Camping with Kiddos!

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As we prep for our annual family camping trip, I thought I’d share some of the fun things we do with the kids when we camp.

In addition to all of the usual camping stuff: Tent, blankets, pillows, air mattress, clothes, toiletries, Sunscreen, food, camp kitchen stuff…. You need stuff to do!

A friend and I made a huge batch of play dough last week, and we’re taking half of the batch, along with some cookie cutters, small rolling pins and other fun play dough stuff I got on my local Buy Nothing Group.

Games: High Ho Cherry-O, card games (like Uno, and a few regular decks of cards), lawn bowling.

We also have a craft box. It’s a large tote, like this one. I’ve filled it with all sorts of craft odds and ends. Mostly stuff leftover from other projects, as well as stuff I’ve gotten from Craigslist Curb alerts, and my local Buy Nothing group.  There is paper, scissors, glue, beads, pipe cleaners, paint, and so much more! The kids rifle through it and come up with some of the most interesting projects. I really believe that kids need to have free reign over creative play, so as long as I am there to make sure they are safe, they are free to create and play how they wish.

Bubbles. I make about a gallon of bubble solution, and we have all kinds of wands and stuff (Dollar tree and Target’s Dollar spot are great places to find bubble toys). We also make some out of pipe cleaners.

We also cook a lot when we are camping. We use dutch ovens to make all kinds of baked goods, including our favorite: Beer Bread. My dad has a cool clay Pizza oven (it’s this one), and we make pizzas in the late afternoons to snack on. Our favorite pizza recipe is here.

Here are a few pictures of our adventure last year:

We also of course, play at the campground play ground, go on nature hikes (and do some fun nature scavenger hunts- check out Pinterest for a bunch). We spend time with family and friends, and of course, check out all of the events and fun at the big camping event in which we are participating.

Camping is a great family activity, and here in San Diego there are so many places to camp! From the beach, to the mountains, to the desert, there are campgrounds, both private and public for low prices!

If you are a camper, where is your favorite place to camp?

Be Series Shirts from Cents of Style!

(**Disclosure, I received my shirt free to facilitate my review and story, however all thoughts and opinions are my own. I may receive a commission if you click on the links below and make a purchase.**)

You know when you were a kid and adults told you that it didn’t matter what other people thought, that you should be who you are, and who cares about what others say or think?

Well, I tell my kids that all the time, especially the bigger one. Because really, Shakespeare was right. “To Thine own self be true”.  Be you. If others don’t understand, it is their loss.

That brings me to my point- When I was a kid (like Junior High Age), I wasn’t popular. I didn’t like the same things that other kids did. I read a lot (my grandmother was a librarian!), I did crafts, I liked school. I was weird, but  I tried so hard to fit in. It was hard, and it sucked.

As I got older, I realized that there was so much more to life than just the little bubble of “popular kids”. In High school I met friends who loved me and were like me. And those friends were the ones I had in mind when I donned my “Be Weird” shirt the other day. I wore it with a pair of leggings (these to be exact).

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Me and the littlest weirdo snuggling. (photo taken by the big kid)

I want my two little weirdos to know that it’s ok to be who you are, enjoy your hobbies, read, play, be a good person! It doesn’t matter if you like the same stuff as everyone else, you will find friends and they will love you for who you are!

If you aren’t “weird”, it’s ok! Cents of Style has a great line of “Be” Shirts! This weekend the  Be Series Graphic Tees are only $15.95 + FREE SHIPPING w/code BESTORY


My shirt is so comfy, I even wore it to the Y to work out a few days later!

 

I got lot of compliments on it, both times I wore it! You can celebrate your “Be”! Still, Brave, Just, Uncommon, True, You, Strong, etc.! This weeks installment of Fashion Friday from Cents of Style are these awesome BE shirts! You can check out the deal here. These shirts would make a great gift!

It’s Spring!

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It’s Spring and we’ve been busy!

Spring break starts on Monday for us, and that’s two weeks of fun! To keep us busy I’v planned a trip to the San Diego Zoo and a Scavenger Hunt at a local park. Those event are open to anyone who wants to come, so if you’re in San Diego and you’d like to join us, check out the event pages on Facebook!

In addition, we’re doing a tie dye day (using clothing I picked up at two recent local clothing swaps), beach day, trip to the local splash pad, and daily trips to the YMCA for child watch (and so I can exercise!).

Besides spring break planning, Lil’ Man and I have been planning out our spring garden. We love growing strawberries, and thankfully one of our plants survived last year.  Using a Lowe’s gift card I earned from our American Express Rewards card, I picked up some planters and soil.

We’re going to plant carrots, radishes and peas from seeds. I’ve gotten some free seeds in the mail (poppies-our state flower) that we’ll be planting too. Lil’ Man loves Cacti, we’re planning on getting some different types of “spiky plants”.

I’m also doing some spring cleaning and sharing some treasures with my local Buy Nothing Group. I love that I’m able to share with my neighbors and keep the stuff that’s still in good repair out of landfills!

So What are you up to this spring?

Buy Nothing Week: Frugal Living put to the test!

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I love the Buy Nothing Movement, in fact, I’ve hinted and written about it in a few of my posts recently.

Part of their movement is to try a buy nothing week, in fact they have an entire Facebook Group dedicated to it.

I started it this week with mostly successes, but we’ll be doing it again next week and I’d encourage you all to do it too!

It’s easy. Taking into consideration all of your financial obligations (rent/mortgage, utilities, groceries, gas, etc.), be mindful to not spend any funds that you don’t HAVE TO. Skip the morning drive thru in favor of setting up the coffee maker before bed the night before and making yourself a quick to go brekkie before you hit the road.

Instead of cruising the aisles of Target to combat boredom, take a walk at a local park, or visit with friends.

There are so many small ways you can save money. But this challenge is more than saving money, it’s about being more self-reliant and helping others too.

  1. Clean out your closets (maybe one per day), and instead of throwing the unwanted items away, try posting them in your local Buy Nothing Group, or on another local group (like Nextdoor, Craigslist, or even a local facebook group like a mom’s group).
  2. If there is an item you need, seek it out on one of the free venues listed above. Earlier this week, I needed a new car booster seat to replace one that was damaged in my recent car accident. I asked on our local Buy Nothing Group, and a friend and neighbor offered me one that her daughter had outgrown. It had never been in an accident and was still in date! Score!
  3. Institute substitutions! Going to bake a cake, but you’ve run out of oil? Substitute applesauce, butter, canned pumpkin, or baby food (seriously)!  A quick Google search and a search of your pantry may lead you to a surprising switch. And who knows, it may be a new favorite!
  4. You may learn a new skill! I learned to sharpen my kitchen knives using the sharpener that came with the knife set, instead of taking my knife set to the sharpener (saved $50!). I watched the video on the knife company website, and read the manual.
  5. Barter or trade. You may be surprised! My mom trades her homemade jams and jellies for fruit, veggies, and eggs.

During our Buy Nothing week, I will still have to buy milk and bread, and maybe some fruit (depending on how much we go through), but I am committing to buy only what is on my list. I will also offer up unwanted stuff from our home to my neighbors. Books, clothes, kitchen gadgets, toys, games, even pantry goods.

But don’t think we’ll sit at home staring at each other, there are tons of fun, free things for us to do! Well, we’ve got some play dates near us planned for a few days during the week, and we always get out each day to the YMCA, or the lakes (also close by) for a walk, and to feed the ducks and play at the playground, and if it’s warm enough, we go in the pool at the YMCA (our HOA pool isn’t warm enough in the winter). We’re never want for activities to fill our days.

How can you participate? Pledge to have aBuy Nothing Week! Meal plan, pack your lunch, take your coffee from home. Find free/inexpensive activities to occupy your free time. Visit a park, go to the library. Take a week off from shopping. It’s a great way to spend more time connecting with family and friends.

I do this a few times a year. It really helps us take stock of what we have, both in the physical sense of what we have in our cupboards, but also how lucky we are to have the option to say, “This week we will not spend any money and our quality of life will not suffer.” I recommend that everyone have a spending freeze week or even a day and see how much money you’ll save.

I’ll be reporting our activities and money saved this week, and for those of you who will be having their own spending freeze (or even a modified one- try going a week without the coffee shop or drive-thru), I can’t wait to hear about your savings too!

Update: where have I been?

I'm looking stylish in my mask and hospital gown, right?
I’m looking stylish in my mask and hospital gown, right?

You may have been wondering where I’ve been. I haven’t been updating the blog a lot and I definitely haven’t been doing a lot of Facebook posts lately.

I’ve been sick. It all started back in the middle of December when I started not feeling well I had a cough and a slight fever and I was just feeling very run down. I just chalked it  up to being the holidays and getting the same ick and everybody else had.

When I called the doctors office to talk to the nurse practitioner she said that it was probably either just the virus that was going around or had a cold and not to bother wasting my $40 co-pay to come in to be told I have a cold. I appreciated that and took the list of OTC meds she suggested I take to Target and shopped.

Fast forward to the end of February and I can’t go five or ten minutes without coughing or hacking. I continued the take the OTC meds the NP suggested and just resigned myself to the fact that it was going to take 12+ weeks to recover like she said. After getting little over 3 hours of sleep Saturday night, I called the 24 hour nurses line on Sunday. I had reached my breaking point. I needed help. I went over my symptoms and confessed to the nurse on duty that I thought I might have a slight case of pertussis since I do have children and we go to the park a lot where there are all kinds of germy kiddos!

I have had the pertussis vaccination as a child and all the boosters that are supposed to be administered while you’re pregnant also. She said that she didn’t think I had pertussis because I wasn’t having the “whoop” in my cough (hence the name whooping cough), but she would have someone from my PCPs office call me on Monday. I asked her if she thought I should go to urgent care and she said no because urgent care is only for people who are sick. This made me a little upset as you probably can guess. Because I haven’t had more than three hours (tops) of sleep since Christmas and my voice is so hoarse from coughing but I can’t talk above a whisper most of the time.

After talking it over with my husband I went to urgent care where after having a doctor poke and prod at my glands, look down my throat, listen to me breathe, cough, and have a set of  chest x-rays he said I’m going to give you a pertussis swab (If you’ve never had one it’s where they take a swab flexible wire and stick it up your nose really far. It does not feel good).

So here I am two days later waiting for the results of my pertussis test. I should get a phone call one where the other tomorrow or perhaps Thursday. In the meantime I’ve been given a prescription for an inhaler, oral steroids, and lovely little tussin pearls. I feel 1000% better than I did before. It could be that I’ve actually slept and I can take a deep breath without coughing incessantly for five minutes.

And I did a lot of research myself before coming to the conclusion that I should probably be tested for pertussis or even say those words to the nurse at the after hours line or the doctor at the urgent care. I looked at the CDC website and some medical journals online, I talked to adults actually had pertussis.  They too had received the initial vaccination and appropriate boosters as indicated by medical professionals.

So why am I telling you all of this? Because you are your only medical advocate. If you don’t feel good and the doctors, nurses, and medical practitioners that you were speaking to you don’t take your concerns seriously or they brush you off as a hypochondriac or just someone who has a school-age child and you’re going through the back to school yucky that everybody gets, keep talking to to medical professionals until you find someone that will listen to you.

If I have pressed forward and demanded for an appointment when I called the nurse the first time I told her of the symptoms I was having, I probably would’ve been seen.  They would’ve tested me for everything I requested it, and I would’ve taken medication and been much better right now.

You are your child’s primary advocate also! If your kiddo ins’t feeling well and their ped gives you a brush off, get a second opinion!  I feel fortunate that my children have a wonderful pediatrician who listens to my concerns and answers all of my seemingly odd questions. She spent more time with me yesterday than any doctor have the entire time I have been seeing a doctor.  She answered all of my questions about my children’s health and my health too.  She even checked my medical record to see if the test results back for my pertussis test, which they had not. She seemed genuinely concerned that the petitioner and my PCPs office did not want to see me when I voiced a concern but I might have bronchitis or whooping cough because I have an infant in the house.

So now that I’m feeling better, you’ll be seeing your posts for me. I have a lot of awesome stuff to share with you guys about programs coming up that I’m being a part of, hopefully I’ll have some to give away supposed to say, I’m back at it.

Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 5.02.02 PMIn fact the rough draft of this post was dictated to my iPhone warded six loads of laundry this afternoon. All the while wearing Margaret in the Tula. I have a lot of awesome stuff to share with you guys about programs coming up that I’m being a part of, hopefully I’ll have a giveaway coming uptoo!

I’m hopeful that I’ll continue to be on the mend and help more awesome content for you guys coming up for fun crafts you can do with the kids! Thank you for all the emails Private messages on Facebook. It means a lot to me that you guys reach out to me to find out how I’m doing. I really appreciate it.

What I do with all the free samples I receive….

bright boxesOn Saturday, my mailman asked me, “What’s up with all of the free samples?” She’s not the only one who asks. It’s one of the questions I get a lot when people find out I coupon and we live frugally (the other question I get a lot  is: “Do you have TP under your bed?”

Well, here’s the deal: I donate them. And no, there is no TP under my bed. Just out of season shoes and dust bunnies.

I donate about 90% of the free samples I receive in the mail. The local American Legion post collects small sized toiletries to make into care packages which are distributed to local homeless vets.

Additionally, the other local charity that my coupon club supports (Naomi’s Closet) also collects and distributes small sized toiletries to women’s in need.

If that sounds like something that appeals to you, you can collect travel/sample sized products and donate them to your local charity of choice.

I like MySavings to find top quality freebies. I also sign up for the P&G Brandsaver (it’s a collection of free samples from P&G available once a quarter).  Once the samples arrive, I take them out of their shipping container and I have a small box under my bathroom sink where I store samples and donation goodies.  I donate the contents of the box each month.

I also regularly donate full size products too.  For example, my donation budget is $5.00/month.  That doesn’t sound like a lot of money, but when I match sales with coupons, I am able to save big, and that $5.00 goes pretty far!

So the next time you that I’m posting free sample offers here or on Facebook, know that there will be one headed my way, to help someone in need!