Monday, August 6, 2018

Back To School: Helping Those In Need

If you've been to any store or watched any t.v. lately you know it's officially back to school season. Some of the kids have already started school and others haven't even started shopping yet! Our school district starts back this Friday August 10 but being as it's starting on a Friday it's kinda like a rough start. The kids can head to school and get a good idea of what supplies they'll need and then you have an extra weekend to get all your shopping done. I kinda like that idea as it eases kids back into the swing of things after being unfocused all Summer. My daughter is starting her last year of high school so back to school shopping at this point isn't quite as daunting as the elementary years when they needed so many supplies. I remember laughing to myself wondering when the school would be asking for toilet paper and light-bulbs! It seems like they have you bring in extra for those who can't afford their own supplies. If you are a struggling parent this can be very overwhelming. It's hard enough keeping up with the new shoes, clothes and backpack but to then add hand sanitizer, Ziploc bags, baby wipes and other things on top of the crayons, pencils and paper, it really adds up!

I've seen quite a few churches and organizations throwing back to school bashes to help give kids some of the needed supplies for the upcoming school year. I love this idea. Not only does it get your kids out of the house and off the phones it shows them the kindness of others. If you don't have any young kids or don't need any extra help then try making a donation. Lots of stores have really good deals on school supplies right now and even five dollars can get you a few items to help the cause! Look into what your community is offering and spread the word or donate, it feels really good to help and it's always nice to keep it local!

Another way you can help kids in need is to go through your own kids clothing. Find things that are still in good shape that they don't fit or don't wear and donate. Many churches and even schools have a clothes closet where those who need a hand up can come and get things for free. I prefer to drop my clothes off at a local church than a huge company like Goodwill. That way I know my donation is helping those in my area specifically.

It doesn't take a lot of money to make a huge difference in your town. I hate the thought of kids not having clothes that fit or the needed supplies to go to school. It's hard enough to try and focus and learn without the added worry of your shoes not fitting or maybe being cold from not having a winter coat. Helping those in need get back to school is a positive step for our future doctors, lawyers and teachers. Doing good for others feels so good so make a difference today!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Exploring Florida: Silver Glen Springs

I have a personal goal to visit all the springs in Florida and I'm well on my way. One I had really been wanting to cross off my bucket list was Silver Glen Springs located in the Ocala National Forest. Last time I was over that way checking out springs I didn't get to that one and after seeing online pictures I was really disappointed I skipped it. I had also recently just gotten a faux pro (A generic sport camera that's waterproof) and I was really eager to try it out. I'll do another post reviewing it because it's pretty sweet! All of the images in this post were taken with that camera.

What I really liked about Silver Glen was that it wasn't super deep. Sometimes that seventy two degree year round water can take your breath away, so I like to be able to touch while my body is getting used to it! The clarity of the water was brilliantly clear and you almost felt like you were in a pool. I was able to do some snorkeling and to get some underwater video and pictures. Lots of people had rafts which is a great way to check out the springs. It was very nice that they had an air compressor there to blow up your rafts, very thoughtful!

As with most Florida springs that get a lot of visitors you'll want to arrive early to assure parking and a spot in the shade. The parking area does close once they reach capacity. There was plenty of grassy area to set up canopy's, blankets or umbrellas. You can rent a canoe and check out the spring run that flows into Lake George or you can bring your own canoe or kayak as well. While you can snorkel in the spring you can't SCUBA like you can in some of the other Florida Springs. If you feel like staying the night they have a campground there as well. You could explore the other local springs in the area. Juniper, Alexander and Salt Springs, which you can read about here. They only have portable toilets so keep that in mind if you aren't a fan of the port a potty. The cost to get in for adults is $5.50 as of July 2018 but prices are always subject to change. You can find Silver Glen at 5271 FL-19, Salt Springs, FL 32134.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Don't Toss Out That Bacon Grease!

If you enjoy eating bacon like I do then you end up with bacon grease. What are you doing with that grease that's left after your bacon is done cooking? Some people might throw it away but I'm telling you don't toss that bacon grease out! Bacon grease has a lot of flavor and can be used in a number of ways in the kitchen. One of my favorite ways to use it is to grease the pan for cooking eggs instead of using butter. Another use is adding the grease to vegetables that you are sauteing. My personal favorite veggie to do this with is squash for squash casserole. Green beans cooked with a little grease also has a nice flavor without having to add bacon itself. Lastly give a grilled cheese sandwich a shot buy using grease instead of butter. Just heat up your skillet, add the grease and then your bread and cheese.

You can store the bacon grease in various ways. I typically just pour it off into a small bowl and then use till gone. I keep mine in the refrigerator to keep it fresh and also to keep those pesky Summertime flies out that are always sneaking in when you open the door! It's such a waste to throw away the grease and you surely don't want to pour it down the drain. Keeping it for use in the kitchen is a great way to dispose of it and add flavor to your foods!

Friday, June 29, 2018

Making Your Own Homemade Butter

Have you ever been curious about making your own butter? Well if you have you know it's pretty easy and if you haven't your in the right place! I've broken it down into easy picture directions. The best thing about making your own butter is you can add flavors like cinnamon and honey or garlic and herbs. Follow these easy steps and you'll have your own fresh butter!

Start with and empty glass jar and a container of heavy whipping cream, as you can see I used my local store brand. I let my heavy cream sit for tweleve hours at room temperature before starting. I suggest letting it sit out over night and making it in the morning. The glass jar I used was an empty applesauce jar cleaned well and dried.

The next step is to pour your room temperature cream into your empty glass jar and make sure the lid it tight! You don't want heavy whipping cream splashing all over your kitchen!

Start shaking and soon the jar is coated with the cream. Shake about one shake per second for two to three minutes. If you have kids this would be a good time to let them help shake it up!

After the shaking is done you are left with a jar of butter and buttermilk which will look like this.

Pour off the buttermilk from the butter. Don't throw this away though! You can use it in making biscuits or pancakes!

Now it's time to rinse your butter with cold water. Pour the water into your jar covering the butter and shake for a half a minute or so. Drain off the extra water like you did with the buttermilk and throw away. I rinsed mine twice.

This is what you end up with at the end of the process. After you get the butter into your bowl you can add your salt or any other kind of herbs or mix in's to make this taste how you like. You can also get a bit more water out of it while you're moving the butter from the jar to the bowl.

I stored my butter in a small plastic container with a lid I had laying around. Your butter is now ready to eat on your favorite bread. This butter tastes so good you'll want to make it again and again!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Gifthulk Doesn't Pay It's Members Anymore!

Lots of sites online give you the oppourtinity to make a few bucks while doing surveys, signing up for offers and watching videos. I've been a member of some of these sites for quite awhile and have seen plenty come and go. Gifthulk appears to be the next site that needs to be shut down since they no longer pay members. I last redeemed for my five dollars in PayPal on June 5. Being a "Diamond" member I'm supposed to get my payments very quickly. However that no longer applies and it's obvious it doesn't matter what level you are, you still aren't getting paid!

Gifthulk has a "support" link on their page where you can attempt to contact them in hopes of getting paid. However they won't respond to these requests and if you try to click on the link to get a status of a previous help request it fails and you can't see anything. This has happened for the last twenty one days of me trying to see about my order. What really annoys me is Gifthulk is still active on Facebook trying to get new members and traffic to their site. Basically they are receiving money for member's completing offers, then they don't payout, getting to pocket the revenue dollars! That my friends is a scam!

The last time I cashed out with Gifthulk last September it took weeks and me filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau before I got paid! I decided to give a go one more time and have found myself in the same situation with them not paying. You can see by their Twitter page that no paying is common with Gifthulk!

The good news is there a few sites out there that do pay and pay pretty quickly! Swagbucks is one of my favorites and has been out a long time with a solid record of paying member's. You can sign up for Swagbucks here. Another site that is really easy is Super Pay Me. What is nice about them is you can cash out with as little as one dollar and get paid the same day, sometimes instantly! If you would like to check out Super Pay Me you can find them here. So keep in mind not all sites on the internet will pay you even if they say they will. Do plenty of research including checking their social media pages, you can get a lot of insight from real peoples posts and comments. Have you been a victim of Gifthulk not paying? I'd love to hear your thoughts and favorite sites!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Exploring Florida--Sweetwater Wetlands Park

Located in Gainesville, FL, Sweetwater Wetlands park is a unique ecosystem where the alligators, horses and buffalo's roam. The boardwalks and trails get you up close and personal with some of Florida's amazing wildlife. Some of the animals you might encounter include turtles, alligators, plenty of birds and if you are lucky enough you'll get to see some of the wild horses or buffalo.

On our visit to the park we were blessed to see a group of five horses grazing alongside the trail. They didn't pay us any attention as we made our way past them. I was able to take plenty of pictures of them as we strolled down the trail. We didn't get to see any of the buffalo's on our visit but maybe next time!

Sweetwater Wetlands park's trails are handicap accessible and well marked. They do ask you to remain on the trails and boardwalks at all times for your safety! Bring plenty of sunscreen with you and water as the park is large and there isn't much shade. They do have a few pavilions where you can stop and rest though. Bathrooms are located next to the parking lot so make sure you go before walking the trails!

The cost to get in the park is $5 per car and you should bring exact change since you pay by honor box. Some things to keep in mind are pets are not allowed at the park for their safety. Also bicycles, drones and fishing are also prohibited. The address to the park is 325 SW Williston Road, Gainesville, Fl 32601. Sweetwater Wetlands Park is open seven days a week, including holidays. Hours are 7 a.m. to Sunset. Remember to take only pictures and leave only footprints!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Fishing And Finding Trash!

This weekend I was doing a little fishing from shore in the Gulf of Mexico here in Florida. I was standing on big rock trying to keep my line out of the oysters that were around. I just happened to look down and I saw a part of a fishing reel in the water. Well when you see reel you think line and I didn't want all that line to get in the water and hurt our wildlife. I reached on down and pulled it out of the drink and discovered it was a Penn reel that was broken but full of line. I tossed it on shore to throw away later.

I took a little break from fishing and decided to walk around the shoreline looking for any other trash I could find. It didn't take long before I collected a old bent jig head and bunch of fishing line. It really only took me a few minutes of my time and I was surprised by how much line I found. I was in a public fishing place and the state does have garbage cans there. I went ahead and took the bundle of line and the old reel and tossed them in the garbage.

After picking up the trash I decided I would do a little more fishing. I didn't take long though before I found some more fishing trash! Right in the water on the edge was a fake shrimp jig with treble hooks that looked very realistic. This kind of thing would be horrible for a bird to eat thinking it was a real snack. I also found some metal fishing leader. These items also made it into the trash can!

I didn't set out that day with the intention of picking up trash from our fishing spot. It just kinda happened organically because there was stuff around and I knew it shouldn't be there. I was raised with the saying "Take only pictures, leave only footprints". That's a motto that I follow and teach my daughter. After all this our only planet. These are our beautiful waters and wonderful creatures. It's our trash and we need to keep our world clean.