Super Busy Summer!

I haven’t had much time to sit at the computer and write lately, but we’ve been busy! There are so many free and frugal things to do in the summer, and we haven’t even done a 1/3 of what we have planned!

Here are just a few of the adventures we’ve been having (and you can try them too)!

 

 

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Henry’s Handiwork!

Rock Painting!  Some of you have seen pictures of the painted rocks we’ve been making, hiding, and finding all over town on my Instagram feed.  Santee Rocks was started by a local teacher to spread kindness.  There are lot of other “rocks” groups all over San Diego, and the US! We even hosting a Rock Painting party at a local park! Over 30 people showed up, painted, and played. We hope to host another one in July.

We’ve also been hitting up our local libraries for all sorts of fun events and activities. Our favorite is the El Cajon Library. They serve lunch M-F, 11:30-12:30.  Afterwards there are a variety of events and activities from special speakers, concerts, and even crafts! And they even serve an afternoon snack!

There is a small play area for kids with an interactive discovery structure, and a Duplo Wall! There is a shaded playground out front as well. It’s a great way to spend a few hours in a climate controlled place without visiting the mall or any place where you might spend money. We usually end up bringing home a few library books too.

We’ve been on adventures with friends! Playing T-ball at the park and going on the hunt for decorated rocks was the biggest hit so far.

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Playing dress up is a frequent stay at home activity. Here we have the Pirate T-Rex, trick or treating for meat.

And of course, We spend time at home, doing crafts, swimming in the community pool, playing Legos, and just hanging out!

I’m of the mind that summer doesn’t need to be packed with activities sun up to sun down. Frequently, we spend our time at home spending time together. We have friends over to play, but it’s super low-key.

I’ve taking a break from trying to pound out an article or post each day. I want to spend time with the kids and family.

What kinds of activities and adventures has you family been having this summer?

 

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Mom’s Money Summer Saving Tip #1: Keep them Fed!

file0002134801752.jpgIt seems like the second we pull out of the garage, two little voices announce in chorus, “I’m Hungry!!!” It’s not like they go without meals, like some sort of Dickens era soot faced moppet… But there is something about leaving the house that makes kids hungry. Especially when you are out and about during the summer.

To combat the chorus, we have a small backpack (Henry’s Pre-school Cars backpack) that is full of shelf stable snacks and drinks. While we are out having adventures, if the chorus starts up, I can pull out the backpack and soon everyone is happy.

Here are a few of our family’s favorite snacks and other stuff I keep in our snack bag (Amazon affiliate links for some items that you may have never seen):

  1. Re-usable water bottles (I fill them daily). Each child has their own, and I have a larger one. I put lots of ice in mine in addition to water. I also carry extra water in my truck at all times (in case of emergency, but frequently the emergency is just hot, thirsty kiddos).
  2. Powdered drink sticks. Dollar Tree and 99 Cents Only has lots of great flavors to chose from.
  3. Freeze dried Fruit. Bitty Bird likes strawberries, Henry and I love pineapple.
  4. Protein bars, granola bars, goldfish crackers, Beanies (they are for toddlers, but, both kids love them), fruit squeezy pouches, Yogurt squeezy pouches, applesauce cups, individual cups of peanut butter, crackers to go with the PB (usually Ritz), individual cups of water packed fruit and veggies, Pirates Booty, home made trail mix, ziploc bags of cereal, and depending on what is on sale, juice boxes/pouches or sometimes shelf stable milk boxes/pouches.
  5. In a zipper pouch (this one), I keep hand wipes, plastic utensils, straws, and napkins.  I also carry a ziploc bag with extra ziplocs in it, and a few small trash bags.

While the initial outlay of money to buy a backpack and stock of food to keep in the car snack bag and water bottles way be steep (it was about $65 for us), you will save that much money in just a few weeks in the summer. You’ll be able to avoid drive-thru lines, and you can better control what your family is eating.

file0001779824833.jpgWhen we are going to be gone all day, I also pack a small soft sized cooler bag with blue ice and cold treats like frozen tubes of yogurt, berries, cheese, and cold cuts. I like using re-usable plastic containers, instead of zip top bags. They are usually better for keeping food cold and for squishable items like berries in good condition. These are all the same things that we eat for lunch during the school year, so our food budget in the summer does not increase.

Besides keeping your budget in check, there is another upside to having kids that eat regularly (even on the go): Behavior changes, like tantrums, can occur when kids blood sugar dips or they are hungry. Henry frequently doesn’t realize that he’s hungry until he’s OMGOSH SO HUNGRY that he’s Hangry. I offer him snacks every few hours in the summer, as we are so frequently on the go out with friends or at events in the summer during lunch time.

The main reason I use a backpack instead of a box is that I can quickly grab the bag out of the car and toss it into the basket of the stroller when we hit up the zoo, YMCA for swimming, or the park.

I’d love to hear what kind of snacks you take on the go for your summer adventures!

 

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?

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!

A new chapter!

Everything in life changes, it’s true. To that end, because of all of the changes coming up in my life, I have decided to turn a new page in my blogging career.

I feel as though over the past year I have gotten away from my roots, my raison d’être. Instead of helping others on their savings journey, I was posting mindlessly about deals, sales, and products I didn’t care about and was not invested in.

Why? Well, to be honest, I was caught up in the thrill of trying to earn some money and give myself some sense of importance. I guess I needed to prove that I was more than just a “mommy blogger” (which btw- I really mislike that term, like all things that parents do- regardless of their gender- they are more than just their career or hobby), I was a serious entrepreneur. So, to do that, I was trying to monetize anyway I could.

In the end, it only ended up hurting myself and my family. I spent hours in front of the computer, posting deals and coupons for stuff I’d never buy or use, or honestly, couldn’t afford. When I really should have been playing trains with Lil’ Man, doing crafts or coloring, or spending family time bonding and having adventures doing stuff we like to do.

So what will this new blog be about? Well, for one, our family! Activities we like to do, places we like to go, recipes, crafts, and what really fuels my passion: tips and strategies to help YOU save money, live frugally, and have the type of lifestyle you want to have WITHOUT breaking the bank.

And for the most part, this blog won’t be monetized. I will be posting about my E-book, once I get it published on Amazon, but that will probably be the end of the monetization (for now). I will definitely keep up the product reviews, as long as they are relevant to my family and our life. I love sharing fun stuff!

 

So Welcome to the Hewes Family Fun Blog!