Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Glass Dharma Green Review

Have you heard of Glass Dharma Straws?  I read a post by Beth Terry from Fake Plastic Fish about this glass straw and I was so intrigued.  Glass straw?  What an ingenious idea!   You are looking at my glass of home grown mint tea and my new beautiful Dharma Straw. Just look at this thing. You can see the quality in this glass.

Since I heard about these amazing glass straws, its been making me think. I mean really, how many straws do you come in contact each day? They are at fast food joints, events, and any restaurants you go to. They literally are everywhere. And you may think its just one small plastic straw but let me tell you. These small things add up fast. And lets not forget the paper that these are packaged in. Just think of all the tree's being cut down to wrap these up in. If this doesn't get the picture in your head maybe this quote will.  David Leonhardt the creater of glass dharma brings up some interesting information.

-As of March 2008, McDonald’s serves an average of 52 million meals PER DAY!  (Per their website) How many of those served do you think were given a plastic straw?  I hope it is becoming obvious just how big of a problem these pesky little plastic straws can be.  Remember, this is just from McDonalds!!  Get the picture??

You can read much more info in their "about us" tab. The best part was the price of these beautiful things. From $6.50-$8.50 per straw they will not break your wallet.

Several months ago I inquired to Glass Dharma about maybe doing a review on these beautiful straws but never heard back. Then one day I checked my email and screamed like a little school girl when I saw it was from Glass Dharma. This truly is one of my favorite green reviews so far. It was like Christmas in June! We were leaving for a 10 day trip and I really wanted to bring these with us to try out. Within 5 days I had the package in my hands. They really don't mess around! Cardboard box and straws. That was all that was there. No crazy plastic wrap or Styrofoam peanuts. Just the box and the straws packaged in their little paper package. That means they were mailed to me and survived who knows how many drops or mishandling's. They were all in pristine condition which tells you how durable they truly are. Here are some interesting facts I found on their site.

Plain and simple, here’s how and why they work:
  • Glass straws don’t leach toxins into your food as you drink.
  • Each time you use your glass straw equals one less plastic straw ending up in your landfill.
  • One glass straw replaces thousands of plastic straws. (How many times will you use a straw the rest of your life?)
  • Using your glass drinking straw adds a feeling of beauty to your day.
GlassDharma glass drinking straws are:
  • Made of borosilicate tubing and is the strongest glass commercially available.
    Means that they have spared no expense in bringing you the strongest, most durable drinking straw possible.
  • Annealed to Corning, Inc. specifications (a process that strengthens the glass).
    So you can have confidence you are purchasing the highest quality glass straws available.
  • Made of glass which does not leach ANY TOXINS into your food.
    So you can use your non-toxic straws with confidence.
  • Created with the beauty and elegance that only glass can give.
    You’ll feel like royalty – with a touch of ‘glass’.
  • A great environmental addition to your kitchenware.
    Great for hot or cold drinks, microwave and dishwasher safe!!
  • Are fully backed by their Satisfaction Guarantee.If they don’t meetyour expectations, return for a full refund.
My Green Review

So my plan was to use them while we were on vacation but honestly we never ended up using them. I really did think we would use them more while away from our home but no. To my surprise we use them more at home. My kids just love the idea that they get to use glass straws. They feel like big girls when they use them and I have to say they look pretty cute too. We have never bought or even used straws in our home because of the fact that they were plastic. Now that we have these, they can use them anytime they want and they love it. I have hand washed and dish washed these and either way they come out beautifully cleaned.  My children have dropped them several times and nothing has happened. No cracking or breaking at all. They truly are made very well.  My favorite part of having these are the little cleaning brushes that come with the straws. They make my life easy when it comes to cleaning them. 
So would I give this product my approval?  Yes! I think this company is amazing, the products are top notch quality and would even give these as gifts. They are not only functional but amazing beautiful little pieces of art.  
Just think of how many plastic straws this could replace. How many times you go through the drive through and get a soda. How many drinks you have while your eating out? How many straws do you come across in an average day or week? Those plastic straws add up!

What about you? What do you do to reduce your plastic habit? 
How do you get around not using plastic straws?
Anyone own any Glass Dharma Straws? Share your experience with it!

For those who do not own one, what would you think of a $25 dollar gift card giveaway? Oops did I mention that? Shhhhh don't tell anyone I slipped that.  Maybe in a few weeks I can throw together a giveaway....Keep reading my blog to find out when! 

Note: I was not paid for this giveaway. I contacted Glass Dharma and asked if I could be sent samples so I could review them. These are my opinions and I was not paid for them.  Again I make no profit from my blog and do this in my spare time. Bringing attention to green products is my goal. 

Friday, July 23, 2010

Holy cow bat man! I suck!

I just realized I have not blogged in almost a week. My mind has been else where and Ive been so busy with way too many things. This summer has just flown by for us. From putting in our support wall, putting up our fence, doing yard work, taking our girls to and from soccer practice, not to mention the tournaments we've had over the last 3 weekends, oh and then we have to squeeze everyday life into that as well. I'm telling you, its just been crazy for us. So basically I just wanted to say sorry and I suck.

Most people who know me think that i'm cool as a cucumber but I have a little secret to tell you. I'm a stressful driver. No i'm serious. Its not good. Ive been driving for about 13 years now and up until about 2 years ago I've had a clean record. I'm thinking its just luck. So far in the last 2 1/2 years I've managed to get 2 speeding tickets, 1 running a stop sign (which I didn't and fought it) and now I can add bumping a Jeep to it. I was going so slow that I didn't even know I bumped her. Literally. Anyways to make a long story short I won't be driving unless I have to. I will be using these two feet attached to my body to get around.  Only trips to and from soccer practice will be driven. I'm not happy about having to pay for a new hood and head light but it was an eye opener. Basically I suck at driving and all in all its a good thing. Less driving means less gas used, less damage to the air and means its a good thing all around.

I'm not perfect and I make mistakes. Really really bad ones....Which gets me thinking. What is your weakness? Do you have a secret? Lets swap stories and have fun with it.

Oh and don't forget to check out Surviving and thriving on Facebook. There you will find the latest freebies, great reads, recipe's and much more.

This might help me de-stress?

Maybe I need a plan?

Oohh this is what I need!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Greening up the school year!

This year all my girls will be in school which means I have to buy a ton of school supplies. Not only do you have to buy whats on the schools supply list but also any extra's the teachers will ask for later. Last year I bought what was on the list for my oldest daughter (6th grade) and they ended up not using half of which we bought and wanted us to buy a whole other list of things. It was very frustrating!  So this year I plan on buying what she needs after the first day of school so we wont waste any money.

And lets not forget all the school clothes, shoe's and backpacks they will need. I really do not see the need to buy new items each year for school. Whats the purpose? Are their existing clothes not good enough?  Why do they need new supplies when they didn't use the ones from last year? Have you not seen all the plastic in the school area of the store? I was walking around Target today and started to notice something. Almost 99% of everything in the store was made of some sort of form of plastic. Literally made me sick.

Last year I decided to change this endless plastic and wasteful cycle. I was determined to save money and buy the least amount of plastic I could. With my girls on board we made a plan and we saved a ton of money.  I found that the more I talked to my girls about being earth friendly and recycling, the more they were on board. Instead of "moms just being cheap", it was "Lets do it!".  Maybe we can convince you to try a few of these out.

Lunch Bags-If ours are in working order we reuse them.  Why get a new one if our old ones still work? These are reused until they fall apart. When we do buy a new one, we will replace them with PVC free and sturdy ones. I did find some good fabric cute ones at Target that I almost bought. They are on sale for $9 and well worth it. The inside liner is snap on so if they ever spill anything in it you can take it out and clean it. Its super sturdy, bright and cute, and comes with a matching gel pack to keep their lunch cold. I might just go back and get them. Oh and they are PVC free!

Sandwich and snack bags-I bought fabric reusable bags last year and they are all new looking and working just fine. These will be used again and I spend nothing this year. Whahoo! You can find these at etsyebay or reusablebags for about $3-$6 each. Worth every penny!

Backpacks-These too will be reused. Last year my girls were bought new bags that were sturdy. I saved their bags from over the years and my twins will be using those for kindergarten.  I spent some good money on Gap bags when the older girls were younger and they still look brand new. Again saving myself money!

Clothing-No new clothes this year. How? I'm so glad you asked!

-Luckily I have friends and my sister who give me free clothes all the time. Rarely ever do I actually have to buy any clothing for them. Plus my older girls hand their clothes down to each other. My daughters best friend is bigger than her so she gives all her clothing to her. Everything is handed down and everything is accepted.

-If I do need anything I hit up garage sales/thrift stores all summer long. Just this weekend I picked up a almost brand new pair of Converse (bright orange I might add) for 50 cents!

-Shoe's we sometimes will have to buy them new. Usually we get shoe's from friends or family but every once in a while we will have to buy them new. We will talk to our girls and find out what kind of shoe's they want. Then we research them online or try to get some hook up, and then we will buy them. Lucky my husband works for a huge sports company and has many friends in many places.

-Undergarments are only bought when needed. Luckily my girls do not grow much and I rarely have to buy anything for them. This year I had to buy socks for my oldest because she finally out grew them. Her socks still looked new so they were handed down to her sister. We found some socks she liked in the boys section for $3.99. In the girls section they were twice the price so always look around in different sections. Same goes for clothing.

School Supplies

Like I stated above, last year we decided enough was enough and  didn't buy stuff we didn't need. I just went today to buy school supplies for all 4 of my girls and spend only $20 for four girls supplies.  Yes, you read it correct. And here is how I did it.

Get your school supplies list off your children's school websites.  Do not go by just the generic list you find in the stores. You will be buying things they do not need and wasting your money.

Sit down and discuss with your kids what you have and don't have already. We have turned out kitchen eating area into a art room with all their crafts and supplies. We sat down and went through each item on our supply list and looked for what we needed. We had lots of stuff on the list so why would I go buy more? Can you believe we needed 60 pencils this year for their supply list? And I had them at home! Crazy!  We also have a ton of colored pencils so we just took out 12 colors for each child and sharpened them. DONE!  If you have a child who needs things just for them and they are not shared, you can reuse anything you already have. My twins supplies are shared so we could only reuse things if they were brand new.

If you do need new stuff start looking in your sales flyers. Stores are selling things for super cheap right now. I had to buy "white" glue sticks and guess which ones were most expensive? Yep, white. Ugg!

When your in the store looking for things you need, look for quality. I could of bought my daughter a zipper pouch for only 25 cents but it was PVC plastic. No way! Were on the hunt for a fabric one as I type this. The plastic one will fall apart within a few weeks so a good sturdy fabric one is needed so it can last all year long. If I cannot find one, I will make one. If you buy cheap its going to be cheap. Buy quality!

If you do some or all of what I listed, you will save a ton of money.  It just really gets to me when I see families dropping so much money  on things for school because they think they need brand new things for each school year. What a waste! This life is so disposable and it makes me sad.

And now I ask you. What do you do to save money each school year? Would love to get more tips from you!

Saving some green this school year


This year all my girls will be in school which means I have to buy a ton of school supplies. Not only do you have to buy whats on the schools supply list but also any extra's the teachers will ask for later. Last year I bought what was on the list for my oldest daughter (6th grade) and they ended up not using 1/2 of which we bought and wanted us to buy a whole other list of things. It was very frustrating!  So this year I plan on buying what she needs after the first day of school so we wont waste any money.


Friday, July 16, 2010

No cereal for you! (in a Seinfeld soup natzi kind of voice)

Dare I say it? Yes, you read it correctly, I will by no more cereal. Cereal has been a staple for years in our morning routine.  But the industry has forgotten about the nutritional benefits and only thinks about the bottom line which is money.  I cringe at even thinking of buying cereal anymore. I walk down the aisle and all I see is lies and green washing. This one says its all natural but isn't. This one says its whole grain but really it isn't. Even those healthy brands which will remain nameless (hint-above pic) are not completely healthy. They market themselves as the hero's of the cereal brands.  Seriously?  And don't forget how much more expensive they are. At $4 a box I would need 4 of them to feed my family for a week. And lets be honest people, thats just way too much money for a box of cereal that weights maybe 1 pound.
My children would eat sugary cereal if it was in our home.  Over the last few years I have slowly taken cereal out of our life. I rarely buy it and if I do its only healthier cereals. Well as healthy as you find. Now its rare that my kids will eat cold cereal. Actually my 5 year old twins are the only ones who will eat it. I broke the news to the kids and they pretty much didn't care. SHOCKER!!! I thought they would shriek in horror but no they took it like champs.
Here is how we get around not eating cereal.

-Oatmeal-not the prepackaged kind either. Just organic oats bought from the bulk section. Add water and heat. Pretty easy huh? Toppings include one of the following:brown sugar, nuts, fruit, or milk.

-English Muffins topped with my homemade jelly or butter

-Bagels-melted cheese or cream cheese

-Warm fresh bread slices with butter. I make my own bread and they will pass any food if I make homemade bread in the morning. So would I to be honest. Yummy!


-Homemade Muffins-this week its banana muffins

-last but not least cream cheese on saltines. I think my oldest daughter would live off these if I let her. No idea why she loves it but what ever floats her boat. She is a vegetarian so any protein is good I guess.

Which brings out many questions in my head. What do you eat in the morning? Do your kids eat the sugary cereal or prefer something else? How do you get around not buying these cereals? Am I the only crazy one? Well don't answer that!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Hello everyone! What a beautiful day it is. I am busy today catching up with a friend who I haven't seen in a few months. She is bringing her adorable twin boys and I cannot wait till I get to squeeze them and smother them with lots of love.

So today I have a few things on my mind. Head on over to my Facebook and see whats been on my mind.

CVS has a free sample of Tena Serenity

My Green Side has 10 simple tips for Green Living

Snag yourself a free sample of John Frieda hair care.

Find out 12 ways your library is a frugal place to be. Thanks Frugal Upstate

Little Seed clothing will be at Target stores soon, check out why mom's love their clothes so much.

Check out The Good Human and find out their Greenwash of the week. Love these guys!

Have a great day and take time to enjoy life!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Garden Times

My garden has not changed at all which really urks me. As you can see (left near fence) my pea's are doing well. I have beets growing right in front of them and they seem to be doing okay too. You see those blank dirt area's?  What you cannot see if the organic potato's that I planted and should come up any day. Last year my garden was huge and I could barely walk around anything. I think that since I reorganized my garden, the bugs have easy access to my plants. Before I had treated wood (previous owners installed them) and the slugs were not able to get to my plants.  Now since there is no barrier they have free access. So as you can see, i'm not growing much in my garden this year. I think this year will be a tester year for me. I'm going to try my hand at homemade garden insect repellents.

On the bright side I have a wonderful pumpkin patch! They are doing very well and growing like crazy now. I have no idea what kind of pumpkins I planted here but thats fine. I'm just happy they are growing so nicely. I was worried that my dog would eat them but she isn't interested in them at all. Yeah!  Soon I will be making a small fence and taking out those horrible plants in the top of the picture. Not sure what flowers they are but they are invasive and they gots to be going!

Our project from the last few months has been this wall.  As you can see, our neighbors property is a few feet higher than ours. We were getting tons of water run off from their property and our property gets flooded each fall to the point where my children cannot play in the backyard till we've had some sun to dry it out.  Were hoping now that the wall is up, it will stop the run off. What you cannot see is the tubes in the wall that take the water to a pipe that leads to the front of our home. Now i'm filling the wall in with perennials that I find on sale or marked down. I just love saving plants from getting tossed. The hosta's(spelling?) you see were taken from my front yard and transplanted. The previous owner planted way too many things and had no rhyme or reason to anything she planted. Way too much if you ask me. Ive been moving things around since we bought this house.

Now how cool is this pot? HELLA COOL! I bought this at a yard sale for only fifty cents. I would of paid at least ten bucks for this if I bought it new. My rosemary plant is very happy in it now. I just love the aged look of it.
Last but not least everyone needs a gnome. I have 2 that I found at Michaels for half price. Each day I move them or the twins move them. Its our hide and seek game which keeps my garden fun for them. This gnome is up and ready to be moved, the other gnome is laying down and being lazy. But to be honest if I was a gnome, I would be laying around doing nothing in the sun too. Lucky gnomes!
How cute is this gnome!

What a cute trio

Travelocity Gnome anyone?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Beer......I'ts what's for dinner

I DISLIKE slugs! Yeah they are kinda cool looking but I don't like them at all.  This year slugs have pretty much destroyed my garden. I go to bed each night knowing they are lurking in my garden and eating all my hard work.
While waiting for my daughter to get out of soccer practice, I ventured over to Fred Meyers to look and see what my options are. I found only one product that was organic and would take care of my slug pest. It was a granule type that needed to be applied every 2 weeks. Problem was that it was $15.99. Way too expensive for my small budget so I started looking for bug spray. Some sort of bug was eating my green bean leaves and starting to attack my pea's leaves. Again only one product that was organic and again it was $15.99. Drats! Why do these have to be so expensive!
Then I stumbled upon some gardening books and found a organic gardening facts book. So I did some research and found a way to avoid all the expensive products. So I grabbed a 6 pack of beer and made my way home after picking up my daughter.
Pretty exciting huh? I was excited to make it! You see slugs like beer. Well who doesn't like a good beer. Good thing slugs aren't picky because I bought the cheapest beer I could find. Funny thing was it brought back old out of high school memories....I'll never tell! Anyways I found a small yogurt cup in our recycling and simply dug a hole and put the yogurt container in it. Made sure to make the yogurt cup at soil level so the slugs could slip right in and have a taste.  Filled it up with beer and there ya have it. I put 3 of these slug traps out and went to bed without a care in the world about slugs.  Guess what happened this morning? 10 lucky slugs were not able to make the garden eating party. Oops....VICTORY!!!!!!

And then there's my insect problem. I'm finally getting some pea's and the bugs are starting to eat the bottom leaves of my plants. NOOOOO! My trusty book told me that if you mix 1 cup of vegetable oil with 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap, you can make a excellent bug spray.  Just take 2 tbsp of that mixture and put it into a spray bottle. One batch of this will last you a whole gardening season.  Fill the spray bottle up with water and shake the snot out of it. Then I simply go spray all the leaves on top and bottom and leave overnight to dry.  I sprayed at night and watered all plants the next day.  Apparently bugs do not like the smell and taste of this mixture and will leave my plants alone.  I will have to wait a week to tell you if this works or not. Don't worry, I will share my results with you.

Here's another cool picture just for you. This amazing flower is in my neighbors front yard and I think its the most whimsical plant ever. If you have a great frugal tip for keeping pest away, leave a comment and help us out. Have a good day!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Grub Time!

Here in Oregon were having a heat wave that is very much needed. We have had so much rain that even Oregonians are tired of it. With a long day of berry picking with the girls, I really was not in the mood to cook a huge 3 course dinner. With that in mind I remembered to soak some dried beans in water earlier in the day. By the end of the day they were ready to cook. When you soak the beans it takes less time to cook. Here's what I ended up making. This fed a family of 6 with enough left overs for my husband to take to work the next day.

Mexican Chili Salad

1lb of dried beans cooked till tender 50 cents
1 red bell pepper (any bell pepper will work) from Marks NW Fresh Produce 33 cents (adds so much fresh flavor! )
1 tomato again from Marks 30 cents

4 tbs of Chili powder
2 tbsp Cumin
1 tsp of dried onion powder (you could use fresh)
1/2 tsp of onion powder
2 tbsp Paprika (for color)

I served the chili over fresh lettuce from Costco for 99 cents. Then crumbled left over tortilla chips that were from the bottom of the bag. This adds a great flavor! Then your choice of cheese or sour cream or both in my case. This is a great way to make a hot meal cold. The lettuce cools down the chili but the chili is hot enough at first to melt your cheese. Perfect!

All together this meal cost around  $2.12 or so. I used the spices that I had on hand which were bought in bulk for pretty cheap. If you think about it, this meal is only .35 cents per person in a family of 6. Now thats frugal!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th of July!!

Morning everyone! Not a whole lot going on here today. I forgot that I needed to share my meals with you so now its time for catch up. It was a last minute dinner that was easy to make. It was pretty hot outside and I didn't want to get too many burners going so this is what I came up with.


Organic Tortilla's from Costco
2 cups of organic pinto beans (I bought dehydrated, re-hydrated and froze.)
Organic Tomato from  Marks NW Fresh Produce
Sour Cream
Shredded cheese
Organic Lettuce (my neighbors garden..perks of watching her dog)

I added my own spices to the beans for a few reasons. My oldest daughter is a vegetarian so we usually eat vegetarian meals most the time. Its cheaper to add your own plus no preservatives.  And last but not least its so darn yummy!


2 tbsp of Chili powder
1 tbsp of Cumin
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp of garlic powder
1 tsp of salt (or less.add to your likings)

When I add these spices I also add a bit of water and about 1 tbsp of olive oil.  Helps the spices mix and taste better.There are never any left overs with this meal.  Layer in this order

Organic chips
Organic Pinto Beans
Sour Cream

We are a pretty low key family so were spending the 4th at home. Usually we just buy about $20 worth of fireworks and let them off when it gets dark. Nothing too exciting here. My husband really does't like this holiday because of all the loud and annoying fireworks. I on the other hand really like it but do not like to drive anywhere.I'm a bit of a freak and do not like driving on any major holiday due to all the stupid people drinking and driving.  But this year my neighbor came up with a great idea to have a potluck in our culta-sack and share our fireworks. So i'm excited to have fun and not go anywhere. Whahoo!

For the potluck i'm making a fruit salad from Marks NW Fresh Produce. Fruit consist of banana(79 cents per lb), cherries($2.99 per lb), nectarines (99 cents per lb), grapes (99 cents per lb), and mix it all with whip cream. MMMMM! I will also bake a loaf of bread and serve it with my onion dip (sour cream and powdered onion with pepper). Both will only take me 1 hour to make.

What about you? What are your frugal 4th of July plans?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Camping on the cheap

Camping is pretty cheap if your single or have no kids. But when you start having children, you need more items. We out grew out last tent and needed to buy one that would fit all 6 of us. Luckily I found this one at Costco for only $150. What a great deal!  This tent was pretty easy to set up and fit all 6 of us very comfortable.  We used the screened area for putting our bags and chairs in when we went on day hikes.  Plus this tent is made by Coleman which means it will last for a long time. We also invested in a $100 heater buddy because we were in for some cold nights.
Since we were camping for 4 days, we needed way more things than we usually would. I wanted to make our own food and use no disposables in the process. Here is what we ended up borrowing from neighbors and friends.

Stove/cast iron pan/kettle-Thanks Kim!
Plates/bowls/cast iron griddle/bowl-Thanks Christy and Nat!
Portable cooler/carrier-Thanks Julie!
Sleeping bags with pads-Again Thanks Christy and Nat!
Dog watcher-Thanks Jessica for feeding Riley!

I packed my own all natural soap to wash our dishes not knowing exactly how. Luckily our campground had a dish washing station. Only cold water but hey its better than nothing. Also was able to fill our water jug with cold water from there.

Napkins were our home fabric napkins we use everyday.

Knives/utensils-A friend of mine (thanks Rox!) gave me a set a few years ago and I stashed them away just for this type of occasion.  Knives were from my own kitchen set.

Salt/Pepper-Used my own set. Tupperware makes amazing sets with lids. love it!

First Aid Kit-brought from home. Band Aids, head ache medicines, vitamins, and chewable vitamin C all put into a plastic storage bin usually used for my kids toys. Also lots of allergy medication because all but my husband suffer from allergies.

All personal care such as shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, tooth brushes, deodorant and things like that were just taken from our bathrooms and put into a large ziplock bag  that I have been reusing for about a year now. I will reuse it till it falls apart. Why? Just ask Beth from fakeplasticfish. It was unlikely that we would find Eco friendly products in the park so I just packed what we had. We wanted to stay close to nature as much as possible to lessen our impact there.

Clothing was limited due to space. Since we were planning on a 10 day trip, we packed for half that. Each item(except undies/socks) was worn 2 times. One pair of pj's for the whole trip. This cut our baggage down a lot. One sweatshirt, one jacket, flip flops and one pair of tennies (as my mother would call them).  If it was hot we rolled our jeans to make Capri's.

Entertainment was also things from home. Our choice was Yatzee, cards, outdoor backpack full of things like horse shoe's etc, coloring books with crayons, spiral notebooks with pencils, ipod's fully stocked with music, Leapsters, and each child brought a few toys of their choice. In the end we had 1 reusable bag full of my older girls stuff, and one full of the twins stuff. We also packed our Wii because my husband installed a tv screen in our Eurovan  before our last vacation 2 yrs ago to Disneyland. I know, when I was a kid we were lucky to have a coloring book let alone a Wii. Spoiled!

Camping chairs we had because we use them at our daughters soccer games each weekend. Our twins have a double child size one that a friend gave us a few years ago. Dog has eaten a few corners but still works. lol.  We did purchase 2 chairs for this trip for our older girls.

Camping sites vary in price. Do your research and plan 6 months ahead. Our campsite was only $20 a night. Had we had a hotel/cabin stay in Yellowstone it would of cost well over $200 a night.

Driving can save you some cash as well.  We drove about 3,000 miles and was able to cut down on gas a few ways. Take it easy going up hill. Speed limit was 75 most the way but we only went 65 or 60 over the hills.  Take advantage of head winds.  Fill up more often, your motor works better with a full gas tank.  Chillax (those who are old that means chill and relax)behind semi trucks. They can save you a bunch of gas by blocking the wind for you. lol I said blocking the wind! ...sorry just cant help myself.

Don't eat out. Yes it may be fun, but its expensive and will eat up your budget. We only ate out 3 times in 8 days. I packed almost everything I could so we could save on our food budget. We might of spent $30 a day for the whole family of 6 to eat. We would easily spend $50 for one meal if we went out to eat.

Don't give in to knick knack shops. Instead take lots of pictures, take them home and order large prints through your favorite frugal place. One amazing picture is way better than any silly plastic water globe with "Yellowstone" written on it.  Our girls were given the change to pick one thing they wanted. 1 pen on a necklace, 2 binoculars, and our middle daughter of course picked the silly plastic water globe. Hey, she is 9 what do you expect?

So if your planning a vacation, start planning it 6 months in advance. Spread the word of what your in need for and barter when you can. For example our neighbor Jessica watched/fed our cat and dog while we were gone. In return we will help them when they need it. Currently i'm watching my neighbor's dog for them and they will do something for us at a different time. Doggy daycare is way too expensive so this saved us a ton of money. Just remember to give as much as you receive. And remember to have fun!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Packing healthy

Hello everyone!! Oh how I have missed you. We finally came back home on Monday and its taken me this long to get back into the swing of things. To be honest....not 100% but nether the less i'm here! The family and  I took a 8 day driving trip from Oregon to South Dakota and back. Some would say its a bit crazy for a family of 6 to drive that far.  I would have to agree with you there. What were we thinking? We made it back alive so we did something right.

Last time we took a vacation was a few years ago and before we went mostly organic. I saved all my freebie goodies that came in the mail for about 3 months. This would include free samples, coupons for free products, and freebies I was able to score with coupons and sales. This time it would be a little harder because I do not receive so many freebies anymore and do not buy prepackaged anything. I was stressing up until the day we left.

I also wanted to be disposable free on this vacation. See where the crazy comes in? I was hell bent on doing this vacation as healthy and Eco friendly as I could. So I did what I could, bartered, and did the best I could. Here's what I ended up bringing along with us.

Mayo-in sm mason jar bought from Whole Foods
Mustard-Whole Foods
peanut butter-in sm mason jar(azurestandard)
Lunch Meat-packed in Tupperware from Winco
Cheese-packed in Tupperware (found in mark downs for $1 whahoo! Stored in freezer.
Organic Fruit-seasonal fruit from Marks-NW-Fresh-Produce
Burritos from Winco-I needed lots of them and found some sorta healthy ones...Budget friendly too
Boca Burgers-Costco packed in Tupperware
Angus Burgers-Costco packed in Tupperware
Oatmeal Packs-Guilty of not healthy. Ugg. But made mornings oh so easy.
String Cheese from Winco-Beth i'm horrible and guilty of this one. Sorry! I did recycle them!
Organic Tortilla Chips-From Costco
2 cans of vegetarian baked beans-Winco
2 packs of Whole Wheat Buns (once again Sorry Beth!)

Bread-This was one thing we dreaded. I make my own bread at home which is oh so yummy. Because I make my own fresh bread it will only last a day or so. So whats a girl to do? Just suck it up and buy some bread. Store bought bread is so tasteless compared to homemade bread.  I found some whole wheat healthy bread and told the kids we had no choice. They were not thrilled at all. All plastic from bread, buns and cheese were saved and taken home to recycle.

Lots of water! I scored 2 Sigg kids reusable water bottles from Whole Foods for only $4.99 each the week before we left. I waited until they were marked down to at least 50% or more off. Never in my mind did I think I would get them that cheap. We also brought along a 3 pack of stainless steel water bottles I found at Costco for only $9.99. We have used these for months now and love them! Although if you wash them in your dishwasher, the color comes off the sides. DISLIKE! But they work and our water tasted great.
I usually buy frozen juice with no HFCS but for this trip I had to buy 2 jugs of already mixed, no HFCS  and ready to drink juice. Again this was recycled when done with it.  Thinking back on it now I could of used the frozen kind and put it into a water jug. But this takes up a big space in our one cooler we brought with us. Space was limited so I think I did pretty well.

Granola Bars-Budget friendly and healthy ones from Winco
Nuts-Bulk purchase from Winco and packed in Tupperware
Dried Apple Rings-Winco bulk purchase. Packed in Tupperware
Dried Mangos-I dried them just for this trip! Large mango's were 2/$1 at Marks-NW-Fresh-Produce

I think I packed pretty well and towards the end of the trip we had made a pretty good team when it came to making food on the go. My husband would pull over our Eurovan, we would drag out the cooler (each time we had to pull our hitch shelf off the hitch. This thing weighed over 100 lbs!). I would pull out the sandwich items and lay them out in the back of our Eurovan. I would sit on our cooler and start the assembly line. My husband would take the newly made sandwich and run it to the kids to eat. We would refill the waters, pack up and go. Towards the end of our trip lunch only took 5 minutes. Whahoo!

One thing I thought I planned well was our coffee habit. I purchased 6 Starbucks Via Packets  thinking this would be enough. Boy was I wrong! We were driving for 5-6 hrs a day and those only lasted us 3 days. So I am ashamed to say I bought disposable coffee. I KNOW!!! I'm horrible! But I had to survive! 4 kids in tow for 8 days really can tire you and we needed to be fully awake parents. The last few days of our trip was in hotels which provided us with coffee each morning. Free coffee helped our budget but not my inner Eco. Each place had Styrofoam cups, plastic wrapped coffee pods, and paper single packets of creamer. YUCK! Any other time I would of turned these down but I was desperate. 

The food I packed lasted us for about 5 days before I had to stop to buy anything. Most tiny little towns do not carry organic items and are priced sky high because they know only desperate people would be stopping there and would pay the price. I ended up getting jelly, bread, and a few snacks along the way. We did eat out but only 2-3 times mostly for the kids. We wanted them to have a memorable trip and they love going out to eat. They had fun but quickly realized how unhealthy these places were. From processed cheese, white bread, and soda being the only option. We would discuss these things with them and they realize that we eat healthy but not everyone else does and thats okay.

All in all I think we did a pretty good job. I learned that no matter how much you plan, things can still go wrong. You may think your awesome in your own town but just wait till you get out of your own territory.  Stay tuned for more ups and downs of our trip.

Okay so now you know my dark secrets of our trip.