Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Staycations Across the Nation!

Yesterday I shared my favorite things to do here in Hampton Roads for those of you considering a staycation. I am participating in a blogging event called The Year of the Staycation!
So...if you don't live locally here in Hampton Roads, take a look at the list below to find a blogger participating in an area near you!

South Atlantic
Ft. Bragg, North Carolina - Military Wives Saving
Charlotte, North Carolina - The Carolina Clipper
Charleston, South Carolina - The Tween & Me
Greensboro, North Carolina - Mrs. Happy Homemaker
Jacksonville, Florida - Saving The Family Money
Orlando, Florida - Orlando's Best Deals
Virginia Beach, Virginia - The Singley Fam Blog
Richmond, Virginia - Daily Dwelling
Hampton Roads, Virginia - A Home Made by Kiki
Charlottesville, Virginia - How to Have it All
Blackwater Falls State Park/Davis, West Virginia -  Holy Spirit Led Homeschooling
Treasure Coast, Florida - The Cardamom's Pod
Saint Augustine, Florida - Jypsie Visions
Lake Norman, North Carolina - Stretching Pennies Saving Dollars
Washington, DC - The WiC Project
Baltimore, Maryland -  The Happy Housewife


Mid-Atlantic
Erie, Pennsylvania -  Growing Kids Ministry
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania - Somewhat Crunchy
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania - Family Balance Sheet
Buffalo/Niagara Falls, New York - Coupons, Deals and More
New Jersey - Oh! Diane

New England
Connecticut - Parenting Miracles
Boston, Massachusetts - ‎ Maven of Savin'
Manchester, New Hampshire - Common Sense with Money
Western Maine - Bubblegum and Lollipops

Midwest
Cedar Rapids, Iowa - Indoor Garden Musings
Mansfield, Ohio - Live the Adventure
Cincinnati, Ohio - Savings Lifestyle~Cincinnati
Mount Vernon, Ohio - Living Better One Day at a Time
Dayton, Ohio -  Savings Lifestyle~Dayton
Grand Rapids, Michigan - Kitchen Stewardship
Metro Detroit, Michigan - "Cents"able Momma
Oakland County, Michigan - Bargain Shopper Mom
Warren, Michigan - Saving Dollars and Sense
Grand Forks, North Dakota - Frugal Front Porch
Indianapolis, Indiana - Bargain Briana
South Bend, Indiana -  Excuse The Mess
Kansas City, Kansas/Missouri - Kansas City Mamas
St. Louis, Missouri -  The Pickledpigsfeet
Branson, Missouri - Getting Freedom from Debt
Springfield, Missouri - I Think I Can
Rochester, Minnesota - Everyday Notions
York, Nebraska - Heavenly Homemakers
Omaha, Nebraska - Mom Endeavors
Madison, Wisconsin - Many Little Blessings
Oshkosh, Wisconsin - A Little Bit of This and That
Chicago, Illinois -  Chicagoland Homeschool Network
Champaign, Illinois - Chambanamoms
Black Hills, South Dakota - Little House on the Prairie Living

South Central
Checotah, Oklahoma - Blessed With One Income
Tulsa, Oklahoma - Lynn's Kitchen Adventures
Gadsden, Alabama - Aint Mimi
Dallas, Texas - Funky Faith Girl
Dallas, Texas - Grocery Shop For FREE
East Dallas, Texas - Surviving The Stores
Fort Worth, Texas - Smockity Frocks
Austin, Texas - Stetted
Houston, Texas - Moms Travel Tales
McKinney, Texas - Wisdom Begun
East Texas - The Full Pantry
Murfreesboro, Tennessee - Life in a Barn
Nashville, Tennessee - The Country Chic Cottage
Mobile, Alabama - A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned
Birmingham, Alabama - iGoBOGO
Brunswick & the Golden Isles, Georgia - Teri Lynne Underwood
Alpharetta, Georgia - Cuponeando
Atlanta, Georgia - See Jamie Blog
Augusta, Georgia - Hyperactive Lu
Athens, Georgia and Mississippi - Tractors and Tire Swings
Little Rock, Arkansas - It's Real Life

Mountain
Tucson, Arizona - Saving with Pam
Phoenix, Arizona - Mom Endeavors
Albuquerque, New Mexico - The Chou Life
Kalispell, Montana -  Our Family Adventures
Salt Lake City, Utah - Just the 2 of Us
Thermopolis, Wyoming - The McDonald Family
Denver, Colorado - Denver Bargains
Colorado Springs, Colorado - Colorado Springs Bargains

Pacific
San Diego, California - Life As Mom
Yosemite National Park, California -Handbook of Nature Study
Seattle, Washington - Queen Bee Coupons & Savings
Whidbey Island, Washington - Manning the Homefront
Olympia, Washington The Coupon Savant
Portland, Oregon - Frugal Living NW
Willamette Valley, Oregon - An Oregon Cottage

Frugal Vacation Tips
Vacation or Stay-cation: Eating without Busting the Budget - Eat at Home

 I would love to hear about your staycation adventures!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Hampton Roads Staycation

With the recent rise in gas prices, many families are opting to forgo the typical summer vacation.
 
This doesn't mean that you have to give up on the idea of a "vacation" completely...just choose a "staycation" and take the time to really discover what your city and neighboring cities have to offer you...and save money at the same time! Go to a park that you haven't been to before and have a picnic....try out a new restaurant....etc... 

I live in Hampton Roads so I am going to take a few moments to share some ideas of new things to try in my area! I will joining over 100 bloggers from almost all 50 states participating in this special event!
So...if you don't live in Hampton Roads, stay tuned for tomorrow's post in which I will be featuring a list of the bloggers from other areas across the country!

I really had a hard time narrowing down all of the activities that are available in this area! So...here are some of our favorites (and some new activities that are on our "to do" list)...

Hunt Club Farm (Virginia Beach):
 Hunt Club Farm is very well known for their seasonal activities, but not everyone is aware of the fact that they offer daily activities from April-December for a reasonable price! It only takes $3 per person (2 and under are free) to gain access to their petting farm...goats, sheep, chickens, llamas, peacocks, turkeys, guinea hens, pigs, donkeys, rabbits, miniature cows and more!
 They also offer $5 pony rides...

Bluebird Gap Farm (Hampton):
 I can't believe that we haven't tried this farm out yet! I have known about it for almost 5 years! It is definitely on our list for this summer! Bluebird Gap Farm is open Wednesday through Sunday and offers free admission. They offer education programs, a free summer movie series, hayrides, storytelling in the park, a large playground, a nature trail, and about 150 domestic and wild animals...raccoons, birds, deer, tortoises, peacocks, and more!

Our Favorite Parks:
 *Mount Trashmore (Virginia Beach): Most people that live locally are very familiar with Mount Trashmore, but I am excited about the new playground that they recently unveiled.
We haven't visited the new playground yet because I wanted to wait until summer break! Looks like so much fun!

Mount Trashmore also offers a free summer movie series as well!
 
Oak Grove Lake Park (Chesapeake): A trip to this park makes it seem like you are on vacation...a large lake with 65 acres of hardwood forests and wetlands makes for very scenic views! A 1.5 mile trail around the lake is perfect for an afternoon walk and picnic! There also is a great playground area near the lake.
 First Landing State Park (Virginia Beach): This is our favorite park to go to for long bike rides. There are 9 trails with a total distance of 20 miles...some are open for biking and others are only open for walking/hiking. The bike trail that we usually take is a 12 mile round trip trail that passes through forests, bald cypress swamps, salt marshes, and dunes. We have also gone multiple times to go on the walking trails...
First Landing State Park also offers camping facilities and many other activities!

Waller Mill Park (Williamsburg): I first discovered this park when I was looking for places to take some photos of the fall foliage a couple of years ago.
The 286-acre lake is open for fishing, boating, pedal boating, canoeing and kayaking with a tunnel connecting the upper and lower sections of the lake. Fun!


Chesapeake City Park (Chesapeake): newly renovated playground
Northwest River Park (Chesapeake)

Little Island Park and Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge (Virginia Beach): Little Island Park is one of our favorite beaches to go to. There is also a new playground there!
Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge is just next to Little Island Park. It is situated on and around a thin strip of barrier islands and the habitats include beaches, dunes, woodlands, farm fields, and marshes. We have gone on bike rides around the refuge a couple of times.

You can also access the False Cape State Park via the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. There is no vehicular access to False Cape so you can only get to it by hiking, biking, or boating! For $8, you can take the Terra Gator:

Owl Creek Boat Trips (Virginia Beach):
I have always wanted to take the girls on this boat ride through the last undeveloped salt marsh in Virginia Beach. A 50-foot pontoon boat is available for boat rides at the dock adjacent to the Virginia Aquarium. Tickets are just $7 ($5 for aquarium members).

Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown:
Take a step back in time when you visit Colonial Williamsburg or Jamestown. We have visited Williamsburg at least once almost every year and we took our first visit to Jamestown this last fall. 
I would have loved to visit these places when I was studying them in elementary school so I can't wait until Kylea starts studying them in school!


Norfolk Mermaids on Parade: 
Those of you who live in Hampton Roads have no doubt seen the mermaid statues that are scattered around the area. Here is a paragraph from the City of Norfolk's website discussing the mermaids:

Founded in 1682, Norfolk grew up on the water, and its miles of lake, river and bay front are central to many of its neighborhoods. The city's popular logo -- an elegant young mermaid, which can be spotted in outdoor sites from Downtown to Ocean View -- symbolizes 300 years of maritime and naval heritage and its modern reputation as a city on the move. 
I have wanted to take the girls on the "Tour of Mermaids" for the last couple of years, but we have never gotten around to it!  It would be a great chance to explore downtown Norfolk...an area that I am not too familiar with. Kylea loves pointing out the mermaids that she spots at various places that we visit though...
Someone even put together a list of mermaid locations on Google Maps!

There are a couple of blogs dedicated to the area's mermaids...

Here is another list of locations...Mermaid List.

There are even a couple of children's books about the mermaids...
What are you waiting for? Go on your own mermaid treasure hunt like we will be doing this summer!

There are so many more locations that I could have listed in my area. If you live locally and I have left out one of your favorite places to visit, let me know in the comments! If you don't live locally, tell me where you live and what suggestion you would make for your local "staycationers"!
Don't forget to come back tomorrow to see a list of the other participating bloggers. Chances are good that there will be one posting about a location that is close to you!!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

LAST DAY!!

Today is the LAST DAY that you can take advantage of Shaklee's offer of a 
FREE LIFETIME MEMBERSHIP
with any $30 purchase
  • 15% off of all your Shaklee purchases for life
  • you will never have to pay a renewal fee
  • there are no minimums to maintain
I am so sad to see this special offer come to an end. So many of you have chosen to take advantage of this offer...and I can't wait to hear what you think of the products.

Congratulations on making the choice to create a healthier home for you and your family. In addition to making your home safer for you and your family, you will be saving money at the same time with Shaklee's Get Clean products.

Check out the Cost Comparison Chart!! I love seeing how much money I am saving since I switched all of my cleaning products over to Shaklee products!

Click to view larger image of chart!
 

For those of you who are still on the fence about trying Shaklee's products, please remember that they stand behind their products 100%. If you are not satisfied with any of their products (which rarely happens!!), Shaklee offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee and will refund your purchase price!
I also have 2 additional special offers available to new members...please contact me for the details. They are so great that I can't share them online!!

Please contact me with any questions you have about the products or the special offers. I love every Shaklee product that I have tried and I love sharing Shaklee with those of you that are interested!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A New Decade Begins!

So...as of last weekend, I can no longer refer to myself as "twenty-something." Yep....I hit the big 3-0!

While I am a little sad to be moving out of my 20's, I am not completely devastated! I took some time to look back on the last decade of my life.

Here are some of the things that took place during my 20's...

I was accepted into Nursing School at Arizona State University...
and graduated from Nursing School 2 years later...
I met some really great friends in college who I miss so much now that I have moved all the way across the country!
As thankful as I am to be finished with nursing school, I do actually miss going on clinical rotations with my group! Good times!

My husband is younger than me by almost 2 years and he loves to tease me and say that I am "so old"! So...I will beat him to the punch on this one. Yes...those are scanned photos because I am "so old" that I was still using a film camera way back then and didn't have them saved digitally!

I got married (to the above-mentioned younger husband)...
He left for Navy boot camp...
...and then I joined him as we moved to the Chicago area.
(Yay...we have a digital camera now!)
 We really enjoyed all that Chicago had to offer for the 5 or so months that we lived there. Right before we moved, we found out we were pregnant...
Next, we moved to Virginia Beach where Steve was stationed on the USS Normandy...
We experienced our first long deployment during which our first daughter, Kylea, was born...
We said our goodbye's again for deployment #2 a couple of years later...
...until he came home 6 months later...
We left Kylea with my sister and took a quick trip to New York City...
The next year, we welcomed our second daughter, Addysen, into our family...
Both my brother...
...and my sister were married in that year as well...
The next year, my sister had a baby too...meet my nephew Brayden (who is almost 2 now...wow!)
Wow! That was a long post! I had a really hard time summarizing my twenties! So much has changed in my life in the last 10 years...which makes me excited for what the next decade will bring me!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Running Update

I am now 2 1/2 weeks away from my first 5K! I'm actually pretty excited about it at this point. These feelings may change as the race gets closer though...especially once the race is within the 10-day weather forecast. The weather right now is perfect....70 degrees for the high this week...but I don't expect it to be that way on race day. I haven't seen the course in person yet so I am hoping it is shaded. Ha!
Yes, I realize the irony of a race sponsored by a fast food company, but...it was the only 5K that was taking place after my C25K program was to be completed and before the full summer heat arrives....and I love Chick-fil-A.

Up until this week, I have been following the Couch to 5K plan very closely. This week, I was supposed to complete 2.75 mile runs in 27 minutes. Instead, I decided (during my run actually) to just run the full 5K distance! I let myself walk across the streets on the way back (total of 1 minute and 18 seconds) and finished up in just over 34 minutes! I was pretty happy with that time considering it was the first time in my life that I have run that far! It was on Mother's Day too so it was a nice little bonus to add to the end of my day!

My goal is to finish the 5K in under 30 minutes...just because! We'll see what happens on race day.

This morning I went out for a quick morning run before my husband left for work. I knew that I wouldn't be able to get a full 3 miles in before he had to leave and, to be honest, I still haven't figured out how to wake up that early and actually have a productive run! So... I decided to try to run the 1st mile in under 10 minutes. I was pretty happy to average a 9:30 run for the first mile. I walked for a while and then ran the rest of the way back to the car (not far...less than 1/4 mile actually) at an 8:00 pace. Whew! I definitely wouldn't be able to keep that pace up for very long at all...I don't know how some of you do it!

I know that I won't stay motivated to run without some sort of plan or goal so...I already have my sights set on this one in October...
It is held at the same location as the 5K that I am running, but is on the trail instead of the road. I might be crazy for even considering this race, but I need to have a goal in order to stay motivated.

I also am trying to figure out a way that both my husband and I can participate in this one in August...
...a mud run at one of the local Navy bases! Fun!

At this point, all I can say is that I don't hate running yet. Ha! Even though I don't feel so great in the middle of some of my runs, I feel great afterward and I always look forward to my next run. I still find that strange, but it is true. I got up at 5:45 to run this morning...that has to mean something, right?

If any of you are experienced runners and would like to share some tips with me for my first race, that would be greatly appreciated!!

There are only 10 days left to take advantage of the free Shaklee membership (15% off for life plus other special offers; no minimums to maintain)with a $30 purchase. Read more here.

Linking up to:
Let's Move it Momma's: Wednesday Workout Blog Hop 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Cleaner Way to Soften your Laundry:

Did you know that fabric softeners (both dryer sheets and liquid softeners) are one of the most toxic products produced for daily household use?
 The amount of chemicals used in them is so high that manufacturers have to use a high level of fragrance (like 50 times as much fragrance) just to cover up the chemical smell!!   
I'm not going to go into detail on the chemicals that are used and the negative effects that each of them can have. Just know that they can cause things from respiratory irritation to cancer!

I do understand that I am not going to be able to prevent my family from being exposed to everything that could possibly be toxic! I also don't want to live my life worrying about every little ingredient in everything that I use, but here is my opinion:


There really is no need to expose myself and my family to potentially toxic products when safe and affordable products are available!


Shaklee has just introduced its new and improved 
I will be honest with you...I really only use liquid fabric softener on my clothing in the winter when the air is dryer. I use it all year long when I wash my sheets and towels though! I started using Shaklee's Soft Fabric Concentrate at the end of last year...and I love it! It keeps my towels and sheets nice and soft without the waxy feeling that the other fabric softeners seemed to leave!


The new formula contains a special plant-based ingredient that adds extra softness to fabrics
Shaklee's Get Clean Soft Fabric Concentrate is:
  • Super-concentrated (32 ounces soften 64 loads!!)
  • Natural
  • Non-toxic
  • Biodegradable
  • compatible for both standard and HE machine
  • Phosphate-free
A recent performance comparison found Shaklee's Get Clean Soft Fabric Concentrate to be just as effective as Snuggle in softness and static reduction!!


Great on fabrics...better on the environment!!
  
Try it out today! If you are not impressed like I was, take advantage of Shaklee's 100% satisfaction guarantee!

 Don't forget...
There are only 10 days left to take advantage of a free Shaklee membership with any $30 purchase!!  

 Also, contact me for 2 additional special offers!!