Why I am not a “Pinterest Mom”

I am creative. I can bake, cook, sew, paint, craft, do calligraphy, garden, and decorate a home on a budget, however, I am not a “Pinterest Mom”.   I have a Pinterest account, but I use it more as a link repository for stuff that’s cool. I do not make Pinterest worthy stuff.  I don’t take Pinterest worthy photos. And, ya know what? I am more than ok with it.

I know there are a lot of people (not just moms) who pour over Pinterest and try to emulate the stuff they see, thinking that you need 5 craft stations, a candy bar (which is a buffet of nothing but candy), a full themed catered meal, and designer goody bags for an event. I hate to break it to you- Little kids don’t care! A lot of the stuff you see on Pinterest has been done by party professionals- Not your average mom with kids running around, a busy schedule, a house to take care of, errands to run, appointments and rehearsals/practices to shuffle kids to…..

Bitty’s third birthday is today, and yesterday was her birthday party.

Screen Shot 2018-06-10 at 3.14.41 PM.pngAbout a week ago, she saw the purse cakes at Baskin-Robbins. She asked for one, but she doesn’t really like ice cream.

I looked at it for a few minutes and figured I could make her one out of regular cake and frosting.

I am no means a professional baker, and I hate fondant (it tastes so gross to me and the kids). So I used cream cheese frosting, some decorator frosting, sprinkles, and icing roses.

And the handles were made from licorice. She was so happy, and the cake was delicious. My only tip is not to try and frost a cake when it’s 90+ degrees in your kitchen.  The cake was cold, but the white decorator icing did not want to cooperate.  The cake was pink inside, I made a butter cake and added pink gel food coloring to the batter.

Screen Shot 2018-06-10 at 3.13.19 PM.pngIn addition, I also made cupcakes! Henry helped make the cupcakes, and Margaret helped decorate them. I figured the cake wouldn’t be enough for the hungry little faces I was going to feed.

No candy bar- Instead I took a lucite bowl that I had painted with faux stained glass paint and filled it with Ring Pops.

And no goody bags- Bitty picked out these cute little Frozen necklaces to give to all her friends who came to the party.

Oh, and no catered fancy meal! We ordered 2 Giant pizzas.  We had bottles water and Honest Juice Pouches.  And because we has a loose Frozen theme, we also had little red apples (because we all know that Sven eats apples- Margaret told me).

I know that there are people out there who love putting out a perfect party that looks great on Facebook and Instagram, but if that’s not in your heart (or budget), BREATHE… Give Yourself some GRACE. Do what you can, what you love, what is in your heart and what is good for your family.  

And I want to especially thank Christine Boyce from Clicks by Christine for taking some incredible candid shots of the party. Her littlest is BFF’s with Bitty.

 

 

Talk Back: Are you a Pinterest Mom? Why or why not? What is your greatest crafting strength?

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Top Ten Must Haves for Your Summer Swim Bag!

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We braved the very very cold pool at our HOA today, which prompted me to go through our Swim Bag and make a list of new Pool Toys that we “need” (according to the kiddos).

I usually replace the pool toys once every 2-3 years. We swim 5+ days a week in the late spring and summer, that means our pool toys and swim equipment gets a lot of wear. I tend to buy a lot of the items on the list below at Dollar Tree or 99 Cents only. The quality is usually the same as what you find at Target at the Dollar Spot area, or at Wal-Mart in the seasonal area. The main reason we’re doing an overhaul or our pool toys this summer is it has been 3 years since I’ve bought new ones. Some of our current pool toys will be kept as they are in good shape, but some of the older toys (mainly the squirt guns) are starting to fall apart or have developed extra holes.

Here are the Top Ten things you need in your Swim Bag:

First off, you need a good bag! I like the All Purpose Utility bags, like these. They’ve got pockets on the outside. Roll up your towels and stuff them into the pockets, or use for SPF, bottles of water, or snacks- You can’t forget the snacks!

    1. Goggles. We go through a lot of goggles, mostly because my kids are clumsy, or they share them with friends and they disappear. I usually pick some up at 99 Cents Only to keep just in case, but we have several pairs of these Aegend goggles and they are excellent.
    2. Floaty toys- Like Inflatable Rings, or animal shapes. We’ve got a giant shark that lives in the garage in the off-season (November-May).  I like picking up a handful of inflatable rings at Dollar Tree and stashing them in the closet. If I need extras when friends swim with us, we won’t be short. I like these rings. I ordered 8 online for store pick up. Kick boards and arm floaties also fall under this category. I usually keep a few of each in the arsenal, just in case.

3. Fun Toys. Henry enjoys playing frisbee in the pool, so we’ve got a couple. Margaret likes trying to swim after an inflatable ball, so we’ve got a few of those. They both love the diving sharks. They are big, and they glide like a torpedo under water. The weighted diving toys like dive rings and the little ribbons with the weight attached are nice too.

4. Squirting Toys. Squirt Guns are a favorite. Not Super Soakers, but regular, old fashioned small squirt guns. Another favorite are the water squirters that look like long, giant pencils.  I usually get them at 99 Cents Only. Our rule is: No squirting people in the face!

5. SPF- Ok, this should really be #1. A good SPF. Water proof, sweat proof. You want a broad-spectrum SPF that protects against UVA (the rays that age skin) and UVB (The rays that burn skin). I like mineral sunscreen. And remember to reapply as needed!

6. Good Towels. I’m not talking about Egyptian Cotton, plush, fluffy towels that cost a fortune, but good, durable towels. I like to get white ones, since the chlorine from the pool can bleach the colors out. We tend to get the larger towels, or bath sheets. We have these from JCP. They were around $7 each.

7. Extra sunglasses. I don’t know what it is about my kids, but they lose sunglasses ALL THE TIME. I pick up a fistful at the beginning of the summer at 99 Cents Only or Dollar Tree, and dole them out. I keep 2 pairs in the swim bag.

8. First Aid Kit. Seriously. Kids get hurt all the time. It doesn’t need to be a fancy one. You can get small first aid kits with everything you need for less than $8.

9. Reusable water bottles. It’s hot and you are in the sun playing. Hydration is important. We have an Extreme Canteen, and it’s really awesome. I fill it with ice and water, and it stays cold all day with minimal ice melting.

10. A waterproof sealable pouch or bag to keep your keys, phone, and other important stuff in (Like snacks). We usually use a large ziploc bag (or two and double bag).

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Henry age 3, swimming with Mommy.  I’m pretty sure the pool was freezing then too. 

Now a few bonus items that Henry told me to mention (we may have a guest writer on our hands soon) include a swim mask (like this one), a shark fin and tail (like the one he got for X-mas), and diving fins. Those are all items that he uses regularly in our swim time.

Talk Back- I’d love to hear what’s in your Swim/Pool Bag!

I’ve included many links for reference. Please refer to my disclosure policy regarding possible bounties or compensations I might receive.

 

LEGOLAND® Castle Hotel opens tomorrow (and a deal)!

The kids and I are so excited! In just a few hours, we’ll be headed up to Legoland California for the opening of the Castle Hotel. We’re getting a sneak peak today, and the hotel opens officially tomorrow!

The kids are excited because the Hotel featuring more than 2,000 LEGO models made out of three million LEGO® bricks, a Knock-knock Joke Door (Henry is big into knock knock jokes), LEGO play pit, interactive play structures and themed entertainment each night. Oh, and the pool.

LLstatueInstall_0152.JPGThe pool has two interactive features: a water fountain and two tipping baskets which will splash guests in the pool from above.

The Royal Courtyard also features a picnic/cinema area with a large movie screen and seating, a stage for daily performances, a DUPLO® play area for toddlers and a Knight Training interactive playground for those children ready to balance, climb and play.

So, be expecting a lot of photos and posts on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. I can’t wait to show you all of the awesome stuff going on up at Legoland and the new Legoland Castle hotel.

Screen Shot 2018-04-26 at 8.33.29 AM.pngAnd if you are looking for a deal on Legoland Tickets, Don’t forget to check your local Denny’s location for a Kid’s Go Free Coupons! I found these at our local Denny’s!

I spied a fresh new pad of these coupons out at our local Santee Denny’s last week!

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Find (Frugal) Family Fun in Your Community

xmas eve 013.JPGSummer vacation is on the horizon, and that means that there will be choruses of, “I’m bored!”

Having a kid who has ADHD and ASD, I frequently hear that lament after school (like, before we even pull out of the school parking lot in the afternoon) complete with body slump and flailing of arms.  To combat this, I’ve assembled a list of events that can keep kiddos entertained with little to no cost.

Everyone knows about their local, neighborhood parks for free fun outside, but don’t forget your local libraries and community centers for sources of free fun!

Our local library has events after school (starting at 3pm) for kids grades K-3, including:

  • Read with Grandma Marcia ~ Every Tuesday
  • Kids Exploration Day ~ 2nd Wednesday of the month
  • LEGO Club ~ 3rd Wednesday of the month
  • Creative Play ~ Each Saturday from 10:30-11:30 am. Children learn through play! Meet new friends and have fun while developing early learning skills. Geared for ages 5 and under (but they are not strict with it- as long as the kids behave).

With all of these activities, a responsible adult must be present and participate.

Check out your local library’s website.

San Diego County Libraries

San Diego City Libraries

Screen Shot 2018-04-14 at 6.38.53 PM.pngIf you have a Starwood Mall nearby you (Here in San Diego, Parkway Plaza is a Starwood property), check out their kids club called MallStars. From the Parkway Plaza website, “MallStars Kids Club offers exclusive kid friendly events in a safe, community environment, throughout the year. MallStars Kids Club is a FREE kids club open to kids 10 years of age and younger.

The program features exclusive, kid-friendly events for its members throughout the entire year. MallStars members also receive free giveaways; a quarterly newsletter with upcoming events and special offers; as well as priority registration and exclusive invites to mall events.”

Last Month we got to make pizzas, and learn how to roll out dough with friends at Fuertes NY Pizza!

My kiddos love 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.

If you have a YMCA membership, check out their free programs for members. Our local Y has Open Gym three times a week, plus a mommy and me craft time for little kids, and lots of other fun programs that are included in our monthly dues. If you are interested in checking out the YMCA but are lacking funds, I encourage you to visit your local Y and ask about scholarships or financial aid.

I also find lots of local events and free fun stuff by checking the “Events You May Like” section on Facebook Events.

Talkback: I’d love to hear what kinds of free (or cheap) fun stuff your family does!

Recipe: Colonial Chowder

stemarie_1650sfortentrance.JPGMy mom found this recipe in a local paper years ago in a column called “Making it Light”. The basic gist of the weekly article was to take crazy fat and calorie laden recipes healthy.

The problem becomes that that a lot of the changes that are made are so super drastic that the food no longer resembles the original recipe.  Since both recipes are published within the article, my mom was able to combine parts of each recipe to make something tasty and healthier than the original. I don’t have a link or a photo of the article or the original recipe, since it’s been over 20 years.

Without Further Adieu…. Colonial Chowder

Ingredients:

  • 2 T. Butter
  • 4 slices of bacon, finely diced (or you can use 1/2 cup of pre-cooked bacon crumbles)
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 large yellow onions, diced
  • 4 ribs of celery, diced
  • 3 large carrots, diced
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 tsp. of each of the following: basil, oregano, thyme, sage
  •  Bay leaves (I usually use 2-3)
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1.5 cup frozen corn, or 1 can rinsed and drained salt free corn kernels
  • 1 can cream-style corn
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Directions:
  1. In a large stock pot, melt 1 T. butter, and cook bacon.
  2. Add chicken and cook chicken until no longer pink.
  3. Add onions, and cook until translucent (about 5 minutes)
  4. Add remaining carrots, celery, potatoes, and chicken broth. Cook over medium heat, until potatoes are soft.
  5. Add both types of corn, and milk. Cook over medium/low for about 20-30 minutes.
  6. Add Salt and pepper as needed. Serve with Cheddar biscuits.

This recipe serves 8-10, freezes well, and makes great leftovers!

This recipe is naturally gluten free. It cannot be made vegetarian/vegan.

Keepin’ Track of your stuff with Mabel’s Labels!

IMG_8445.jpgI received a free packet of labels, however all opinions of Mabel’s Labels are my own. If you click on the links in the post and make a purchase, I may be compensated- and that facilitates giveaways and the running of the blog!

While I was at Influential Summit over the weekend, I met with the nice folks at Mabel’s Labels. They gave each attendee a packet of their new Glitter Labels. LOVE IT! Fingers crossed, this will keep everyone’s mitts off my water bottle!

Henry has had Mabel’s Labels for his stuff for a few years. I really like them. I’m not a big fan of putting kids name on personal stuff where strangers can see it (I grew up in the days of after-school specials and heightened awareness of strangers), but I do recognize the need for labeling the stuff kids take to school.  I use Mabel’s Labels inside Henry’s backpack, and right under the loop on the outside. That way it is identifiable , but when he has it on, no one can see the labeling. I also use them on his lunch box, pencil case, and inside his shoes.  Mabel’s does make special shoe labels too!

Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 6.51.57 PM.pngWe opt for labels in his clothes too when we are out in crowded public places (like Disneyland, the zoo, county fair). Even though Henry is 6, he is autistic and has problems remembering my phone number, and he can get distracted in crowds, or fixated on one thing and want to go back to it and wander off.

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Yeah I am!

If pastels and glitter aren’t your thing, check this out- You can select other motifs and themes, and they have different fonts to suit your personality.

Right now, you can shop the new Glitter Labels – $26 for 45 Labels.

Mabel’s is always offering specials and deals, so if glitter labels aren’t your thing, check out their site and subscribe to their email blasts.

 

Two Freebies from Kroger Stores!

This week there are two freebies! One from Ralphs, and one from Food4Less (but you can grab both at Ralphs).

Ralphs: FREE EPIC Bar Receive ONE (1) FREE EPIC Bar, any variety (1.3-1.5 oz.). Available in most stores. Exp 02/11/2018

Food4LessFREE Laura Scudder’s Dry Dip Mix or Guacamole Seasoning Receive TWO (2) Laura Scudder’s Dry Dip Mixes, any variety, or Guacamole Seasoning (0.5 oz.) Exp 2/11/18

If you are new to Free Friday Downloads from Ralph’s, here is more info about how it works:

WHAT IS FREE FRIDAY DOWNLOAD? An exclusive benefit to having an account online at ralphs.com is FREE products (yes, we said FREE!). When you download the free product coupon, it will be loaded directly to your Shopper’s Card and applied at checkout in-store.

HOW DOES IT WORK? Visit this page on Fridays

DOWNLOAD the digital coupon for the free product (make sure to download between 12:01 am and 11:59pm PT). View the coupon under ‘My Coupons’ in your account online or in the mobile app.

You have two weeks to redeem this coupon in store! Pick up the product at your local Ralphs store and digital coupon will automatically apply at checkout.

Don’t forget to check out the Kroger affiliate in your area, if you don’t have a Ralphs. There are usually freebies for all of the stores!