Route 66 Day Trip Turns Into Multi-State Adventure!

Our small family finds great pleasure in the little things. So, on a recent Saturday morning when I proposed a road trip from Central through Eastern Oklahoma, along Route 66, my kids were ready to go! The plan was to begin in Stroud and finish up in Miami, OK. and then make the trek back to our home in Central Oklahoma. As with most of our road trips, we changed into our comfy clothes, grabbed a little spending cash and packed some drinks, snacks and the phone charger so we were sure to have our handy dandy GPS and off we went. 

Our first stop was to the Blue Whale in Catoosa. Before we arrived, my daughter had told me she was not going in the whales belly because she was scared it would be rickety or she would fall in the pond. But as you will see below, that changed when we got there. The Blue Whale was built in the 1970's by Hugh Davis as a surprise anniversary gift for his wife Zelta who collected whale figurines. Originally calling it Nature's Acres, Mr. Davis continued to add to the roadside attraction until it eventually included The Fun and Swim Blue Whale and the A.R.K. (Animal Reptile Kingdom). The attraction also featured Hugh's brother-in-law, Indian Chief Wolf-Robe Hunt, a full blooded Acoma Indian, who was famous in his own right for his Indian paintings and as a highly skilled silversmith. Chief Wolf-Robe Hunt once ran the Arrowood Trading post across the highway from the Blue Whale attraction. By 1988, the Davises were not able to continue managing the attraction, so they closed it to the public. Davis died in January 1990, followed by his wife Zelta in 2001. The park soon fell into disrepair, crumbling from neglect and weather. However, after a decade the people of Catoosa and employees of the Hampton Inn launched a fund-raising and volunteer effort to restore the Route 66 landmark. The Blue Whale was restored and repainted to its original brilliant blue.

That's my boy waving through the hole in pic one.. and that is my daughter peering out the slide hole in pic two. Guess she wasn't so scared after all. :)

Our next stop along the famous Route 66 highway was the Belvidere Mansion. The Belvidere is located in Claremore, Rogers County, Oklahoma. Let me preface this part of the story by reminding you that this was a very impromptu trip and we were "flying by the seat of our pants" so to speak. We had never heard of the Belvidere. When we arrived, we were in awe by how beautiful the mansion was. When we entered the mansion, we noticed it was what we thought was a restaurant, but I was quickly assured that there was also the upstairs to tour! The 3rd floor was being occupied by a family preparing for a wedding so we stuck to the 2nd floor and the gift shop. You can see the age by the dark woods, the high ceilings, the claw foot tub in the restroom and just the general appearance will remind you that you have stepped back in time. It reminds me of the home we lived in back in the little town of Sonora, CA.

My kids were busy cracking each other up and I captured this photo of them that I absolutely love. This Victorian gem was built in 1907 by the Bayless Family. This three-story 9,000 sq. ft. home includes a restaurant, intricately tiled foyer, bathroom, and kitchen. The Belvidere's 2nd floor contains two historically furnished living quarters, a bathroom, archive room, and gift shop. The 3rd floor is a spacious 3,200 sq. ft.ballroom, which makes a wonderful destination spot for weddings, or special events, providing a scenic view of the City of Claremore. 
As I would soon find out, our next stop would be my favorite. Unfortunately for me, I took only one
picture. So, for your viewing picture I have found a few more online to share with you. I present you Shepherd's Cross & Heart of the Shepherd. I cannot even tell you in words how much I love this place. And for many reasons! Taken from their Facebook: "The mission of Heart of the Shepherd is to teach people both local to Oklahoma and throughout the world about basic agricultural principles and how agriculture relates to the Bible. Heart of the Shepherd provides Biblically based, agricultural tours as well as providing service to those living in poverty stricken communities."

When we entered the barn, we were warmly greeted by a lady that asked us what we were interested in. I explained to her that we were road tripping along Route 66 and thought we would stop and see her place. She asked how much time we had and I let her know were not on any time constraints. We were quickly whisked away and shown the baby lambs that had just been born around 6 hours ago. She told us we could not touch them

because they were bonding with the mom. Next, we were taken to where they "work the wool" as I will put in laymens terms. I never realized how much work went into those wool sweaters! Now they are all natural. No chemicals going down on that farm. They show you how wool is worked from the lamb to the sweater. WOW! So impressed! They also have a store in the barn that sells products that are grass fed, grass finished, Animal Welfare Approved and Hand Made items. Products include Amish jams, health foods, a broad range of wool products (yarn, batts, felted pelts, beautiful sheep skins, etc.), pasture raised farm fresh meat and diverse crafted items made locally and placed on consignment. The Shop also carries products made in Thailand, Malawi, and Burma; all proceeds from the sales of these items return to the women and children who made them. (LOVE LOVE LOVE this!!) If you happen to be traveling along Route 66 and you see the sign for Shepherds Cross make sure you stop and say hi!

Every now and again we hit a bump in the road. This is what happened here. In our handy dandy travel guide it said "just off Route 66" there was the Cabin Creek Civil War battle site. My son thought that would be cool, and me with my love of history, well I wanted to see it as well. So I turned off and entered the address into my GPS. Just off the road turned into twenty something miles. I figured surely this rich of history would be worth the wait right? Well friends, twenty something miles later, on a dirt road, this is what we got. A patch of land surrounded by barbed wired and a sign. Off to the next site...

Ok, so by this time its getting later in the evening and we are getting hungry. One of the restaurants I actually did read on was this place in Miami called "Waylans Kuku Burger". It sounded like maybe it was a hoppin chain of burger joints back in the 60's and this was the last one standing. I read it looks like a cuckoo clock and actually has a  working cuckoo in the attic.

Here is a picture I found that actually shows the "kuku".. see it about the sunroom? Well, it wasn't out when we were there. Its a smaller restaurant with a home-style variety of food. My kids chose chicken strips and I chose a burger. They really enjoyed their chicken. I was not impressed with the burger. There were a lot of good reviews and some mixed reviews. Could have just been the day.

Here is my pic from our adventure:

So now we have finished dinner. But what I didn't tell you is that on our way to the restaurant, my daughter saw a sign that shows 17 miles to Kansas. Now I have to tell you, my kids have only been in Oklahoma and Missouri. So, she asks, can we go? Then we can say we have been to Kansas! Its little things when your a kid folks. I've traveled through many states and have even lived in Germany. But being a single mom, traveling great distance hasn't always been easy. So yes, we headed to Kansas. And then when we hit Kansas we headed for Missouri. After we arrived in Missouri we decided to go to Arkansas. So my babies can now say they were in 4 states in 1 day! And truthfully, they were. We made memories friends. I would rather travel and have fun with my kiddos than anything else in this world. Stay tuned for more.. this year is going to hold some fun road trips ahead! My kids are 11 and 13 at the moment and I am holding on to every minute I have with them.

By the time we hit Oklahoma, my son was too tired to get out of the car for a pic. 

When Death Came Calling

I had not talked to my sister in about 8 months. There were some issues between her and I and time slipped away from us. I was sitting at my desk at work on Monday September 24, 2018 when my phone rang. The caller ID displayed my sisters name. This can't be good I thought. I picked up the phone and with a questionable tone I said "This is Kimberly"... On the other end, sobbing. Words I could not make out, but I knew something was wrong. My emergency training taught me to remain calm and focused. I told her I could not understand her, asking her to repeat what she said. Then the words came that I never in a million years thought I would hear.."Mom is dead". And that is exactly how I learned that my 68 year old mother had passed away. I remember asking where my father was and my siblings to which she answered. I told her I would be leaving to get my kids from school and we would be on our way to the hospital. Years prior, my mother had 2 strokes. The first was caused from high blood pressure left untreated. It was more a TIA. The second was worse. What the doctors didn't catch on the first one was that mother had sleep apnea and that is what would cause her 2nd stroke. It would be the one that would prohibit her from driving. We also learned that her right carotid artery was blocked and that there was nothing they could do about it. My mother also had diabetes. During the past couple months of her life, she had been struggling with her blood sugar dropping. She would become weak, clammy and would have to immediately have sugar to bring it back up. Well, September 24, 2018 was no different. Or so she thought. She started feeling the same thing, low blood sugar. She called my dad at work, he was 30 minutes away. She told him she needed him to come home. She told him she could not make it to get something sweet because she felt too weak. She never mentioned anything other than feeling clammy and weak like she was going to pass out. And then my dad heard her moan a few times. That would be that last communication he had with my sweet mother. What he thought was blood sugar turned out to be a heart attack according to the hospital. The worst part for me was telling my 13 and then 10 year old that grandma had passed on. Grandma was their world. Little folks don't understand. At 48 years old I held my mothers cold hand as she laid covered in a hospital gown in the emergency room. I didn't cry. I was in shock. I saw all the pain in everyone eyes. I tried to be strong as best I could. I was not ready to say goodbye to my momma. 6 months later and I still am not ready to say goodbye. When you lose a parent it feels like the world dims a bit. Its not as bright and cheerful as it once was. No more calls when you have exciting news to share with mom. She will never see my her grand-kids graduate high school, college, get married or have babies. But they had all of her for the years they have been on this earth. And she loved them beyond measure and they knew it. I am thankful for having had her in my life for 48 years. She taught me so much, most importantly she taught me compassion. She was a blessing.

The Grocery Pick Up Game - SCORE!

Over the years I have learned so many valuable lessons in frugality. The hardest thing for me to conquer was time. Yes, TIME.
I am a single mom of two kiddos. Both are very active in sports and music just to start. They are teen and preteen. I, on the other hand, work full time. So you can probably imagine where I am going with this. Time=Convenience=$$
How many times have you gotten off work, exhausted, only to run home, get the kids, go to football practice for two more hours and then guess what, now you get to go home and cook dinner. I was not always and still struggle with managing time. I mean McDonald's dollar menu is right there, cheap, ready on the fly and that means I can go home and relax. But is it really cheap? And is it really healthy? What if I didn't plan and there is nothing at the house, do I really want to go to the grocery store at 8 pm at night?
Enter Grocery Pick-UpThis is a TIME and MONEY saver! You simply go online, pick out whichever groceries your family will need for however long you normally shop for, add to cart, pay and then tell them when you will be there. In my case this is Wal-mart. You save time from having to scoot aisle to aisle, often with kids in tow, and then wait in line at the check out. And we all know the kiddos always have wants! Simply pull up and your shopper comes out with all your food bagged and ready to go. They will load your car up and you are on your way. Easily saving you AT LEAST an hour. But how does this save money? Good question! Have you ever went into the grocery store for x amount of items and came out with more? I have! Have you ever been grocery shopping, following your handy dandy list and then out of no where a huge sale sabotages your game plan? This is me!
Maybe you were lucky enough to be in the store when the folks with the samples were in there as well? Stupid tortillas! Oh they are free...until you eat one and fall in love with it and now guess what.. two bags of those samples just went into your cart! No matter what the case, you have complete control over you groceries when you shop online. You can manage your dollars as well. Maybe you only want to spend $200. You go through the cart and ask yourself what can I take out to get my price under $200. Done! No surprise sales, samples or clearances to ruin your budget! And you have your food at home so there is no need to run to the drive thru. Mission accomplished!

Get PAID Today!

Do you ever struggle between pay periods? Maybe a last minute bill hits 3 days before payday. Sometimes the kids come home from school with last minute forms that require that extra 15-20 bucks that you had not been planning on and you find yourself scrambling for a little extra cash. Well friends, I have an answer for you. I am a tried and true customer of Earnin myself and I can tell you I am very happy.

You know those payday loans, well, they charge you an awful high interest just to borrow a small amount of money that is due back on payday. Not these folks. Nope.. You borrow $100, they take that $100 back on payday. All they ask is for a tip. Maybe $2 or $3 bucks. Maybe you want to be a little more generous and tip $6 or $7. ts not required, but its a nice gesture.
So yeah, if you want to check them out, here is a link below. Use the link and YOU CAN GET A FREE $20 on me.
Kimberly has given you $20 on Earnin. To claim your $20, sign up using this link and make today payday!

Freezer Sandwiches - Who Knew?

I have been on a journey over the last couple months to stick to a budget. Ultimately, I want to be a homeowner. So.. budgeting is helping me with savings.  I have scoured endless websites, YouTube videos and blogs looking at various ideas to help me in my endeavor.

One thing I have ran across, on more than one occasion, is "freezer sandwiches".  I know what you are thinking, I thought the same thing, SOGGY! That was until I tried it.

I was watching Jamerrill over at Large Family Table on Youtube. She makes freezer meals for her large family. One of the things she makes and often instills the help of her children with are freezer sandwiches. Some are lunch meat and cheese (condiments omitted) and some are Peanut Butter and Jelly.

She has mentioned in her video that someone had asked her if ever she had a problem with soggy bread and she said no. She also mentioned that she uses wheat bread.  Well, I thought I would give it a try.

Its just me and my two children so I didn't need to make too many, but I started with 24. I made half ham and cheese and the other half PB&J. We would take them out the night before school/work and put them in the fridge, then in the morning we could just grab and go.  We did not use wheat bread and guess what? NO SOGGY BREAD!  I could not believe it! And, it was great! Not hard or stale, it was actually rather fresh. And there have been days when I forgot to take one out of the freezer and grabbed straight from the freezer in the morning and it was good to go at lunch time.

Freezer sandwiches save me money from buying quick foods when I am in a hurry as well as time in the morning. Currently I am making them 3 weeks at a time.

What are your favorite goto meals that you can freeze that save time & money?

Back to Blog!

It has been some time since I have blogged, about 4 years to be exact. Lots of things have changed and yet many things have remained the same.

So why back to blogging you might ask?

I have been doing a lot of reading of blogs and it has rekindled the fire that burned in me to share things with you. Things like shopping hauls from Dollar Tree, my continued love of stockpiling, learning creative budgeting tips, genealogy, postcrossing, freezer meals and my current efforts of getting things in order to buy a home and so much more.

My children are a bit older, 11 and 13, and so life is definitely more busier. Sports and band top the list of things we are doing outside of work/school. We are still always planning fun road trips.

I'm looking forward to sharing a host of wonderful things with you!!

So here we go 2019. It's going to be a great year.