7/31/19- National Avocado Day Freebies!

1cfc2e992b806a2617c9f84e087bd794.jpgLiving in California, every day is avocado day! Everyone knows someone- a friend, neighbor, relative who has an avocado tree (or 4).

For everyone else, REJOICE!! Tomorrow, July 31st is National Avocado Day and here are a couple freebies and deals for you.

Head to Rubio’s tomorrow with this coupon, and score a free Guacamole and Chips with any order. We’ll be hitting up Rubio’s tomorrow. The kids received free kid’s meal coupons in their Summer Reading prize packs from the county library.

If you don’t have a Rubio’s nearby, grab your phone and pull up the Chipotle app! Tomorrow you can score free guacamole on any order placed via website or mobile app.

I’ll be donning my sweet ‘Cado socks and chowing down!

Talk Back: Are you looking forward to National Avocado Day?

Back to School Deals!

Ok, so as much as I’ve been posting about summer fun and adventures, Back To School is lurking around the corner.

Here are some awesome deals and freebies:

Office Depot has a great selection of $10 backpacks, some of them (like the two above) come with pencil cases, lunch bags, and water bottles too!

Most office supply stores have great deals on markers, crayons, and markers right now too.  Deals are changing weekly.  If you don’t have time to chase deals, I’ve found a couple decent deals. Prices on Amazon change quickly, so I haven’t listed them, but you can click on each link and check them out.

 AmazonBasics Pre-sharpened Wood Cased #2 HB Pencils, 150 Pack
Elmer’s All Purpose School Glue Sticks, Washable, 7 Gram, 30 Count
Crayola Crayons Bulk, 24 Box Classpack, 24 Assorted Colors

If you are a teacher/educator, check out these three freebies:

If your kids are like mine, they lose stuff all the time, so I’ve invested in The back to school pack of label set from Mabel’s Labels.

If you need some help obtaining school supplies for your kiddos, there is help out there for you.

Free Backpacks with School Supplies at Boost Mobile

If you are an East County Area Resident (San Diego County), check out this awesome offer from the Santee Mobilehome Owners Association, INC (SMOAC) is handing out backpacks full of supplies for kids Kindergarten and up. Each backpack has age/grade-appropriate supplies.  This event takes place at the Santee Library from 10 AM until they run out. In addition, there will be free haircuts for girls and boys and many other surprises that day.

Talk Back: If you know of any free school supplies or deal, please share!

Tomorrow is National Cheesecake Day!

01407.jpgI just told the Boy Child and he was so excited about this “holiday”, he almost burst.

July 30th is National Cheesecake day and there are all kinds of awesome deals to help you enjoy:

Cheesecake Factory is celebrating by offering dine-in guests any slice of its more than 30 legendary flavors of cheesecake for half price at all of its restaurants nationwide.
unnamed.jpgIf you are in San Diego, stop by DZ Akin’s for $5.00 Cheesecake slices (and their slices are HUGE).

I personally am most excited about this deal. Their cheesecake is so good, and I will also grab some Matzo Ball Soup to go as well!

If you want to make your own at home but it’s too hot to turn on the oven, I love this Philadephia cheesecake filling in a graham cracker crust. You can top with your favorite fruits, or sprinkle chocolate shavings on top.

It also comes in Chocolate or Key Lime. Check your local grocery store.

If you are watching what you eat and still want to celebrate, I love the Cheesecake Jello Pudding mix. Make it as the directions indicate, or add 1-2 tablespoons of the powder to your favorite protein shake powder and blend with water, ice cubes, and fruit.

And I saw this while browsing Amazon, but I’ve never tried it. It’s Sans Sucre Cheesecake Mousse Mix. It looks interesting.

Talk Back: Are you planning on celebrating with a slice of cheesecake tomorrow?

 

7 Frugal Ways to Beat The Heat!

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Ok, so it’s not *that* hot, but close…

This week has been slightly hellish. It’s hot, humid, and just so gross no one wants to move.

It’s too expensive for us to run our AC all the time (Thanks SDG&E!), and really, I don’t want to spend all day in the house, so here are my top 7 Frugal Tips to Beat the Heat in San Diego!

  1. Check out your local library. Both County Libraries and City of San Diego Libraries have awesome summer programs for kids and adults!
  2. There is still time to sign up for Kids Bowl Free All Summer! Just pay for bowling shoe rental!
  3. Visit Balboa Park for Free Tuesdays at various museums each week. Another free activity in Balboa Park is the Botanical Garden and Lily Pond. Right next door is the Spanish Art Village, which is fun to explore as well. Pack some snacks and make a day of it.
  4. Check out your local indoor mall for fun family activities. In San Diego, we’ve got a couple- Plaza Bonita, Parkway Plaza, and Westfield North County (the mall formerly known as North County Fair). Each one has monthly fun activities for kids and families- just check your local mall’s website.
  5. Have you seen the kinds of Groupons that are available lately? Uptown Jungle has 6 options! There are all kinds of fun activities from Axe throwing to waterparks, you’ll be having all sorts of frugal adventures in no time.
  6. Get in the Water! Beach, lake, river, local pool… whatever. Heck, get in a kiddie pool and splash around. Don’t forget the SPF and snacks.
  7. If you want to stay home, close up all the windows, draw the shades/curtains, turn on all your fans, set the AC to something comfy but not arctic (for us, that’s 80-82 degrees when it’s going to be over 100 outside). Once the house is chilled out, pop some popcorn and assemble some awesome snacks (We had this pumpkin/fuck it bucket because I received it in the mail to review), make a pillow fort and watch some fun movies. We did that the other day. We watched Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and Zootopia.

If you are looking for a way to cool down in your pillow fort, this little dude is pretty cool (haha, temperature pun!)

Talk Back: What are your favorite ways to beat the heat?

Is Summer Snacking Wrecking your Grocery Budget?

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Chatting with a friend via Insta yesterday, we were lamenting the “OMG DO THEY EVER STOP EATING!!” of summer vacation.

I’ve never begrudged my kids snackies when they are hungry, but seriously, on days when we are at home, building Legos and watching movies- THEY EAT ALL DAY.  I can’t let them rummage through the cupboard and eat whatever, so I started the snack box (for the pantry) and snack drawer (in the fridge).

We’ve had “The snack box” and the “snack drawer” in our kitchen for about 2 years now.

In the cupboard, I’ve got a basket like this one. It’s full of various types of treats and snacks. Instead of buying individually bagged treats, I often buy a box of whatever (in the photo below it’s animal crackers) and divide the large box into snack-sized Ziploc bags).  It just depends on what is available at Grocery Outlet and 99 Cents Only on my weekly shopping trip. Those are my go-to snack stores.

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The Snack Drawer in the Fridge
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Pantry Snack Box- Refilled weekly

The Pantry Snack Box contains shelf-stable stuff: Juice boxes, crackers, chips, dried fruit, fruit snacks, individual Peanut/nut butter cups. I usually tuck a couple bags of microwave popcorn too. Sadly, we have none left. I was informed that I *must* rectify that matter tomorrow.

The Fridge Snack Drawer contains some of the following: Cheese sticks, yogurt, Ziploc bags of fruit or veggies (watermelon wedges, strawberries, grapes, carrots, celery, and jicama are just a few favorites), little cups of hummus, guac, ranch dip (homemade with greek yogurt and ranch dip mix).

The snacks vary by week, and I took these pics today- It’s midweek and they are pretty picked over- I did refill the Pantry Snack Box with stuff from the cupboard. That’s my secret- don’t put it all out at once. I stash the extras in the back of the pantry, where tiny arms can’t reach.

For those who read my blog regularly, you know that my weekly family grocery budget is $80. I spend about $25 of my weekly budget on stuff for the snack box/drawer. Sometimes more, sometimes less. During the school year, the function of these becomes for packing lunches in the morning. The Big Kid doesn’t really like sandwiches, and as he’s a vegetarian he gets most of his protein from nuts/seed butter and dairy sources.

I also keep Go-gurt style tube yogurts in the freezer- Those are mostly for Bitty, Big Kid doesn’t care for yogurt too often.

For the grown-ups, there is a basket in the pantry full of protein and fiber snack bars (Along with other more “grownup” snacks- which are sometimes new snacks that the kids veto after sampling). I get those at Grocery Outlet or 99 Cents Only. Grocery Outlet locations in my area always have a great variety of protein bars, snack bars, and protein cookie (Like these, which are also a hit with the Big Kid, so I have to dole them out) for a lot less than grocery or club stores.

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Close-up of the Pantry Snack Box. There is a little bit of something for everyone!

This is how my family keeps everyone fed at home and on budget. I’d love to hear about your family’s ideas to solve this issue.

It’s Coming… Playmobil The Movie!!!

361183id3_STX_Playmobil_27x40_1Sheet_sRGB_Live[2].jpgMy kids about lost their damn minds when I showed them this trailer earlier this evening.

Both kids LOVE Playmobil toys. And I love them too.

Ok, for those who are thinking, “Huh.. What’s a Playmobil??” They are these awesome toys from Germany and they’ve been around since the mid-1970’s.

They come in all kinds of themes, including Vikings, Pirates, Ancient Egypt, and Zoo.

I’m so excited about taking the kids to see #PlaymobilTheMovie.

In PLAYMOBIL’s® animated action-adventure, a top-secret organization has caused citizens from different lands to vanish from thin air.  The dashing and charismatic secret agent Rex Dasher (Daniel Radcliffe) must partner with smooth-talking food truck driver Del (Jim Gaffigan) and Marla (Anya Taylor-Joy) a smart, savvy civilian with her own secret agenda, to rescue them. Against unthinkable odds, the trio goes on a fantastic journey across stunning new worlds as they gather clues for their rescue mission.

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Bitty loves her Playmobil Doll House and can’t wait to take one of her “Play Ladies” to the movies soon!

We’ve got tons of sets, including this awesome Pyramid, treehouse, and dollhouse (Bitty received it for her most recent birthday). Even their Blind Bags are rad!

What I love about Playmobil is that they encourage creative play, and they are perfect for any kid, ages 3+.

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This is me as a “Play Lady” per Bitty

Each set, no matter how small, has tons of details and little accessories that make every playtime an adventure.  I mean, check out this awesome Advent Calendar. I may be getting this for the big kiddo.

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Close up of one the “the dudes” cooking

The closer to the release date we get, I hope to have more details to share…

 

Talk Back: What is your kids favorite toy that “unplugs” them from TV, tablets, etc?

 

#playmobilthemovie

 

Top 5 Freebie Sites that Actually Deliver!

Y’all know how much I love freebies, I post them at least once a week.  There are a lot of sites out there that promise to deliver freebies, but fall short.

Here are my top five favorite freebie sites:

  1. PinchMe– Answer a series of questions about your household and shopping habits in the Member Profile. They learn what you like and offer samples just for you.

Once you’ve had a chance to try your samples, complete a short feedback survey to tell Pinchme what you think of the samples.   New samples are available once a month!

2. MySavings– MySavings updates their freebies and deals daily! I love the variety of samples they post. And if the offer is no longer valid, you just click the Expired button and notify them.

3. Social Nature- If you are into Organic/Natural/Healthy products, then Social Nature is up your alley. Sign up and apply to sample products that you are interested in. I get probably 1-2 products to sample each month. And most of the time it’s full-size products, not just a tiny sample.

4. Smiley360  is a Word of Mouth (WOM) marketing website. Sign up for campaigns and you will receive samples to use, and coupons to share with friends. Report your sharing and earn points! I’ve received Laundry detergent (full-sized bottles), vitamins, supplements, tampons, and razors all in the last year.

5.  Home Tester Club is pretty cool. They are one of my new favorites. You sign up to review items and they send you something. A lot of the time they don’t notify you prior to shipping, you’ll get a package in the mail and a few days later, you’ll get an email notifying you that you were selected and a link to the survey to complete once you have sampled the product. I’ve gotten a Changing Pad Cover, Flushable Wipes, Makeup Remover, and a moisturizer.

BONUS- Looking for some freebies to celebrate your birthday? Check out my list here

 

Recipe: Pesto Chicken Bake

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That’s Basil, the key ingredient in Pesto

I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for a couple weeks, but with summer vacation and the kids needing to see me, talk to me, touch me every.moment.of.the.day….. I’ve been a little behind.

This is so easy, so tasty, and so cheesy. And it works with almost every dietary restriction:

If you are vegetarian but omit the chicken.

If you are Gluten-free, substitute GF pasta for what’s the recipe.

If you are vegan, use your favorite vegan “cheese”. And remember to check the pesto- sometimes commercially made pesto contains cheese!

Pesto Chicken Bake

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Pesto (I Like Costco’s Pesto) If you want to make it yourself, I like this recipe.
  • 1 Box Farfalle Pasta. I like Banza– It’s made with chickpea flour and is high in protein.
  • 1 T. Butter or Olive Oil
  • 2 C. chicken breast, cooked and cut into bite-size pieces. You can also use rotisserie chicken.
  • 2 c. cheese, divided- I like Italian Blend

 

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray a baking dish with spray release and set aside.
  3. Cook pasta per box directions, drain pasta and toss with butter/oil.
  4. Mix Pesto, pasta, cooked chicken and 1 cup of cheese together.
  5. Pour mixture into baking dish.
  6. Top with the remaining 1 cup of cheese.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees until cheese is bubbly and browned (approximately 20 minutes).
  8. Remove from oven and allow to rest 5-10 minutes before serving with crusty bread and a green salad.

Serves 6-8 as a main dish or 8-10 as a side. This is a great dish for potlucks!

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Yum! 

7/22/19 Meal Plan Monday!

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Summer School is over, so we are enjoying our first “real” week of summer break! Besides our usual weekly appointments, we’ll be checking out the zoo, and the local library has some fun events coming up that we’re checking out!

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done, so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

You may notice a lot of plant-based meals- We are not vegetarian, but I am trying to get more veggies into our diet. I do a lot of cooking from scratch- I find it easier to get veggies and fruit into recipes that I can have 100% control over.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day:

Breakfast: Coffee with heavy cream for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids (they love the Kodiak Cakes Mix).  I also keep sandwich Ziploc bags of other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular.

Lunches are leftovers, salads, or soups for me. The kids will be enjoying free lunches all over the county with free activities and playtime before or after lunch.

For dinner, when we’ve got busy days (like Mondays), I’ll try and put something in the crockpot (I am picking up my new crockpot this week) in the morning, or pull something I’ve already prepped out that can be quickly cooked.

  • Monday: Breakfast for dinner: Bagels with cream cheese, fruit salad, scrambled eggs with cheese
  • Tuesday:  Leftover Night- I’ve got leftovers of the Orange Chicken I made last night. It was a meal kit from my recent visit to Dream Dinners.
  • Wednesday:  Mexican Cesar Salad with chicken (I’m planing a trip to Costco and I’ll be grabbing a rotisserie chicken)
  • Thursday:  Black Bean Soup and Quesadillas
  • Friday:  Date Night- I’m going to the PMJ Concert with a friend- We’ll stop for tacos after the show.
  • Saturday: Homemade Pizza Night (I have leftover dough in the freezer from last week)
  • Sunday: Bolognese Sauce with Zoodles. I planned on making the sauce last week, but never got around to it.

I also plan on doing some batch cooking this week to get some crockpot meals in the freezer.

Talk Back: What are you planning to cook this week?

Weekend Freebies!

8101f95433a1458fa8c2371f3b11b849I didn’t get a chance to post my usual Freebie Friday Round up- I was busy doing other stuff (mostly making costumes for an upcoming production of Treasure Island at Pickwick Players in Santee).

But it’s never too late for fun free stuff!

Samples

Food

Magazines