Family Event: Queen Bee Market – Spring Shopping Expo 4/26-4/27!

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Looking for some fun shopping this weekend? Head up to the Del Mar Fairgrounds and get ready to shop and support local, small businesses!!

Have you ever wished Etsy was a real store, filled with talented artisans and specialty crafts you could shop for in person? North County natives and sisters, Allison Gharst and Kellie Dooley, the owners behind Queen Bee Market, take that idea and turn it into reality. The two-day shopping expo takes place at the Del Mar Fairgrounds on Friday, April 26 and Saturday, April 27 and will feature nearly 100 hand-selected artisans, including local and regional crafters. And, entry is only $3!

Queen Bee Market _Sketchy Notions.jpgKellie and Allison, took over operations and ownership of Queen Bee Market in 2015 after participating as vendors for several years. Both mothers themselves, they first got their start selling products on Etsy. Now, they hand-select each of the vendors that showcase at Queen Bee Market,

A few of the standouts for the April event include Bare Naked Botanicals, a line of artisanal vegan skin and body care; Momma Pots, maker of handmade and hand-painted concrete pots; Lu+Elle, a line of handmade bags; Chalk Couture, a chalk-centric line of DIY home décor; Blessed Little Bird, maker of customizable jewelry and trinkets; and more.  A full list of vendors is available at Queen Bee Market,

Queen Bee Market_Shoppers Browse Burma Boutique.jpgBut it’s more than shopping… Aside from all the spring shopping opportunities, Queen Bee Market will also offer interactive make-and-take stations and workshops where you can learn how to create your own hand-stamped jewelry, personalized chalkboard and how to blend essential oils to keep pets healthy and pest-free, among others.

Each Queen Bee Market event selects a local charity to support. This event will support the Jacobs and Cushman San Diego Food Bank with on-site donation barrels to collect non-perishable food items and a virtual food drive where people can securely donate funds before they arrive at the market. Shoppers who donate five items will receive a Queen Bee Market shopping card worth 10 percent off their purchase at the expo. Not sure what kind of food items the food bank needs? Check out my post here with a list of items that are commonly requested.

Giving Back: Blessing Bags (A Tutorial)

One of the reasons that I coupon is so that I can have the fortune to help others. Many couponers donate to causes that are dear to them.  My local Coupon Group donates HBA to Naomi’s Closet in Santee, CA. We also support one of the local American Legion posts with two of their service projects: Coupons to overseas families and homeless veteran outreach.

We are able to donate and help others because we use coupons and shop sales. Many times we are able to pick up free items to donate, or items that are 80%+ off the regular price.

My mom’s group has made blessing bags in the past (We usually make some to be handed out at a local homeless camp on Christmas Day). For those who are not familiar with the term, a blessing bag is a small bag (usually a ziploc type bag) filled with:

  • small or travel sized toiletries
  • snacks like crackers, tuna in a pop-top can or pouch, granola bars, instant oatmeal
  • bottled water
  • hard candy
  • lip balm
  • safety pins
  • socks
  • hand/baby wipes
  • razors
  • an extra ziploc bag
  • Feminine Hygiene supplies
  • A large trash bag folded up (It can be used as a rain poncho)

I try to keep a couple in my car and I hand them out when we see those in need while we are out. For those of you who aren’t native to Southern California, there are a lot of homeless here. We have good weather most of the year, so it’s ok to sleep outside 6-8 months of the year. According to the 2014 Homeless census in San Diego, there are over 8500 homeless residents in San Diego. That’s just the number that were counted, there are many more that were not.

Last year Lil’ Man and I made blessing bags several times and we plan to make more this year.

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Examples of what we put in our blessing bags last year.

I keep all the samples I request in an up-cycled baby wipe container under my bathroom sink.

I also go through my HBA stockpile for items like BIC razors, lip balm, and toothpaste I picked up for free after coupon and store sale.

My parents travel a lot for my dad’s Board position in a non-profit, so they always have a stash of hotel soap/toiletries. My parents give us a grocery bag full to assist in the cause.

Last year, Lil’ Man and I sat on the floor and put together 26 bags. Not every bag had the same items in it, but they each contained a variety of HBA, snacks, and supplies.

Blessing bags area great way to help those of your neighbors who may be on the streets. If you live in an area where there isn’t a large visible homeless population, consider making blessing bags and donating them to a shelter or checking with your local churches for homeless outreach.

Free Lemonade at Hot Dog on a Stick this week!

unnamedIt’s hot, and all Lil’ Man wants to drink is lemonade. Well he’s in luck because this Thursday, August 20th, we’ll be heading over to Parkway Plaza to score a free lemonade at Hot Dog on a Stick!

Hot Dog on a Stick is pouring sunshine and hope on National Lemonade Day! On Thursday, August 20th, to celebrate the holiday, Hot Dog on a Stick is giving away its famous hand-stomped lemonade for free to raise awareness and funds for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). To date, Hot Dog on a Stick and its parent company, Global Franchise Group, have raised more than $1 million for LLS and is committed to raising $500,000 in 2015.

Customers who visit any Hot Dog on a Stick location in the San Diego area on National Lemonade Day and say the phrase, “Lemonade for LLS,” will receive a free 12-ounce lemonade. Customers can also upgrade to a souvenir cup for $3, and $1 from each upgrade will be donated to support LLS’s investment in research to advance lifesaving new treatments for blood cancer patients.

Here is the list of participating San Diego locations:

Fashion Valley
7007 Friars Road
San Diego, CA 92108

Westfield Plaza Bonita
3030 Plaza Bonita Road
National City, CA 91950

Parkway Plaza Mall
713 Parkway Plaza
El Cajon, CA 92020

Otay Ranch Town Center
2015 Birch Road
Chula Vista, CA 91915

Westfield North County
200 Via Rancho Parkway
Escondido, CA 92025

Westfield Plaza Camino Real
2525 El Camino Real
Carlsbad, CA 92008

 

What I do with all the free samples I receive….

bright boxesOn Saturday, my mailman asked me, “What’s up with all of the free samples?” She’s not the only one who asks. It’s one of the questions I get a lot when people find out I coupon and we live frugally (the other question I get a lot  is: “Do you have TP under your bed?”

Well, here’s the deal: I donate them. And no, there is no TP under my bed. Just out of season shoes and dust bunnies.

I donate about 90% of the free samples I receive in the mail. The local American Legion post collects small sized toiletries to make into care packages which are distributed to local homeless vets.

Additionally, the other local charity that my coupon club supports (Naomi’s Closet) also collects and distributes small sized toiletries to women’s in need.

If that sounds like something that appeals to you, you can collect travel/sample sized products and donate them to your local charity of choice.

I like MySavings to find top quality freebies. I also sign up for the P&G Brandsaver (it’s a collection of free samples from P&G available once a quarter).  Once the samples arrive, I take them out of their shipping container and I have a small box under my bathroom sink where I store samples and donation goodies.  I donate the contents of the box each month.

I also regularly donate full size products too.  For example, my donation budget is $5.00/month.  That doesn’t sound like a lot of money, but when I match sales with coupons, I am able to save big, and that $5.00 goes pretty far!

So the next time you that I’m posting free sample offers here or on Facebook, know that there will be one headed my way, to help someone in need!