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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Wednesday Eats and Treats: Homemade Granola Bars

The price of quick foods keeps climbing higher and higher, even as the quality declines. These granola bars are sure to please people running off to work in the morning, as well as those who are warding off afternoon hunger pangs. There are as many variations as there are combinations of add-ins.

Homemade Granola Bars

3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 Tbsp. honey

1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1 cup flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups rolled oats (oatmeal)
 
1 1/4 cups crispy rice cereal
1/2 cup wheat germ (optional)
1 cup chocolate chips*

In a large bowl, cream sugars and butter until fluffy. Add honey, vanilla and egg. Mix well. Blend in flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Stir in remaining ingredients. Press firmly into the bottom of a greased 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

To microwave: Press ingredients into a microwave safe dish. Microwave on medium power for 7-9 minutes. Rotate dish every three minutes. Bars will firm as they stand. Cool and cut into bars. Save the crumbs for yogurt or ice cream topping. Makes 24 bars

*The following may be used in addition to or to replace chocolate chips
1 cup coconut
1/2 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter
1/2 cup nuts
1/2-1 cup raisins, dried apples, apricots
1/2 cup fruit preserves

Monday, April 28, 2014

Monday Musings: Week 17

It’s late and I’m worn out, so this post will have to be a quick one. We had company for Easter and they stayed through Monday evening; we made two out of town trips in the latter part of the week and volunteered at the food pantry on Saturday. This week will be crazily busy as David and Miriam finish up their last projects and assignments before finals begin at the junior college. Esther has started off-season basketball, and Josiah and Gideon are doing off-season training with her at home – a.k.a. Syd’s Basketball Boot Camp. Leah is looking for a job since she’s finished her cosmetology coursework. Syd has the garden planted, so we’re looking forward to delicious, organic vegetables. Hopefully, there will be enough to preserve for the winter months, although that means we’ll have to make time for canning. Then, there are always writing projects on which I should be working. I'm not complaining -- just explaining that life has been extremely full and blog posts are getting neglected.

Here is this week's spending report.

Week 17 Spending
Groceries /Food   
$191
Health/Beauty
$38
Piano Lessons
$10
Total  
$239

My grocery spending was higher because I made a trip to Sam’s and stocked up on cheese and produce. The cheese should last for 6 weeks. I’ve always found cheese to be significantly cheaper at Sam’s, but the price has risen lately, and the 5# bags are $14.86 – almost $3 a pound. This week, Kroger has their cheese on sale for $3.50, so the Sam’s savings isn’t nearly as good as it has been. It certainly isn’t worth making a 60-mile trip, but since I was in Dallas for another reason, the savings were worth stopping in for. I bought 15 pounds of cheese, so I saved $8.25 on cheese alone. We’re big pretzel fans here, and Sam’s has the best prices on both pretzel and tortilla chips, especially since our local Big Lots store closed.

It looks like we have 3 children who need rather extensive braces in the upcoming year. We’ve been down this road 5 times before. We’re looking at different treatment options, since the orthodontist we used in the past has moved to Rockwall, which is about 80 miles from us. We’re considering her, and then there is a local orthodontist we really like. No matter how we go, it looks like each child’s treatment will be between $2,900 and $3800 out of pocket, for a grand total of $9,000 - 12,000. Orthodontics is definitely an instance where there’s no economy of scale.

April draws to a close on Wednesday, so I’ll have a monthly spending/budget report next week. Until then, have a blessed week.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wednesday Eats and Treats: Oreo Cookie Cake


We're big on birthdays around here. As everyone has gotten older, each of the children has settled in on a favorite birthday cake. Here is the recipe for the cake Josiah requests.

Warning: Once you make this cake, plan on repeat requests because it really is that good!

I found this recipe on the Kraft website. Of course, Josiah had to change things up a bit. He wanted a 4-layer cake -- 2 layers of chocolate and 2 of vanilla. I cooked each cake in a 13 x 9 pan, then cut them in half and stacked them. I doubled the filling recipe and put it between the layers and on top, skipping the chocolate glaze.

Chocolate-Covered OREO Cookie Cake



Chocolate-Covered OREO Cookie Cake recipe
time
prep:
20 min
total:
1 hr 20 min
servings
total:
16 servings

what you need

1
pkg.  (2-layer size) devil's food cake mix
1
pkg.  (4 oz.) BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate
1/4
cup  butter
1
pkg.  (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1/2
cup  sugar
2
cups  thawed COOL WHIP Whipped Topping
12
 OREO Cookies, coarsely crushed

make it

HEAT oven to 350ºF.
PREPARE cake batter and bake in 2 (9-inch) round pans as directed on package. Cool cakes in pans 10 min. Invert onto wire racks; gently remove pans. Cool cakes completely.
MICROWAVE chocolate and butter in small microwaveable bowl on HIGH 2 min. or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Cool 5 min. Meanwhile, beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl with mixer until blended. Gently stir in COOL WHIP and crushed cookies.
PLACE 1 cake layer on plate, spread with cream cheese mixture. Top with remaining cake layer. Spread top with chocolate glaze; let stand 10 min. or until firm. Keep refrigerated.

kraft kitchens tips

FAMILY FUN
This great-tasting cake looks like a giant OREO Cookie.
COOKING KNOW-HOW
If chocolate glaze becomes too thick, microwave on HIGH 20 to 30 sec. or until desired consistency.
SIZE WISE
Enjoy a serving of this indulgent cake on occasion, but keep portion size in mind. One cake makes enough for 16 servings, and each serving comes in around 400 calories.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Monday Musings:Week 16


Here is this week's spending report.

Week 16 Spending
Groceries /Food   
$96
Health/Beauty
$11
Driver’s Permit Fee
$16
Gifts  
$47
Socks for Gideon
$11
Total  
$181

When people talk about love languages, I could be the poster child for the Acts of Service language. I love to do nice things for people, and I love it when people do nice things for me. This is one reason I love birthdays. I like to make birthdays very special with delicious meals, unique cakes, and presents that are chosen with care. That’s also why you’ll see that $47 item for gifts in the spending chart.

Speaking of acts of service, my dear husband got our car up and running. So far, the JB weld is holding, no transmission fluid is leaking, and our little commuter car is humming along. This means I have my van back – woot, woot! Syd, Gideon, and Esther are building raised garden beds behind the house, and I’m looking forward to lovely organic veggies fresh from our garden.

Sunday was Josiah’s 16th birthday, and I think it was the most difficult birthday I’ve ever experienced. I just couldn’t get excited about it. As I prayed about my not-so-great attitude, I realized that I’m just not ready for this guy to be 16. In the past few weeks, he’s started his first job and gotten his learner’s permit. Life is changing so quickly, and there’s so little time left before he graduates. I’ve learned the hard way that things are never the same once they go start college, so I feel a sense of urgency to use the remaining time wisely.

A friend posted this on Facebook yesterday:

The lesson I’ve learned this week has been about spending time instead of spending money. Time is our most precious commodity, and thus, it is critical that we make the best use of it. Ephesians 5:15-17 commands us to – 
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 

My prayer is that I’ll be wise in how I choose to spend my time, following God’s will and speaking truth and love into the hearts of my children, my family, my friends, and each person with whom I cross paths.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Josiah’s Adoption Story, Part 1

Our son, Josiah, turns 16 on Sunday. As we celebrate Jesus giving His life for our salvation, I would like to celebrate the unselfish love of one very special mom.

Josiah after getting his driving learner's permit in April, 2014
               For as long as I can remember, my dream had been to marry, to live on a farm, and to have six children. I had the greatest husband on the planet, we were living on a beautiful ranch, and we had five children. It was the fall of 1997, and life had calmed down at the Newman home. Rachel was 8, Nathan was 7, David was 3, Miriam 2, and Leah 1. Most people would look at those ages and think our lives were probably anything but calm. You just have to remember that life with children these ages appears to be calm when you have previously experienced life with children ages 7, 5, 1, 1, and a newborn.
Christmas, 1997
          I attribute this calmness to two things. First, I’d given up trying to go places. We only ventured out as a group if Syd was with us. I became queen of the late night grocery shoppers, on a first name basis with the night stockers at Wal-Mart. Secondly, when Leah joined the family, Syd asked me if I would like some help with the housekeeping. You can imagine that I had to ponder this offer for less than 30 seconds before agreeing to have a neighbor come in and clean once every two weeks. It was a lifesaver knowing that if I only succeeded in getting everyone fed and dressed, my house would be clean at least twice a month. I still did the laundry, cooking, picking up, and I tried to clean house on the weeks Ramona didn’t come. I was a militant user of cloth diapers, and with three diaper-clad children, I kept the Maytag running and running and running.

          So, in the midst of all this calmness, we decided to submit our paperwork to the adoption agency, asking to adopt another baby. We began the process of attending meetings, multiple interviews and training sessions, and praying God would bless us with another child. By this time, the agency staff had almost completely changed, and open adoption was the only option. We submitted a photo collage of our family and a written profile. The caseworkers gathered several profiles of families which they believed were good matches for a birthmother. They presented them to her, and she would pick her top two or three. If we were in that group, our caseworker called and confirmed that we were willing to talk to the birthmom by phone. If we did, she was given our number and we were told to expect a call.

          On a Friday in March, our caseworker called and said Carrie was interested in our family. We should expect a call from her during the weekend. We were cautiously optimistic, but also well aware that and a young birthmom might not be so keen on placing her baby with a 38 year-old couple with 5 children. On Saturday, the three little ones were napping, and Syd and I were in the backyard playing with Nathan and Rachel. The phone rang, and when I answered, there was a pause, and then Carrie introduced herself. I was shaking as our conversation began, but soon we were talking like we were old friends. The answers to her questions came easily, and I felt an instant connection. On Monday, our caseworker called and said Carrie wanted to meet us in person – the next step in the selection process.


Spring, 1998
         Early in April, Carrie and her mom made the trip to our home. Syd’s mom was there for the weekend, and after the children had a chance to meet Carrie, she took them to the playground so we could have some uninterrupted time together. It was one of the sweetest times in my life. The connection between Carrie and I was strong, and I instantly loved her mom, Priscilla. There were no awkward silences or strained conversations, no feeling like we needed to be guarded. Here we were, four people who very much loved one soon-to-be-born baby boy. In those few hours, we made life-changing decisions. We formulated how we would handle our relationship, what the placement would be like, and even chose his name together. We agreed that no one ever suffered from having too many people love him, and our goal was to love each other and love Josiah with all our hearts. Every decision we made was for his benefit. As they prepared to go home, we held each other tightly. Priscilla and Syd’s mom hugged, and I was moved to tears as Priscilla asked Vangie to love Josiah for her. It was such a bittersweet moment.       
Less than three weeks later, we received “the call.” Carrie was in labor. Throughout the day I prayed for her and for Josiah. I prayed for her parents. Josiah arrived a little after 6 p.m. Carrie had asked for 24 hours alone with him, so we didn’t see him until Tuesday evening. We arrived at the hospital when Josiah was 24 hours and 5 minutes old. We planned to have a placement ceremony in the hospital chapel on Wednesday afternoon.
At the hospital with Josiah, age 2 days

It was a little awkward at the hospital. In a way, I felt like a vulture, waiting for our baby. I saw how much Carrie loved him, and how difficult this time was for her. I’d never felt such conflicting emotions. I was so happy and excited about this sweet baby, but because I loved Carrie so much, my heart was breaking for her.

To be continued…

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wednesday Eats and Treats: Honey Garlic Chicken for the Slow Cooker

This is a kid-friendly chicken recipe. The sauce is made with ketchup, honey, and soy sauce -- need I say more? I like it because it is nice enough for serving guests, can be cooked in the slow cooker, and we can have a nice Sunday lunch when we get home from church.

I originally found this recipe on Stephanie O'Dea's blog -- A Year of Slow Cooking. She has three children, and every recipe of hers that I've tried has been sensible and child-approved.


from Stephanie O'Dea - Crockpot 365


This is a quick, easy, and super-tasty chicken recipe. I'd highly recommend using thighs--- they hold up better in the slow cooker and dark meat just tastes better. :-) I use boneless, skinless thighs. If your thighs have bones and skin, fish them out of the pot before serving (the chicken will separate from the bone and it'll be pretty easy).

The Ingredients.
serves 8*


3 to 4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (4 or one thigh per family member)
6 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 cup  soy sauce (La Choy or Tamari wheat-free are gluten free)
1 cup ketchup
2/3 cup honey


The Directions.

Use a 6-quart slow cooker. Check after 3 hours on high, 5 hours on low)

Put the chicken into your cooker. In a small bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients, then pour evenly over the top.

Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 3-4 (I'd go with low---).

Serve with basmati rice and steamed or roasted vegetables.

The Verdict.

My kids adore this chicken. The ketchup and honey taste a bit like barbecue sauce, but slightly more tart. The basil gives it a different, herby flavor which I like a lot. If you are into freezer meals, this is a great candidate--- load all the ingredients into a freezer bag (raw chicken, the sauce ingredients) and then freeze. Thaw the bag overnight in the fridge, then plop the ingredients into your cooker for a fast morning plug-in.

*Original recipe served 4.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Monday Musings: Week 15

I usually write my Monday Musings post on Sunday evening. That was my plan for this week, but Miriam needed help with her computer science projects -- three Excel worksheets. Let’s just say that Excel is not my favorite Office program, so the coefficient of irritability has been pretty high -- almost as high as the summer of '96, when we tried to save some money and not turn on the air conditioning until July 1st. (I can't be held responsible for anything that happened that summer. We had 5 children at the time, 3 of whom were under age 2.) 

Add that to the fact that Miriam has that confounded Windows 8 operating system in which windows open and close without the slightest provocation, plus I can’t stand the way she has her touch pad configured. I try to move to a new cell, and before I know it, I’ve zoomed the thing to 7000%! AAAAACK! So, on a night where I had previously promised myself to be in bed by midnight, I am up at 2:29 2:43 3:42 a.m., plinking away at this post, and poor Miriam, who usually is passed out asleep by 10 p.m., is beside me working on her last project – an Excel Assessment which is due by midnight on Monday. 

So, please be understanding if I ramble or don't make perfect sense today. I might have been sleeping at my keyboard!

Here is this week's spending report.

Week 15 Spending
Groceries /Food   
$42
Piano Lessons  
$10
Total  
$52

This represents the lowest capital outlay of the year. There’s not much to brag about -- the car is still up on ramps, and I'm home-bound. If this is all there is to it, being a one-car family might be the solution to my overspending ways. Syd thinks he may have the car repaired. There is no duct tape involved, but I think I heard him talking about JB Weld. (Should I worry?) The moment of truth is Tuesday morning. At 5:30 a.m., he has to leave for Bonham to catch a ride to a meeting in Austin. If the weld holds, I’ll still be in my warm bed. If not, I’ll be in my jammies, driving him there in our road-worthy vehicle. You can imagine what I’m praying for.

In the meantime, we’ll have a busy week. In addition to all the regular stuff we have going on, Syd will be in Austin, I'm going with our church youth to see God Is Not Dead, Josiah hopes to get his driving learner’s permit, Esther and Miriam have orthodontist initial evaluation appointments, and we'll be getting ready for Resurrection Sunday, which, of course, will include a Saturday night announcement of someone not having some essential article of clothing.

My friend Polly and I, and about 700 other ladies, attended the East Paris Baptist Church Women’s Conference this weekend. The speaker was Jen Hatmaker, and she was amazing! She gave me so much to think about. I’m still processing, so I’m not quite ready to put my thoughts on paper. I hope to write about it soon – maybe next week.

Have a special Easter week,

Kathleen

For those who might be wondering, my decluttering efforts seem to have stalled out. While my laundry room, bathroom, and bedroom are still neat and clutter-free, my closet remains a very scary place, and I won't even step foot in the attic! 



Friday, April 11, 2014

How to Have Family Fun Without Breaking the Bank -- Part 2

As I promised last week, here are 5 (almost) free ways your family can have fun together.

6. Volunteer together.
Everyone needs to spend time giving back to the community. Working at a local service project or church work day is a great activity for families to do together. The three younger children and I volunteer 2-4 times a month at the food pantry. We've built some great relationships and upped our coefficient of appreciation for our own blessings. You can call local churches or the Chamber of Commerce to find volunteer opportunities in your area. 

7. Establish a family night.
Every Tuesday, we have
family night. Whatever we choose to do, family night is our weekly appointment to spend quality time together. 

Sometimes we play board games or do jigsaw puzzles. Other weeks, we do a service project at home, like unfolding and straightening plastic bags that have been donated to the food pantry. We might go on a hike or play tennis or softball at the school sports complex. 

A few months ago, Syd picked up two sets of golf clubs for $15 at Goodwill. He and the boys golf in the pasture, but when they want to be more serious, Syd found a small club where 5 people can play all day for only $10 for the group.  He has also set up some golfing contests (complete with prizes) at home for family night.

8. Visit your public library.
I'm on a first name basis with every staff member at our public library. It is just about my favorite place on earth. They have books, movies, audio-books, and even artwork that we can check out for free. They also offer tax preparation assistance, book clubs, workshops, and a summer reading program. The children and I try to make a weekly library visit, and Syd and I have been known to share some date nights there. 


9. Experience the great outdoors.
Texas has some of the best state park facilities in the nation. For only $70 a year you can purchase a state park pass which allows you to gain entrance for all of the people you can pack into your vehicle at any one of the 93 state parks or natural areas. We are within easy driving distance of a few parks, so we can easily get together a picnic lunch, throw in some fishing poles, and strap the canoe to the roof of the van for an afternoon or evening of fun. Most parks have hiking trails and natural areas, as well as fishing docks and picnic areas. Some even offer free classes with crafts. Several parks are located at historical sites and have interesting exhibits and tours. If you like camping, you can head to a campground or grab a tent and set it up in your backyard.

10. Work on projects together.
I don't know anyone who doesn't have a list of projects to do around the house. Building a playhouse from salvaged materials, gardening, painting the play structure (or the house, if you are really brave), or building a skateboard ramp are all projects that kids will want to work on with you. 

My children love to decorate for the holidays, especially Christmas. Once I let go of my need for perfection and allowed them to take the lead, I was amazed at the sense of pride and ownership they displayed. Whenever Syd works on the cars, he tries to involve the kids in learning how to repair and maintain a vehicle. When I cook and bake, I have plenty of willing stirrers and taste testers. Simple times of working side by side often are the sweetest times of being together. 

How about you? Have you found some great ways to have fun with your family? Please share them in the comment area after this post. I'd love to hear from you.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Wednesday Eats and Treats: Quick Chicken Tortilla Bake

This recipe is quick to put together and can be table-ready in less than an hour if you've pre-cooked your chicken.

Quick Chicken Tortilla Bake

Ingredients
2 10 3/4 ounce can reduced-fat and reduced-sodium condensed cream of chicken soup
1 10 ounce can diced tomatoes with green chiles, undrained (like Ro-tel)
12 6-inch corn tortillas, cut into thin bite-size strips
3 cups cubed cooked chicken (about 1 pound)
1 cup shredded taco cheese (4 ounces)


Directions
  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl combine soup and undrained tomatoes; set aside. Sprinkle one-third of the tortilla strips over the bottom of an ungreased 3-quart rectangular baking dish. Layer half of the chicken over the tortilla strips; spoon half of the soup mixture evenly over top. Repeat layers. Sprinkle with the remaining tortilla strips.

1.  Bake, covered, about 40 minutes or until bubbly around edges and center is hot. Uncover; sprinkle with cheese. Bake about 5 minutes more or until cheese is melted.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Monday Musings: Week 14



The levels of the freezers are dropping and the cupboards are looking a little bare. We are slowly, but surely chipping away at our food supply. 

Here is this week's spending report.
Week 14 Spending
Groceries /Food   
$117
Haircut
$17
Piano Lessons                  
$10
Total  
$144

Here are some thoughts.
Originally, haircuts were going to be a taboo expenditure. Fast forward 3 months. We’ve done home haircuts for everyone. I haven’t been in a salon for at least four months, and I’m desperately in need of a trim. While Syd is great with clippers, I just keep getting a sinking feeling at the thought of him cutting my hair. Leah has almost completed her cosmetology training, and she is more than capable. One problem – anyone who has teen daughters knows there can be periods of tense relationships. Sadly, last week was one of those times. I feared that asking Leah to cut my hair might lead her into temptation, and might result in my having a shaved head! Thus, I made the decision to pay a professional to cut my hair and spare myself months of potential embarrassment.

Josiah, child #6, turns 16 in 2 weeks. He just started his first official job working at the Tigertown Convenience Store. He’s worked 4 days, and I’ve already seen a change in his level of maturity and responsibility. Working is so good for our kids. They’ve always had chores and responsibilities around the house, but there is something special about getting a paycheck and answering to an employer. When I get a chance, I hope to elaborate on this in another post.

Since I no longer can function in a continual state of sleep deprivation, I’m turning over a new leaf and trying to get more shut-eye. Changing sleep patterns is tough. It will involve eliminating some demands on my time, as well as adjusting how I spend my waking hours. Changing how I spend my time will be every bit as challenging as changing the way in which I spend my money. My plan is to go about it in the same manner – creating a time budget and spending time building relationships and in pursuits that enrich my life. This definitely has the potential to be painful to my selfish nature. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Ten Ways to Have Family Fun without Breaking the Bank - Part 1



When we decided that we would become parents to eight children, I would be a stay-at-home mom, and Syd would work at a less stressful but lower-paying job, we knew there weren't going to be any vacation homes, bass boats, trips to Disney World, or cruises in our future. 

Still, there's no denying that families build relationships when they have fun together. But, how can a large family do this without forking over tons of money? 

Here are a 10 ways we've found to enjoy one another's company without going broke.


1. Snag inexpensive movie tickets.
Sometimes, we just want to see a movie on the big screen and experience surround-sound. Even though our mid-size town movie theater is owned by a national company, they sell movie tickets at bargain prices compared to big-city theaters. Regular adult ticket prices are $5.50 and the early bird (matinee) ticket is a mere $3.  (Okay, I'll admit it -- it's also a great opportunity for me to take a $3 nap!) We don't have a $1 movie theater, but my brother and his children are weekly customers at the one close to their home in Dallas.

Be sure to eat before you go, otherwise you'll go broke at the snack bar. You can sign up for weekly coupons, but they don't do much more than get you a 16 oz. drink and small popcorn for $4 instead of the going $5 rate.

If you don't mind watching your movie at home, then you can really save some cash by renting at Amazon PrimeRedboxNetflix or by borrowing a movie from your public library and popping your own corn.

2. Join the science center.
This is one of my best kept secrets. You can purchase an annual family pass for 6 people at a science center such as the Science Center Oklahoma in Oklahoma City for $115. (One day admission for 2 adults and 4 children is $78.) This entitles you to unlimited admission to the center for one year, 4 guest tickets, plus a lot of other perks. The savings really kick in through the wonders of the Passport Program, a reciprocity agreement between science centers. When you go to a participating center, present the membership card to your science center, and you will receive free admission to any one of 300+ science centers across the country. You can be sure that whenever we went out of town, I pulled out my list, and we scheduled a trip to a science center!

3. Eat out on the cheap.
Dinner menu prices at most restaurants are markedly higher than the lunch prices. When we want a nice meal, we've found the lunch specials offer plenty of food at much more reasonable prices. Be careful -- not all restaurants offer their lunch menus on weekends. (Shame on you, Olive Garden!) Don't forget to check the internet for specials and coupons. Many of the chain restaurants have birthday clubs where they send a great coupon in the month of your special day.

4. Enjoy some live entertainment.
We live fairly close to a junior college. Typically, they offer good quality live entertainment at family-friendly prices. We've seen some great performances that were sponsored by our local community concert series, as well as area churches and civic groups. For example, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra has a special subscription series where they come to Greenville, a town that is about an hour from here. Membership prices range from $15 for students 18 and under to $80 for a family membership of 2 adults and their children under age 18. Adult memberships are $35. Membership carries admission to three DSO Series in Greenville concerts.

This is when a subscription to your local newspaper pays off since it is a great resource for finding what's available locally.

5. Attend a few sporting events.
As our children have gotten older, they've developed a taste for attending different sporting events. We've found the Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers and other professional teams have priced themselves way out of  our league. The local junior college teams play some exciting games that are very entertaining to watch. If we're willing to travel a little ways, minor league and club teams like the Frisco Range Riders, the Grand Prairie Air Hogs, and Ft. Worth's new minor league Vaqueros Soccer Team have inexpensive tickets without all the glitz of the pros. (And their concession foods and parking fees are cheaper, too!)


Tune in next week for 5 (almost) free ways you can have a great time while you lower your entertainment budget.