10 Free Things To Do This Summer

photo credit: Smoke Trails via photopin (license)

It’s summer and everyone is ready to get out of the house and have some fun. Today’s post is 10 ways to have a great time without spending a penny, a win win.

  1. Story time at Barnes and Noble– Sit and listen to a story this summer. We love to go to Barnes and Noble and listen to stories once a week, and afterward we work on a craft or coloring. It’s totally free, unless Mom or Dad takes a trip to the in store Starbucks.
  2. Check out the library – Following up on story time, libraries offer story times, movies, and other great programs or activities during the week.
  3. Museum passes – If your library offers museum passes, take advantage! These are fabulous. Our library gives us access to two Children’s Museums and many others in our area. We can take up to 6 people with each pass! Visit your local library to find out more.
  4. Visit a farmer’s market – A great place to see and learn about colorful produce and flowers.
  5. Summer festivals – If it’s a summer staple, there is a festival for it! We went to a Red, White, and Blueberry Festival with blueberries as far as the eye can see.
  6. Fourth of July Fireworks – A must for the summer, pack a blanket and snacks.
  7. Be a hometown tourist – Take a fresh look at your hometown. What sights would you like to see if you were visiting for the first time?  Historical sites are often public places or parks and no cost.
  8. Take a nature hike – My daughter, Lillie, is amazed by the sights and sounds in the park when we go on the trails, she points to trees, flowers, and squirrels. Take time to look at the surroundings, or use a bird watching app, like this one from Cornell University.
  9. Movie night – Invite friends over, make popcorn, and watch a favorite movie. After all, no school in the morning.
  10. Visit a farm – During the week, we have a farm that is open to visitors for free (on the weekend you pay a small entry fee). We visit the farm stand, say hi to the goats and horses, and see apples growing on the trees.

Bonus ideas (not free but still fun!)

  1. The Philadelphia Art Museum offers a pay what you wish day twice a month. This is a chance for families to visit the museum without spending the $20 per adult and $14 per youth admission rates. Check to see if your museum does the same thing! Great for big families with older kids. Now cue the Rocky theme song.
  2. Visit a kids gym for open play, some offer free time for $5. It’s much cheaper than membership costs.
  3. Pack a picnic – pack up lunch and a big blanket and head to the backyard or a park.
  4. Put on a play or create a movie. With iPhones and iPads everyone can make a movie at home.

Save the cash for vacation and enjoy each day of summer!

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5 Lunch Ideas Under 400 Calories

photo credit: Thomas Hawk via photopin cc

photo credit: Thomas Hawk via photopin cc

Looking for healthy lunch options under 400 calories? Here they are!  The calorie counts for these 5 lunches are for specific brands, be sure to look at the packaging for the food you are preparing. Personally, I do not count vegetables, if you want to, add them but the amounts wouldn’t be too much.
Some of these ideas work best when you cook ingredients the night before, assemble and are ready to heat for lunch.

Stir-fry – 366 Calories

  • Steamed vegetables – Free
  • Trader Joe’s Baked Tofu – 150 Calories
  • 1 Cup Brown Rice – 216 Calories

Veggie Burger & Baked Potato – 360 Calories

  • Garden Burger – 100 Calories
  • Arnold’s Whole Wheat Sandwich Thins – 100 Calories
  • Spinach – Free
  • Condiments – 50 Calories
  • Baked Potato – 110 Calories
  • Salsa – 50 Calories

Soup and Salad – 300 Calories

  • 2 Cups Lentil Soup – 200 Calories
  • 2 Cups Mixed Greens with Veggies – Free
  • 1 Tablespoon Italian Salad Dressing – 50 Calories
  • Croutons – 50

PB&J and Apple – 372 Calories

  • 2 Slices Ezekiel Bread – 160 Calories
  • 1 Tablespoon Natural Peanut Butter – 90 Calories
  • 1 Tablespoon raspberry jam – 50 Calories
  • Medium Red Apple – 72 Calories

Veggie Stuffed Pita – 320 Calories

  • Arnold’s Whole Wheat Pita – 200 Calories
  • Lettuce, Cucumber, Shredded Carrots, Sprouts – Free
  • 2 Tablespoons Hummus – 50 Calories
  • 1/4 Cup Chickpeas – 70 Calories

Do you think you’ll make any of these lunches?  Share your feed back in the comments below.


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How to Easily Add Greens To Your Diet

How to Add Greens To Your Diet

Greens are a super food, full of nutrients and fiber. Getting enough greens can be difficult but there are sneaky ways to get them in. Here are a few tips to help you get them into your diet.

One way I like to incorporate spinach is with pasta. You can do this by boiling your pasta as directed and, in the last minute, toss two big handfuls of spinach into the boiling water. When you drain the pasta the spinach will be mixed in already. You’ll be surprised how it cooks down. This way you can get two cups of spinach into your meal without really noticing. You can top with sauce as usual. Adding fresh basil will help add flavor as well.

Another way to get spinach into your diet is with green smoothies. You can read about how to make them in my post here. Don’t let the green color turn you away. You don’t taste the spinach but your body will get all of the good stuff.

Add greens to an omelet. A great way to get vegetables in at breakfast time is to make an omelet with veggies. Saute mushrooms, onions, peppers, spinach, broccoli, whatever vegetable you like until they are lightly cooked and place in the middle of your omelet with your cheese.

Mix spinach in with rice. Similar to the pasta idea, add spinach to cooked rice. The steam from the hot rice will wilt the spinach. Use vegetable broth to cook the rice and add your favorite seasonings.

Mix dark greens in with your salad and try to eat a salad with dinner everyday. Make it your mission to mix up the toppings and dressings. Keep your salad options fresh and it won’t be a chore to eat them.

What are your favorite ways to add greens to your diet? I’d love to hear your tips and suggestions.

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Tackle The Junk… Tips From A Reformed “Hoarder”

Tips to tackle the junk

I think I spent my childhood and teen years preparing for an audition for the TV show Hoarders… I saved EVERYTHING. Why? I’m not sure, I think I was trying to hold onto things as if I got rid of it it would disappear from my life. Control freak much? One year, there was a tearful garage sale when I discovered that my precious My Little Ponies were on the table for sale. It was not pretty. While I am much better at letting go of my things, it is still a struggle. Can you relate?

This past weekend I cleaned my closet. I love clothes, purses, and shoes so my closet can get a bit hectic. Pair that with bags and boxes of VHS tapes, burned CDs, art supplies, miscellaneous computer cables, art projects, and cards from loved ones, I had/have a big collection.

How do I get past my need to save everything?

  1. Recognize that you are not your stuff – Things are tangible representations the fun we had at a concert or on vacation. The ticket stub is just a piece of paper. Pictures can be preserved but best in an album, scrapbook, or on your computer (with a back up in a safe place). I know I don’t look at photos when they are in an unorganized box. You are not your stuff, it’s ok to let it go.
  2. Someone else can use it – Really. Donate old clothes so someone else can wear them, donate work and dress clothes to Dress for Success. An organization that provides professional attire for disadvantaged women. Set up a yard sale with neighbors or join eBay. Big items such as furniture can be sold on craig’s list or donated to Good Will. I find it much easier to part with something when I know that someone else can put it to good use. That makes me happy.
  3. Organize it – If you have stuff, organize it. When you get like things side by side you can prioritize what to keep. If you have 3 white sweaters, look at them together and try them on at the same time. Now you can decide what to keep and what to donate. Keep what looks great on you and nothing less. The only exception is if it is a functional item which serves a real purpose. A thick, heavy sweater for a cold blustery day is good to keep on hand. I know I really only need one of these.
  4. Scrapbook it – My girlfriend, Amanda, is a scrapbooking queen, I’m jealous of her dedication to it. She puts all of her pictures and memories in a book together. Having it all in one place helps to relive the memories. If you have all of your memories in one place, all of the extra stuff isn’t necessary.
  5. Stop it before it starts – The best junk to get rid of is the junk you don’t take home. A few years ago I made a resolution to only collect Christmas ornaments as vacation souvenirs. They’re small, and seasonal. So far it’s working. I try not to take papers or books from concerts and shows. I try to only buy clothes that I really like, fit me well, and look to be durable. Big sales are great but if I buy something I do not love, it will not be worn. And then I’m just wasting money.

Do any of these tips help you feel better about getting rid of things in your closet? Here’s one last tip if parting ways with your beloved stuff is too much to bear.

  • Make a Transition Box – Sort out the things you want to keep but haven’t used in a while. If you feel that you must keep this stuff but don’t have a need now for it, commit to putting it in a box for 6 months to 1 year. If you need it, take it out to use it but if you do not need or use the items in your box within your specified time period, you take that box and give it to Good Will. Say goodbye to the stuff and hope it has a long happy life with its new owners who can use it.

Does that help? It helps subside the anxious feeling I get when I think about parting with things. I know that if I don’t use it by the time the next season rolls around I probably won’t use it. And if I do want to keep it, I will find a way to use it.

Do you have a hard time parting with your things? Please share your tips below. I’d love to hear your ideas. Check back on Thursday when I share the process I went through when cleaning out my closet. I find that having a system is so so helpful.

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3 Apps You Should Try Today

Make your phone work for you! Try these three apps to make your life a little easier.

Headspace (on-the-go): Clear your head with this app, learn how to meditate with these daily meditation sessions. Carve out 10 minutes of your day for mental peace. I love listening to this on the train. Bonus: It’s also very pretty.

Viggle: Earn points and rewards for watching your favorite shows!

Charity Miles: I wrote about this awesome app before but it deserves repeating. Get off of the couch, get healthy, and raise money for your favorite charity. Nothing makes you go the extra mile like helping those in need!


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