Thursday, June 30, 2011

Camping with Kids TIP 6 LUNCH & SNACKS


These are one and the same when we are camping simply because we spend most of our lunch and snack times on the beach so we bring them with us. 

Several years ago I bought a picninc basket at Target.  It looked like a basket but it was actually weaved with plastic.  This has been a fabulous thing to take camping and to the beach because you can just spray it down and then to keep things cold we have a cooler on wheels. 

Our list of lunch and snack items are:

fruit bars(like nutri grain bars)
pb crackers
granola bars
cheese sticks
babel cheese
laughing cow cheese wedges
triscuits or other whole grain crackers
prepackaged fruit cups(then you can use the cups to dip in the sand)
real fruit strips(Archer Farms at Target)
popcorn-I will talk about how I make this later in treats
trail mix*recipe below
water bottles

I like that everything is wrapped individually because sand gets everywhere and this way things are protected.  Again this is simple with no cleanup and you are having fun in the sun!!!  Enjoy the trail mix recipe below and think of simple lunches and snacks until tomorrow BYE!!!

*Trail Mix
If you follow my blog you know we have trail mix available all the time and when we are camping it is no different except it is not a mish mash of items it is very deliberate.  This is the only food item I prepare ahead of time for camping and I make 6-1-2 gallon bags of it to last the whole week so it is a whole lot of trail mix

3lbs of Almonds
3lbs of Dries Cherries
Large box of cheerios
2 bags of small sized pretzels

These amounts are approximates becasue I just keep making batches until the bags are full.

**tip do not add anything chocolate to your trail melts in the sun!


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Camping with Kids TIP 5 BREAKFAST

Now to the fun the actual food.  When we camp breakfast is simple remember tip 1 is simplify.  We buy granola bars, pb crackers, poptarts, and instant oatmeal(this even can come were you can just add the water to the pouch).  We let the kids pick if they want and apple or banana(I keep these in a bowl on the middle of the picnic table) with it.  Gogurts are often found in the cooler.  Yes not all of those options are healthy but it is only for a week and they are healthy enough and they are simple options.  We do however do 1 or 2 more time consuming breakfasts and they are soooo fun.

1.  Breakfast in a Bag.  The children love this and you can find the how to here

2. Omelets in a Bag     This also is fun to do with the kids.  We make this into a science lesson too. We ask them ?'s like What do you think will happen to the eggs when we drop them in the water?  Why do we need to makes sure the bag is sealed tight?  What would happen if it wasn't?  For the recipe go here

Remember keep it simple, try to make it healthy and don't fret if it isn't and remember this week is about fun!!! 

Tomorrows Tip Lunch and Snacks!!!  Until then come up with some fun and simple breakfasts!!!


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Camping with Kids TIP 4 MEALS


One of the fun things about camping is the food.  This is my favorite camping cookbook.  It has so many different methods of cooking to try that it is just a gem when you are camping with children.


I meal plan ahead but I shop in the town where I camp and couple times in the week.  I do this for a couple of reasons.  1.  I don't want to have to constantly worry about if the food is going bad and  2. I don't like to deal with ice all the time so we invested in this baby:


I love this cooler.  It plugs into the back of our van with a car adapter that comes with it.  It also can plug into a regular outlet.  We use it for road trips too.  This is the only thing we plug in when we camp and it is has been well worth it because we no longer spend $30-45+ in ice for a week of camping or any other time we would usually use a cooler.  It paid for itself in 2 summers. *we found it at WalMart

  Keep in mind TIP 1 SIMPLIFY.  This is not a time to have gourmet meals.  You are on vacation and it is a time to enjoy your time with your children and not washing a ton of dishes and slaving over a stove.  Come up with a meal plan that is simple and easy.  Start thinking of ways not to use pans or dishes. Think of things that can be stored in bins and not be refrigerated  In my next 3 tips we are going to talk about Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.
So start thinking about simple meals..think out of the box!


Monday, June 27, 2011

Camping with Kids- TIP 1, 2, and 3

I love to camp and I love the beach!!!!  After our trip to California we will be coming back and leaving a few short days later for camping, which makes me so excited!  I love everything about it!!!  We live in MI and are fortunate enough to be able to camp near one of the great lakes so I get to do 2 things I love at once..we spend the days at the beach and mornings and evenings at our campsite.

Since my husband and I have been married we have camped even with babies(and can I say we had 4 children by the time we were married 3 years and 8 months) and in our almost ten years of camping with children we have always had the most fun time. 

I want to share some tips with you to make your camping experience as fun as ours!


Keep it Simple!!!  As I talk about camping with children this is the #1 thing to remember...Simplify, Simplify, Simplify!!!


Try to stick with your at home schedule as much as possible..yes you are going to have some late nights camping, but if your children take naps at home then you need to make time for them when you are camping too!


Since the first 2 are obvious at least to me the 3rd one is a little more ingenuitve.  I have a camping shelf, now you could use a bin kor whatever works for you.  This shelf/bin is used all year to collect clothes.  Clothes with stains that won't come out, pants with holes in the knees, clothes that are just plain worn is these clothes I use when I pack to go camping.  I cut pants into cutoffs and I make as many outfits as I can for them to take camping.  This way I don't worry about them getting dirty...if my children want to tromp down a muddy creek go for it, if they want to draw with stick sin the dirt they can....becasue guess what I don't care if their clothes get dirty or not.  It takes a lot of stress off when you don't care about whether they are getting dirty or not, and this might sound horrible those clothes never come home with me.  They happily make there way to the dumpster and guess what that means no laundry when you get home except towels and bathing suits and your clothes becasue typically I don't have very many clothes ont he camping shelf.  I don't even wash the sleeping bags I do that before we go camping so I can sleep in freshly cleaned sleeping bag not stored for the better part of the year sleeping bag. 

Tomorrow's Tip is going to be about Meals!!!


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Altoid Tins for Trips

"We are leaving on a jet plane"(but these would be great to throw into a diaper bag or purse as well to occupy your children when waiting is involved) and with children this means having activities for them to do and be able to access on their own. Since we have traveled with them before keeping everything easy to find and somewhat contained is a must. I have had these altoids containers saved for some and have debated what to do with them.


First I cut paper to fit the top of the containers and then trimmed the corners with a corner punch.


Typed up items names on the computer that were going into the container on coordinating paper, printed, and trimmed the paper and attached the paper with words to the first paper with double sided tape and then attached it with double sided tape to the altoid container.

They look like this when finished :

We found squinkies fit perfect and for ear popping gum of course but for those of us who do not like gum here is a little tip that works perfectly: starbursts

and they have boy Squinkies now too!!!

The other items you could add to these are polly pockets, a deck of cards, math dice or any dice game, dinosaurs, army men..have funthe possibilities are endless!!!


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Great "POP"

I found the tags somewhere in the blogashpere and when I went to back track and find the blog that had them I couldn't but I did have the link to them here.  I printed the tags out from my computer and cut them out.  Using double sided tape I adhered them to the bags:

I then filled the bags with a bunch of "pop"


These are great little Fathers day gifts for brothers, uncles, brother in laws etc!!!


For the Dad that has everything...

this has been one of the favorite giifts given every year because we eat a lot of popcorn at the lake.

I just added a very large bag topper(poster board folded in half) to the top of a 50lb bag of popcorn!!!



Have you noticed:

      I have been MIA lately, well it has been a bit of crazy around here and I will tell you that trend is probably going to continue.  We leave on the 25th for CA for a week(we are from MI so it is a trip) ...Disneyland, Legoland, Sealife and San Diego Wildlife Park here we come!!!  We come back on the 2nd and leave on the 3rd for an overnight trip and come back on the 4th late.  Then it is time to get ready for our next adventure: camping for a week, we leave on July 9th and return home the 16th.  Take a breath(I am saying that to myself)  that was all part of the plan because our oldest son has youth conference this weekend and my husband has a business trip starting July 23rd for the week and then High School sports start Aug 1st.  This left us little time to go on vacation and so 2 trips virtually on top of eachother was a must and now on to why it has been a bit of crazy around here and why it is going to continue is we are:


This was not part of our plan this summer but here we are.  Heavenly Father works in miraculous ways sometimes and this is one of those times.  If you note the schedule above we close on the house July 20th!!!  Thus the crazy and the deep breathes.  It is going to be a great thing but the timing of it all is a bit stressful to be honest .  Luck for us we are in a position were we can buy, move, and then sell our current home which I am trying to refer to more and more of as the house.  So this is why I have been MIA and soon I will have new home projects to share and old home ones too!!!


"Organizing Summer"

Okay we took the first week of summer vacation and we did nothing but chillax and now to keep me sane and my children happy we spent yesterday organizing our summer. I want to start off by asking a question:  How often during the summer do we become so overwhelmed with whinning fighting children..I know I have already in this 1st chillaxing week.  My next question is:  Why?   It sounds silly to organize summer.  Isn't this a time to be free of a schedule?  Why yes it is but do we(children included) not all function better having a schedule?  The answer is a resounding YES!!! So as silly as it sounds we "scheduled summer" and here is how we did it:

     First consider who you are writing the schedule for. If you have a child that needs some time to themselves each day plan it in or a child who loves to create schedule it. Go with the natural flow of your family life if not a schedule will never work.

     Second sit down with your children.  This step is crucial and it takes some time and a lot needs to be accomplished during this time.  If this idea makes your skin crawl do it individually in normal conversations over a week find out what your children want to do this summer and then bring them altogether, this way you come to the table with a really good idea about what each child wants to do and can remind maybe your quieter children the things they had talked about when your more opinionated ones are doing all the talking at the sit down meeting.   You will be surprised by their answers believe me.  Not once was mentioned tv or huge expensive trips it was the simple things like walks to the park, some time for school work each day, reading a book together.  Decide on a time that your day will start   Some of my children wake up at 6 all summer some of them take the oppurtunity to sleep in during the summer so we decided that we would compromise and all be up with our morning lists completed by 9 am(this includes being dressed and have eaten breakfast). 

     Third now that you have done the first 2 steps it is down to the nitty gritty making the schedule.   Take a piece of paper and write your starting time at the top and your ending time at the bottom and every hour in between. This does not need to be cute just jot it down..make it cute later if you need it too.  I do it by the hour because it gives us time to transistion to the next thing and cleanup if needed.  Take your list from the children and start programming them in to your timeline.  Find the natural flow for your family for example we have rest time after lunch and school time first thing.

     Fourth on the right side of the paper write down the things that don't happen everyday like gardening class, park days, library storytime, the day the farmers market is open.  On these days that are different just go to them at that time in your schedule and so who cares if you skip school time one day because you went to gardening class which leads me to the fifth thing:

    Fifth realize this is just a guidline for your day.  If they are having fun painting and time is up let them paint they are having fun or if you are playing a game and it is not going well stop playing and move onto something else or if it raining and you have take a walk outside maybe pop some popcorn and watch a movie.

The last thing I can say is enjoy your children and I have found the "scheduling summer" has made that a possibility!!!   


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Ice Cream Pies

I am not one to follow a recipe but I do read cookbooks..
yes I am weird that way and it can come in handy sometimes with fabulous rewards.

The Ice Cream Pie Story   

I needed to bring dessert to my sons preschool graduation and well I forgot until the children bounded in from school at 3:45 and we needed to be at the graduation at 530 AHHHH..panic set in so we ran to the store with me throwing ingredients into the cart as fast as the 4 of us could go ran home did the paper route and made these :(I wish I would have thought of taking pictures of them before they were cut into but it wasn't until the rave reviews started coming in that I thought I should share them) 

Reese's Pie 

You Need:
Chocolate cookie crumb pie shell
Fudge swirl ice cream
½ tub of cool whip thawed
Peanut butter
10 reeses peanutbutter cups
Movie size package of reeses pieces
Chocolate syrup

To Make:
Thaw ice cream until soft and then scoop until desired amount into pie shell.
Crush peanutbutter cups-I used pastry blender andput on top of ice cream
Drizzle chocolate syrup on top and place in freezer
Take thawed CoolWhip and add some peanutbutter and whip with a whisk add to top of pie drizzle with chocolate syrup and sprinkle with Reeses Pieces

Place  back in the freezer until ready to serve

Kids Koncoction
You Need:
Chocolate Cookie Crumb Crust
Fudge Swirl icecream
chocolate syrup
1/2 large tub ofCool Whip
Mini M&M's
Mini Marshmallows

To Make:
Thaw ice cream until soft and then scoop until desired amount into pie shell.
Sprinkle marshmallows and drizzle with chocolate syrup.
Top with Cool Whip sprinkel with M&M's and marshmallows drizzle with chocloate syrup.
Place in Freezer until you are ready to serve.

Orange Creamsicle

You Need:
Graham Cracker Crust
orange vanilla swirl ice cream
Cool Whip
An Orange

To Make:
Thaw ice cream until soft and then scoop until desired amount into pie shell.
Place in Freezer
Cut orange in half and squeeze juice into bowl add half container of coolwhip and grate some orange peel whisk together.
Top pie with orange Cool whip mixture and top with grated orange peel.

Oh So Berry

You Need:
Graham Cracker Crust
Vanilla Ice Cream
Asst Berries washed and cut if needed
Almond extract
1/2 tub large cool whip

To Make:

Thaw ice cream until soft and then scoop until desired amount into pie shell.
Top with berries and place in freezer
Crush a hand full of raspberries(I was in a hurry and used my hands) add 1/2 container of cool whip and some almond extract and whisk together.  Top pie with cool whip mixture and place some berries on top.

*This for me was a fast and furious process.  I put all the ice cream in the shells with the bottom layer ingredients and then put them in the freezeer then I made all the cool whip toppings and added those.  So the length of time they were in the freezer varied and as you can see in the picture the berry one I made last and it melted right away. So I would say the amount of time for them to be in the freezer is at least 30 minutes for each step they go into the freezer.


Road Trip Gift

Do you know someone who is driving thousands of miles with children? 

Our good friends are and so I put these water bottles together for them with ribbon and a tag(I also wrote their childrens names on with permanent marker)!!!

We are also using these same bottles for the children to decorate for their end of the year parties.



Thursday, June 2, 2011

Occupy Their Time-They CAN Do It

Below I posted about actvity bags for the kids and now their home is complete. I have a book shelf right near our kitchen and I had these great black boxes that I bought years ago to fit on these shelves(I have 4 other book shelves just like this one)and I had 2 boxes on each book shelf. Stealing a shelf from one of the other book shelves, bringing all the boxes together and adding the numbers did the trick. They each have a number and then there are other activities they love to do in the remaining boxes.  While I make dinner they get to choose a box to keep them occupied(and out of mischief) while I am occupied! 

These have been a big hit and they even want to get into them at other times during the day and they really do keep them occupied for long periods of time through the day!