Prepare for Wild Fires & Natural Disasters: What to Pack in Your Bug Out Bag

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As most of you are aware, there are a few current wild fires going on in Southern California. And that means that some of our friends, family, and neighbors are having to evacuate their homes.

During times like this is hard to distill your entire life into whatever you can load into your vehicle or carry on your back.  I lived through the 2003 and the 2007 wild fires in San Diego. In 2003, we had no power for 3 days, but we didn’t have to evacuate. We had everything packed up and ready to go just in case, as the fire was just up over the hill.

At that time, we received a lot of great advice in regards to what we should be taking with us. That includes:

1.Meds for everyone- If you have a chronic health condition, pack your meds into your purse/bag FIRST (but make sure they are easily accessible). If you have meds that need to be kept cold, have blue ice packs stashed in your freezer.  Having a good First Aid kit you can grab is important too. We have this one at our house- It’s been very helpful.

2. The next few items can be kept all together in a box some place safe. If not originals, then copies of each.

  • Health Insurance Cards for everyone in the house (this includes pets).
  • Car insurance ID cards, Registration for all cars (especially if you have to leave one or more behind).
  • Information on your homeowners/condo unit owners/renters insurance. If you don’t have a copy of the policy, have your agent/Insurance carrier email you a copy and print it out. Write down and take contact information for your land lord or mortgage company (including your loan number).
  • Birth certificates, Marriage licenses, Passports (We keep all of our important papers in a family binder, along with copies of one of each of our bills, so I can have account numbers and contact numbers for each utility/creditor).
  • Food for pets, any special snacks or food that everyone in your home needs in case of dietary concerns.

3. If you are in a hurry, instead of trying to pack bags of clothes, grab your laundry hamper. Sure the clothes are dirty, but more than likely, everything you need for a few days will be in there.

4. Family heirlooms: Wrap paintings/art in blankets and layer them flat in a vehicle. Most people keep their photos on a terabyte drive or the cloud instead of family photo albums these days. Grab your albums and/or your external hard drives.

5. A Dop Kit/Toiletry Kit, diapers and wipes if you’ve got kiddos.

That’s pretty much the important stuff. Other stuff if you have time…

  • Blankets/sleeping bags
  • Something to keep your hands/mind busy (books, magazines, knitting, small crafts, coloring
  • Extra chargers/cables for any and all devices you are taking with you. Portable emergency charger (like this one).

Most local fire agencies have a twitter feed you can follow too to keep up to date.

 

**This post contains links to products on Amazon. These are affiliate links, and I might earn a commission if you purchase them.

 

 

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Holiday and Game Day Fun with Hormel Gatherings Party Trays!

I received free product in exchange for my honest review. I love this time of year- We go to and host so many events: Holiday Parties, Craft Play Dates, College Football and NFL Watching Parties, and of course Coupon Meet Ups!

Snacks are a huge part of any event, so I was stoked when Social Insider and Hormel asked me to review Hormel Gatherings Party Trays. If you’ve never heard of them before, it’s basically a party in a tray! They are an easy, stress-free appetizer option.

IMG_7110.jpgThere are three varieties: Hard Salami & Pepperoni Party Tray, Honey Ham and Turkey Party Tray, and Supreme Party Tray. They all contain Sargento Cheeses and Hormel Meats.

I chose the Honey Ham and Turkey Party Tray for our recent dinner party. We got together to play games and hang out.

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The tray is super sturdy, which is definitely a plus. Each component is packed up in the tray. All you do is open each sealed bag, and arrange the tray in a manner that suits you. Because of the tray and great snap-on lid, I think this would be a great addition to any tail gating event or potluck! Super easy to transport and store any leftovers- But who am I kidding… There won’t be any leftovers.

If you are feeling fancy, you can set out condiments that would go with the meats and cheeses. I mixed up some honey mustard and opened a jar of spicy stone ground mustard.

IMG_7116.jpgHere is the plate that Henry made for one of our guests. For a 6 year old, I’m impressed- He also took the picture with my phone. I love having the kids help with holiday events. It helps them get into the spirit too, and reminds me that these kind of events should be low stress.

Bitty Bird “helped” by stacking up paper napkins and announcing when guests arrived (“Mommy and Daddy, Peoples is in our HOOUSSSEEEE!!”), and Henry helped me by picking up the toys in the living room, taking coats, and getting drinks. He pretended he was a waiter. It was pretty funny. He refused to let me take his picture, but at one point he had a kitchen towel draped over his arm. He has asked that we serve PB Sushi at our next “fancy grown up party”.

Hormel Gatherings Party Trays are available at Walmart, so you can pick one up on your next visit while gathering other party supplies.

I’m giving one reader a chance to share Hormel Gatherings Party Trays at their next get together! One lucky reader will win a coupon for $15 off the purchase of any one Hormel Gatherings Party Tray 28 oz. or larger.

Entering is easy: Just leave a comment with your favorite holiday beverage to serve at parties. I’ll choose one winner on December 5, 2017.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Happy Thanksgiving! We’re spending the day with family and friends, and I hope all of you are too!

I won’t be posting tonight about Black Friday deals tonight or probably tomorrow. There are tons of deal bloggers doing that for me.

I’ll be cooking, playing, and having fun. I hope you consider doing the same. If you are braving the stores tonight or tomorrow early, please be kind. Be kind to fellow shoppers and be kind to the staff.

Holiday Resources For Those in Need

thanksgivingturkey.jpgIt’s getting to be the season of giving, and for some families there isn’t the means to give this year. For some families there isn’t the means for a sit down family meal either.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are more than food and gifts, but no one should go hungry any time of year!

Here are some resources for those in San Diego County who might need some help.

Here is my post with a list of food banks/pantries in San Diego. Meet the Need at Faith Chapel has a lot of great events coming up to help you get through the holidays:

  • 11/19/: Faith Chapel is giving out Food Boxes and Turkeys starting at 10:30am.
  • 12/3: Meet the Need’s first Sunday event will be featuring a limited number of free Christmas trees in addition to the usual free lunch and bag of groceries.
  • 12/17: Faith Chapel will be distributing toys to children in need after the 10:30am service.

Feeding the Flock and several other ministries are sponsoring a Thanksgiving food box (turkey included). More information and sign ups can be found here.

You can also find local food banks/pantries from AmpleHarvest or by calling 211 in your area.

Toys 4 Tots is a well know toy charity, however their deadline to request toys is early November. If you missed the cut off, there are a few San Diego based toy charities that can help out.

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 1.53.34 PM.pngToys 4 Joy has 4 San Diego area events on December 9th. Toys for Joy is open to all children and families and no registration is required. One free toy will be given to all children attending the event ages 0 – 11. Free lunch will be provided in addition to free entertainment, kids activities and giveaways. All four locations have free groceries and one location has free gently used clothing available.

We Care Toy Drive provides 750 toys to local San Diego area kids. You can learn more by visiting their website.

Screen Shot 2017-06-01 at 8.09.41 AMThe Closet on 54th has a great free clothing closet you can shop at once a month, they also have a free food pantry that is open three days a week. You can find more info on their Facebook page here.

 

 

Free fun from Lego!

Screen Shot 2017-11-08 at 11.49.51 AM.pngHenry loves Legos (Duh, you may have gathered that from reading this blog), and they are pretty expensive. There are never coupons and most Target and Toys r us deals/coupons specifically exclude Legos.

However, you can still score some cool freebies and deals from Lego!

First, sign up to be a Lego VIP here. It’s free, and here are just a few of the benefits…

  • Points towards valuable rewards! Get a $5 reward for every 100 points earned!
  • Members-only gifts and more! VIPs enjoy access to special promotional gifts throughout the year.
  • Monthly promotions! Earn bonus points on select LEGO sets every month, both online and in store.

Once you are signed up as a VIP, you’ll be able to register for free Monthly Mini Model Build at the LEGO Store. Registrations start the 15th of the month prior to the event (e.g. sign up in November for December event), and space is limited at each store, so don’t wait. We’ve done a couple and they are always fun!

Don’t forget that Toys R Us also has fun, free lego events a few times a year as well. It’s important to RSVP to TRU events, so you definitely get a kit.

Lastly, did you know there is a free Lego Magazine for kids age 5-11? You can sign your kids up for a free subscription IMG_0236.jpg. The latest issue arrived yesterday and Henry poured over it for hours. The magazine is packed full of comics, activities, LEGO® fan creations and building tips (Henry’s fav part), and kids receive the magazine 5 times a year!

 

And here is a tip on how to keep your feet Lego-free…. When the kids play Legos, I spread out a huge table cloth and pour the Legos onto it. Once play time is over, I pick up the cloth and pour the Legos back into their big tote.

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This set up provides hours of fun, and just a few minutes of clean up. And the best part… No stepping on tiny pieces of Lego in the dark, unleashing a torrent of swear words and threats of bodily harm to those under the employ of Lego.

We have a lot of Legos- Hand me downs from friends who have outgrown them, some from when Tyler was a kid, and some sets and kits that Henry has been given. Even though we save all the directions, there is nothing more satisfying to me as a parent than to see Henry and Bitty express their creativity through building.

This is a combine. Henry built it all by himself. Not bad for a 6-year old who has never seen one in real-life. The big wheels in the front moved. Screen Shot 2017-11-08 at 12.14.44 PM.png

Talk Back: What are your money saving tips for Lego Lovers?

A Review: What’s up with Restaurant.com?

Screen Shot 2017-10-25 at 10.29.17 PM.pngFor those who have never used Restaurant.com, but hear me extol it’s virtues, hear is how it works.

You purchase a discounted gift certificate (make sure to check the cert for restrictions, such as a minimum purchase amount or mandatory gratuity ) for a local restaurant.  You have a year from the date of purchase to use it.

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Here is an example of how to use the certs to your advantage.

Cafe XYZ- Certificate for $15.00.  Terms of cert: $15 off  the purchase of $30 or more.  Mandatory 18% gratuity.

  • The check comes to $30.00
  • Mandatory grat. 18% $5.40
  • Minus Cert amt. -$15.00
  • Total New Bill: $14.60
  • Gift Certificate Cost $6.00, but thanks to coupon code REAL, you save 50% off the certificate making the total $3.00 for the Gift certificate.

The price for this complete meal is $17.60 (that includes the cost of the certificate).  The total amount saved $12.40.

They offer discounted certs in smaller amounts too.

ABC Cafe- Certificate for $25.00.   Terms of the cert: $25.00 off the purchase of $35.00 or more.  Mandatory 18% gratuity.

  • The check comes to $35.00
  • Mandatory grat. 18% $6.30
  • Minus Cert amt. -$25.00
  • Total New Bill: $16.30
  • Thanks to coupon code REAL, you save 50% off the certificate making the total $3.00 for the Gift certificate.

The price for this complete meal is $19.30 (that includes the cost of the certificate).  The total amount saved $15.70.

There are always coupon codes for http://www.restaurant.com/ on Retailmenot

Keep Cool During a Fall Heat Wave!

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San Diego County is expecting a heat wave this week. Tomorrow it’s forecasted to be 104. UGH.  A heat wave this late in the year is different from a summer one because so many of our go to activities to beat the heat either aren’t available because venues are closed (local splash pads are shut down October 1st-regardless of the weather) or are not not appropriate for the fall (the ocean temp is in the mid-60’s, too cold for most kiddos to play in conformably) .

So what CAN you do to beat the heat and keep a handle on spending?

Check out your local library for events! Our local Library has Lego club, various storytimes, teen activities like chess and robotics building, yoga, even creative play on Saturday mornings. San Diego County Libraries have tons of great activities- each branch has different schedules.

Check out your local mall! Did you know that Lego stores have free build/Make and Take events each month. Some malls also have free monthly kids events in their courtyard/common area. Our local mall updates their local events through their Facebook page and their website. Past events have included free crafting events, storytimes, and visits from Santa. In fact, many malls have Halloween/trick or treating events.

Toys R Us locations frequently have free events too! Like free Lego building events, Geoffry’s Birthday Club, and other fun toy related events!

If you’ve got a 4th grader, check out this free pass for  National Parks. Here in San Diego, we’ve only got one, but it’s at the ocean, so it’s at least a littler cooler than our house (only 85 instead of 100!). National Parks have free days several times a year! The next one is for Veteran’s Day!

There are always Kids Eat Free (Denny’s does it Tuesday and Saturday) if you want to keep the oven off too. You can also score free ice cream at Baskin-Robbins!

We use Ohm Connect to save energy (and money) and earn cash. They text and/or email you to let you know when you can save energy to help the grid load (and help avoid brown/black outs).

 

I’d love to hear how you beat the heat! Leave a comment.