October is Kids Free Month in San Diego!

Screen Shot 2017-09-26 at 8.56.48 PM.pngIt’s back, Baby!!  I love October for so many reasons (and Pumpkin Spice isn’t one), but mostly I love October  because that means it’s Kids go Free Month here in San Diego.

This is the seventh year that the program has been helping kids and families explore our awesome city and county!

For those of us with curious kids, this is perfect! Kids can get into 43 museums in the San Diego area free with paying adults (all the info can be found here).

Participating organizations include:

1. Barona Cultural Center & Museum
2. Birch Aquarium at Scripps
3. Cabrillo National Monument
4. California Center for the Arts Museum
5. California Surf Museum
6. Coronado Museum of History & Art
7. Fleet Science Center (Galleries only)
8. Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum
9. Gaslamp Museum at the Davis-Horton House
10. Heritage of the Americas Museum
11. Japanese Friendship Garden
12. La Jolla Historical Society
13. Living Coast Discovery Center
14. Lux Art Institute
15. Maritime Museum of San Diego
16. Marston House Museum & Gardens
17. Mingei International Museum
18. Miniature Engineering Craftsmanship Museum
19. Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego
20. Museum of Making Music
21. Museum of Photographic Arts
22. New Americans Museum
23. Oceanside Museum of Art
24. San Diego Air & Space Museum
25. San Diego Archaeological Center
26. San Diego Art Institute
27. San Diego Automotive Museum
28. San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum
29. San Diego Chinese Historical Museum
30. San Diego History Center
31. San Diego Model Railroad Museum
32. San Diego Natural History Museum (The Nat)
33. Serra Museum
34. The New Children’s Museum
35. The San Diego Museum of Art
36. The Water Conservation Garden
37. Tijuana Estuary Visitor Center
38. Timken Museum of Art (it’s always free for everyone FYI)
39. USS Midway Museum
40. Veterans Museum at Balboa Park
41. Visions Art Museum
42. Warner-Carrillo Ranch House
43. Women’s Museum of California

Oh, and as part of free October, Kids can get into the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo’s Safari Park free when accompanied by a paying adult!  WOO HOO!

More info can be found here, and other fun, free stuff for kids can be found here and here.

 

Looking to score cool free stuff and experiences? Try Houseparty!

Screen Shot 2017-09-26 at 8.33.39 PM.pngIf you are looking for a way to score cool free stuff and awesome experiences, sign up for Houseparty!

Houseparty partners with companies that want to advertise. People register on the site, sign up for parties they want to host and if they are lucky enough to get accepted, they are sent a HUGE box of goodies to throw the party, which showcases the product that is being “advertised”.

From the Houseparty website: “It’s easy! Browse the parties we have coming up and apply online to host the ones that seem like a perfect fit for you. When you host a House Party you’re a VIP: You get sneak previews of the best TV shows, free stuff, and the best offers out there on the things you really like.

If you don’t see any current House Parties that move you, then sign up for the mailing list, tell us what types of events you’re interested in, and we’ll send you an email when an event launches that matches your preferences.”

For a list of parties that are currently accepting applications, as well as parties that will be accepting applications soon, check out the Find a House Party page.

Houseparty partners with companies that want to advertise, such as Kraft, Martha Stewart Crafts, Sargento Salad Finishers, Mexican Avocado Council, L’oreal, Soy Vey, Ball Pectin and Canning Jars, Nintendo Wii. Those are all companies whose Houseparty parties I have hosted or been to- A lot of my friends are into HouseParty too!

How do you get the hook up? People like you register on the site, sign up for parties they want to host and if they are lucky enough to get accepted, they are sent a HUGE box of goodies to throw the party, which showcases the product that is being “advertised”.

Houseparty is a Word of Mouth Marketing (WOM) program.  It’s not new.  Remember the “I told two friends, and they told two friends” commercial from the 1980′s? That’s word of mouth marketing.  Since the invention of the internet, WOM marketing has been amplified, lucky for us consumers!

Craft time! Colortime Crafts and Markers – Glow in the Dark Halloween Tote!

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I love this time of year! There are all kinds of fun crafts. We  go through bags like crazy, so I am stoked to be receiving the Colortime Crafts and Markers Glow in the Dark Halloween Totes!

colortimelogoIf you know me, you know I’m not a huge fan of goodies bags at parties- I much prefer that the guest do a fun craft or an activity. Colortime has great goodies for birthday parties and sleepovers! Fun kits like coloring pillowcases, t-shirts, backpacks, permanent fabric markers, and more.

For savings, join their Birthday Club and receive 20% off and a free backpack, with your order!

I’ll be receiving some goodies from Colortime, including a Glow in the Dark tote. I’ll post a review with photos once we are able to get our craft on!

Click here for the Latest Online Special offers and promo codes to Colortime Crafts and Markers
 

 

@usfg

9/26/17 Meal Plan Tuesday

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I’m a day late– Bitty Bird is having super fun 2 year sleep regression and it’s making me loopy. No sleep for her means no sleep for Mommy!

I’m just posting dinners for our meal plan. The kiddos usually have a small toasted bagel with cream cheese for breakfast along with fruit.  Hubs likes Oatmeal (my recipe for an easy almost instant oatmeal mix can be found here) if he’s got time, otherwise he and I have protein shakes with frozen bananas and PB2.

Lunches for Lil’ Man are usually Peanut butter and crackers, fruit, milk, a protein muffin (aka a kid cupcake), and applesauce cup. He takes his lunch every day! Hubs usually has a protein shake or I pack him leftovers or a frozen entree.

Bitty Bird and I usually have leftovers from the night before, or soup, sandwiches, quesadillas. She eats almost anything!

We’re pretty stocked up of food for the next week or so- We’ll need milk, cream cheese, and cheese. I’ll probably hit up Costco tomorrow.

Monday:

  • D: Colonial Chowder (I’ll post the recipe soon) and toast

Tuesday:

  • D:  Chef Salads

Weds:

  • D: Frittata (Thanks to my friend Lizzy for the eggs!)

Thursday:

  • D:  Frozen Entrees with veggies

Friday:

  • D: Date Night! (we go out)

Saturday:

  • D:  Salsa chicken with quinoa and veggies

Sunday:

  • D: Leftover buffet

The menu may change, as  I pull stuff out of the pantry to rotate what we’ve got (I am trying to cut down on waste, and put the older stuff up front to get eaten first).

We’ve got a busy week with ABA Therapy three times, doctor’s appointments, CSA pick up, and my 20th High School Reunion on Saturday!

Ninjas invade Legoland today!

Screen Shot 2017-09-24 at 5.38.26 AM.pngHenry and I went to Legoland yesterday to experience all the fun of Ninjago weekend!

Like any event at Legoland, there are tons of things to keep any little ninja busy!

Screen Shot 2017-09-24 at 5.39.45 AM.pngWe started off the morning by checking out the new LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE Video Game at the WB Family GameSpace. It’s available on all the popular platforms. Henry played by himself and with a few other kids and had a great time exploring Ninjago City as his favorite character (The Red Ninja). You can check out the game too from 10am-5pm today.

Screen Shot 2017-09-24 at 5.39.50 AM.pngNext up, it was time for the LEGO® NINJAGO® MOVIE™ Character Meet & Greet with Lloyd, the Green Ninja! Henry was so excited to take to Lloyd all about his adventures with the Ninjago gang (and Master Wu too). There will be many times available today to meet many different Ninjago character! 10 a.m., 1 1a.m.12 p.m.1 p.m.2 p.m.3 p.m.4 p.m.

After riding a few rides, we checked out the Mystery Mosaic LEGO® Build (available from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.). We each got to build a square for the mosaic! It’s very easy, so even the youngest builder can help!

We finished up our day with a quick lunch and the Miniland U.S.A Scavenger Hunt! It was a little difficult, but we did it! It takes and eagle eye to find the ninjas in Miniland U.S.A. and complete your entry form for a chance to win a LEGO NINJAGO prize pack! Available 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

And of course, no trip to Legoland is complete without a goofy photo…

Screen Shot 2017-09-24 at 5.39.59 AM.pngIf you are looking for some family fun, check out Lego Ninjago Day today at Legoland California!

Screen Shot 2017-09-24 at 5.58.22 AM.pngOr if you are looking for something  else to do, the Lego Ninjago movie is out in theatres now! Henry and I saw a sneak preview of it on Tuesday night, and it’s a great movie for your little ninjas.

Henry and I both enjoyed it. It’s full of family fun, discovery and friendship, and of course, a cat laser!

Quick Dinner: Beefy Taco Skillet

Ok, so pictures with this post because I didn’t think about writing it down until after we had already eaten second helpings. I didn’t think you’d want to see a pic of an empty, dirty skillet.

This recipe is inspired by what I had in the cupboard. I really wanted tacos, but we didn’t have any of the usual fixins’, so I rummaged through the cupboard and the spice rack and here is what I came up with.

If you are wondering why didn’t I just go to the store, or send the Mister…. You mst be new here! I pride myself on being able to use it up, make do, or go without. But a woman should never be denied tacos, or a reasonable facsimile.

Beefy Taco Skillet (serves 6, maybe more)

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground meat (I used beef, but you could use your fav. ground meat)
  • 1 can condensed tomato soup +1 can of water
  • 1 small tin tomato paste
  • 1 can beans, drained and rinsed (I used Sun’s Pinto beans with Jalapeños) Pintos, Kidneys, or black beans would all be good in this recipe
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, dices (I used red)
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms slices (I used fresh, but feel free to use canned, drained and rinsed)
  • 2 cups cooked rice (I had leftover white rice in the fridge, but feel free to use brown if you like it better)
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 2 cups shredded Mexican or Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • Sour Cream (optional topping)

 

Directions

  1. Brown meat over medium heat, breaking it apart as you cook.
  2. Add chopped veggies. Cook until onions are clear.
  3. Add beans, soup, tomato paste, and taco seasoning. Simmer 10 minutes, until well combined and bubbling.
  4. Add rice and stir to coat rice and incorporate into mixture.
  5. Top with cheese and turn to low. Cover skillet, allowing cheese to melt, about 5 minutes.
  6. Top each portion with sour cream, as desired.

Serve with Tortillas and a green salad. Despite having a whole can of soup and water in it, it is not soupy at all. Cooking it on medium really tightens it up, especially once the rice is added.

When I make this again, I will be adding more veggies: 2 onions, 3 bell peppers (one red, one green, and once yellow), and 2 cups of corn kernels (probably frozen). I may also omit the can of water and add a can of salt-free diced tomatoes in their own juice. All of these changes will add bulk to the entree without adding too many more calories.

You could also top this with crushed tortilla chips and a little chopped cilantro (I am one of those people who can’t eat cilantro- it tastes like soap and makes my tummy urpy).

 

 

Frugal (and healthy recipe): Zucchini chips!

file000926780482.jpgWe’ve been blessed (?) with an abundance of yellow zucchini as of late. Friends with gardens and  a CSA box have brought us literally 10 lbs of yellow zucchini…. That’s a lot. So after making lasagna, stir fry, and zoodles, We were still left with 6 of those little yellow bastards, staring me in the face.

Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 6.34.48 PM.pngI googled “What to do with Yellow Zucchini” and the answers were shockingly, NSFW. However, deep in the recesses of Google were many recipes for baked chips.  Figuring it had to be better than my kale chips debacle (5 lbs of burnt, greasy kale bits, no thanks), I set off to work.

The first batch was too greasy, so the batch that’s in the oven now has far less oil (only 2 tablespoons). Hubs said they were tasty (albeit greasy), and even Itty Bitty gobbled a bunch down today (after I blotted them with a paper towel).

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Now, to wait…..

Feel free to sub in any herb or spice blend you like, I grabbed the first one off the spice rack.

Baked Yellow Zucchini Chips

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs yellow (or green) zucchini
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 2 T (or more), your favorite salt free herb or spice blend
  • salt, to taste

Directions

  1. Thinly slice coins of zucchini- you can use a mandoline like this one, or a knife- whatever you’ve got.
  2. Blot them dry between two paper towels. I let mine sit between two paper towels for about 30 minutes.
  3. Toss with oil, and spread 1 layer on a cookie sheet topped with a sil pad (or you can use parchment paper- whatever you’ve got).
  4. Sprinkle oiled slices with herbs or spices.
  5. Bake at 225 degrees for a minimum of 2 hours. Check after 2 hours. Depending on how thick your chips are cut, it may take up to 2 1/2 hours.
  6. After they are room temp, then sprinkle with salt to taste. Store in a sealed container on the counter. They stay good for 3-4 days, but they won’t last that long.