Tuesday, July 30, 2013

This is Making Me Happy Today

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I just love Mindy Gledhill. Her music is so lovely and she has a new album coming out on September 10.  Yesterday, she released her first single off the new album, "Trouble No More."  You can download it for free from the Anthropologie blog.  It is so cheerful and happy and I can't stop listening to it over and over.

Can't wait for the new album!!!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Letterboxing with Kids

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I have been looking for more outdoor activities to do with Noodlebug.  I recently finished reading LAST CHILD IN THE WOODS by Richard Louv and it convinced me that we need to get out in nature more.  I had heard things about geocaching before and started researching that as an activity possibility.  In my research about geocaching, I came across letterboxing.  Letterboxing felt like a better place to begin.

Letterboxing is sort of an outdoor treasure hunt. You follow clues to discover little hidden boxes. The boxes usually contain a small logbook and a hand-carved stamp.  Letterboxes can be found just about anywhere.  When we are heading out of our area for a day, we look up local letterboxes that we can search for while we are gone.  My favorite sites for letterboxing are AtlasQuest and Letterboxing.  I think AtlasQuest seems to have the best database of boxes.

What is a Letterbox?
A letterbox is usually a small plastic container such as tupperware or a disposable style food container. It can also be a sturdy plastic pouch.   The letterbox will hold a small logbook and a stamp.  If you are lucky, there may also be a small stamp pad.

What do I do when I find a letterbox?
Take out the logbook and stamp.  Stamp YOUR personal stamp in the letterbox logbook. We usually add a note such as our trail name (you can register an anonymous trail name on AtlasQuest), where we are from, and the date.  Then, take the stamp from the letterbox and stamp it in YOUR notebook.  In our personal logbook, we usually put the date we found the box, where we found it, and the name of the letterbox.  Once you are done, carefully put everything back where you found it.  It is nice to come back and log on to one of the websites after you are done and to record your find. This lets everyone know if the box is still active.  Sometimes, these boxes can be mistaken for trash.  If a box hasn't been found in over a year, chances are good that it is gone.

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Putting Together Your Letterboxing Kit

At the bare minimum, you will need a notebook, a stamp, a stamp pad, and a pen or pencil.  Noodlebug and I used a composition book for our logbook.  We decorated the front and then I sealed it with Mod Podge.  It is best if your personal stamp is hand-carved but you can use a store-bought stamp in the interim.  We started letterboxing back in February and have since added to our kit.  We now also include a pair of work gloves, a long sturdy stick, and a compass. 

Some letterboxes are in urban environments and are easy to get to. Some can be off the beaten path.  There have been a few that require some bushwhacking and digging through foliage.  We usually wear long pants and sturdy shoes when looking for letterboxes. Especially when we know we will be looking in regional parks or other wild spaces.  It's a good opportunity to teach Noodlebug about watching for animals like snakes, plants like poison ivy and various other trail hazards.

My husband was skeptical about letterboxing at first but now he is a big fan. I keep the kit in my car along with a set of printed clues so that we are always ready to go at a moment's notice.  We have just about found all of the letterboxes in our town and we are now branching out into other areas of the county.  We may even plant our own letterbox by the end of the year! Geocaching is similar but it more driven by trinkets.  I prefer the novelty and fun of handcarved stamps.  I think this is a great activity for families.  It's a good excuse to get out and explore!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Citrus Lane Review: July 2013

It always feels like Christmas when we receive our Citrus Lane box!  We subscribe to the 5-yr-old boy box.  You can tailor your subscription by age and gender or even choose a gender-neutral box.  There are boxes for ages 0-5.  I enjoy this particular subscription box because it introduces us to fun new products every month.  And I love the emphasis on natural products.  This month, I decide to do an add-on and bought this wet/dry bag. I had been wanting to get one for awhile to put wet swimsuits in and thought this was a good opportunity.

I paid $16 for this Bumkins wet/dry bag.  I had looked at ones for $19-$20 online.  I didn't get any special deal with this one but I didn't have to pay for shipping.

Then, we got a credit for ten free Postagrams with the Sincerely Inc app.

As far as I can tell, this is worth about $9.90.  But it's something new and fun that I didn't know about before.

Next up, Me4Kidz Cool It Buddy.  I wish I had had this when Noodlebug hit his head on concrete last week!

This item retails for about $3.00 but it is something I think we'll really use.

Next, we have a Melissa and Doug Decorate-Your-Own Race Car.  Noodlebug is really excited to try this one!

This item retails for about $5.  It is definitely something we'll have fun making.

Next, freeze-dried banana snack from Just Tomatoes.

This item retails for about $1.50 and will be perfect for Noodlebug's lunches or a snack on the go.

Next, a bento "Bynto" box from Goodbyn!

I am always looking for more sustainable ways to do lunches so I was really excited about this one!  It has a great little handle on top so the whole thing doubles as its own lunchbox. It retails for about $9.50.

Along with the "bynto" box, we got some Goodbyn dishwasher-safe stickers to decorate the box with.

Noodlebug will have so much fun decorating the box with these stickers! These retail for about $3.50.

All in all, I thought it was a really fun box full of things we will definitely use.  Especially with school coming up.  The retail value of this box was about $32.40.  We pay $26.81 per month for the box but I still think it was worth it.  Some months you come out ahead on the value of the box and sometimes you break even.  But we ALWAYS enjoy the surprise.  If you would like to try Citrus Lane and receive $10 off your first box, follow this affiliate link. Already looking forward to next month's box! Hope it has a "back to school" theme!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Pin and Do: Water Blob

I first saw the Water Blob idea on U Create although there are tutorials all over the place.  It sounded like the perfect thing to do on a hot day.  We decided to make it our Fourth of July activity.  I got a 9 x 12 piece of heavy-duty plastic sheeting and some duct tape.  I folded the sheeting in half and then duct-taped the sides shut leaving a hole for the hose. There were some very minor leaks but otherwise the blob filled up perfectly.

Noodlebug had a great time rolling around on the blob as I was filling it up. It made for a nice cool waterbed experience. When Noodle's friend came over, they had such a fun time with it!!!

 With two little boys running across it, it sprung a few more leaks. I repaired some of them with duct tape but we eventually had too many leaks to repair.  The boys still had fun with it, though. It lasted several hours and everyone loved it.  Success!!!

Monday, July 1, 2013

7th Anniversary Gift on a Budget

July 3 will be my 7th wedding anniversary.  Hard to believe!!!  My husband and I always use the traditional/contemporary anniversary gift guides for inspiration.  Sometimes, it can be really hard to come up with an idea.  Your 7th wedding anniversary is supposed to be copper or wool.  My husband asked me if I'd like a sheep.  (the answer is yes but we don't have the proper home for a sheep just yet!)  My husband loves to cook and I thought about getting him some kind of copper pot or mold.  However, money woes continue to plague us.  Even though pennies aren't really made of copper anymore, I thought I could do something with them.  Noodlebug and I dumped out our penny jar and I had him help me look for certain dates. I decided to go for both of our birth dates, the year we met, the year we got engaged, the year we got married, the year Noodlebug was born and the year of our 5th anniversary.  Choose any significant dates that would you like to include. If we had been blessed with another child, I would have used that birth year instead of our 5th anniversary.

I then went to Michael's with a coupon and got this copper-colored frame:

The frame has can accommodate an approximately 4.5 " x 6.5" photograph.  I probably could have gone smaller but I wanted room for the print at the bottom.  The "7" made of pennies is approximately 4.5" high and 3" wide. I hot-glued the pennies down and then put a small explanation of dates on the bottom.  (I apologize for the poor photo.)  Some of the pennies were pretty hard to find. I got lucky. My back-up plan was to find a penny for each year we have been married.  Hopefully, my husband will appreciate the sentiment behind it. I wonder what HE will come up with?