older ones to grumble and complain a bit.  I had the eye rolls, the staring at the clock—in hopes of their time to fly by, and a couple of verbal complaints in the beginning.  I just kept it positive and said, “Wow, you really did a good job playing with Stephen today.  He really looks forward to the time you spend with him.”  Things like that.  Build them up.  Let them know that what they are doing is making a lasting impression upon their younger siblings.  Be consistent. Continue doing it everyday.

Don’t let them feel that because they grew up in a large family that life is burdensome or that they always had to take care of a sibling.  Teach them to build relationships, grow bonds of friendship among each other, and to instill good character traits among one another.  We are training up our children to have compassion for one another, to help when there is a need, and to learn how to interact with little ones.  We are NOT having more children so that they can take the brunt of the work that God has given to us.  We don’t have large families so that we can still be “comfortable” and have “me time.”  All those things will come back as they get older, I promise moms of little ones.  But for now, we need to set aside our ideals and pick up our boot straps and just figure it out.

Be blessed as you go about your day.  Smile even if you can’t get everything done.  Put down your phone, turn off the tv, and dig into the work that is set before you.  Know that there are moms out there in the same situation as you are.





Planning school for the summer??

I know it is only April………why would you say I am planning school for the summer?!?!? To be prepared.

We are actually almost finished with this year’s school.  Well, we have a few more math pages left and then it will be time to do testing.  For the most part we are done with our “core” and are just finishing up little things.  It is starting to reach 80-90 degrees here in the Carolina’s —time for outside fun!

I would love for my children to do absolutely no school all summer, but I find that if I don’t have them do some structured stuff each day—the day turns into —too much tv, tablet, or computer time.  This starts to breed anger and self centeredness among them—never good when you have 7 at home!!

We ALL need to have a plan to do something otherwise we start getting lazy and start doing things we shouldn’t be doing—thus my reason for schooling through the summer.

This won’t be at all like we did throughout the year.  If my children worked diligently, they could technically be done within an hour or so after starting.

Here is what we are going to do:

We will continue on with our XtraMath online flash cards.  If you don’t know about this—it is wonderful.  It is a free program, you sign up and choose which math facts you want your children to master and then each day they go and work for about 5 minutes to complete them.  About once per week, I receive an email that gives me progress reports.  It lets me know which days they did it—so I can check:)  and how many they have mastered.  It will completely replace your physical flash cards or written math facts quizzes.

I then evaluated my children’s school for the year and have decided we are going to work on our penmanship and writing skills more this summer.  I get lapsed, I let them be sloppy and don’t always correct.  Thus the reason for focusing on that this summer. I copied from Ruth Beechicks book You can teach your child successfully Grades 4-8.  Her ideas for writing.  This is a great resource book, I have used this since I began homeschooling 15 years ago.

Basically you give your child a passage to copy at the beginning of the week.  They then go through and do different English lessons with that passage.  Basic, simple, but still engaging.  They may copy it again later that week.  I will require that it is copied neatly, perfectly, or it will be written again.  This will be for my 4-7 graders.

Download writing practice for 4-7 th grader

I will also have my 1st-2nd grader practice with the same type of work.  It is not as in depth, but it will help her practice doing cursive writing more.

Download cursive penmanship practice for 1-2nd grader

Before we start this, I will have them perfecting their cursive lettering.  I will use this sheet and let them practice before we embark on our summer writing.  I will probably use this over the next month, using one quote each week.  I will have them copy it, correct any changes, and then have them recopy it again to look exactly as the model.

Download cursive writing practice

Spelling…….we do spelling lists each week, but I am not overly concerned with spelling.  It will come naturally as they read more and write more.  I took Ruth Beechicks list of the words she recommends for grades to know.  Most of them my children already know how to write, so this will be an easy lesson each day.  I am going to take the number of words they have to learn and divide them by the number of weeks that we have school.  I will then require that they learn that many words each week.  After I quiz them, I will highlight them on the sheet to know they are done.  They can choose any that they would like for the week.  Easy, just another way to implement some basic word spelling.

Download Spelling Word Lists grades 4-8.

The first page is grades 4-6, the second page is 7-8.

I will then have them choose some  reading books.  I will require reading for AT LEAST a half hour each day.  Some of them will want to read more but I will set a minimum.

Easy school.  I also found another resource from Scholastic that had a great download for writing prompt ideas.  It is FREE and gives ideas for writing based on special happenings on that day throughout the summer.  I may use this too, if I find that I don’t have enough school for them.  Check it out.

I will continue to check out books from our local library and do reading with the younger children each day as well.

Hope this gives some help or ideas for what you can do this summer with your children.   Be blessed and have a great Tuesday!!!!

Breakfast cookies…a healthy alternative


I have been making these cookies for about the last year.  I wanted something that I could feel good that my children were eating AND something that they enjoyed eating.  We made these throughout the entire summer last year and would take a bag with us to the local lake for a snack in the afternoon.  Very delicious.

Bananas around our home never go bad, too many people to eat them up.  But when I see them on sale for a bag of overripe bananas—I grab them,bring them home and put them in the freezer whole.  When I have a nice collection of brown bananas, I know it is time to make some breakfast cookies.

I originally made this recipe without the cocoa powder and my children enjoyed it, but this year I started making it with the cocoa powder and now they LOVE them even more.  It is a simple thing to make.  We usually multiply this recipe times 10.


  • 2 large bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 T vanilla
  • 1 cups oats
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cups flax seed
  • 1/4 cups nonfat milk powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries

Place a scoopful onto a cookie sheet.  This is what they look like before baking.  They are a stiffer dough and will stay that way.  No worries that they will “run” into each other.


IMG_20160412_184934Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.  Let them cool and place into a container and freeze.  These thaw quickly and stay perfect until time to eat them.

I sometimes add chia seed or hemp seed if I have any of that on hand as well.  You can add basically any ingredient that you want for added nutrition.  It tastes like a chewy chocolate ball.


Next time you have some over ripe bananas, instead of throwing them away, put them directly into your freezer.  When you know that you will be baking these cookies, take out your bananas and place them in a bowl.  After they thaw for a bit, just pierce the peel and squeeze out the banana—I know gross!!  But it works. If you don’t you can just peel the banana while it is frozen solid like an apple.  Either way, I prefer squeezing:)

Hope you have a happy Monday.  Smile more and know that you are fulfilling a wonderful role today.  Even if your day consists of changing diapers, providing an income for your family, or helping your mother do chores, everything that we do has an impact on others around us.  What sort of impact will you make today?

Be blessed.       Amy