Super Busy Summer!

I haven’t had much time to sit at the computer and write lately, but we’ve been busy! There are so many free and frugal things to do in the summer, and we haven’t even done a 1/3 of what we have planned!

Here are just a few of the adventures we’ve been having (and you can try them too)!

 

 

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Henry’s Handiwork!

Rock Painting!  Some of you have seen pictures of the painted rocks we’ve been making, hiding, and finding all over town on my Instagram feed.  Santee Rocks was started by a local teacher to spread kindness.  There are lot of other “rocks” groups all over San Diego, and the US! We even hosting a Rock Painting party at a local park! Over 30 people showed up, painted, and played. We hope to host another one in July.

We’ve also been hitting up our local libraries for all sorts of fun events and activities. Our favorite is the El Cajon Library. They serve lunch M-F, 11:30-12:30.  Afterwards there are a variety of events and activities from special speakers, concerts, and even crafts! And they even serve an afternoon snack!

There is a small play area for kids with an interactive discovery structure, and a Duplo Wall! There is a shaded playground out front as well. It’s a great way to spend a few hours in a climate controlled place without visiting the mall or any place where you might spend money. We usually end up bringing home a few library books too.

We’ve been on adventures with friends! Playing T-ball at the park and going on the hunt for decorated rocks was the biggest hit so far.

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Playing dress up is a frequent stay at home activity. Here we have the Pirate T-Rex, trick or treating for meat.

And of course, We spend time at home, doing crafts, swimming in the community pool, playing Legos, and just hanging out!

I’m of the mind that summer doesn’t need to be packed with activities sun up to sun down. Frequently, we spend our time at home spending time together. We have friends over to play, but it’s super low-key.

I’ve taking a break from trying to pound out an article or post each day. I want to spend time with the kids and family.

What kinds of activities and adventures has you family been having this summer?

 

Summertime Plans on a Budget!

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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.

Camping with Kiddos!

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As we prep for our annual family camping trip, I thought I’d share some of the fun things we do with the kids when we camp.

In addition to all of the usual camping stuff: Tent, blankets, pillows, air mattress, clothes, toiletries, Sunscreen, food, camp kitchen stuff…. You need stuff to do!

A friend and I made a huge batch of play dough last week, and we’re taking half of the batch, along with some cookie cutters, small rolling pins and other fun play dough stuff I got on my local Buy Nothing Group.

Games: High Ho Cherry-O, card games (like Uno, and a few regular decks of cards), lawn bowling.

We also have a craft box. It’s a large tote, like this one. I’ve filled it with all sorts of craft odds and ends. Mostly stuff leftover from other projects, as well as stuff I’ve gotten from Craigslist Curb alerts, and my local Buy Nothing group.  There is paper, scissors, glue, beads, pipe cleaners, paint, and so much more! The kids rifle through it and come up with some of the most interesting projects. I really believe that kids need to have free reign over creative play, so as long as I am there to make sure they are safe, they are free to create and play how they wish.

Bubbles. I make about a gallon of bubble solution, and we have all kinds of wands and stuff (Dollar tree and Target’s Dollar spot are great places to find bubble toys). We also make some out of pipe cleaners.

We also cook a lot when we are camping. We use dutch ovens to make all kinds of baked goods, including our favorite: Beer Bread. My dad has a cool clay Pizza oven (it’s this one), and we make pizzas in the late afternoons to snack on. Our favorite pizza recipe is here.

Here are a few pictures of our adventure last year:

We also of course, play at the campground play ground, go on nature hikes (and do some fun nature scavenger hunts- check out Pinterest for a bunch). We spend time with family and friends, and of course, check out all of the events and fun at the big camping event in which we are participating.

Camping is a great family activity, and here in San Diego there are so many places to camp! From the beach, to the mountains, to the desert, there are campgrounds, both private and public for low prices!

If you are a camper, where is your favorite place to camp?

Fun Free Easter Events in San Diego!

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Looking for some fun this week to celebrate Easter? I’ve been combing the internet looking for some fun to share!

Here are just a few of my favorite free or cheap San Diego Area events! Most are Easter specific, but there are a few that are just good spring fun!

Meet the Easter Bunny, and hunt for Eggs at Lake Murray Playground this Friday, the 14th! I am sponsoring this event. We’ll have lots of fun for all kids!

Spring Eggstravaganza in Santee. This is a very busy and very popular east county event! It features continuous egg hunts for ages 8 & under, pony rides, crafts, inflatables, petting zoo, carnival rides and games, and more. April 15, 9 am-3 pm. Ride/activity tickets $1 each (cash only). You can park outside the lakes and walk in, otherwise entrance to the park is $6/car. Santee Lakes, Lake 5, 9310 Fanita Pkwy *Get there early to avoid the rush. We used to go when Lil’ Man was smaller to this event, but there are just too many people for us.

If you are going to be in Mission Valley, check out the free monthly craft at the Lakeshore Learning store! For ages 3 and up 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 15 at 7510 Hazard Center Drive (San Diego)

Grossmont Center, La Mesa is hosting an egg hunt for all ages, costumed characters, face painting and a train display. Free event. 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. April 15.

A lot of the Rec Centers around San Diego are hosting events on Saturday. Here are just a few!

FREE Spring Egg Hunt at Adams Recreation Center. Egg scrambles, face painting, crafts, music and more. April 15, 10 am-12:30 pm. Bring a basket. 3491 Adams Ave., San Diego. http://www.sandiego.gov; 619-235-1149.

FREE Egg Hunt at Morley Field Sports Complex. Also, games, arts and crafts, egg toss, sack races and cake walks. April 15, 9:30 am-noon; egg hunt at 11 am. 2221 Morley Field Dr., San Diego. 619-525-8262.

FREE Eggs & Goodies at Pacific Beach Recreation Center. Egg hunts plus a 40-foot obstacle course, a bounce house, arts and crafts, and face painting. April 15, 1 pm. Returned eggs will qualify participants for special goodie bags. 1405 Diamond St. For details, call 858-581-9927.

FREE Torrey Hills Egg Hunt. Also, crafts, music, jumps and face painting. April 15, 9-11 am. Torrey Hills Community Park, 4262 Calle Mejillones, San Diego. 858-552-1687.

Louis A. Stelzer County Park, Lakeside 10 – 11 a.m. event April 15 at 11470 Wildcat Canyon Road, 619-561-0580. There may be a $3 parking/park entrance fee per vehicle.

 

Our Buy Nothing Week- The Results

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Our first Buy Nothing week was a success. I wrote about my plans here, and they went well. We managed to eat at home all week, pack snacks, and find all kinds of free fun.

I managed to inventory the pantry, clear out and donate some food that we weren’t going to eat, and did a toy purge and gave away some toys that no longer held the kids attention.

We tried it again this week, and well, it didn’t go so well.

Failures:

Wednesday night we went to the Lego Store at Fashion Valley for a free Lego Build (it was a cute platypus), but while we were there, we picked up a few blind bags and Lil’ Man’s Birthday gift. Mr. is part of the Lego Club, where you earn points for every purchase. It is double points month, so we earned enough points for $5.00 off. Since Legos seldom if ever go on sale, we took advantage. Then we had dinner at CPK. I used some money I had earned selling some stuff on Craigslist.

I also had to go buy milk, but I had figured that I would need to, so I set pulled out a few dollars in change from our change jar.

 

But then again, I had a few successes:

We tried some new recipes and improvised using what we had on-hand.

I ran out of tape while packing up a box to mail, so I borrowed some packing tape from my parents.

We played a lot, and did some fun crafts. We also discussed how we could have fun at home and in the neighborhood without spending money.

Yesterday a friend shared her food Co-op bounty with us, so that helps keep me out of the store for a few more days.

Overall, I am pleased with how the week turned out. We were more conscious of spending money and used work arounds and more careful thinking to use what we had, relied on neighbors and family when we needed help.

We’ll be doing it again, but probably not for a month or so. This next week is Lil’ Man’s birthday, and we need to prep for his birthday party. We’re doing a Lego themed party, and I’ll be posting about it next week.

 

Decorating Glass Ornaments: My Pinterest Fail…

Sigh.. I received this 12 pack of super cool clear glass bulbs to review about 2 weeks ago and now that Lil’ Man is back to school, I sat down yesterday to get crafty.

After surfing Pinterest and Google for ideas, I reached into my craft box and pulled out Sun Catcher Paint. My paln was to paint the glass ornaments with sun catcher paint so they’d look like stained glass. Cool, right? I would like to think that I am a creative person. I mean, I did create costumes for a living for 10 years. Well, these little glass ornaments failed me.

Ok, it wasn’t the ornaments. It was the medium. Sun catcher paint works on sun catchers because they have little wells or cavities for the paint to sit in and dry, the glass bulbs.. do not.

The ornaments themselves are pretty sturdy for being glass. The silver bale is easily removed and reinserted.

So here is my tale of woeScreen Shot 2016-08-26 at 8.19.54 PM in a photo collage….

I still have 10 left, so here is my Pinterest Board with a few ideas I’ll be trying this weekend!

 

Thanks to Tomsoson for the chance to try out these little ornaments for free in exchange for my opinions. I received no financial compensation.

 

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.