My Journey out of Debt

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Retired with Nowhere to go?

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Retired with Nowhere to go?If a long vacation doesn't interest you, and neither does the idea of no vacation at all, and you're feeling bored and suffering from a mild case of "cabin fever," maybe a day trip would be just the thing to spark up your day.

Even though my husband puts out a garden each year, we still enjoy hitting some of the local farmer's markets on Saturday from early spring through fall.  A morning jaunt to the farmer's market is a perfect excursion for anyone willing to forgo Saturday morning cartoons. There's a festive and welcoming atmosphere that makes you feel like you are part of a neighborhood. 

There is an ever-changing array of farm fresh goodies to be had. On any given Saturday, we can find vendors who bring locally produced fruits, vegetables, jams, jellies, honey, pickles, olives, olive oils, spices, and ready-to-eat prepared foods. Most of the products are local, grown within a 50-mile radius, and are both pesticide-free and sustainable. Traveling arts and crafts vendors are also readily available at these farmers markets.  You can find pocket knives, jewelry, bakers with homemade breads, cupcakes, cookies, cakes, and pies, and all types of handmade, decorated linens.  I love the ladies who bring their doileys and quilts, and I usually bring home several doileys because I just can't resist them. So, most every Saturday, we set out with recyclable bags in hand in search of new, delicious homegrown goodies or beautifully handcrafted surprises. 

Farmer's markets are even sprouting up around the larger cities and are growing in popularity among city dwellers. How do I know? I have an aunt and three very good friends who live in and around the city of Chicago. They have all shared their Saturday morning farmer's market finds with me.  We compare what products they have available to what we are finding, as well as prices. People realize that food produced closer to home, which hasn't been trucked or flown from thousands of miles away, or hasn't been stored and packaged in huge warehouses, is fresher and tastier. Produce and vegetables are more likely to be hand-picked when they're ripe. With more attention being focused on food safety, it is reassuring to deal directly with the farmer who has produced the food you are purchasing.  

We can enjoy new food experiences. Speaking directly to farmers is a wonderful way to learn about the origins of the food we eat, to taste new food products, and to learn new recipes for preparing healthy family meals. The vendors at these markets are there, in part, because they enjoy the one-on-one relationship with their customers and are only too happy to share what they know. It's a great way to educate your children and grandchildren about healthy eating.

Farmer's markets also provide economic benefits to the small farmers who are not able to compete with the larger farms that are producing for food chains. The small, rural farms are beginning to disappear because it is just too expensive these days to make a living strictly off the farm. My grandmother was a small farmer with 70 acres of land in the most productive part of Central Illinois. I remember summers visiting with her and being amazed at the rich, black dirt being tilled up as wheat, corn, and soybeans were planted. She made her living exclusively from the farm. The majority of her land was tillable and the rest was woodland and pasture for her Hereford cattle. She rarely bought anything from a grocery store-she canned vegetables and fruits from her garden, eggs came from the chickens, beef came from the cattle, as well as fresh milk, butter, and even cottage cheese. Had farmer's markets been around during her time, I feel she would have participated. 

On alternating weeks, at a nearby farmer's market, an organic meat vendor has fresh cuts of beef and poultry available. At first, I was a bit hesitant to buy fresh beef or poultry, but I did try a beef roast and some chicken breasts. The meat and chicken breasts were delicious-far better than anything I have purchased from our local grocery stores. Now, we make a point to visit this vendor whenever he is there. 

Whenever I know we will have something special going on over a given weekend, I try to gather as much from the farmer's market as I can for our guests. Really, this food is a super-special treat for everyone. I love to bake, but I'm not a bread maker. I pick up fresh baked bread and rolls from my favorite bakery vendor, as well as some type of delicious, homemade dessert. Canned pickles (especially the bread and butter type) are big favorites, and one lady makes the best canned beets and canned jams and jellies which I can't pass up either. Occassionally, there is a candy maker set up and she always has different candies-some are her own recipes that have been passed down from her great grandmother. I visit her booth when she is there. We look for fresh vegetables that we don't have in our garden and always pick up different but delicious goodies. In early fall, I try to pick up several jars of honey made by busy bees gathering nectar from local flowers. It makes me feel happy to think of those little bees-maybe some even visited my flower garden.

Most of our trips to the farmer's markets end with a picnic lunch at a local park. I pack some sandwiches and a nice salad, and we usually try some of the goodies we purchased at the farmer's market. It's a wonderfully, relaxing day that takes us out of the house and away from our usual routines. We have this special time together and we haven't spent much money either. Twenty dollars goes a long way at most farmer's markets and we always have a good time. It's not exactly a vacation but taking in the farmer's markets certainly does make for an interesting, entertaining day away from home.

Do you have a farmer's market in your community you can attend? If you don't know, check with your local Chamber of Commerce. They are usually held on the town square or near a park or fairground. It's homemade fun that even kids and grandchildren will enjoy.

Kimberly Johns, CareOne Services, Inc. My Journey Out of DebtKimberly Johns

Kimberly has been on the CareOne Debt Management Plan (DMP) for just under a year. Kimberly is very active in the Community Forums, some of you may recognize her Community user name; Tiquie. Recently retired, she is going to share how she and her husband manage the financial challenges of living on a fixed income.

The John's have found some really creative and fun ways to offset the limitations of a retirement income, which Kimberly is generously planning to share in her My Journey out of Debt blog! Compensated Blogger for CareOne Debt Relief Services.


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  • Great idea, Kiimberly - we have a farmer's market in our city and we don't go nearly as often as we should.  Every time we've gone, we found some inexpensive new fresh food to try.  The kids always seem to love seeing all the neat things, and learning about what all can be grown in the great state of Minnesota (if we can tear my teenager away from his xbox on a Saturday morning, anyway).  It's like a field trip!

  • Hey t_pizel!  Sometimes we take our 4-year-old granddaughter with us and she loves it.  Who would have thought?  She's very inquisitive and outgoing so lots of people and new "stuff" to look at is right up her alley.  My husband puts out a garden (and this year it's a BIG garden) but we still love to find things we don't have.  Our Granddaughter, Grace, has even been inspired to plant her very own tomato plant and she helped plant the corn and green beans.  

    This is great entertainment and, by most standards, very close to being free!  Glad you liked the blog.

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