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Category: Family, Fun & Holidays

Guest Post: All From One Little Pumpkin

Guest Post by Monica from

One of my favorite Fall decorations is a simple pumpkin! I

recently purchased a 3.4 lb. pie pumpkin at Wal-Mart for $0.78/lb. I thought it would be fun to see how much we could do with just one pumpkin several days in a row to really stretch the value of purchasing it!

Join me as we follow the life of the this small pumpkin…

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When I first brought the pumpkin home, it made a lovely decoration perched on my porch.

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A few days later, it made a fun greeting for a few ladies I had over for an Autumn in Avonlea gathering.

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The next morning, it made a fun vase for our First Day of Autumn breakfast.

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And, at lunch, a great hiding place for lunch during our scavenger hunt.

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Next, I cooked the pumpkin. (Just half the pumpkin and place cut side down on a baking sheet for one hour at 350 degrees; I got about four cups of cooked pumpkin from the two pumpkins I cooked.)

I used the cooked pumpkin and made some delicious Pumpkin Struesel Muffins.

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Pumpkin Streusel Muffins

1/4 c. margarine or butter, softened

1/2 c. sugar

1/4 c. brown sugar

2/3 c. pumpkin

1/2 c. buttermilk

2 eggs

2 c. flour

1 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Streusel Topping:

1/3 c. flour

3 Tbsp. brown sugar

2 Tbsp. cold butter or margarine

For muffins: cream together margarine and sugars. Add all remaining ingredients and mix together. In a separate bowl, cut together streusel ingredients and sprinkle over muffin batter. Bake in prepared muffin tin at 375 for 20-25 minutes. Makes one dozen muffins. Original recipe from Quick Cooking May/June 2000.

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We were able to tie the muffins into our homeschooling this week by having an ‘unbirthday’ party (we’ve been reading !)

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Then we toasted the seeds for a snack. Here’s the recipe we used:

Sugared Pumpkin Seeds

2 c. pumpkin seeds (from two pie pumpkins; rinsed and dried on a baking sheet for 48 hours)
1 egg white mixed with 1 Tbsp. water (save the egg yolk for your next batch of pancakes or scrambled eggs!)

1 c. sugar

3/4 tsp. cinnamon

3/4 tsp. nutmeg

1 tsp. salt

Mix seeds and egg white mixture. Add remaining spices and mix well. Spread on greased baking sheet and bake at 275 degrees for one hour stirring every 15 minutes.

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I think I’ll send some in my husband’s lunch tomorrow. After this yummy baking, we took a short walk outside and enjoyed coming into a cozy smelling home!

All that from a $2.68 pumpkin!

How do you like to stretch a pumpkin? I look forward to hearing your ideas!

Monica enjoys blogging about the simple pleasures of faith, family and home over at

Free museum admission–Saturday, September 27, 2008

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On Saturday, September 27, 2008, (that’s tomorrow, folks!) you can get free admission to one of hundreds of
nationwide compliments of Smithsonian Magazine.

Go to find museums near you which are participating and then print your voucher . The voucher is good
for two family members, one voucher per household. 

Thanks, Kristen!

Guest Post: Frugal Family Fun – Part 1

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photo by

Guest Post by Katie from

As parents, there is a fine line between over-indulging our children and ensuring that we spend a reasonable amount of quality family time together. It seems as though schedules become incredibly hectic with the pace of today’s world, between school, work, soccer games, piano lessons, church commitments, scout meetings, social organizations…the list could go on and on.

It is essential for families to carve out time that is separate from the hubbub of the daily routine, in order to connect (or reconnect) as a family unit. Without this time spent together, the core that binds each family together becomes fractionalized, and suddenly the members become disconnected from each other, making family unity and harmony a challenge to be overcome.

While it is easy to agree that family time is essential, it is not always so simple to find activities and events that are family-friendly (oftentimes for a multitude of ages) as well as financially feasible. It is certainly not difficult to concoct grand plans for trips to amusement parks, the beach, or a local fun zone.

However, if these ventures are beyond your budgetary means, the additional stress they cause defeat the purpose of the unity-building experience. In this weekly series, I will be focusing on simple, frugal ways to celebrate your family, thereby spending quality time together (while maintaining your sanity as well!).

As Summer has quickly slipped away, and Fall is gently unfolding, it is an ideal time to enjoy the beauty of the season with a leisurely walk as a family in the coolness of the evening. I’ve found, it is easy to engage all participating “walkers” if you add a game into the experience.

Give each child a scavenger hunt list (younger children could be paired with older siblings or parents) of various items to locate while you are enjoying the outdoors. This turns the walk into more than just exercise and family time–it becomes a nature hunt, and children will be amazed with the autumn treasures they might find. Acorns, red and orange leaves, and squirrels scurrying to procure their winter store all make fascinating finds for young children. They are often amazed by what they can find if they truly look at their surroundings.

Bingo is another easy take-along game for an evening hike. Parents can make simple bingo boards prior to the family outing, utilizing cardboard or heavy cardstock and clear paper.  A simple 9 or 12-box grid would be ideal for younger children, whereas a larger grid (15 to 25 squares) would be more challenging for older children. Items that could be searched for would either be written in the squares, or pictures could be drawn for non-readers.

Once the boards are completed, a simple covering of clear paper will protect them from the elements on the journey. Each child would then be supplied with a dry erase marker and either a paper towel or a wet wipe. Whoever finds the needed objects and yells “bingo” first would win the game. The boards could then be wiped clean, and a new game could begin.

Of course, a game is not necessary for a family outing. It is oftentimes enough for families–especially those with very small children–to simply enjoy each others’ presence during the course of a long, leisurely walk. Young ones are so excited to witness nature’s beauty in its simplest form–a butterfly spreading its wings, a puppy barking from across the street, one last lazy flower poking its head out of the ground.

Regardless of the activity you choose, remember that life passes to quickly. Take time to smell those proverbial roses. Next Fall will be here in a blink of an eye, and you’ll want to look back and remember all the amazing memories you’ve created as a family over the course of the year.

Katie is a homeschooling mother of four. She blogs at , where she shares money-saving ideas, deals, and frugal activities to enjoy as a family.

From Crystal: What are some of your favorite games to play or things to do while you’re out on a family walk?

Buy grapes, get zoo and aquarium discounts

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Well, now was a rather interesting promotion!

When you buy a bag of Sun World Superior grapes (look for sales at your local stores!), you can get discounts, free coupons, and more at your local zoos and aquariums.

wrote:

At my small local zoo we received one free train ride AND one free carousel ride. We went on free day, brought our lunch (including our Sun World grapes that were well worth the $1.48/lb on sale at Kroger!), and just happened to go on a day when they were giving out free yogurt!

What a fun almost-free (I had to buy one more train ticket) day! 

Go to see if your area zoo or aquarium is participating.

Free Passes to Indoor Water Parks!

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Did you know that if your children get good grades or perform chores around the house, they can ?

I didn’t, but I’m very interested to hear this since we have one of these water parks right here in Kansas City and I’ve always thought it would be fun to take the girls during on off season (I’m not much into over-crowded pools and water slides!) when they get a little older.

There are currently water parks located in the following cities:

  • Waterbury, CT
  • Chicago, IL
  • Rockford, IL
  • Boston, MA
  • Fitchburg, MA
  • Kansas City, MO
  • Omaha, NE
  • Mount Laurel, NJ
  • Cincinnati, OH
  • Columbus,OH

Go to read more details and sign up for the CoCo Kid’s Club. And then get your children busy helping around the house–what great incentive!

Thanks for the heads up on this, !

Frugal Family Fun: The Summer Edition

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It’s the first day of Summer and parents everywhere are in the market for creative and cost-effective ideas for frugal family fun. Here are a few of our family’s favorite ways to have fun without breaking the bank:

 –Go grocery shopping together. We often do this as a family and make an outing of it. If you have to do it, you might as well make it fun! We bring snacks and drinks along, the girls get to ride in those fancy carts most stores now sport, and we have a blast seeing how much we can get for how little. The best part of all is that grocery stores seem keep their thermostat set at almost-freezing temperatures so it’s a cheap way to beat the heat (well, provided that you stick to your list and your budget and don’t impulse buy!).

–Pack a picnic, a blanket, some books, and some toys for the girls and go hang out at a nearby lake for the afternoon. This is especially great for a leisurely Sunday afternoon: the girls get some fresh air and exercise and mom and dad can sit in the shade on a blanket and watch them play.

–Load up the girls in the wagon and walk to a nearby fast food joint
or ice cream shop for drinks or cones. (This is an especially great
thing to do if you have coupons or if there is a freebie offer going
on!)

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Those are three really simple and frugal things we love to do in the Summer. What about your family? Post your frugal family fun ideas for Summer on your blog and leave your link below so we can all be inspired. Don’t have a blog? Feel free to share your ideas in the comments section.