Summertime Plans on a Budget!

file7051347303411

School is out for us on Tuesday. That means I’ve got 67 days to fill with adventures and “excitement” as my 6 year put it. No pressure, right?

Here are just a few things we’ll be doing to have lots of fun, but not spend a ton of money.

  • Taking advantage of free community events! Our local libraries have tons of fun events during the month.  Lego Club, craft afternoons, story time for pre-schoolers, and our local library has a great slate of summer events, including a summer reading program!
  • Using passes and memberships that we’ve already paid for. For us, that’s the San Diego Zoo and the YMCA. I plan on taking full advantage of the YMCA membership daily to get the kids out of the house and playing with others, as well as swimming at the activity pool.
  • Packing snacks and drinks when we leave the house. Henry’s pre-school backpack has become our go to snack backpack. I wrote about our family snack backpack yesterday.
  • Meeting up with friends at the park to play. We love playing at the park. It’s a great way to get out the wiggles, meet new friends, and catch up with old friends. There are tons of groups on Meetup.com or Facebook. If you haven’t checked out Momco on Facebook, it’s a great way to find moms looking to meet up and play!
  • I love to arrange craft or science get togethers. The kids get to make something or try a science project and play with friends. I’m not really into Pinterest all that much, but I do have a Pinterest Board with some of the science and crafts we want to do this summer.  I try to use the supplies we have on hand. I find that a lot of the supplies can be picked up at 99 Cents Only, or cheaply at Target.
  • We’ll also be painting a lot of rocks and hiding them all over this summer. Have you heard of Santee Rocks? Both kids love it and it’s a great way to get kids out and active!  It’s an awesome Facebook Group. Learn more here.
  • The Beach! I know not everyone has the beach near them, but if you do- take advantage!  Google your favorite beach and Tide Chart and find out when low tide it. Low tide is the perfect time to hunt for shells. If you are in San Diego, or will be visiting this summer, check out Coronado for the SS Monte Carlo. It’s a sunken ship that is visible and explorable at low tide.
  • Don’t forget the $1.00 kids movies at Regal Cinemas!
  • Here are a few of my other tips for a fun, frugal San Diego Summer.

Celebrate Earth Day with a colorful pinwheel craft!

**The links in this post are affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

April 22nd is Earth Day. Explore the power of wind with a colorful pinwheel craft!

Wind power is a great topic to explore with kids on Earth Day and can easily be demonstrated with a simple craft. Little Passports has teamed up again with Brandy (from Gluesticks) for her Little Passports’ DIY Earth Day Pinwheels Craft.

These pinwheels come together fast and spin in the wind even faster! Celebrate and Explore your Earth!

If you are looking for other fun crafts, check out my post here about crafting frugally.

DIY Fairy Jar (No Glow Sticks needed!)

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 12.51.22 PMEveryone has seen the Fairy jars on Pinterest that glow in the dark. In fact, you may seen them on Pinterest fail lists too, because, well, the directions don’t work.

Not familiar? Ok, it goes like this: Take a Mason Jar (because after all 90% of crafts/stuff on pinterest involve a Mason Jar), open 2-3 glow sticks, dump them into the mason jar, screw the lid on and shake. OOOH, it’s supposed to look like a magical Fairy Jar. What it really looks like it a fairy vomited into a jar. And glow sticks glowiness only lasts one night (or so).

So here is the deal on how to make a legit, serious, awesomely cool fairy jar in less than 10 minutes, no glow sticks or scissors needed.

You need two things:

A jar with a screw on lid. I used an Anchor Hocking jar that my mom gave me (she got it here). You could also use a wide mouth quart Mason Jar.

A string of these cool LED battery operated lights on a copper wire. You get two for $7.99, so really, you could make two if you had another jar.

Here are the totally simple directions:

  1. Wash and dry the jar.
  2. Loosely coil the string of lights around your hand, put hand into jar. let go of the lights.
  3. Leave the end of the string with the switch dangle over the lip of the jar.
  4. Screw on lid (the wire is so thin, you’ll be able to screw on the lid with the wire coming up over the top of the jar).
  5. Turn lights on.

That’s it. REALLY! The batteries last a while, especially if you aren’t leaving the lights on 24/7. If you wanted to get a little fancier, you could spray paint the inside of the jar, allow it to dry, then continue with steps 2-5. I am doing that with my second string of lights. Watch my Instagram feed for photos of that when it’s done later today.

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 12.50.58 PM

I can’t wait to share this with Henry when he gets home from school.

 

Thanks to Tomoson and #OakleafLEDLight for the opportunity to try these cool little lights for free. I was not financially compensated for this review, however I only review items that I think area good fit for my family. All opinions are my own!

When DIY meets frugality….

About 6 months ago, I scored 6 new pillows for less than $10 at Sears, using Sears Shop Your Way Rewards, coupons, and a BOGO sale.

When you get new pillows, you need new pillow covers. I headed over to our local AmVets Thrift Store when all of the linens were on sale and picked up 9 pillow covers for .25/each.  What I didn’t realize is that 3 of them were smaller than a standard pillow, and they didn’t fit. I set them aside, thinking I would find something else to do with them.

Fast forward to this morning. I am pulling the sheets, blankets and pillowcases off the bed, and I notice the pillow cases look gross. Like, we’ve had them since before we were married and they just don’t come clean anymore… That kind of gross. I’ve washed them with Oxyclean, borax, you name it, I’ve tried it to get them clean. Enough. I figure 8 years of rotation means they’ve served a good life.

I rifle through the linen closet to discover that about 90% of our pillow cases need to get pitched. Then, I discover the 3 small pillow covers, and I am struck with inspiration.

warposterSee, My motto for for remaining the frugal steward of our family is, “Use it up, wear it out, make do”. That means, basically: USE WHAT YOU HAVE.

I remembered that I also had a few yards of Eyelet lace in my sewing box. BUT, it’s offwhite. The pillow covers were white. But, wait… We have a box of awful tea in the cabinet. I mean it tastes like burnt rubber and camp fire smoke- blergh. But, it’s perfect for tea dying! Ever notice when you spill tea or coffee on your white clothes, it never comes all the way out? Imagine if you took light colored fabric and soaked it in boiling tea or coffee for about an hour and then washed it?  That’s tea dying.

I pull out the sewing machine and some supplies and set to work. I trim the zippers off the pillow covers, measure the lace, and sew it onto the open end of the pillow case. This serves a few purposes:

  1. Lengthens the pillow case about 31/2 inches. Now it will fit a standard pillow case
  2. Makes the pillow case look nice
  3. I am using up what we have in the house, and now I don’t have to go out and buy new pillow cases.

While I was in the closet with my fabric, I also found a piece of unbleached muslin that I cut into a pillow case. I had enough lace, so why not. If you’d like to make a pillow case, here is a pretty easy tutorial to follow.

I boiled my icky tea, wet the pillow cases, and tossed them into the stockpot. I covered the pot with a heavy plate to weight the fabric down so that it will take the dye evenly.

After about 30 minutes, I turned the stove off, and left the mixture until it cooled… Next, I rang out the pillow cases and tossed them into the washing machine to get out any extra tea (and the gross smell).  And now… Ta Da!  Three refurbished pillow cases and a brand new pillow case!

  • Total out of pocket: Zero Dollars
  • Time: about 2 hours (most of it was waiting for the dye pot to cool)

Now if you want to make your own pillow cases, the tutorial I linked to above is pretty easy to follow, and it’s a great way to use up scraps of cotton fabric that you may have hanging around the house.  Since pillow cases and fitted sheets tend to wear out first, you could also cut up orphaned flat sheets too.

 

 

Free Crafting Classes & Free Patterns from Craftsy

 

craftsy-logoI am all about picking up new skills and discovering new patterns, especially when they are free! Craftsy (which is an awesome repository of crafting and cooking classes) has a section dedicated to free classes. They also have a section dedicated to free patterns! What I really like is that you can take as many free classes and download as many free patterns as you like.

Here’s the full list of Craftsy free mini classes to choose from. Below are just a few of the classes I thinks are super cool!

Here is a complete list of the the free patterns you can download:

BTW: This Post contains affiliate links, if you purchase anything after clicking through my links, I may receive a commission.

Getting Crafty at Home: Frugally!

Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 8.04.54 AMHenry loves Animals- All Kinds. So a few months ago we decided to do a craft that focused on his love of sea life. I try to do a craft with him 3-4 days a week in the morning after breakfast. And we do it on a budget. I spend no more than $10/month of craft supplies. I’ve posted my money saving tips for crafting at the bottom of this post.
Making our Aquarium took a few steps.
  1. Gather supplies: Construction paper, glue sticks, scissors, pipe cleaners, and googly eyes. We also use a lot of glitter glue.
  2. Cut out “water” and glue/paste it to large piece of craft paper.
  3. Then we selected 4-5 sea animals the he likes, made them out of construction paper (and pipe cleaners for the crab!), drew faces on each animal based on what the animals do (mean face for crab because he pinches, big open mouth for the hungry piranhas). We made a few of the sea animals 3-d (anemones and jellyfish and crabs legs and pinchers).
  4. If you aren’t sure what kinds of sea creatures to make, check out Octonauts (they are on YouTube), or other nature shows for kids (we also like Wild Kratts). There are tons of cool books about undersea creatures aimed at kids at your local library.
 If your kids aren’t into undersea animals, here are a few other fun crafts with animals:
Make a goldfish bowl: Start by pasting goldfish to fishbowl shaped paper and use water colors to paint the water in the fish bowl.
We also love to make what Henry calls “Going to the zoo”: Draw animal cages on paper or make them out of pipe cleaners or stick pretzels and put different animal crackers in the cages. We do this before a zoo trip. I try to keep 2-3 zoo maps with our craft stuff too, so we try to find the animal cracker animals on the zoo map too.
10918948_10153024113906061_2463789217471650233_oCaterpillars: I cut out wiggly caterpillars from green construction paper. Then we glue pom poms to his body (because caterpillars are fuzzy), add googily eyes and draw a mouth. Sometimes we add antennae.
To make our crafts more educations, during our craft time, we talk about the sounds that the animals make, where they live (habitat), what do they eat (meat, plants, both?).
Sometimes we make Monsters. This is a great opportunity to talk about different body parts, and how people and animals are all different. Here is a photo of out Monster assembly line:
10857190_10153014987651061_2298967290518812755_o
We try to do a craft each day: drawing, painting, cutting paper into shapes. These activities help foster his creativity and imagination, and they help hone his motor skills. To keep Henry engaged, I select crafts and activities based on subjects that are of his interest.
Tips to keep daily/weekly crafting frugal: 
  • We re-use all kinds of stuff: paper towel or toilet paper rolls for kaleidoscopes or pirate spyglasses, magazines for pictures in collages, cardboard egg cartons make caterpillars, clamshells, baby chickens, or spiders.
  • Dollar tree and 99 cents only have great selection of craft supplies like construction paper, glue and glue sticks, googly eyes, jingle bells, pipe cleaners.
  • I try to make a batch of playdoh each month. I use glitter and food coloring to make the playdoh a little more fun. We use playdoh to crafts and creative play. I’ll post my Fool Proof Play dough recipe later this weekend.
  • Stuff around the house that isn’t strictly a craft supply can be used: cupcake liners make flowers or butterfly wings, q-tips, sponges (cut them up to paint), potatoes (stamping or painting).
  • Using stuff from nature: Henry loves the little “pokey balls” from the Chinese elms. Right now they are porcupine puffer fish, but in the past they’ve been all kinds of fun stuff. Paint leaves, use cat tails as paint brushes, gather small sticks and use them to make houses, stack them up, or paint them to use another time.

 

Essential Oils: Taking care of yourself naturally (and a review)

Having spent a few years as an esthetician, I’ve seen and heard of people using all kinds of weird things on their skin (like the lady who scrubbed her face with Comet and used Listerine as toner), but the one thing I’ve always recommended for most people is using Essential Oils in their homes for skin and body care.

Unfamiliar with Essential oils? Wikipedia defines them as, “An essential oil is a concentrated hydrophobic liquid containing volatile aroma compounds from plants.”

Very few oils are ok to use neat (straight out of the bottle), most need to be diluted with another compound to be safety used on the skin. I like essential oils because not only do they smell great, but many can help with health issues.

I wanted to highlight a few essential oils and give you a few ideas on how you can incorporate them into your life. Because you don’t need many drops for most uses, one bottle will last you a while. And most of the other ingredients for the recipes below include items that you may already have in your home! Thanks to InstaNatural and Tomoson, I was able to try Lavender and Peppermint  essential oils for free recently.

Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 7.53.40 AMLavender: It is great for helping you relax, and to lull you to sleep.

Linen spray is awesome for helping you unwind after a long day. Spray your pillows and bedclothes about 20 minutes before bed. Take a few deep breaths when you get into bed and you’ll be sleeping like a teenager (we all know that babies don’t sleep well) in no time. I like mixing 20 drops Lavender oil with 1 part vodka (the cheap stuff or rubbing alcohol), and 2 parts distilled water. Pour into a spray top bottle (like these).

Relaxing body moisturizer is wonderful way to calm down a child that doesn’t want to go to bed. Just mix 3 T. of room temp. coconut oil with 10-20 drops of Lavender oil. Let the mixture sit overnight. Scoop out a little bit and work it between your hands until it’s melted and massage it onto your clean kiddo. I do this for Lil’ Man on those days when he just won’t go to sleep. I rub it onto his back, shoulders, and chest. By that time, he’s pretty calm and ready for bed!

The InstaNatural Lavender oil was very mild- Perfect for use right after a bath on Lil’ Man’s back and feet. He slept for 13 hours, I think that might be a new record!

After Lavender, my next favorite essential oil is Peppermint.  It’s very invigorating, and clean smelling.

Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 7.53.50 AMBody Scrub can be made with any Essential Oil, but I love using Peppermint oil. Mix 1 cup sugar (white or brown, your choice), with 1/4 c up of room temperature shea butter or coconut oil, and 20 drops of essential oil. Mix together and store in a jar with a tight fitting lid.  You can also use salt, but it’s a lot more abrasive.

Decongestant A simple DIY trick to help release that awful stuffy nose you or the kiddos have is to drop a few drops of Peppermint Oil into a diffuser (like this one) and breathe deeply. Peppermint oil really helps you breathe when you are all congested. You can also drop a few drops into a basin of very hot (steaming) water, put a towel over your head, lean over the bowl (using the towel as a tent) and breathe in the steam. You’ll be feeling better in no time! If you have very sensitive eyes or skin, I’d avoid the “steam tent”.

I used theThe InstaNatural Peppermint oil this morning! I whipped up a batch of peppermint scrub this morning, using kosher salt and coconut oil in a repurposed cream cheese tub. I’ll be using it to give my self a pedicure tonight. The abrasiveness of the kosher salt will really help exfoliate the dry, rough spots on my heels. I’m breathing clearly just from smelling the oil while mixing up my batch. I’ll report back with an update after my pedicure tonight!

I want to thank the great people over at  InstaNatural and Tomoson for the chance to review these essential oils. I was not financially compensated to review these products, however I received a bottle of each oil free to facilitate my review. I only recommend products and services that I feel may be a good fit for my readers.