Summer Fun

The grill tends to bring our family closer together during the summer and makes cooking so much more fun.

Cooking in our wide-open backyard while the kids play squealing and our dogs run around it such a different experience than cooking in our small kitchen during the cold winters. The smells and sounds are invigorating, plus I can cook while practicing cartwheels with my 7-year-old, watching my 5-year-old’s swing performance, and playing baseball with my 3-year-old.

Tonight, before we all piled on one couch with popsicles in hand (the best summer treat) to watch the Summer Olympics Opening Ceremonies, we headed outside to create a traditional summer family dinner with pork ribs, corn on the cob, zucchini, and baked beans – all on the grill.

I broke out my new Barbecue! Bible, which I love, because it breaks down all the different types of flavorings for meat and how to use them in detail. Since I can’t do anything by-the-book, I slightly altered a recipe for a rub. Plus,  I found a simple sauce to flavor the vegetables that I wasn’t even looking for, but couldn’t pass up.

Our meal took an unexpected turn when we realized I may have added too much Cayenne Pepper to the rub. Suddenly it became a challenge to see who could go the longest without the relief of a drink of milk after taking a bite of their pork rib. Embarrassingly enough, my 3-year-old son got the Gold Medal in this event.

What brings your family closer together for meal times? And how did your family get ready to cheer on this year’s U.S. Olympic Team?

Ragin’ Cajun Rub Recipe


  • 1/2 Cup Sea Salt
  • 1/4 Cup Paprika
  • 3 TBSP Fresh Ground Pepper
  • 1 TBSP Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 TBSP Dried Thyme
  • 1 TBSP Diced Onions
  • 1 TBSP Garlic Powder
  • 1 TBSP Honey Barbecue Sauce


Mix all ingredients together until blended well. Place your meat in a freezer bag. Pour in the Ragin’ Cajun Rub. Shake until the meat is covered and refrigerate at least 8-24 hours before cooking your meat on the grill or bake in the oven.

This rub works well with chicken, pork, or turkey.

Garlic Butter Vegetable Baste Recipe


  • 8 TBSP Butter
  • 3 Cloves Minced Garlic
  • 1/2 TBSP Fresh Ground Pepper


Melt butter, then mix in other ingredients until well blended.  Add to vegetables before cooking or while cooking as a baste.

In Good Cents is a Table Talk Contributor, sponsored by the  Indiana Family of Farmers. While I was not compensated for this post, I was provided with tools to enjoy some delicious summer food for inspiration. For more information, please read our terms & conditions and disclosure policy.

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Staycation Ideas | Frugal Fun in Central Indiana

by Beth Montgomery on June 5, 2012

in Indiana

With the increase in flight costs, a staycation is becoming more appealing to many families. First, if you aren’t aware, a staycation is a vacation, but in your own hometown. Throughout the summer, I’ll be sharing a few of our favorite family-fun spots, plus ways to save at each one, during the Indiana Summer Fun Series, but if you don’t live in Indiana, stay tuned! I’ve partnered with a group of amazing bloggers who are all sharing staycation ideas in various cities around the United States and I’ll have a full list for you tomorrow.

Travel Back in Time

Marsh Supermarket Symphony on the Prairie

Indiana is full of history! You can experience historical Indiana in person at Conner Prairie, one of my kids favorite places to run around and explore. Pet baby animals, experience The Civil War, talk with historical figures, and play old-fashion games. Stop by Ricker’s BP Stores to get a discount on a 1859 Balloon Ride.

Plus, don’t miss out on Marsh Supermarket Symphony on the Prairie, where you can enjoy music with a theatrical flare from the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra in a family-friendly environment where even the youngest are welcome! Now is the time to get discount tickets at Marsh.

Sleep Under the Stars (But in a Tent!)

My son rode his "firetruck" in front of the tent most of our stay.

Who needs an expensive hotel when you can fall asleep to the sounds of nature? When it’s time for us to staycation, we always reach for our tent. Hiking through Indiana woods, cooking food over a camp fire, and simply relaxing outside is one of the best ways to unwind. Since you aren’t likely to get  a Wi-Fi signal, you can escape the crazy world and just enjoy time together. Plus, it’s as low as $12 a night to camp in one of the state parks.

Indiana has many great parks and campgrounds, even for the youngest camper. We have tons of tips for first time campers, including what to do, where to stay and, what to bring! Make sure to print the Camping Checklist!

Hit the Water

One grandpa and three little girls (and they made it with no problems)

It’s never too late to learn to canoe and with the White River Canoe Company in Noblesville, kids as young as six years old can canoe down the White River.

And, if you’re incredibly brave, like my Dad (pictured to the left) you can attempt to handle all the kids by yourself in one canoe! Print a coupon for 50% off a second canoe.

Enjoy the Parks

Fort Harrison State Park Pony Rides

Fort Harrison State Park is always on our list for summer fun, especially with the horseback riding and pony rides, great picnic spots, and beautiful lakes with fish and ducks to feed. Make sure to check out the Nature Center schedule for fun and educational activities.

Or, if you enjoy walking and water, head to Eagle Creek Park where you can rent canoes, sailboats, and row boats (and of course, fish). We love to walk the long trails through the woods. We tend to skip the map and just see where we end up, since you hit a road often enough you won’t get too last.

Just pay park admission per vehicle and stay the day to get the most bang for your buck.

CLICK HERE for all the staycation ideas in Central Indiana!

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Staycations Ideas Around the United States

by Beth Montgomery on June 5, 2012

in Announcements,

Did you catch my Central Indiana Staycation Ideas yesterday?

There’s more! If you aren’t in the Central Indiana area or are venturing outside of Central Indiana this summer, make sure to check out the list of staycation ideas around the United States below:


Buffalo/Niagara Falls, New York :: Coupons, Deals and More
Central New Jersey :: Philzendia (formerly Oh diane)
Erie, Pennsylvania :: Growing Kids Ministry
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania :: Family Balance Sheet


Black Hills, South Dakota :: Little House Living
Central Indiana :: In Good Cents
Chicago, Illinois :: Chicagoland Homeschool Network
Cincinnati, Ohio :: Savings Lifestyle Cincinnati
Dayton, Ohio :: Savings Lifestyle Dayton
Kansas City Area :: Kansas City Mamas
Mansfield, Ohio :: The Traveling Praters
Metro Detroit, Michigan :: Saving Dollars and Sense
Mount Vernon, Ohio :: Living Better One Day at a Time
North Central Indiana :: Parenting Miracles
Oakland County, Michigan :: Bargain Shopper Mom
Omaha, Nebraska :: Mom Endeavors
Oshkosh, Wisconsin :: A Little Bit of This and That
SE Minnesota :: Everyday Notions
Springfield, Missouri :: Getting Freedom
Springfield, Missouri :: I Think I can, I think I can
St. Louis, Missouri :: Our Four Letter Words

South Central

Arlington, Texas :: Grocery Shop For FREE
Dallas, Texas :: Surviving The Stores
Grapevine, Texas :: My Crazy Savings
Houston, Texas :: MomsTravelTales

South Atlantic

Baltimore, Maryland :: The Happy Housewife
Charlottesville, Virginia :: How to Have it All
Jacksonville, Florida :: Saving The Family Money
Orlando, Florida :: Orlandos Best Deals
Shenandoah Valley, Virginia :: Life Your Way
St. Augustine, Florida :: Jypsie Visions
Washington, DC :: Holy Spirit-led Homeschooling


Arizona (all) :: Mom Endeavors
Colorado Springs, Colorado :: Springs Bargains
Denver, Colorado :: Denver Bargains
Phoenix, Arizona :: Saving For Someday
Tucson, Arizona :: Desert Chica Ramblings


Portland, Oregon :: Frugal Living NW
San Diego, California :: Life as MOM
San Diego, California (The Eating Tour) :: Good Cheap Eats
Seattle, Washington :: Queen Bee Coupons

Where would you visit on your Central Indiana Staycation?

Enter to win tickets, vacation packages, and more during Indiana Summer Fun on In Good Cents!

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Congratulations to Jennifer & Lisa, the winners of the Family Night at the Ball Park ticket packages!

This post is part of the Indiana Summer Fun 2012 series. Be sure to check out all the ways to enjoy Indiana in true frugal fashion this summer!

Even though I’ve never been too into sports (I know, it’s unAmerican), I do enjoy the excitement of experiencing games live and baseball is one of my favorites!

Indiana’s Family of Farmers will be hosting Family Night at the Ball Park at Victory Field in Downtown Indianapolis this year!

Indianapolis Indian’s vs. Rochester Red Wings
Monday, June 11, 2012
Gates Open: 5:30 PM, Game Starts: 7:05 PM

Indiana’s Family of Farmers will be hosting a Build-a-Burger contest at every Sunday home game where you could compete for a chance to win fun prizes like a $10 tribe Token and more. Plus, look for members of the Indiana’s Family of Farmers during home games on July 13th, July 30th, and August 24th for your chance to enter to win great prizes, including a $50 grocery gift card!

Ways to Save on a Night at Victory Field

Join us for some frugal American fun! Kids 2 and under are free on a lap or on the lawn. Bring a blanket and enjoy the game from the lawn for only $10 per per adult and $9 per child 14 and under.

Enter to Win

Indiana's Family of Famers


Two (2) lucky In Good Cents readers will win one (1) FREE Indiana’s Family of Farmers prize pack valued at $65 that includes:

  • (4) Indianapolis Indians vs. Rochester Red Wings at 7:05 PM Tickets ($11 each)
  • In-Game Picnic in Coors Light Corner (Estimated $5.25 each)

**eMail and RSS subscribers must visit this post to enter for a chance to win. Entries by email will not be accepted.

CLICK HERE to enter to win.

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UPDATE: This contest has ended. The winners are Julianna & Janet. Congratulations!

This post is part of the Indiana Summer Fun 2012 series. Be sure to check out all the ways to enjoy Indiana in true frugal fashion this summer!

Though I’ve lived in Indiana my entire life, last year was my first trip to Indiana Dunes. My family and I love the outdoors, but I was shocked to see the amazing beauty the was right here. Every Hoosier should venture at least once to see the dunes that truly are a masterpiece of nature.

This year our venture began at Inspiration Wood, a new private retreat in Westville, Indiana. The comfy cottages made it seem like you were staying at the cottage of a good friend, but you had all the amenities of a hotel. The cottages are nestled in the woods surrounded by nature and near a lake where you can spot ducks and other beautiful birds. But inside you find deep tubs that beg for you to just relax and huge king-size beds with thick pillows.

I go on vacation with my entire family (aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc…) often, but when I’m away on a family vacation with just my immediate family, it’s not often I think, “I wish the rest of my family was here.” It’s not that I don’t love them, but 21 people on vacation together is crazy. With the cottages at Inspiration Wood close enough together to visit, but far enough you get time apart too, it really was the perfect place for a family reunion or, with FREE Wi-Fi throughout the area, a company retreat. They offer bonfires, gathering spaces, and the owners go above and beyond to make your stay perfect.

While at Inspiration Wood, we journeyed to Taltree Arboretum & Gardens who has taken an extra step to make gardens exciting for even young toddler boys by adding a huge train set that twists and turns around dwarf trees and small waterfalls.  When I heard the word “garden”, I assumed my son would be bored out of his mind, but since even Thomas the Train was riding the rails, I couldn’t get him out of there. We made 2 1/2 slow trips around the large Railway Gardens, before heading off to the Rose Gardens and off on the trails to see the only two Trumpeter Swans in Indiana who live together on a small island in the wetlands.

After hiking through the woods, we headed back to Lucrezia Cafe where we enjoyed the best meal ever last year and got the same delicious Italian fare this year. Lucrezia is a small Italian restaurant with live music and friendly staff that goes out of their way to make your experience great, even if that means walking down the street to get milk for my son. Even my picky children devoured every bit of their Fettuccine Alfredo, along with more than their share of bread and dip.

While we hated to leave the comfortable cottage at Inspiration Wood, after two nights we headed to Indiana Dunes State Park to pitch our tent and sleep outdoors. While personally, I prefer the comforts of a bed (and that deep tub), my kids love sleeping in sleeping bags listening to the sounds of racoons scouring the campgrounds and birds chirping high above. And, really, my husband and I love going to bed early to avoid the mosquitoes and  and snuggling under the thick sleeping bags.

Why We Love Indiana Dunes Tourism

Why it’s great for families: At Indiana Dunes, you’ll find something to interest every member of the family. There’s the nature center, gardens, beach, trails, and, of course, animals. It’s nature at it’s finest.

What we love most: We love the fact that most of the best spots to visit are family-owned, so they make you feel like you’re with friends by going out of their way to make sure you’re visit is everything you expected, plus more.

Our Tips for a Successful Visit

Tips for Young Children & Infants: Indiana Dunes is hilly, so be prepared for walking up and down large hills when hiking. For very small kids, bring a carrier for when they get tired.

Tips for Older Children: Check out the schedule of events happening at the gardens and parks. There are many great events for school-age children and families where you can experience nature and see wild animals up close and personal.

Tips for Adults: Leave the kids at home! Indiana Dunes is also the perfect place for a romantic getaway.

Ways to Save

  • Stop by the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center and pick up coupons sheets, including the coupons in the Enjoy Indiana Dunes Country at its Best Booklet.
  • You can enjoy the beach and trails at Indiana Dunes State Park for only the cost of park entrance, which is per car.
  • Bring food with you, plus a picnic basket, to save on the cost of eating out. Many places are picnic-friendly.
  • Bring board games and books to enjoy quiet nights relaxing together.

Plan a Visit

Indiana Dunes Tourism
1215 N. State Road 49
Porter, Indiana 46304
Visit Online


Enter to Win


One (1) lucky In Good Cents readers will win one (1) FREE Indiana Dunes Country Package valued at approximately $500 that includes:

  • Two-Night Stay at Inspiration Woods Cottage
  • Gift Card to Lucrezia Cafe
  • (4) Passes to Taltree Arboretum &Gardens

One (1) lucky runner up will will the 2nd place prize valued at $40 including:

  • (4) Passes to Taltree Arboretum &Gardens

**eMail and RSS subscribers must visit this post to enter for a chance to win. Entries by email will not be accepted.

CLICK HERE to enter to win.

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From August 15-September 15, the Indianapolis Children’s Museum and the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo have teamed up to bring you a great deal.   During this time, Indianapolis Children’s Museum members will get FREE Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo admission AND Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo members will get FREE admission to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum!

We love book, but read more about our favorite parts of the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo and Indianapolis Children’s Museum in our Summer Fun series!

This partnership is to encourage members to enjoy other local attractions and family fun spots!   To qualify, you must present your membership card AND photo ID.

This wonderful partnership ends September 15, 2011.

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