Freebies and Deals in your Mailbox!

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There are a lot of really great freebies and deals available right now. I was searching a couple of my favorite sites last night and found some stuff I just had to share!

300x250.jpgRight now, York Photo is hooking us all up with a reusable shopping bag for just .99 (plus shipping, which starts at $3.99). Just 
Use Promo Code: BEACHBAG at checkout.

I love these bags- They make great gifts for grandparents!

 

 

Free Magazine Subscriptions:

Free Events:

Freebies in your mailbox:

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Kids, Schedules, and Summertime!

file000981824153.jpgWe keep to a schedule at our house, even in the summer. I know summer is a time for lazy days, playing it by ear, and fun adventures, but when you have a kiddo on the autism spectrum you need a little structure in your life at all times.

Here is a copy of part of our daily summer schedule, I’ve cut off the afternoons as it contains our therapy schedule, as well as lessons/classes. Screen Shot 2018-06-20 at 9.00.47 PM.png

Ok, so first of all, I know you are thinking, “Who the hell gets up at 7:30 during the summer?!?!”, well, us. My kids are usually up by 7:30am in the summer, and that’s sleeping in (ugh, 6:30am, you come too early during the school year).

I’ve included the analog clock  because the big guy is learning to tell time and it helps him visualize on the clocks in the house.

Despite the structure, there is room for creativity and flux. We have freedom in choosing breakfast, what to wear, and there is a 2-hour window of play time, where the kids can do whatever they want: free play, crafts, read a story, watch cartoons.

When my buddy was younger, we frequently went without a schedule, and honestly, I was nuts. Just wandering all day without a plan, I frequently had a headache at the end of the day, and would be dreading the next.  Now we have a loose overview of what to expect each day, and we fill in our time with free or low cost events. Check out your local library branch- they frequently have fun classes or events.

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The menu for El Cajon, CA free lunch locations. Pizza and salad twice a week!

And for some reason, kids are bottomless pits in the summer, we try to check out some of the free lunches for kids a few times a week. It helps keep our grocery budget in check, but most importantly, it exposes the kids to trying new foods, and new experiences.  I try and find out the menus ahead of time and expose the kids to 1-2 new foods per week in an environment where there are peers who already like to eat the “new food”.  When kids see peers eating something that’s new to them, often times they try it, even if they may give mom or dad some resistance. I’m not saying that peer pressure is always a bad thing.

In addition to free lunches, I try to keep our family snack bag well stocked. I tend to visit Grocery Outlet and 99 Cents Only for most of our snack needs. $25/week is my budget for lunches and snacks for the summer.

I try not to set our schedules in stone- We get invites to hang out with friends, go to events, or maybe some relatives will come out for a surprise visit (who knows). We want the kids to have fun over the summer, and I do my best to make sure they get a balance of fun times, learning, and relaxation.

I’d love to hear about what you do in the summer: Do you wing it, or have a schedule?

 

More Free Summer Meals for Kids!

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This is an update to this post, which has sites all over San Diego County listed.

I just received this in my inbox this morning!  Here is a great list of East County resources for free lunches for kids- And many sites also serve breakfast too!  We’ll be checking them out in the coming days, and I’ll post pictures (probably on Instagram), so make sure to follow me! Dates vary by location.

I am really excited about Hilton Head Park being on the list- That is a great park with a splash pad (only $3 to use for the whole day), shaded picnic tables, and a fun, sandy playground!

If you aren’t in the San Diego, CA area and are looking for more information on free lunches for kids, check the USDA website here. THe USDA plans to serve over 200 million meals to kids 18 and under this summer!

Why I am not a “Pinterest Mom”

I am creative. I can bake, cook, sew, paint, craft, do calligraphy, garden, and decorate a home on a budget, however, I am not a “Pinterest Mom”.   I have a Pinterest account, but I use it more as a link repository for stuff that’s cool. I do not make Pinterest worthy stuff.  I don’t take Pinterest worthy photos. And, ya know what? I am more than ok with it.

I know there are a lot of people (not just moms) who pour over Pinterest and try to emulate the stuff they see, thinking that you need 5 craft stations, a candy bar (which is a buffet of nothing but candy), a full themed catered meal, and designer goody bags for an event. I hate to break it to you- Little kids don’t care! A lot of the stuff you see on Pinterest has been done by party professionals- Not your average mom with kids running around, a busy schedule, a house to take care of, errands to run, appointments and rehearsals/practices to shuffle kids to…..

Bitty’s third birthday is today, and yesterday was her birthday party.

Screen Shot 2018-06-10 at 3.14.41 PM.pngAbout a week ago, she saw the purse cakes at Baskin-Robbins. She asked for one, but she doesn’t really like ice cream.

I looked at it for a few minutes and figured I could make her one out of regular cake and frosting.

I am no means a professional baker, and I hate fondant (it tastes so gross to me and the kids). So I used cream cheese frosting, some decorator frosting, sprinkles, and icing roses.

And the handles were made from licorice. She was so happy, and the cake was delicious. My only tip is not to try and frost a cake when it’s 90+ degrees in your kitchen.  The cake was cold, but the white decorator icing did not want to cooperate.  The cake was pink inside, I made a butter cake and added pink gel food coloring to the batter.

Screen Shot 2018-06-10 at 3.13.19 PM.pngIn addition, I also made cupcakes! Henry helped make the cupcakes, and Margaret helped decorate them. I figured the cake wouldn’t be enough for the hungry little faces I was going to feed.

No candy bar- Instead I took a lucite bowl that I had painted with faux stained glass paint and filled it with Ring Pops.

And no goody bags- Bitty picked out these cute little Frozen necklaces to give to all her friends who came to the party.

Oh, and no catered fancy meal! We ordered 2 Giant pizzas.  We had bottles water and Honest Juice Pouches.  And because we has a loose Frozen theme, we also had little red apples (because we all know that Sven eats apples- Margaret told me).

I know that there are people out there who love putting out a perfect party that looks great on Facebook and Instagram, but if that’s not in your heart (or budget), BREATHE… Give Yourself some GRACE. Do what you can, what you love, what is in your heart and what is good for your family.  

And I want to especially thank Christine Boyce from Clicks by Christine for taking some incredible candid shots of the party. Her littlest is BFF’s with Bitty.

 

 

Talk Back: Are you a Pinterest Mom? Why or why not? What is your greatest crafting strength?

Review- The Camp & Cabin Cookbook: 100 Recipes to Prepare Wherever You Go

Screen Shot 2018-06-07 at 10.13.47 PM.pngWe are big into outdoor cooking: Grilling, Dutch oven cooking, heck, even sometimes cooking over fire (ok, so that’s usually just s’mores, but that’s cooking, right?). When Laura Bashar, the author of The Camp & Cabin Cookbook: 100 Recipes to Prepare Wherever You Go offered me copy of her book for review, I jumped at the chance!

If you’ve never cooked in a Dutch Oven or over coals, Laura gives you the primer! She goes over all the deets: How many coals you need to achieve specific cooking temps, various cooking techniques (over flame, over coals), and how to translate the recipes to be cooked indoors (just in case you want to try these awesome recipes and aren’t planning on camping any time soon).

The recipes are easy to follow and follow you through the day: Breakfast, lunch, appetizers, dinner, desserts, and even side dishes. And it’s not just the typical camping food, there are recipes for the kinds of food you eat at at home! Just because you aren’t at home, doesn’t mean you have to live off of hot dogs, Dinty Moore canned stew, and cold cereal.

My family poured over this cookbook during our last camping trip and we have planed an outdoor cooking afternoon to try out a lot of these recipes in the coming weeks. Check my Insta Feed in the coming weeks for pics of some of the dishes we create.

 

Comic Con is Coming to San Diego… Are you Ready?

file3411293943936.jpgOk, so if you are new to town, or have been living under a rock for some time, you may not be aware that Comic-Con is coming to town next month! July 19-22 the downtown area turns into a completely different place!

You’ll see your favorite heroes and villains for comics, movies, tv, and cartoons! If you haven’t gotten a pass to comic con, you are probably out of luck, unless you are able to win one (all of the radio stations have contests a few weeks before). Passes sell out fast, but just because you haven’t gotten one, doesn’t mean you’ll miss out on all the fun…

Outside Comic Con has a great listing (and it keeps getting updated!) of all of the fun events around the con. Some are free, and some are not. Some are kid friendly, and well, others are not.

There is usually an area between the New Children’s Museum and the Trolley Tracks that is chock full of fun events and demos, and behind the convention center there has been movie and cartoon screenings on the grassy area.

If you want to wear a costume, here are my tips for doing it on the cheap.  I’m not planning on dressing up for con this year- I’m butt deep in designing and making costumes for Romeo & Juliet!

Regardless of your costume status, my recommendation is to wear comfy shoes, ’cause you will be walking a lot! And bring a refillable water bottle. And a snack (protein bars are great!). And a camera (or really, just your phone these days!).

 

New Month, New Coupons!

I’m a day late, I totally forgot it was the beginning of the month!

file000786402730Here is your monthly reminder!  A new month means new printable and electronic coupons!

Check out the following sites:

One of my favorite website is the Sunday Coupon Review.  It helps me plot out scenarios in advance and I can email friends to ask for coupons in advance. Remember if clipping coupons isn’t your thing, but saving money is, check out my list of Smartphone apps that can save you the big bucks! New offers are added on the Smartphone Savings Apps all the time!

Here are just a few of the new coupons that have me excited:

Save $0.50 when you buy ONE BOX Reese’s Puffs cereal
The kids love this cereal, esp. straight from the box.
Save $0.50 when you buy TWO any flavor/variety LÄRABAR™ bars

There aren’t too many new coupons this month, sadly, however, if you check out the Smartphone apps link above, you’ll find that there are plenty of ways to save and earn money. I recently cashed out $20 on Ibotta and $25 on Dosh!