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Frugal Family Footnotes
Fall beauty is a special gift
October 11, 2011
by Kristi Hiivala

As some of you may already know, our family recently welcomed a foreign exchange student to live with us during this school year. For the last month, we have learned a lot about her home country, Kazakhstan, and have appreciated the differences between what she is used to, and what our country has to offer.

Being around someone who is seeing our area for the first time has been really eye-opening for me, as well. I don’t remember the last time I actually looked at the colored leaves in awe. Mostly, I just looked at them as a reminder that winter will soon be upon us, and worried about getting a pair of winter boots in the right size for my son before they sold out!

With renewed interest in teaching my kids how lucky we are to live in an area with beautiful trees in the fall, I rather spontaneously planned a picnic at a local park on a recent afternoon.

Do you realize how many local parks we have in the area?? A last-minute picnic didn’t mean a drive in the car for a long distance; we were able to pack up some sandwiches and juice boxes and start “picnicking” quite quickly. An inexpensive family memory in the making!

I must admit that I am not incredibly familiar with the parks in either Meeker or Wright counties. I wanted to go someplace with picnic tables, a playground, and walking trails. Armed with this information, I went to both the Wright and Meeker county websites (www.co.wright.mn.us and www.co.meeker.mn.us).

Within in a few clicks, I had narrowed my search to a few local parks. I was impressed that all this park information was found so easily online. Who knew?!

Fall produce is especially fun, too. Making apple crisp (and eating it) is one of my favorite things to do in the fall. And there is something so cheery about big, bright orange pumpkins on someone’s front steps!

Unfortunately, I have not accomplished the art of growing apple trees or pumpkins successfully yet. This mommy may be able to talk on the phone, pour a glass of juice, wipe a snotty nose, and let the dog out all at the same time, but make a plant grow from the ground?? That’s beyond me.

So, as much as possible, I try to buy local products. The grocery stores in our towns provide locally-grown produce, as well as the obvious trip to our local farmers markets (Wednesday afternoon in Cokato, and Friday afternoon in Dassel).

Buying pumpkins for a family of six can be costly, though. One cost-effective suggestion is to check with your neighbors or family members who garden. Oftentimes people end up with more produce than they can use. It’s a win/win situation for both growers and non-growers alike.

Another website I use frequently is one that lists local orchards in the area, www.americantowns.com. It actually breaks the locations down by county, and allows you to access individual orchard websites.

There are a few orchards close to home that offer deals on their website. Taking a few minutes to look for these local deals online can end up saving you big money.

Happy savings!


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