Chilly Days Don’t Have to Be Boring Days

Living in Ohio means putting up with low temperatures in the winter, but you won’t even notice Jack Frost nipping at your nose if you are busy having fun. If you are getting cabin sledfever from being inside all winter, try some of these fun outdoor activities. One of my favorite things to do outside in the winter is go sledding. If you chose a place to sled with really tall hills or ramps, then this can be a very exciting and thrilling activity.. If you prefer a more relaxing and safe activity, you can still go sledding – just chose somewhere with smaller hills, like a yard in your neighborhood.

A winter picnic might sound like an oxymoron, but it can be fun if you’re bundled up with lots of blankets and thermoses of hot chocolate and soup.

Bird watching is also a great winter activity. Macardinal snow globeke your own birdfeeder out of pine cones, peanut butter, and bird seed. Birds of bright colors (think of the Cardinal) look beautiful against the white snow. Keep a list of the birds you see at your home and compare it year over year. My father and I have a list that dates back almost 10 years.

An intense snow ball fight with teams is a great way to get outside and enjoy the brisk winter weather. You can make snowmen or even a snow family. If the weather is too cold, have a snowball fight inside. You and your children can have hours of entertainment with pretend snowballs — all the fun of snow without the wet and cold. Made of a soft, textured material, they even feel crunchy like a snowball!

Igloos are fun to build and play in. If it staysAsherigloo cold, your snow fort will last for weeks.

Speaking of cold, once the temperature gets below 32 degrees, here’s a whole new twist on blowing bubbles. Go outside the next time it is bitter cold and watch the bubbles turn to ice as soon as you blow them. You can mix water and food color and put it in a bottle and spray paint the snow in your yard. Add the snow family, igloo and ice bubbles and your yard becomes your canvas.

So don’t stay inside all day – get out there and enjoy the winter!

Hearty Soup Recipes from our Facebook Friends

We asked – and you sent us some great soup recipes! Here are some of our favorite submissions from this National Soup Month of 2015. Bon appetit!

Cabbage Beef Soup (Ellen Siler)

  • 1 28oz. can chopped or diced tomatoes with juice
  • 4 cups water

    Grow your own cabbage this year! Heirloom seeds available at

    Grow your own cabbage this year! Heirloom seeds available at

  • 1 16oz. can kidney beans, undrained
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • ½ tsp. garlic salt
  • ¼ tsp. garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • 4 beef bouillon cubes
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 med. onion, chopped
  • ½ head cabbage, chopped

Put first 7 ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil. Add bouillon cubes. Brown the ground beef with the onion, then drain. Add beef to other ingredients. Add chopped cabbage and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for one hour. The garlic salt, garlic powder, and black pepper can be increased to your liking. Some folks may want to add Rotel to give it some heat. Serve with Fritos Scoops.
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4 Ways You Can Learn From Great Depression Wisdom

My 85-year-old grandmother was a young girl during the Great Depression, and her family, like many others, went through some extremely hard times. Her father, an aspiring white beanstruck farmer, lost everything, and several of her six siblings were literally “farmed out” until her parents got back on their feet and could afford to feed them again. Her only brother went to stay with a farm family at the tender age of eight, to work for his room and board. As the baby of the seven, my grandmother stayed at home. She remembers sitting on her father’s lap as he read the newspaper, perhaps scanning the help wanted ads.

We’ve all heard the saying, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without,” but I wondered if Grandma could give me some specific examples of what her family did to get through those hard times…joyfully and happily, even!

I’m blessed to live right next door to Grandma, so I recently asked her about ways I can apply some of that hard-earned wisdom to my own life, in 2015. Here’s what I learned. Continue reading

Super Bites and Slow-Cooker Dips for THE Big Game

OK, there is a pretty big football game coming up soon. And if you’ll have hungry game watchers in your house that day (or any day, really), the following recipes are guaranteed to impress – and let you enjoy the festivities, too!

Slow-Cooker Buffalo Chicken Hot Wing Dip

Our delicious, minimally processed chicken makes quick work of hearty recipes!

Our delicious, minimally processed chicken makes quick work of hearty recipes!

  • 1-12 oz bottle Frank’s Original Hot Sauce
  • 2-8 oz. packages cream cheese, cut into cubes
  • 16 oz. bottle ranch dressing
  • 1-28 oz. can Lehman’s chicken
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Mix all ingredients together and place in crock pot or slow cooker. Cook on low for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally. You can also bake it in a 9×13 baking dish at 350 degrees for 30 minutes if you don’t want to wait! Serve with tortilla chips, crackers and celery. This is a big favorite in Glenda Lehman Ervin’s household. Continue reading

Root Cellar Blues? Time to Make Sauerkraut!

 It has been cold here. It isn’t really out of the ordinary, -10 degrees in January is pretty cabbagetypical but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. My root cellar doesn’t like it either. It’s a fine dance we do, keeping the door open just enough to keep the temperature above freezing but not so high as to trick the carrots into thinking spring is here and it’s time to sprout.

It is so important to check the food down there. Today I find that I have cabbage and carrots that must be seen to and apples that must be used up. The apples are easy. We love apples and onions caramelized with some butter and maple syrup and poured over pork chops. The cabbage and carrots are going to be fermented. We are kraut crazy around here. I got one of those dandy little air lock tops and lids for my ½ gallon Mason jars and now I can make kraut without getting the brine all over. Bruce bought me a mandoline for Christmas so I’m going to break that in too. I do love my little gadgets!
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Roast Beef and Barley Build the Best Cold Weather Soup

After a frantic few weeks of holiday cooking, you’re probably ready to put together some meals that are nearly heat and eat. Beef Barley Soup can do that for you, putting roast beef leftovers to good use, and adding barley for more protein and staying power. We usually plan for a chuck or arm roast that will allow us to have a pound or so of meat left, and we usually freeze a fourth to a half batch of the beef and barley soup made from the leftover beef. Continue reading

Soup Lineup: Ultimate Food for a Crowd!

My husband and I have young children. Most of our friends have young children. And when we get together socially, there are … lots of young children. Most recently, when kids eatinga group of us met for lunch, there were 15 little mouths to feed in addition to the six adults. (Okay, 4-month-old Catie doesn’t really count; she doesn’t eat any chili – yet.)

The easiest, most relaxing way we’ve found to have a meal together is by creating a soup lineup. By this we mean a counter top lineup of slow cookers, each filled with a different soup, chili or stew. In between we stick some loaves of homemade bread, some butter, someone throws in a big salad or bowl of fruit, and voila – we’ve got a hot, hearty meal for everyone, with minimal dishes and not much cooking by any of us. This means a lot more time to sit and talk (for the big people) and run and play (for the little people). Continue reading

Dill Pickles, Potatoes Combine for Unforgettable Soup

Back in January 2011, we ran this recipe along with a couple of others to wind up National Soup Month that year. Now, due to popular demand, here it is again, but this time, we’re just starting the month!

Kathi, one of our Customer Service Representatives contributed this lip-smacking soup. And although it may sound a little odd, the combination of the potato and the tangy pickle really do balance each other well, underpinned by the rich chicken stock. Continue reading

Quick Cheater Chicken Broth

You want to make your own homemade soup, but you just feel like you don’t have the time to make your own chicken stock. Is that what’s troubling you, Bunky?

Fuss no more. This “cheater” chicken broth is simple, quick and is great for the busiest households. Next time you buy (or defrost) uncooked chicken for a meal, snag an extra 4 to 6 bone-in breast pieces, or 2 to 3 whole breast portions with the bones. Skin chicken if you want a lower-fat, clearer broth. I always skin my chicken and trim the fat off the meat when I make this broth. Continue reading

Craft An Upcycled Christmas in 2015

It’s no secret that our landfills are overflowing. I take every opportunity to reduce the amount of waste I produce by reusing and repurposing whatever I can. Over the holidays I get to exercise my creative muscle to make beautiful wrappings and tags from what would otherwise be junk into decorative items that can be reused year after year. Continue reading