July 28, 2015

10 Great Staycation Ideas For Families

Nothing makes me happier than going away, even if I've been there a hundred times. One time I went to Hawaii all by myself on four days notice. True story. I really love vacations. So when our vacation plans fell through a couple weeks ago, I was pretty bummed. Because I didn't want to completely give up on the "new and different", I figured I needed to challenge us to take a "staycation" that week instead which is something we've never done before.

I tried to plan our staycation the same way we normally had our vacations....intentional, relaxing, a few fun events, and time together as a family. I wanted to make sure we just didn't drift into lazing around the way we do when we have a couple of days at home with nowhere else to be.

In an effort to keep the vacation feel, I pulled together some fun and budget friendly ideas that can be tweaked to meet the needs of any family. Go bigger if you've got older kids or kids who thrive on new things. My guys have FASD which means one event per day max or they get completely overwhelmed and out of control for the rest of the day. Our version of the staycation plan was modest and simple but still fun. Stick to our version of you have little ones or kids with special needs.





1. Plan or Plant a Garden





We started our staycation with some gardening. I pulled weeds from the front bed (ok, the only garden bed) and they took turns throwing them in the composter. Once we had some space we spent sime time talking about different flowers and plant. From there we headed to the garden center to pick something of their very own. We decided before we got there (always make a plan!), that each fellow could pick 2 plants. Purple for Aiden (his favorite color) and pink for Liam. (I may have led him a little bit in that decision.)




We headed off to the nursery to find some flowers. The boys had a ball trying to use their walking feet, smelling all the flowers, and finally picking some plants to bring home. BONUS- There was some kind of charity hot dog stand on site that day. Lunch and an outing for the 3 of us came to around $20!

Once we got home, I dug holes and the boys took turn putting their plants in and watering. Occasionally they watered each other.

Bigger kids can be more involved with planning from drawing up a plan or even starting their own little gardens. Let them research different kinds of plants and help them draw and plan a garden bed.


2. Find Your Local Tourist Attractions


Source

Most people rarely visit the tourist attractions in their own towns and cities. Staycations are a great opportunity to do just that. I had to use Trip Advisor to figure out what the tourist attractions are in our area. You know. Because we've only lived here for 12 years and all. I think I just made my own point.

We skipped the big stuff (too big, too loud, too much for my guys) and went to Clovermead Farms. I can't believe we've never been here before. The boys had a great time seeing all the animals, learning about bees (and even holding one!), tasting all the honeys, and playing in the play areas. I pumped them up by letting them watch Bee Movie before we went. We had such a great time that I'm tempted to buy a summer pass.


Clovermead

Hit up Trip Advisor and search out activities in your own area.



3. Visit a Local Farmers Market



Source


Even if you grow some of your own food (I wish!), it's still fun to visit a farmer's market. We are blessed with an abundance of markets in this area. I took the boys to the on of the smaller farmers market in the middle of the week (less people) when strawberries were just coming to an end. We had a nice couple of hours buying a few things for dinner and talking about what we could make with all of the strawberries we bought. Which was a nice lead in to the next days adventure.



4. Chef For a Day





My boys are too young for a total day experience but we used the following day to get busy in the kitchen whipping up some strawberry recipes. We started with strawberry lemonade popsicles and moved on to make strawberry muffins. I probably should have stopped with the popsicles. If you look closely, you'll see they're starting to get manic and Aiden's popsicles are dribbling everywhere.




Sometimes I forget the "one thing a day" for FASD kids and wind up peeling the boys off of each other and the ceiling. I scrapped the rest of the cooking plans and turned them loose in the yard to run it off.

Older kids could use the time at the market to make menu plans for the next few days and come up with different ways to use all of the fresh in-season produce they've found. I know my kids are always a bit more adventurous with their willingness to try new foods if they had a hand in choosing and preparing the meal.


5.  Water Day


Florida 2015

Beach, river, water park, splash pad.... you get the idea. I had planned to take my guys to a local water park but their escalating behaviour the previous couple of days was a great clue that they wouldn't be able to cope. We filled the inflatable pool and dumped all the beach toys in and let them run wild. Bonus points if a boy can learn to pee standing up in the grass.


6. Go on a Picnic



Source

We often have a picnic lunch when we're at the beach. My guys love it. And why not? It's not like they have to do anything but show up. Older kids can get involved with the prep and packing and even helping to choose the location.

My guys were on overload (yes, again) the day we decided to have a picnic dinner. We went ahead with the plan but moved the location to the back yard. I had a hunch that anything public would have involved me chasing kids all over the place. Sitting isn't their strong point.


7. Backyard Camping



Source

I considered trying this with the boys but two things stopped us. I sold our tent earlier this year thinking we weren't going to use it with having the trailer and all. I did consider picking up a used one on Craigslist if the price was right but then I remembered that our yard slopes significantly and that wouldn't be ton of fun. But if you've got a tent and a relatively flat area in your yard, backyard camping is crazy fun. I did it as a kid and loved it! Get out the sleeping bags and flash lights and give it a shot.


8.  Local Festivals


Source


Summer is a great time for festivals and events. There's a festival of some sort almost every weekend within a hour of where we leave all summer long. We took ourselves to Sunfest for a couple of hours one afternoon and had a grand time wandering our way through the booths. We're really looking forward to Ribfest next weekend, too.



9. Movie Night



Source

We had more of a movie day, spending a rainy afternoon and early evening watching all things Shrek. That's what happens when you let a 3 year old pick the theme. I kid you not. Shrek, Shrek 2, Shrek 3, and Shrek Ever After. All in a row. I was lucky enough to spot some Shrek toys at the thrift store earlier in the week and that made our movie day complete. I'm pretty Shreked out to be honest and we totally blew the APA's recommendations around screen time but the boys loved it. We made "movie food" with some popcorn and other finger foods and skipped dinner completely. I loved having an excuse to do nothing but lounge on the sofa that day and I really appreciated that there was no after dinner clean up.

If the kids are older or not so close in age, let them each pick a movie and have it after dark. Bring in the props like tickets, popcorn boxes, and comfy seating with lots of pillows and blankets. Or go all out with a projector and an outdoor movie night.


Source



10. Spend a Night at a Hotel


Find an inexpensive hotel in town and check in for the day. Make sure there's a pool and a hot tub and the kids will have a blast.

Western Lamplighter


Eat in a nearby restaurant or order in room service. Bonus points if there's a free breakfast. In many places you can check out and still use the amenities until you're ready to go home. We actually did this with my girls years ago. The hotel staff were terrific about letting us stay around for a few hours after check out because we were locals.


Have you had a staycation? What sort of things did you get up to?


Sharing this great bloggers here and over at Serenity NowFinding Silver Pennies, Home Stories A to Z,  Cedarhill FarmhouseFluster BusterCoastal Charm, Bloom DesignsFrom My Front Porch to YoursPieced Pastimes, Tabler for Two, A Life In Balance, and Savvy Southern Style.

July 26, 2015

Inspired by You- Weekend Features #6


Hey, dolls! Welcome back to our weekend features. How was your week?

We had another busy week with social worker visits for the boys (they dumped their juice all over the floor 3 minutes before the workers arrived....that was awesome) and lots of sunshine and outdoor time.

I also managed to run into the inflatable kiddie pool with the lawnmower. In my attempt to look at the damage, I fell into the play house and damaged that as well. Apparently, I'm not only socially awkward but just regular awkward as well. And also blind since I don't know how I hit a giant blue pool in the first place.

Having said that, I went to Walmart this week to grab a new kiddie pool and I nearly cried to see the back to school stuff. Not that I have kids in school but what the ever loving heck? School doesn't start up here until after Labor Day. The upside is that the pool was half price.

We did make some homemade lemonade and five different variations which I shared earlier this week. The boys loved sampling all of our creations. Except the vodka version. That would just be wrong.




Enough about us. Time for our favorite posts of the week. Get comfy, visit these great bloggers, and make sure to Pin from the original source :)






Maybe we should take a minute to whip up this Blueberry Bourbon Smash from Lexi at Lexibites before we get started? She had me at Bourbon to be completely honest.





Y'all know I love me some outdoor spaces so I couldn't not share this Patio Makeover from Dinah at DIY Inspired. So many amazing DIY projects in one space.


DIY Inspired


I have  a fondness for fairy tales so when I saw these cute wood fairy tale signs by LZ at the Summery Umbrella, I had to share.


The Summery Umbrella


Mmmm....who loves a shrimp boil? Me and everyone else I know! Courtney at Sweet C's Designs shared her quick and easy recipe for such feast.


Sweet C's Designs


Speaking of food. Pot roast. Totally a favorite of ours and I loved this Italian Pot Roast Recipe I found this week from Sara at A Flavor Journal. Plus she told me to pour a glass of wine after dinner comes together to celebrate. Indeed.


A Flavor Journal



Who knew you could paint a purse? Oh. Amee at Love Laughter Forever After knew.






I have no idea who Shaun the Sheep is but I want to eat all of these adorable sheep marshmallows from Brett at This Mama Loves.


This Mama Loves


Stacie at Simply Stacie shared her great idea for Smores Pizza. Yummy!


Simply Stacie


Sherry at The Savvy Apron shared her thrift store end table transformation. You should see how it started out...you won't believe it was the same table.


The Savvy Apron


Another great furniture makeover from Amber at Averie Lane. Love the navy and the natural stain together.


Averie Lane

Pretty awesome stuff, no?






Are you interested in having your project featured on our weekend round up?  Email me or like us on Facebook and shoot me a message to let me know what you've been up to. 


Have an great week, folks!

Sharing this great bloggers here and over at Serenity NowFinding Silver Pennies, Home Stories A to Z,  Cedarhill FarmhouseFluster BusterCoastal Charm, Bloom DesignsFrom My Front Porch to YoursPieced Pastimes, Tabler for Two, A Life In Balance, and Savvy Southern Style.

July 22, 2015

The Best Lemonade - 5 Ways





Nothing says summer like lemonade. Fresh, sweet, and tangy, real lemonade is like summer in a glass. So quick and easy and totally worth the squeezing of a few lemons. No fake concentrated stuff around here.

Sometimes I care about what's in my food. And I like being able to control the sugar. Not that I'm going to. But still.

This is seriously the best lemonade recipe I've tried and we've been using it for years now.

And just to keep things fun we like to tweak this recipe from time to time. Lemonade is flexible like that. Add some fruit...easy, peasy. Add some vodka...happy, happy.





1 cup of Sugar, 6 cups of water, and the juice of 6 lemons.

That's all it really takes for great lemonade or a base for different variations.




Take 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water and heat in a small saucepan until the sugar dissolves. It's not really necessary to bring the mixture to a boil like some recipes call for.




I know some people that don't bother with the syrup making and the lemonade tastes just fine if you want to add the sugar directly to the liquid. But I'm old fashioned and I think heating it makes the sugar dissolve better.





Now go squeeze the ever loving heck out of 6 lemons. I bought a nifty new citrus juicer and it makes life a whole lot easier. Well, not life. But fruit squeezing for sure. Strain if you don't like the pulp (That would be me.)




Add the juice, the syrup and 5 more cups of cold water to a pretty pitcher. Bam! You've got yourself some lemonade.




And now for something a little fun....

PINK LEMONADE

Add a dash of grenadine until the lemonade is a pretty shade of pink.





Nothing pink ever tastes bad. Oh. Except that one time there were pink oreos. Those were ick. But pink lemonade is yummy pinkness at its best.


Source


BLUEBERRY LEMONADE

I usually have blueberry syrup in the fridge for pancakes (not a maple lover!) and it's pretty fine added to lemonade, as well. I love this one from Loblaw's.



Chungah from Damn Delicious has a great and simple recipe to make blueberry lemonade from scratch.

Damn Delicious


STRAWBERRY LEMONADE

Blend up a handful of berries with a quarter cup or so of water until the berries turn into mushy juice. Add to lemonade. If you like sweet (guilty), add a bit more sugar to the pitcher to counter the tartness of the berries.


Source


GROWN UP STRAWBERRY LEMONADE

Add some strawberry vodka to the lemonade over ice. Or plain vodka or vanilla vodka or cake vodka. See where I'm going here? Add it straight up or check out this frozen cocktail of a  recipe over at Live Love Pasta. Much yum. Many happy.

Aaaaand... the sound of children screaming no longer bothers me.


Live Love Pasta


TIPS

  • If you make some ice cubes from the lemonade or fill the infuser of your pitcher with it, the lemonade stays cold and doesn't get all diluted when the ice melts. Which is why I usually make a double batch. 
  • Roll those lemons on the counter or pop them in the microwave for 30 seconds to soften them. Your squeezing hand will thank you.
  • Lemons should be at room temp before squeezing. They're easier to squeeze and give off more juice that way. 
  • The louder and crankier the children, the more generous one should be with the vodka.


What's your favorite lemonade?


Sharing this great bloggers here and over at Serenity NowFinding Silver Pennies, Home Stories A to Z,  Cedarhill FarmhouseFluster BusterCoastal Charm, Bloom DesignsFrom My Front Porch to YoursPieced Pastimes, Tabler for Two, A Life In Balance, and Savvy Southern Style.

July 19, 2015

Inspired by You- Weekend Features #5


Welcome back to another weekend of inspiring blogger projects.


We had a mini staycation after our vacation plans fell through and did some fun activities with the boys throughout the week. Look for some staycation ideas on here in the next couple of weeks.

This week I worked on trying to update the blog which included adding a post about our favorite paint colors. I'll keep adding to the post as we continue to paint and re-purpose things around the house.


Favorite paint colors

I also shared a bit about FASD since my two little fellows have both been diagnosed with this form of permanent brain damage caused by their birth mother drinking alcohol while pregnant.

FASD Info


On to our weekend features!





I'm on a bread baking kick right now so this recipe for Bacon Gruyere Cheese Bread from Savannah at Midwest Modern Momma caught my eye and made me drool a little.

Midwest Modern Momma


Jenna from The Painted Apron gives a great tutorial on how to paint a crab. I can't paint anything except furniture so I'm definitely giving this a shot. Plus, I heart anything nautical.


The Painted Apron


Fluffernutter dip? Are you kidding me? Umm....Yes, please! Thank Dana from This Silly Girl's Life for this amazing creation!


This Silly Girl's Life


Emily has an amazing furniture makeover that will blow your mind! She is so talented and creative!



My So Called DIY Blog


Leeanne took an old outdated dresser and turned it into a bed for a small dog. I bet even our high maintenance Daisy would sleep happily in there.


Diva of DIY


And more about dogs...Kelly at Live, Laugh, Rowe shared the sweetest post about potty training her sweet little dog (who looks just like Daisy) to ring a bell to go outside. I'm dying from the cuteness and good advice of it all.


Live Laugh Rowe


A Worthey Read shared a great recipe for Blackberry Crush that I'm looking forward to sipping on. They have a terrific blog, sharing great ideas (and yummy cocktails) but also their story of having twins with Autism. As someone raising two little guys with special needs, I was pretty inspired to read their story and articles.





Christine at Must Love Home shared an easy recipe for corn on the cob with Parmesan Chive Butter. Corn, butter, cheese. Enough said.


Must Love Home


I don't know what honey brandy is but I'm going out today to get some for this Tropical Rum Punch concoction!


Ann's Entitled Life


Shelly from 100 Things 2 Do brought this gorgeous antique dresser back to life.





Don't for get to share the love and and pin from the original site :)

Are you interested in having your work shared on one of our upcoming features posts? I heart new bloggers and your pics don't need to be magazine perfect for us to feature. Like us on Facebook, and invite us over. It's a great chance to make new friends and get your hard work seen by others.







Sharing this great bloggers here and over at Serenity NowFinding Silver Pennies, Home Stories A to Z,  Cedarhill FarmhouseFluster BusterCoastal Charm, Bloom DesignsFrom My Front Porch to YoursPieced Pastimes, Tabler for Two, A Life In Balance, Thoughts From Alice and Savvy Southern Style.