26 May 2015

Wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop #125

We sure had fun last week! Two blogging tips topped our most viewed, tied with a refreshing orange popsicle recipe that every kid will love. And five other posts were viewed so often that they hit our "very popular" list of features. You can check them out (below) and show 'em a little cyber-love (like, comment, share, pin)

You guys did great with clicks. This is such a busy time of year and we are SO proud of you. Keep up the good work. Our goal is to make this party one of the most profitable hops to attend with lots of traffic and shares--and it's working!

So here are our features and this week's party is ready to go!

Most Viewed

Very Popular
Editor's Pick

Let the party begin!
Tweet it and It Will Grow

Simple guidelines...

  • Please follow our host and co-hosts in as many ways possible (social media links below) 
  • PLEASE TWEET THIS PARTY !!!!  We want everyone to know about it!
  • Add as many of your family-friendly posts as you would like, no giveaways or blog parties please. You CAN share them in the comments, though.
  • Visit three or more others. Let them know you've been there! 
  • Visit our FEATURES and comment, pin or share -- do what you can to bless them!
  • When you are PINNING, please remember to do it from the original post. ♥
  • Follow our Wonderful Wednesday PINTEREST board, if you'd like (below) 
  • If you are new,  let us know in the comments so that we can follow you back. ♥
  • And, thanks for joining us!

Follow our hosts as you can 
Tammy of My Life Abundant

Nicole and Susan of Flavors By Four

Jaimi of The Stay At Home Mom Survival Guide

Carrie of A Mother’s Shadow

Kim of 2JustByou

Sinea of Ducks 'n a Row  

Brittany of Mommy On Demand

Libby and Rachel of Two Keck Girls

Diane of Recipes For Our Daily Bread

CD of CD's Country Living

Heidi Jo of Simplee Thrifty 

Dawn of Spatulas on Parade 

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Save Money -- Conquer the Grocery Jungle

Having a serious challenge trying to feed your family on your current income? You've stopped eating out, saved gas by only going to essential places and reduced your on-the-road coffee purchases to almost never. You are economizing all over the place and still your pocketbook is screaming!

Whatever the cause of your current situation, be encouraged that this is just a season. Nothing stays the same. Transitions come and go. This time of personal economic crisis is not forever. It may feel like it is, but it's not!

So, why not take charge of your thoughts and adopt a new attitude! This crisis is not going to break you but make you. It will be your training ground in preparation for better times to come.

Where to start? By conquering the one jungle that everyone must contend with on a recurring basis: the grocery store! How can you enjoy grocery shopping with such restrictions? How can you do more with so little? Think like a millionaire!

If it seems to be a little kooky to compare grocery shopping and a millionaire mentality, think again. Authors Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko report in their best seller "The Millionaire Next Door" that most millionaires got there by a slow, methodical approach to living. They didn't get a windfall and go right out to buy a yacht. No, they worked hard, pinched pennies, seldom bought on credit and said "no" to some "today-things" with a purpose in mind. They were focused and meticulously aware of where every dime was being spent. Who would have thought that this is what it takes to become a millionaire.

So, you're financially caught between a rock and a hard place. Welcome to your training ground. How do you get this vision of a "millionaire" inside? Start simple. Adopt a great attitude and say "This is going to be fun!". Painful but FUN! Put purpose into it. You are going to stretch ridiculously low dollars and triumph in providing another week of delicacies for your family that will make life seem not-so-bad!

Now what? Start with a plan!

1. Know what you have to work with. Besides paying necessary bills for the week, what will be available to take to the grocery store?

2. Consider what has to be accomplished with this week's pay. Does that money include your gas money? Unless you work from home, you'd better count that in. Determine what portion can be spent on food.

3. What are THIS week's shopping essentials? Can that shampoo stretch another week? What are you going to make for your meals? Select recipes that your family likes, so that they are happy and nothing is wasted, but steer clear of anything that requires the purchase of ingredients that will sit on the shelf for months. (If it calls for ketchup, buy it. Ketchup you'll use! If it requires tarragon and you don't have any, you may want to save that recipe for another time. Tarragon can be pricey and you won't use it often enough.)

4. Where to shop? Select stores that are pleasant to be in but offer good pricing, as well. Stores like that do exist. You can supplement by going to budget grocery outlets to stock up on staples like condiments, bread and canned goods. Visit public markets where produce is fresh from the farm to you. Arrive just as the vendors are packing up for the day and you can pick up great deals at a fraction of their already low price.

5. Don't forget the meat! Meats and poultry are a real budget-cruncher but they are such an important dietary basic. You stay full longer on protein. It gives you energy and helps you think. Eat nothing but low-priced carbs and, after a while, you won't feel well and you'll be hungry all the time. The best way to buy meat is to buy it in bulk and break it into smaller portions to freeze when you get home.

6. Don't waste your resources. Is today's purchase necessary for this week's meals? Can it wait a little while? When you do buy it, will it spoil if not consumed right away? Make sure you put it to use while it's fresh.

7. Make a precise list. No guess work. If you have a computer, put your list on an Excel spreadsheet with estimated prices. Based on your experience, predict the cost of each item and pad it just a little bit. (If you think it will cost $2.25 then write down $2.50 just in case there is a price hike.)
If your total exceeds the money you have to spend, cross out items you will skip this time around. Do not despair! It may hurt for the moment but remember, THIS IS JUST A SEASON! Things will get better and you are going to get through this. And, think of how smart you're getting. You are becoming a pro!  

8. Bring coupons but buy generic or store brands when it's a better deal. Even with coupons, buying store brand items may be a smarter move.
So, that's a beginner lesson at how the millionaire mentality can help you in tough times. Put it to work for you and have fun thinking of new ways to beat the system! Better times are coming.

9. Join Websites.  There are some great websites that keep up with the latest deals at the grocery stores as well as retail and discount stores. When you find a site that meets your needs, subscribe to their posts by email or RSS feed to find out the latest, soon as it posts. 

Great Websites for Savings Tips:

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Note: this author is an Amazon affiliate. Anything you purchase from Amazon through Ducks n a Row will result in a small commission for me. In advance, "thank you!" ... Sinea
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24 May 2015

World War II Veterans - Let's Honor Them Before They Are All Gone!

By Sinea Pies

World War II veterans are a dying breed. At the rate of 1000 per day, soon they will all be gone, a memory of the Greatest Generation that ever lived. There is but a short window of time that remains to show the WW II veterans our deep appreciation for the sacrifice they made to keep us safe and free. That is why Honor Flight was born.

Honor Flight was created to give veterans an amazing journey to the National World War II museum, where they can meet, reflect and receive the honor that they are due! As that generation of heroes disappears, the wonderful men and women who fought in the Korean War and Vietnam War will follow in receiving the trip of a lifetime!

The Veterans of World War II

World War II veterans are dying at the rate of approximately 1000 per day. That may not seem like a lot but pretty soon they will all be a distant memory -something we’ll read about in history books or see in a documentary. They will all be gone. Even at this time, most of them are in their late 80’s and 90’s. These brave men and women are the remnant of the Greatest Generation.

According to Richard V. Horrell of WW2Connections, "16,354,000 men and women served in the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II. This number includes members of the Army, Army Air Corps, Navy and Marines."

World War II was fought from 1939 to 1945. Most of the world’s nations were involved in that great and terrible war.Germany was at the forefront of the Axis powers, lead by its maniacal dictator Adolph Hitler, and joined by Italy and Japan. Great Britain, Russia and the United States were the key players--the "Big Three"-- in the Allies camp, determined to defeat him in his ultimate goal to conquer the world, and annihilate the Jews.

On December 7, 1941, in the early hours of the morning (7:55 a.m.), Japan declared war on the United States. Waves and waves of Japanese warplanes bombed the U.S. battleships that lay at rest in Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, Hawaii in a two-hour siege. The U.S. became entrenched in huge wars on two fronts: Europe and the Pacific.Those were truly perilous times.

Armed forces were needed, and needed fast. Every able-bodied man began to enlist. Those too young to actually go into combat, were utilized here on the home-front with the day to day military business (my dad being one of them.) For the most part, though, they were sent overseas. Waves and waves of our very best, prepared to give life and limb for their country, were trained and shipped out. Patriotism was high. Sacrifices were great. The war-effort dominated every part of life.

And, eventually, we won. Nations were left in ruins following years of bombing and bloodshed. Lives had been stretched to the utmost. And there were funerals, way too many to count and, yet, often no body to actually place in the ground. Families needed to mend. Some never would.

But are these people, these heroes, forgotten? Many have felt just that way.Those remaining World War II veterans seldom talk about it. Even 70 years later, it is still too painful. They endured so much. But there is a need--a deep need. That is why Honor Flight was born.

Honor Flight
Retired Air Force Captain Earl Morse knew something had to be done. The National World War II Memorial was built in Washington DC, right on the National Mall. It opened for public viewing in April of 2004 and was officially dedicated on May 29, 2004 along at grand 4-day celebration reunion of World War II veterans.

But who of these amazing veterans all over the country would ever get to go there to see it? Some truly wanted to. Others were not sure. Over recent years, since Honor Flight was first started, a multitude have been coaxed by fellow-veterans that they just HAD to do it.They NEEDED to do it. There is healing there.

The hero’s welcome, joining of comrades, and viewing the monuments is therapeutic. Even touching them helps. It is inexplicable what it does. Backs begin to straighten up. Eyes brighten, some filling with tears. Laughter and joy spreads as they share in a victorious moment. They are the reason that we are still here today, enjoying freedom.They need to be recognized. They need to know that still we care. Morse understood that need. That is why Honor Flight was formed.

Operating on grants and generous donations, Honor Flight transports World War II veterans-- and younger, healthier traveling companions to help them-- by plane on trips to and from the memorial.Each chapter of this great organization handles the experience a little bit differently. 

The one that I know most about is Honor Flight Rochester NY. The veterans are taken by plane to Washington DC where they stay overnight in a nice hotel, all meals are provided including a glorious banquet with special guest speakers to share great stories and honor them. When they return to Rochester, they are greeted at the airport with a "hero's welcome" by family, friends and others-- including dignitaries. It is a sight to behold. You should see their faces!

"I Fought For You"

World War II Veterans have also been honored by an unlikely young team: Josh Pies and Andrew Manzano. These young men "fell-into" creating a compelling video-short that utterly surprised them -- and everyone else -- by going viral on the internet. Following it's first release it had over 5 million views in more than one posting on YouTube and over 706,000 views on SermonSpice. That was just the first time around.
Making of "I Fought For You"

Their story is much better told by themselves (video interview above) but the "Reader's Digest version" is that Andrew was in the little town of Dansville, NY with his family when they went to a vintage theater to enjoy a movie. Being a visionary, the incredible architecture totally grabbed his attention. He knew that he had to do something there. Something patriotic!

He called Josh and enthusiastically sent him some shots of the picturesque structure. He told Josh, "We can rent it to film but I don't know what to do with it. Got any ideas?" And Josh ran with it. The thoughts were coming faster than he could type. And 20 minutes later, it was there: "I Fought For You".

Casting was done in a casual way. They put the word out to family and friends--especially those in the military. 

Then the big day arrived. The clock was ticking away. They had use of the theater and equipment for only a few short hours and then their window of opportunity would be GONE. So, making good use of every moment, they shot it. Andrew edited it. Their good friend Dave Bode wrote the musical score for it. And former President Ronald Reagan narrated the newsreel (Listen to the distinctive voice. You'll know it soon as you hear it.)

Interesting note: a few of the older gentlemen appearing in the film have never been actors. They are authentic World War II Veterans who have also participated in Honor Flight and, thus, Josh, Andrew and Dave's connection with Honor Flight was born. 

Both videos are included here for you to enjoy and then, please, take a moment check out Honor Flight's various websites. More importantly, if you know a veteran, don't wait. Tell them  "Thank you for fighting for me"!

Memorial Day and Veterans Day

Both Memorial Day and Veterans Day are far more than a day off from work or school. They are days set aside for us to show appreciation for those who have served in our military and sacrificed so much.

Memorial Day became an offical national holiday in the USA in 1971. Prior to that it was known as Decoration Day, established shorly after the Civil War to honor those who gave their lives fighting for our country.

Veterans Day honors those who have fought to keep America safe and free.
Just following World War I, President Woodrow Wilson declared November 11th to be a day to appreciate all that our veterans have done for us. It was called "Armistice Day" and World War II was yet to be. 

"Thank you for fighting for us!"

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Note: this author is an Amazon affiliate. Anything you purchase from Amazon through Ducks 'n a Row will result in a small commission for me. In advance, "thank you" ... Sinea

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22 May 2015

Brussel Sprouts - Best Recipe Ever!

By Sinea Pies

I love brussel sprouts but steamed brussel sprouts all the time can get boring. Yet, that was the only way I knew how to make them. Then my friend, Trish, came to a party with a crockpot full of pan roasted brussel sprouts with bacon. Yum! They are now my new favorite. I couldn't stop eating them. Another little bonus for me is that it totally fits with the Atkins low-carb diet I just started!

This recipe is very simple. I would say it feeds four to six people but, honestly, you may want to double it to be sure. It is so tasty, people will want more.

Pan Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Bacon Recipe

1 pound fresh brussel sprouts
4 slices bacon
1/2 white onion or 2 T chopped green onion
2 T salted butter
pepper to taste

Wash the brussel sprouts and drain them. 
Cut them in half.

Panfry four slices of bacon on medium-high heat.
Remove them from the skillet and save for later.
Add butter to the bacon fat in the skillet and melt it.
Shift the heat up to high.

Add the brussel sprouts and onion, with the sprouts "flat side" down.
Stir them for about 8 minutes until lightly brown.
Break up the pieces of bacon and add back into the pan.
Sprinkle with pepper to taste. 
Serve immediately.
Serves 4 - 6 people, maybe. LOL.

This brussel sprouts recipe goes with lots of main dishes. I particularly like it alongside beer marinated chicken. (pictured above)

Love bacon recipes?
Hate frying it?
Here are 2 tips that will make your bacon cooking experience a dream!
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