What To Do When It Rains – 8 FUN Ideas & Duracell Weather Preparedness Kit #PrepwithPower

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PrepwithPower #CollectiveBias
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Can anyone else agree that this has been a very rainy summer so far? It has been at least here in Michigan. These long stretches of rainy days are the worst with my kids. Not only do they get scared when it thunders, but they also get bored being stuck inside all day.This week the weather man is again calling for rain.  All.  Week.  Long.No worries though! We are not going to let the weather keep us down! Last night, after hearing the rainy forecast for this week, I sat down with a pad of paper and the kids and I came up with several great ideas to keep us having fun this week during the rain. Also, to keep us from getting scared, we put together a Duracell preparedness kit so we would be ready for whatever situation may arise.

Being prepared helps us all feel more in control of our environment and therefore less worrisome when bad weather strikes. 

In our weather preparedness kit we put together a bag of things that we thought we would need in order to keep us safe, entertained and calm when bad weather strikes. First, we made a list. Then we went to the store and gathered together everything that our family thought we would need during inclement weather. We then decided to keep everything in a place where we knew it would be easily found.

 How many times have you scrambled through your house when the lights went out looking for a flashlight or had to quickly leave your home for a safer retreat? Yep, me too. That is why we put together this kit. Everything we think we would need is now hanging in a backpack in our front closet.

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Here are a few of the things we decided to put in our kit: 

– Battery operated lantern
– Extra Duracell batteries
– Flashlights (one for each family member)
– Sticker and coloring books
– A book for reading as a family
– Bottled water/shelf stable snacks
– Cordless phone charger
– Battery powered radio
– Pet supplies (a leash, ect.)
– Rain gear
– First aid kit
– Disposable camera (to document any damage)
– A stuffed animal for each kid.

Now that we are prepared for bad weather, we can relax and have fun while we are stuck indoors. From the brilliant minds of my children, here are 8 fun things to do when it rains.

8 {Fun} Rainy Day Ideas

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1) Pretend you are traveling to the rainforest.

My kids love to use their imaginations and take imaginary trips. When the rain is really coming down we like to pretend that we are in the rainforest. We talk about how cool it is to see the gigantic trees and use our flashlights to look for rainforest animals and insects.

2) Listen. 

If you really listen to a storm, it sounds beautiful. If we are getting tense, I like to open the windows, lay on our backs, close our eyes and just listen. Listen to the sound of the rains pitter patter on the roof and windows. The sound of the leaves rustling in the wind. What other sounds can you hear? Maybe a rhythm or beat?

#PrepwithPower #cbias #shop

3) Make your own rainmaker. 

This super easy craft allows you to re-create the sound of the rain and hear it whenever you want! Click here to view the instructions for this craft.

4) Have a flashlight scavenger hunt. 

We typically loose power when it rains hard, but even if you don’t it can be fun to turn out the lights and have a flashlight scavenger hunt. Go through your house and make a list of things that you have. When the lights go out, simply hand everyone a list and a flashlight. The first one to check everything off their list wins! (Just be sure to mix the things up on everyone’s lists so they aren’t all looking for the same thing at the same time)

5) Have a shadow puppet show.

Use your flashlights and your hands to put on a show up on the wall. This is great ol’ fashioned fun.

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6) Read. 

We do this quite often as it is. However, there is something fun about reading next to a lantern or candlelight.

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7) Play with sidewalk chalk.

Yes, you can actually do this indoors. Simply buy a long roll of paper and create your own sidewalk to color on!

8) Once the storm passes,and it is safe to do so, go outside and jump in puddles. 

Be prepared when bad weather strikes with Duracell! 
#PrepwithPower #cbias #shop
Duracell batteries available at Walmart:
#PrepwithPower #cbias #shop
What’s your favorite thing to do when it rains?

Fresh Picked Strawberries & Homemade Pie { plus a giveaway }

Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by Good Cook and Bed Bath and Beyond which provided me with free product to review and giveaway. #freshfruitbowl #BBBProduct
#ad Sweet Strawberry Pie Recipe and Giveaway #freshfruitbowl #BBBProduct
There isn’t a whole lot better than fresh picked strawberries and sweet homemade pie! Am I right? Fresh picked produce is one of the things I like best about summer. Strawberries that have been sun ripening, waiting for you to pick and eat them right off the plant. Mmm. They always taste so much sweeter and juicier than the store bought berries. 
 Today, the sun was shining and the kids and I decided to head out and pick from the abundance of berries that have been produced this summer so far. It really has been a great year for berries!! Much better than last year so far. 
#ad Sweet Strawberry Pie Recipe and Giveaway #freshfruitbowl #BBBProduct
It really is a good thing that the strawberries are over abundant this year too, because after about 10 minutes of picking and my kids were ready to go to play instead. I, however, could have stayed in these strawberry fields all day long. 
Imagine, rows and rows of green, as far as the eye could see. Imagine blue skies. Imagine warm sun setting on your shoulders. Yep, get me a glass of tea and I would never leave this place!
#ad Sweet Strawberry Pie Recipe and Giveaway #freshfruitbowl #BBBProduct
As you can see, the pickings were fabulous! As we lifted leaves and searched for ripe berries, putting them in our crate, we talked and made plans to use our fresh pickings to make a cold berry pie when we returned home. We all agreed that this sounded like the perfect plan, so we finished up and hoped on the back of a tractor to head on back home. 
#ad Sweet Strawberry Pie Recipe and Giveaway #freshfruitbowl #BBBProduct
Not, however, before we said hello to this sweet little goat. Isn’t he precious! 
#ad Sweet Strawberry Pie Recipe and Giveaway #freshfruitbowl #BBBProduct
Once we arrived home, I washed up our fresh berries and stored them in my favorite fruit bowl from Good Cook and Bed Bath and Beyond. This bowl is so great because it keeps the berries separate from their juices and leftover washing water by using a built in colander system. It also has a lid so I can wash them in the colander, set the colander in the bowl, pop on the lid and place the whole set in the fridge. (You also get a chance to WIN one of these bowls at the bottom of this post!!!)
#ad Sweet Strawberry Pie Recipe and Giveaway #freshfruitbowl #BBBProduct
After the berries were washed and we were ready, the kids and I started cutting up the berries and arranging them in our crusts. We DID have enough berries when we started, but I think a few of them got re-routed in the process. 🙂
#ad Sweet Strawberry Pie Recipe and Giveaway #freshfruitbowl #BBBProduct
Cold Strawberry Pie
Ingredients: 

1 lb. fresh strawberries – washed
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup boiling water
1 TBS cornstarch
1 graham cracker pie crust
1.5 oz. of strawberry jello
Cool whip for topping
#ad Sweet Strawberry Pie Recipe and Giveaway #freshfruitbowl #BBBProduct

Directions:

Begin by adding your cornstarch and sugar into a small bowl. Whisk them together until combined.

Bring 1/2 cup of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat to medium and whisk in your sugar/cornstarch mixture.

Continue to whisk until the mixture thickens and becomes clear in appearance. Once this happens, remove it from the heat and stir in red jello.

Allow the mixture to cool to around room temperature. In the meantime, arrange your berries within your pie crust.

Once the mixture has cooled, pour it over the berries and set your pie in the fridge to solidify. This will take about four hours.

After four or more hours, remove the pie from the fridge and serve. Preferably with cool whip.

#ad Sweet Strawberry Pie Recipe and Giveaway #freshfruitbowl #BBBProduct

Serve chilled.

#ad Sweet Strawberry Pie Recipe and Giveaway #freshfruitbowl #BBBProduct

Just be sure to get a slice because this pie goes fast, especially in my house! We LOVE this retro style jello pie. I’ve even thought about adding in other types of berries to the mixture such as blueberries or blackberries, but I just haven’t wanted to mess with a classic. . yet. Next time! 🙂

#ad Sweet Strawberry Pie Recipe and Giveaway #freshfruitbowl #BBBProduct

Yeah! Today we’ve got a giveaway!! This ProFreshionals cut fruit bowl is perfect for storing all of your fresh picked summer fruits and berries, which I know your gonna want to run out and get after reading this post. So, hurry up and enter to win one of your very own. I love mine!!

Available exclusively at Bed Bath and Beyond

#ad Sweet Strawberry Pie Recipe and Giveaway #freshfruitbowl #BBBProduct
For more chances to win, check out these other bloggers and see how they used their fresh fruit bowls to create something fabulous to eat this summer. 

Mexican Fiesta Burgers {You Gotta Try This}

Disclosure: This post was inspired by BzzAgent who sent me free coupons to the Kroger Taste of Mexico event and product samples. #GotItFree

As many of you who have been following my blog for awhile know, I am incredibly interested in culture, travel and teaching my kids to enjoy different flavors and foods.  Someday, we have big plans to travel the world together. But as for now, I am doing my best to bring the world to them. Normally, we try to make foods that correlate with our monthly #affiliate Little Passports delivery, however this month I was captivated by Kroger’s Taste of Mexico event and decided to purchase a few of the ingredients from the event to create a Mexico “inspired” meal at home.

Taste of Mexico Event at Kroger @BzzAgent #GotItFree

Since I have absolutely no experience or knowledge of international cuisine, I decided to make the most Mexican inspired American meal I could think of. Basically I took my knowledge of tacos and turned it into a burger. I know, I know. . not very authentic, but the flavor was amazing.

Fiesta Burger Recipe #GotItFree @BuzzAgent

For dinner I crafted a new cheeseburger with the added flavors of cumin, paprika, garlic, and red pepper flakes. We then grilled our burgers and served them with nontraditional toppings such as salsa, avocado, sour cream and a few traditional toppings such as cheese and lettuce.

Fiesta Burger Recipe #GotItFree @BuzzAgent

Here is how we did it:

Fiesta Burger

Ingredients: 

Ground Beef patties
Taco Seasonings (cumin, paprika, garlic and red pepper flakes)
Buns
Toppings (cheese, lettuce, avocado, salsa, sour cream)

Directions: 

Begin by preparing your burger patties. Sprinkle each of the patties with desired amount of taco seasonings. I usually just give them each a good shake and call it good.

Grill your burgers until cooked properly.

Add your burgers to a bun and top with your favorite choices.

Serve with tortilla chips (optional)

Fiesta Burger Recipe #GotItFree @BuzzAgent

The entire family loved the burgers this way. In fact, we actually liked them BETTER than traditional burgers!

Fiesta Burger Recipe #GotItFree @BuzzAgent

While browsing the Taste of Mexico event at Kroger, I was given a chance to try a goats milk caramel sauce. This inspired me to create a dessert to match with our fiesta meal. I decided to create something cinnamon and sweet, like the fried ice cream my kids order every time we go to our favorite Mexican restaurant. Since I didn’t want to get out a deep fryer and truly have no idea how to fry ice cream, I decided to make something similar in taste. This is my Americanized rendition of churro’s and ice cream. I must say that it turned out pretty wonderful.

Churro Inspired Dessert Recipe #GotItFree @BuzzAgent

Imitation Churros & Ice Cream

Ingredients: 

Pancake mix
Oil for “frying”
Ice cream – vanilla
Caramel sauce
Confectioners sugar

Directions:

To make the “churro’s” to serve with our ice cream I simply made up a batch of pancake mix according to the box.

In a large skillet I added enough oil to cover about 1/2″ of the bottom. I heated the oil over medium heat and then added spoonfuls of pancake mix.

Allow the pancakes to cook as normal, they will just be a little bit crispier than a normal pancake when they are done.

Finally, remove them from the oil and sprinkle with confectioners sugar.

Serve with ice cream and caramel.

Churro Inspired Dessert Recipe #GotItFree @BuzzAgent

Next month I think we are going to be celebrating Brazil! Anybody have any meal ideas?

How to Add {Fake} Summer Color to Your Hair

Adding fake summer color to your hair with clip on extensions

I might be a little bit different, but I like to embrace it. A few weeks back when I saw the most beautiful lady with pink streaks in her hair and I could hardly control myself. Ooohh, I exclaimed to her, I absolutely LOVE your hair! I would love to put color in my hair too but whenever I do it always washes right out, I confessed. She smiled at me and said “Thank you but they’re clip in’s. You could easily do it too”.

Really? They looked so natural to me. So the two of us chatted for a moment about where to buy them, how to put them in and what type to buy. It also turns out that she is a hairstylist. No wonder she had such great fashion sense. 🙂

After chatting with my new friend, I was so excited to add some color to my hair that on the way home I stopped and picked up my very own clips. They were easy to use and now people are complimenting me on my pop of color without knowing that they are fake and how truly easy it is to do themselves.

Over the last few weeks I have been stopped by several people asking about the color in my hair. I love that people are starting to embrace hair color as a thing of beauty. So Today I thought that I would share my color secret with you.

How I Easily Added {FAKE} Summer Color to My Hair

First, I wanted to add a pop of color to my hair without the commitment or worry about spending a fortune to only have it wash out. To do this I went to my local beauty supply store and purchase colored clip in extensions. After talking with the sales associate I decided to buy  “100% real human hair” and not the synthetic ones. Here’s why: the real hair, of course, looks like real hair and it will blend in better with what I’ve already got. Plus, the real hair can be stylized with heat (NOT while clipped into your hair) where the synthetic ones would melt.

Here are the brand of clip in’s that I buy. I simply found them at a Sally’s Beauty Supply store.

Second, you will notice that the clips will come in two long strands. I have much shorter hair than the extensions came in, so I had to cut them. If you choose to add these extensions to your beauty routine, I would recommend having your hairstylist cut them to the correct length for you at your next appointment.

I had just had a hair salon appointment, so I decided to cut them myself at home. However, before I cut the extensions I made sure to place them into my hair and find out where I liked to wear them. This is a very important first step. I like to place mine about 1/4 of the way down from the top of my head, under a nice layer of hair and so they fall directly behind my ear.

Once I had them where I liked them I marked them with tape, removed them and cut them to the desired length.

Adding fake summer color to your hair with clip on extensions

When my clips were the right length, placing the clips back in my hair is easy. I simply pull a section of my hair up and out of the way, place the hair extension in the correct spot, slightly bring it down to allow the prongs to grab some hair and push on the clip to secure it into place. Now I simple blend them in with my other hair and enjoy being colorful.

Adding fake summer color to your hair with clip on extensions

These clips retail for about 11.99 at my store for a pair and come in several colors such as hot pink, purple, blue, light blonde and brown. I like to have a couple different colors on hand and either combine them or switch them out as needed. If you choose to wear clip in’s just be sure to take them out before activities like sleeping, swimming and showering. These clips are only meant to be worn for short periods of time and are not permanent just like any other hair clip would be.

As always, be sure to follow the manufacturers instructions. They know their product much better than I! This post only convey’s my personal experiences and opinions.  

What do you think? What color are you going to pick? 🙂

Welcoming Summer with a Pizza Party #DesignAPizza #shop #cbias

I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for Collective Bias and its advertiser. #DesignAPizza #Digiorno #CollectiveBias
 #DesignAPizza #Digiorno  #shop

School’s out for the summer! Yippy! I actually love it when the kids go on summer break. No more getting up early, rushing out the door and busy schedules. No, now that summer is here we can do what we please, enjoy the early morning sunshine and stay up later. So yesterday, in order to celebrate our first night of summer break, the kids and I decided that we would have a pizza party and stay up late watching movies.

Such a great idea! The kids were hyper and excited.

On the way home from the last day of school we all stopped at Walmart to pick up some supplies for our fun filled night ahead of us. We first made a beeline to the pizza aisle to see what pizza we could all agree on. Mom wanted veggies, the kids wanted just cheese and pepperoni and dad wanted meat.


We always seem to fall into this problem. No one can ever agree.

Just as a fight started to fuel up in the pizza aisle, I spotted a brand new pizza from DIGIORNO®. #DesignAPizza. Brilliant! Now diverse families like ours can buy one pizza and split it into everyone’s favorite toppings and I don’t have to buy and cook several different pizzas. 

These looked great!

#DesignAPizza #Digiorno  #shop
Next we headed over to the dessert aisle to find something sweet. In keeping with the theme of pizza and summer, I decided to create a s’mores pizza for after dinner. Mmm. S’mores and ice cream? Perfect idea! (We’ll get to that later. You have to eat your dinner first in order to get dessert.) 🙂

 #DesignAPizza #Digiorno  #shop

We kicked off our first day of summer pizza party with dinner and of course the kids wanted to help (which I love). Being the silly family that we are, we decided to play around with the toppings and create a picture of a flower in honor of summer. The kids thought that was funny and loved being able to play with their food. We shared quite a few giggles last night in the kitchen. I love that.

 #DesignAPizza #Digiorno  #shop
 #DesignAPizza #Digiorno  #shop

After playing with our food, I created the great divide. Cheese and pepperoni for the kids and meat and veggies for the parents. Everyone was happy (thank goodness) and we popped the pizza into the oven.

 #DesignAPizza #Digiorno  #shop

After baking it according to the directions, which only took about 20 minutes, we had piping hot and delicious pizza! They aren’t kidding when they say DIGIORNO® tastes like delivery. It was fabulous and everyone got a slice of their unique toppings.

 #DesignAPizza #Digiorno  #shop
Yummy!
 #DesignAPizza #Digiorno  #shop
After our tasty dinner was finished, the kids were geared up and ready for dessert. Remember, we were going to make a s’mores themed pizza? Well, we did. All I can say is Wow!

S'mores Pizza #shop

Here is how we made it:
S’mores Pizza

Ingredients:
– premade Nestlé® TOLL HOUSE® refridgerated cookie dough
– Nestlé® TOLL HOUSE® morsels
– mini marshmallows
– graham cracker crumbs

Directions:

Begin by rolling out your chocolate chip cookie dough into the shape of a pizza. I put mine on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper.

Smores Pizza #shop #cbias

Bake the cookies according to directions (about 10 minutes at 350 degrees) Remove from oven.

Cover the baked cookie with chocolate chunks, mini marshmallows and crushed graham crackers.

Smores Pizza #shop #cbias
Return the cookie with toppings to the oven and bake at 350 degrees just until the marshmallows have slightly browned. About 5 minutes.

Remove the s’mores pizza from the oven, cool slightly and serve (preferably with ice cream!).

Smores Pizza #shop #cbias

After our fun filled pizza party, complete with dessert pizza, we all cuddled up on the couch to pick our pizza party movie. . . and the arguing began again. Dick wanted a boy movie, Jane wanted a princess movie, and mom and dad wanted anything besides a cartoon. 

Tell me, when are they going to come up with a way to split a movie like DIGIORNO® split our pizza toppings? Because that would be amazing. .

I love my family. 🙂

Happy Summer!!
<3 Dick and Jane

The Best of Online Deal Sites {Shopping}

Lately I have been a little bit obsessed with online deal sites. It all started when I saw a gorgeous maxi dress available online and at the perfect price point of $18.00. Seriously? There must be something wrong with it, I figured. Probably horrible quality, right? However, for that price, I decided to buy it anyways and give it a try.

When my packaged arrived in the mail, I opened it up to find a perfectly made maxi dress that fit like a glove. I was smitten!

Since that first maxi dress, I have been able to find several great pieces of clothing online that I loved. Plus, the items available are just my style!

So today I thought I would share with you three of my favorite deal sites that I use frequently and ask you, What are you favorites?

I’ll start with my favorite: Groopdealz.  This site consistently has amazing deals and awesome in-style clothing. But if you are shopping this site, you’d better be quick. The best deals here go fast!

Screenshot via Groopdealz.com

 After checking out Groopdealz, I usually hop on over to Jane. These two sites are both similar in the fact that they mostly cater to women and both offer small boutique style clothing. Between these two sites is where I purchase most of my clothing and accessories. Absolutely love them both!

Screenshot via VeryJane.com

 Finally, when I need something extra cute for my kids, I go check out #affiliate Zulily. This site consistently has super cute kids clothing at great prices. Many of the items offered here are boutique style clothing and name brand options.

Screenshot via Zulily.com

Do you have a favorite site that you consistently use? Please, share your secrets in the comments!!

Easy Cooking for Easy Summer Nights #DinnerDone #shop #cbias

I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for Collective Bias and its advertiser. #DinnerDone #collectivebias
Easy Caprese Pasta Salad #ad #dinnerdone #cbias @huntschef

Ahhh. Relax.

It’s summer and the warmth beacons you outdoors to bask in its divine heat. Go ahead, grab a nice large mason jar filled with sweet tea and sit back. Get cozy and sink down into your adirondack chair. This is the moment you have been waiting for all year long. . . .

Oh WAIT! You need to make dinner!! You almost forgot didn’t you? 🙂

Grr. That rather annoying task of making dinner is always there, day in and day out. Doesn’t it know that you just found the perfect spot in your adirondack chair and you really just want to relax?!?

Don’t get me wrong. I love to cook, sometimes you can’t keep me out of the kitchen! Sometimes, however, I would rather being doing other things, like sitting on my back terrace with a large glass of sweet tea in my hand as the setting sun gives me a loving goodnight kiss.

But alas, dinner must be made or my husband and kids will wither away to nothing. Seriously, they’ve already told me so, like a million times. . .

So, when I have days like this, when I really don’t feel like standing in a kitchen for a long time making a meal, I like to pull out my secret weapon summer recipes with Hunt’s canned tomatoes.

Easy Caprese Pasta Salad #ad #dinnerdone #cbias @huntschef

Seriously! There are so many things you can make with fresh steam peeled tomatoes that don’t take a lot of time to put together. My favorite, especially for hot summer days when I don’t want something heavy to eat, is this quick and easy caprese inspired pasta.

This recipe is so great because it tastes good warm, like right after you’ve made it, and also cold right out of the fridge the next day for lunch!

Easy Caprese Pasta Salad #ad #dinnerdone #cbias @huntschef

Caprese Pasta Salad

Ingredients: 

Cooked pasta – according to package
3 TBS olive oil
1 can Hunt’s diced with basil, garlic and oregano
Fresh basil (optional) for garnish
1/4 balsamic vinegar
Mozzarella – cubed or shredded

Directions:

Begin by cooking your pasta according to the package details. Drain and rinse slightly just to slow the cooking process so your pasta is al dente.

Easy Caprese Pasta Salad #ad #dinnerdone #cbias @huntschef

In a separate bowl, whisk together your olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Set aside.

Open your can of Hunt’s tomatoes and drain them. Pour the tomatoes into your pasta and toss with oil/vinegar mixture.

Top with mozzarella and serve. #DinnerDone

Easy Caprese Pasta Salad #ad #dinnerdone #cbias @huntschef

Now you can go back to your seat, tea and sunshine. You could even bring your dinner outside with you so you don’t miss a moment of your day.

Ahhh. . .

Now that’s what I call one quick and healthy dinner. Thank goodness my drink is still cold. 🙂

Easy Caprese Pasta Salad #ad #dinnerdone #cbias @huntschef

Cheers!

Easy Caprese Pasta Salad #ad #dinnerdone #cbias @huntschef

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6 Ways to Summer Travel with Kids AT HOME

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Little Passports also sent me one free month to try their service in return for my honest opinion. 
6 Ways to Summer Travel with Kids at home #ad #littlepassports

Lately I have been purposefully trying to introduce new things into my family’s structure to help stir up a little bit of curiosity for international travel. International travel is something that I have thought about and wanted to do for only a short time, however my drive to experience the world firsthand is quickly growing. Throughout my childhood and young adulthood I have been conditioned to think small. I have been told that the world is dangerous and that I only need to worry about what is going on in my town or my city.

I don’t believe that anymore. After growing up, meeting people from other countries, talking with them about their cultures, and coming into my own, I have decided that I need to experience more of the world than just what I am comfortable with. I need to see the world with my own eyes, taste it with my lips, hear the sounds and feel it with my own hands.

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” 

― Augustine of Hippo


Even though the thought of jumping on a plane and heading around the world with two small kids sometimes scares the crap out of me and I know that I have some a ton of work to do to prepare before I will be ready to head out on that grand of an adventure, I want to start conditioning my family and learning as much about world travel as I can now. And, if international travel doesn’t happen for me in my lifetime (which I totally hope that it does) I want to instill the yearning and drive for adventure that I have found into my kids now, before they develop their fears, responsibilities and setbacks. I want my kids to understand that there is a HUGE world out there and right now they are only seeing a small dot of it. I want my kids to crave adventure, open themselves up to different cultures, meet new people to see that we are all the same on the inside and beyond all else I want them to see the world as it truly is; majestic.

6 Ways to Summer Travel with Kids at home #ad #littlepassports

This summer I had plans to take a trip to see one of my good friends in Australia. However it doesn’t look like that trip is yet in the books for us. We still have some money saving and travel prepping to do. So instead I have come up with a few ways in which I am going to start bringing the worlds culture right here to my kids at home. Yes, I understand that it in no way compares to the real thing, but this way when we do finally set out on our grand adventure they will be ready and knowledgeable about where we are going.

Here are a few of the things that we are doing this summer to bring world travel home:

Create authentic (close to) foods and taste new flavors. 

Just the other day the kids and I were in the grocery store and as we walked down the taco shell aisle I began to look around at all of the items that were on the shelves. Many of these items I had never tried and quite frankly never even noticed before. That should change, I thought. So a grabbed a bunch of the items and decided to take them home and try them with my kids. First we tasted some pop that tasted terrible, but we gave it a try! I also took some of the spices and created something for dinner that I definitely could not call authentic, but it did open up a dialect at the table about where these tastes came from, so I am counting that as a win and planning to do it again.

Focus on one county each month.

When I decided to do this project with my kids, I thought that it would be easiest if we chose one country each month and came up with things to do which related to that culture during that month. I knew a little bit about several of the countries we wanted to “visit” but I didn’t know where to start and I definitely didn’t know specifics. Then I came across Little Passports. Little Passports is seriously one of the coolest things I’ve found so far to help inspire a world of travel in my kids hearts.

6 Ways to Summer Travel with Kids at home #ad #littlepassports

Little Passports is a monthly subscription service that will send your kids a suitcase, map, stickers, pictures and passport in the first box and then information, games, online interactions and more about a new country every month! It’s fabulous!! So each month when our box arrives we all find out together which country we are going to be “visiting” and then we work on learning what that country is all about, what types of foods they eat and what the people who live there are like. Then my goal is to go out into our own community and online to see what we can do that would correlate to that culture. Little Passports makes it so easy to world travel right in our own backyard!

Click here to learn about a 12-month subscription to Little Passports and start traveling with your kids this summer.

Watch educational documentaries on Hulu.

One of the things we did when we canceled our cable was get Hulu. I don’t like the kids to watch t.v. much, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that Hulu carries several documentaries on different countries and cultures. If they are going to watch a show before bedtime, at least it is going to be something educational.

We have already been able to find several shows that correlate directly with the countries that we have been discovering. Be sure to check out a series called “Travel with Kids”. It’s great and shows the kids that they too can travel the world without fear and see so many wonderful places.

Follow great travel bloggers.

This is something else that I have began to do on a regular basis. Seeing other people traveling not only helps my children and myself see other countries through their eyes, but is also helping to inspire our own adventures. Reading their stories is always a great reminder to live out our own dreams, especially when we see someone else already doing it.

Great travel bloggers you should check out: 

Travel with Bender

World Travel Family

Travel with Kids TV

6 Ways to Summer Travel with Kids at home #ad #littlepassports

Visit your library. 

This is another great way to learn about different countries. My kids love exploring the library in search of books from or about our monthly adventure location. This is a great way to see pictures and find facts. My daughter LOVES to read facts.

Create a travel journal. 

While we are exploring new countries and learning new facts this summer, I thought that it would be fun for each kid to have their own travel journal. In their journal they can write down the cool facts that they found, draw pictures, talk about our real life adventures or whatever else they feel would fit.

To do this I simply purchased two small blank sketchbooks and let the kids decorate the covers. Just make sure they are small enough to fit inside your Little Passports suitcase and you will be able to keep everything safely together. Things in our house have a tendency to get lost, quick.

6 Ways to Summer Travel with Kids at home #ad #littlepassports

Be sure to follow along all summer long as I will be posting about our monthly at home adventures, meals and real life travel.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would YOU go?

Jane picked Russia
Dick picked China
I picked Spain.


Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all people cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends

-Maya Angelou

Port Huron, MI – A City Full of Vintage Charm

One of my favorite things to do in life is explore. There is a certain rush that I feel when my husband and I jump into our old vintage hot rod and take to the road together. Not knowing exactly where we are going, but just out there to enjoy the ride. It’s perfect.

Last weekend, for our ninth wedding anniversary and because the weather was finally perfect for cruising, we headed out for our first adventure of the year together. Just him and I.

Our arrival: Port Huron, MI.

Port Huron was the perfect little lakeside city that hadn’t yet been spoiled by corporate America. The main drag looks probably similar to what it did many years ago; full of charm.

You could easily spend your entire day strolling down the clean and kept sidewalks, perusing the various stores mom and pop stores (including an antique store which would blow your mind), but Port Huron has many other things to offer (and apparently all of the stores close at 5 pm, even on a Saturday).

So, after getting my shopping bug out (and quite frankly running out of “stores open” time), I headed over to see the water and the big ships that pass through the harbor. It was serene. As I walked along the harbor, the cool fresh breeze from the lake brushed against me. The views along the lake were spectacular too, especially this really cool wooden something. If anyone knows what this is, please do share. 🙂

(Extra points if you can spot the hidden face in the photo above)

Once my legs were tired from walking, we decided to head just down the street to a well recommended location for dinner; the Quay Street Brewery.

Fantastic!

The atmosphere was superb. We sat downstairs on the terrace and we could watch the boats pass us by as we contently drank our artesian beer sampler and listened to a fabulous live band play. The food was also great. If you want my recommendation, order the pretzels with the beer mustard sauce. Mmm..

 I really could have stayed there all night, but we wanted to venture on and see what else this interesting city held.

After finishing our dinner and drinks we stumbled walked around the grounds surrounding the restaurant to simply enjoy the fresh night air. Just outside the brewery we were delighted to find a life sized chess game. Adorable! I really wanted to play a match, but there were several other couples already waiting patiently for their turns. We decided to keep on walking.

After strolling through a few alleys (normally I wouldn’t recommend this) we found some sweet vintage buildings and spectacular views. I just couldn’t put my camera down. I loved the colors, the fun and the rustic appeal of this quaint little downtown area.

Where should we go next? Leave your suggestion in the comments. 

Finding Happiness #100daysofhappiness

I would consider myself to be an overall happy person. I have a great family, a great life, two great jobs and food on my table everyday. I have everything in my life that one would think they would need in order to be happy. However, sometimes I struggle with finding the happiness that exists within my life, especially when my tasks become mundane and boring. I often find that the small, everyday things now have the ability to make me cranky and short wicked.

For example, last night my daughter informed me that she needed to bring in a birthday treat to school this morning because they were celebrating summer birthdays and she was one of them. Having a part time job on top of my blogging job on top of everything else that a mom already does, I didn’t have time to hand bake something for her to take in (within 12 hours) and I was feeling inadequate. I do realize that I may be spreading myself a little bit to thin these days, but I wasn’t going to let my daughter suffer because of it. So, I got up this morning and headed off to the grocery store to look for something birthday worthy that she could share with her friends. After perusing the store, I decided that my best bet was to pick up some fresh bakery cupcakes (because maybe, just maybe I could trick people into thinking that I made them). I found the perfect cupcakes with Hello Kitty rings on the top. She loves Hello Kitty, but I couldn’t get the Hello Kitty ones because there were only 24 in a pack and I needed 27. Once again, I fail. Needless to say, the ladies working behind the counter just couldn’t give me three more Hello Kitty rings so I could buy another smaller tray of cupcakes and place them on the top; giving me the 27 that I needed. No, that just wouldn’t make sense!? So I left the counter with no other choice than to buy the plain jane cupcakes with sprinkles on top so that no one in her class would feel left out. Every one of them needed to be the same, right? I grumbled at my obviously lacking choice (and at myself for not being better prepared) and headed to the checkout lanes. This was just going to have to work.

Now, answer this for me. Since when do checkout lanes no longer have actual people working at them? Trying to ring up my cart full of items by myself while also trying to hold on to a 3 year old jumping bean who just “wanted to help” was not my idea of a great shopping trip. By the time I had finally finished running each and every item past the scanner (with the help of my jumping bean) and paid for my purchases I was swearing under my breath, cursing the very person who decided to implement these new machines and vowing to never step foot in that store again.

When I got to my car I was tense and frustrated. I had allowed that little moment in the grocery store ruin my entire day and set me off into a bad mood spiral. Even more so, it seems as though these little obstacles were becoming more frequent and more of a way of life for me. But, why was I feeding them? Why am I allowing these “little irruptions” to become so strong that they could seemingly steal my happiness away from me?

Stupid.

Do you ever feel like everyday is the same? I feel as though I am falling into a pattern of normality. I am getting bored with my surroundings and my life and am simply on the waiting block for something big to happen. I keep telling myself that when something good happens to me, THEN I will be happy. But what about today? Why can’t I be happy today?

Thinking about it more, I have decided that in order to be happy I needed to act happy. I need to find my own happiness and even sometimes create it on my own. In order to do this I have decided to dedicate the next 100 days to finding happiness. I am going to search for at least one thing everyday that brings me happiness. I am also going into this experiment with the understanding that happiness doesn’t always just fall into your lap, you must sometimes go after it and seek it out yourself. So during these 100 days I am planning to make changes to my life and do things to help me find the happiness that I seek. Hopefully by the end of this experiment I will have taught myself to focus on the good in my life and train myself to look past the small things in search of the things that really matter.

So what types of things am I going to do to find happiness? This will differ for everyone, but things on my list are: being outdoors more, baking and cooking new recipes, eating better, going for a run everyday, finding ways to travel more, reaching out to friends and working on deepening relationships plus a few other personal goals which I might be ready to share with you on a later date.

The rundown: For the next 100 days I am going to do at least one thing, or find at least one thing that makes me happy in my everyday life. I am going to Instagram what makes me happy if it can be photographed and share  the intangible things and experiences via twitter.

Where you can find me and my happiness project:
Instagram – raisingdickjane
Twitter – @raisingdickjane
#100daysofhappiness

Join the worldwide movement:
If anyone wants to join me (and many others) on this journey, I would love to have the company! Lets create our own positive environments and move forward towards a more joyous life together . You can also share your own images or experiences by hastaging #100daysofhappiness in your posts. I will be doing the same.

As a further reference, I have found this book to be a great resource in my own personal journey. You may want to consider reading it while you embark on yours.

#affiliate link

DAY 1: #100daysofhappiness
<3 Mary