San Diego Local Halloween and Fall events for Kids!

7be30acaf94af3fc23ce78b5df96f46cHalloween is just TWO WEEKS AWAY!! Are you ready? Thankfully I only have a few last-minute tweaks to make to the big kids’ Knight Costume, and Little Miss’s Elsa dress is store-bought (much to my chagrin).

Trick or treating door to door isn’t really popular in our area, but a lot of churches and civic groups host carnivals or events either on Halloween or on the weekends leading up to it, so there is no shortage of fun for the kids.  If you are in San Diego County, here are just a few fun events that we’ve enjoyed in the past:

10/25/19:

10/26/19:

10/31/19:

a9e9d4b9823ec9482155e106114ca37cDon’t Forget HalGLOween at the San Diego Zoo! And most YMCA locations host a Halloween event that has a small fee, but has lots of fun games, crafts, and candy.

And if you are looking for tons of fun, don’t forget that Brick or Treat is still going on at Legoland California, tickets are on sale here.

Talk Back: If you know of a free, fun Halloween or harvest event for kids in San Diego County, please leave a comment. 

Porchlight Community Services

Screen Shot 2019-08-08 at 11.02.54 PM.pngFor those of you who have read my blog for a while, you know that food insecurity is a cause near and dear to my heart.

In San Diego County, one in seven families experience food insecurity. Food insecurity means you’re not sure where your next healthy, nutritious meal is coming from. It means you probably don’t have extra cans in your cupboard, or that you need to be more than just a little creative when it comes to cooking that a few days before payday.

Food insecurity is an issue that I feel very strongly about. No one should be hungry, and no one should have to eat mass-produced, poorly made, food devoid of nutritional just to fill their belly. Quality, nutritious food should be available to anyone and everyone at an affordable price.

That is one reason I am so excited to share with you today about an awesome organization in Linda Vista called Porchlight Community Services.

Porchlight Community Services is different from a lot of other food organizations in that they are a food rescue organization. They work with produce distributors, grocery stores, and bakery to rescue food that is otherwise destined for the dumpster.

Next time you’re at the grocery store take a look at all the fruit, all the produce, all the baked goods. The likelihood of all of those items will sell before their pull date is slim.

So when items are pulled off the shelf prior to their expiration date, they are frequently thrown in the trash. That trash heads to the landfill. Grocery store, bakeries, food distributors do not compost their unwanted food. Food rescue agencies like Porchlight Community Services pick up the food (that is still good, by the way, pull dates are usually arbitrary, and only affect the appearance of the food, not it’s quality or viability). They then take the food back to their offices where it is gone over to make sure that it is still quality, and edible. And it is been distributed to families who support Porchlight Community Services mission.

Screen Shot 2019-08-08 at 11.14.09 PM.pngProduce that can not be distributed (it’s leftover at the end of the event), is often donated to neighbors with animals, or local animal organizations. Once again, eliminating food waste and helping others,

Some of the companies that donate to Porchlight Community Services include Ralphs, Boudin Bakery, Wal-Mart, Starry Lane Bakery, and California Produce.

Porchlight Community Services is not your average food bank or pull date co-op. There is no minimum or maximum amount of money your family needs to make to participate. Some people who shop at Porchlight do so because they believe in the mission of keeping food out of landfills (like my family- it hurts my heart to see perfectly good food go to waste). Some people go to Porchlight Community Services because they are in need of wholesome nutritious groceries that fit a specialized diet (like Gluten-free or Dairy-free) but can’t afford to shell out money every week or two for the costly groceries at a mainstream grocery store.  Some people are in a tight spot and need to stretch what little money they have until payday.

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An example of past food items available

Distributions are usually held weekly. You can find out about upcoming events here on their website, or follow them on Facebook.

All funds that are raised go towards paying rent and utilities- to keep the Mission of feeding others going. 

If you are interested in helping Porchlight Community Services, they are always looking for volunteers to help unload food as it comes in on distribution days, organize and stock shelves, refrigerators, and freezers.

They also need help volunteering with event prep- setting up tables and bins.

This might be a good opportunity for girl scout troops or other civic organizations! Contact Porchlight Community Services here to find out about more volunteer opportunities.

 

 

Enter to Win $75 Target Gift Card from the Carma Project!

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One lucky Carma Ambassador will win a $75 Target gift card. Enter for a chance to win by helping us raise awareness for National Safety Month by completing the following:

  1. Sign up or be an existing Carma Project Ambassador
  2. Press “Going” on our National Safety Month Facebook event page
  3. Tag your friends in the comment section of our pinned post on Carma’s Facebook page with: Check your vehicle’s recall status for National Safety Month!

This contest will run from 06/10/19 12:00 PM PST to 06/23/19 11:59 PM PST.

Winner will be notified via email on 06/24/19 at 12:00 PM PST.*

*To enter this contest, you must be signed up as an Ambassador at https://www.carmaproject.com, be 18 years or older, and live in the United States. This contest is void where prohibited by law. The name on your Carma Project Ambassador profile should match the name on your Facebook profile in order for your entry to be accepted. The contest prize will be delivered via email. This contest is not sponsored, endorsed, or administered by, or associated with Instagram, and/or Facebook.*

Back on Track for Fall! and a $25 Amazon GC Giveaway.

For most of our kids, school has either started or will start in about a week. I’ve had a rocking summer with the kids, but it’s time to get settled back into a routine for the family. I am a huge proponent of routines for kids. Having one for our family has really helped calm and allay fears of the unknown, which is huge for kids with ASD.

Not that everything has to be exactly the same every day, but knowing what will happen within a time frame gives kids (and some adults too) a certain sense of calm.

I posted at the beginning of the summer about our schedule, and it really helped. Our school year schedule is a little different, but most of our appointments are the about the same time each week.

A few other things that help us keep on track during the school year:

Screen Shot 2018-08-25 at 8.41.01 AM.pngHaving grab and go lunch items at hand. In the pantry, there is a basket filled with all kinds of lunch/snack items. Crackers, cookies, squeezy pouches, fruit snacks, fruit leathers, cups of PB/other nut/seed butters, pretzels, juice boxes, etc. On the counter we’ve got a trifle bowl (I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve made trifle in the past 11 years-but… it makes a great fruit bowl), that we will with lunchbox sized fruit: apples, tangerines, and occasionally pears. I keep the bananas separate on a little hook/stand.

I also keep a stash of frozen tubes of yogurt in the freezer, and a grip of cheese sticks either pre-packaged or home-made, depending on which is cheaper, in the fridge. What’ a home made cheese stick? Buy a big block of cheese, grab a large, sharp knife and cut the cheese into hunks resembling commercially made cheese sticks. I wrap them in saran wrap and keep them in a large zip top bag in the dairy drawer.

It takes about 15 minutes to organize the lunch stuff once a week, and it saves me a lot of time each morning.

A Pretty Solid Meal Plan. I’ve posted about meal planning so many times, and honestly, it really does help. I get a lot of magazines in the mail (free of course), and most of them are cooking magazines. I try to add a new recipe into the mix weekly.

Exercise. I know this sounds weird, but, for me, exercise is my me time. We go to our local YMCA, and the kids go to child care for up to two hours. I do an hour of cardio (and catch up on email, Facebook, or bring along a book), then do weights for about 20-40 minutes. It’s a chance to focus on my body and health. Sometimes I grab my travel bag, and toss it into my gym bag with a couple towels and go take a shower after my cardio. Taking a shower without little people interrupting you is one of life’s small luxuries. Whatever makes you happy and allows you to escape a little each day, I encourage you to explore it. 

Coffee. I’m one of those people that has to have coffee every day. It’s part of my daily ritual. I drink at least 30 ounces of coffee a day: hot, cold, heck even room temp., I don’t care. It can even be decaf. I set up to coffee maker before bed, and when we get up in the morning, there is a hot, fresh pot of coffee. And we don’t have a fancy coffee maker either… This is the coffee maker we have.

Giveaway: Let’s celebrate back to school! I’d love to hear about how you get back to it after school starts. Leave me a comment below and enter to win a $25 Amazon GC* here (This link may not be mobile friendly)! I’ll choose a winner on September 4th, 2018. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Winner subject to verification of entry tasks. Winner must reside in the USA. $25 Amazon GC will be rewarded as a digital Gift Code, emailed to the winner.

Making Money Online with Social Media!

spilled-money.jpgI’m sure you’ve seen some of the Work at Home scams floating around the internet, in fact, I talk about a few of them in this post.

This post is all about making money (and/or scoring free cool stuff) via social media.

What’s your brand? Crunchy mom, Working mom, Millenial, Xennial, Stay at home mom, DINK, LGTBQA+, Latinx, Green living, a combination of the above, non of the above? Did you know that you are your own brand, and what you post about online is of interest to larger brands and PR companies.

These companies are looking for unique voices and viewpoints to promote their products and services. Sometimes it’s for free products, sometimes money, sometimes both! This is known as Micro-Influnced marketing. What is a Micro-Influencer? Mavrck says, “Micro-influencers are everyday consumers who have 500 – 5,000 highly engaged followers around relevant topics.” Most of you reading this fit this description and didn’t even know it.

That’s awesome, you are thinking, but how do I seek out opportunities?

Here are a few companies that I use:

Tomoson: This is a company that works with brands to find influencers to share products (sometimes services too). Mostly social media sharing, but also blogging opportunities. Sometimes you can get free stuff, sometimes it’s discounted, sometimes you’ll get paid just to distribute content, sometimes you’ll get paid. BUT- Watch out, there are still companies and brands that want you to buy their product on Amazon with a coupon code and review the item (positively, of course) on Amazon. This is against Amazon’s TOS, and you can get your account wiped. That’s a nice way of saying the remove most or all of your reviews, and revoke your ability to leave reviews on anything in the future. NOT WORTH IT!!

HeartBeat: This is a great one- It’s all on Instagram! I’ve done two campaigns so far, and I have received free product in addition to payment. It’s quick work too. Anyone with an Instagram account can join!

If you are looking for just free stuff in exchange for social media shout outs, check out this post on Word of Mouth Marketing. Word of Mouth Marketing is a perfect way to start out when you are dipping your toe in the Influencer world.

**Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission if you click on links or make purchases. However, I only post about stuff that I like and use for my family.

 

6 Tips for Getting Ready for Back to School!

back-to-school.jpgIt’s coming… For some of us, back to school is NEXT WEEK! For others it’s later in August, and some lucky folks, have until Labor Day in September. Regardless of when your kids go back, it’s nice to be prepared and save money.

 

Here are a few ideas to help you prepare and stay on budget!

Packing an Awesome School Lunch.

Shop Online to Save Big-  I love shopping online, especially at JCPenney and Kohls. Lots of great deals to be had, coupons, and ship to store to save even more!

There is a backpack and school supply giveaway in Santee on August 19th. More info here.  If you need school supplies sooner, Assemblywoman Dr. Shirley Weber is sponsoring a Back to School Kick off and Community Health Fair on 8/11/18.

If you are worried about being able to provide a nutritious, healthy lunch for your kiddos, The San Diego Food Bank sponsors Neighborhood Distributions throughout the month all over the county. You can go and get free, fresh produce- usually between 10-30 lbs. per family.  No proof of need- Just grab your reusable shopping bags and go!

a72904da152a0795ba05aaecba3a28bc.jpgAdjusting back to the school-year schedule can be a little tough- That’s why we start to get the kids back to bed at their regular time starting the beginning of August. For our kiddos, keeping them busy and active all day, really helps. Trips to the playground, beach, zoo, and pool really help.

We’ll be hitting up the night time zoo this week!

And one last back to school tip: Let your kids play and hang out with friends as much as possible before they go back, especially if they aren’t able to see some of their friends at school. We’re hosting a K’Nex Play Time Party with Tryazon this Wednesday at Shadow Hill Park in Santee! If you and your gang will be in the area, please stop by! There will bea chance to win prizes, yummy snacks, and cool toys!

 

San Diego STEAM Camp- Learning and Fun!

Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 10.03.42 PM.pngMy friends Annie and Christine are hosting an awesome STEAM camp this summer, and Registration JUST OPENED!

They are very excited to be offering four summer day-camp sessions this year. Camp will be open for children age 5-10. We will be holding camp at two different locations in Clairemont and Kearny Mesa. Camps will be Mon-Fri from 9:00am-3:00pm and include free lunch. Lunches are provided by the San Diego City.

Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 9.54.50 PM.pngCampers will do daily art and science around a fun weekly theme. In addition to art and science, our days will also include interactive games, STEAM inspired stories, outside play time, free lunch and more. We will have an underlying focus on kindness and helping others. Each camper will put together a care package for Cali Kids Medical Foundation to give to a family with a child admitted in the hospital and will also make cards for kids in the hospital.

Be sure to submit your complete your child’s registration form.  You can learn more on their Facebook page.

Not only will your kiddos enjoy STEAM activities, but they’ll be helping a family and child during a tough time! I’ve known both ladies for many years and they love kids and they are passionate about STEAM education.