Top 10 Herbs and Spices needed for a Well-Stocked Kitchen!

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I get a lot of people who ask about my spice rack- what do I keep in my kitchen, since we cook at home so much. I made a list of what I use, then I polled my Facebook friends. Below is a reflection of what we use most at home, plus what most of my foodie friends use too all combined into a handy dandy top ten list!

I prefer spices and herbs from Penzey’s– They have the best quality and a wide variety. They tend to be a little more expensive, but they are very high-quality herbs and spices, and you will use much less than their cheaper counterparts. If you have a Penzey’s store near you, it’s worth checking out. Join their mailing list- they frequently have coupons for freebies and really good deals (and free shipping sometimes too if you don’t live close to a store). Penzey’s also sells their spices on Amazon!

  1. Mural of Flavor
  2. Cinnamon
  3. Cumin
  4. Chili Powder
  5. Italian Seasoning
  6. Oregano
  7. Ginger
  8. Bay Leaves
  9. Paprika
  10. Turkish Seasoning

These are of course in addition to Table Salt, Kosher Salt, a pepper mill for freshly cracked pepper, roasted garlic, granulated garlic, toasted onions, onion powder, and air-dried shallots. For me, these are pantry staples and every kitchen should have them, as they are used in so many recipes, in addition to the 10 above.

 

Talk Back: What are some of your favorite seasonings?

Hiking with The Canyoneers & THE NAT!

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I love exploring nature with the kids. My dad took us on hikes a lot when we were kids and it was a great way to learn more about nature and the history of San Diego.

When THE NAT emailed me this morning to share their free, guided nature hikes, I knew I had to share it with my readers!

Canyoneers are citizen scientists and volunteers who have had comprehensive training by Museum scientists and local experts on the natural history of the region. Check out the full schedule of hikes between now and June 2020, and hit the trails with the Canyoneers! Look for the Canyoneer sign at the designated parking area. We are always hoping to see wildlife. Please leave dogs at home and come enjoy nature.

The Canyoneers offer free, guided hikes on trails throughout San Diego County from September through June. The new season kicks off this Saturday, September 8 with an easy, 1-mile hike on the Kumeyaay Lake Trail at Mission Trails Regional Park, perfect for children, seniors, and birdwatchers. 

In total, the Canyoneers are offering 80 hikes. Most are offered on weekends—with a few midday hikes being offered on select dates—and cover diverse terrain, ranging from the coast to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, and from the Tijuana Estuary to Palomar Mountain.

  • New hikes in Cleveland National Forest, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, and several other locations including Gremlin Way Trailhead in Dictionary Hill Open Space Preserve. 
  • Once a month, the Canyoneers will lead a mid-week hike to locations that are often crowded on weekends due to limited access. Examples include Equestrian Trail in Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve (November 13) and Luelf Pond Preserve in Ramona (May 12). 
  • The desert hikes that are scheduled on consecutive days allow for camping opportunities, reducing the amount of driving necessary to get to both hikes. The desert at night is a special treat. 
  • Some trails offer shorter hikes with little elevation change—good for younger hikers—and some very flat and paved hikes that are perfect for strollers and anyone with a disability. One example is the Batiquitos Lagoon Gabbiano Trailhead (September 14). 
  • If the weather cooperates, there’s a chance to see waterfalls on Cibbets Flat to Kitchen Creek Falls hike (February 9) and the Green Valley Falls Loop (June 28). Green Valley Falls is an amazing hike and has pools of water that are fun to play in!
  • Hikes in some of the most interesting geological areas in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, including Fish Creek/Split Mountain (January 4) and Canyon Sin Nombre (February 8)—perfect for slot canyon fans. 

And if you have kids, there is a special program for students and classes too!

“Kids are most inspired by nature when they get outside and experience it for themselves—seeing a Monarch butterfly or a coast live oak in person helps bring to life what they’re learning in the classroom,” said Judy Gradwohl, president and CEO of the San Diego Natural History Museum. 

The program is made possible with support from Subaru of America, who is generously supporting the Canyoneer hiking program for the fourth year in a row.

The Museum aims to serve approximately 550 students this year through the program. Space is limited on the hikes. For more information or to book a hike, visit sdnat.org/schoolnaturehikes or call 619.255.0349. 

If you are looking for books about hiking and exploring the many awesome trails and cool nature spots in San Diego County here are two books I completely recommend!

This is my personal favorite and has TON of kid and family-friendly hikes!

Earn Amazon Gift Cards with Up Voice!

Screen Shot 2019-08-26 at 8.06.04 AM.pngDo you spend time on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Linkedin, and Amazon? If you do, consider joining UpVoice! UpVoice is BrandTotal’s user panel. We use the data that we collect from the UpVoice panel to build special insights for brands on their advertising activities and the ad campaigns of their competitors.

How does it work?

Screen Shot 2019-08-26 at 8.06.11 AM.pngAs you visit Facebook, YouTube, Amazon, or any other of the participating sites on your desktop computer, they anonymously collect the ads that you see and give you daily tokens that can later be redeemed for Amazon Gift Cards. Once you visit one of the participating sites, it may take a few minutes for your token balance to be updated.

They are a market research firm and therefore the data we collect is only used for providing brand marketers with advertising campaign insights.

If you’re qualified to become an UpVoice panelist, you will get a link to install the UpVoice Chrome extension. The UpVoice Chrome extension can only work on a Chrome browser (or other Chromium-based browsers) on your computer (and not your mobile device).

Screen Shot 2019-08-26 at 5.03.11 PM.pngI’ve been a member for a little over a month, and I cashed out for my first $10 Amazon Gift Card today!

To get started, click here.

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!

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

 

Parents: Give Yourself A Break

DSC06725.JPGA friend posted this article from Motherly this morning about how self-care isn’t enough and parents (especially moms) are burnt out.

I can completely understand. As the mom of a kid with ASD and ADHD, and well as a neurotypical firecracker of a 4-year-old, I feel like I am always going going going. And really, I feel like it’s not enough.

This summer I’ve said NO a lot. No to racing off to an activity each morning, no to lunches out, no to 5 playdates a week, the craft dates, all-day zoo adventures, and sojourns to the beach. Oh, and this would have been just 1 week of summer activities in the past. Imagine that for 8 weeks. Are you tired now?

This is something I want everyone who reads this to take the heart: NO IS A COMPLETE SENTENCE. 

Plus, I still need to do household chores, cook, laundry and make sure the big kid gets to therapy twice a week, I need to exercise at least 4 times a week.

In saying no to all of these activities, the kids are able to relax, which means they are in a better mood, which mommy is in a better mood. We are still doing stuff, but it’s more things that the kids can do at home or in a small group of friends.  We’ve been swimming at our community pool each day in the late afternoon, playing at the local park. We’re going to the YMCA a few times a week in the afternoon so the kids can play while I exercise. Stuff that is low stress.

Why is parenting harder? Why are we burned out? This article gives us some ideas. The increase in activities for kids (If you want to go to an Ivy League school Little Timmy, you need to start your extra-curricular activities at birth!), social media expectations (It’s like Keeping up with the Joneses on crack), the constant barrage of information and data being thrown at us (pics of our kids, nanny/daycare cams being sent to us, text messages, chat apps, always being connected to people and media). It’s overwhelming. It’s tiring. Being expected to be Instagram-ready or Insta -Perfect is frustrating and exhausting.

For special needs parents, it’s harder because, for the most part, our kids aren’t  “like everyone else”, so frequently we are ostracized from activities. It’s the truth, and it sucks. and it hurts. To shield my kids from this hurt and keep myself sane, we’ve stepped back from activities this summer.

I’m not going to give you a list of self-care activities that will help you de-stress. You already know what works for you, your family, your budget.  This is what I do.

What I want you to know, moms and dads that read this post:

You are not alone. There are other parents and caregivers out there that are feeling the same way you do. You don’t have to keep up with everything you see online. You are doing the best you can for your family. YOU ARE ENOUGH!

I found this shirt on Amazon and I had to share it. 

Mid-Year Hustle Update

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It’s June- The middle of the year, time to review how much I’ve made on my side hustles so far this year. To be fair, I did just complete a semester of college, so it’s probably not as much as I could have been making.

I’ve only included the hustles I’ve made money with in 2019. A complete list of all my money making hustles can be found here.

Radial Insight So far in 2019, I’ve earned a little over $25 in Amazon GC (which is my preferred method of payment, besides cold, hard cash)

PaidViewPoint– $33 via Paypal, plus I’ve done 2 studies where they send me a product to try out and fill out a survey about.

Field Agent $120.30 (via EFT) to date! This is one of my favorites. You choose the tasks you wish to do, and you can do as many as you are able to complete.

SBKC $50 via online Visa GC. I’ve been doing this for one for about 9 or so years. It’s dead simple.

Focus Groups $300 I’ve only done two this year, but I’m scheduled for one next Friday that pay $200!

Amazon’s Mechanical Turk  I really need to do more of these tasks- $10 in Amazon GC total.

Mypoints  $75 in various gift cards and Paypal payouts. I do 99% of my online shopping through Mypoints.

Misc. surveys $340. Here are a few of the survey companies I use: InBox Dollars, Reward Survey, Survey JunkieVIP Voice.

Swagbucks– $10 Amazon GC I don’t use Swagbucks as much as I used to. They have tons of surveys to do to earn points.

And from my list of Money Saving Apps:

So, my total for the year to date is: $1073.30. I use this money to pay for activities with the kids, special treats, and date nights.

Talk Back: I’d love to hear about your side hustles!