Penny Pinching Peach

For the semi crunchy, homeschool friendly and totally frugal!


Indoor Water Play

Indoor Water Play

Indoor Water Play- a great way to keep toddlers happy indoors!

My children are all little water babies.

Usually this tendency shows in them splashing water all over the bathroom when they are supposed to be washing their hands. Finding them lingering in there playing in the sink and flooding the floor is frustrating , but I do try to give them fun opportunities to satisfy this urge to splash and pour.

One thing they love to do, when they can’t go outside to play, is set them up with some indoor water play.

I get out my humongous pot and fill it about a third of the way with water. I’ll set it on a beach towel on the kitchen floor, then throw in some cups, toy boats, funnels or other small items that will be fun to play with in the water. They can easily stay at this simple activity for the better part of an hour, especially if I switch out the toys every 15-20 minutes or so.

Sometimes I give him toy cars and it’s a “car wash”. Other times he is giving his dinosaurs or doll a bath. Get creative!  That’s the whole point!

This activity works really well for my preschooler to do while I’m working with my oldest daughter on her school at the table. He’s usually very content and relatively quiet. It makes it easier for her to focus than if he’s running around being a wild child, even if she is working independently.

Do your children enjoy playing with water indoors? For more fun activities for the cold weather this winter, check out 10 preschool activities using household items!


Camping With the Cuties

Want a relatively cheap way to spend a weekend with the family? How about trying camping?

With the weather warming up, this is the perfect time to plan a fishing and camping trip! With a little planning, you can have oodles of fun without breaking the bank!

First, where are you going to sleep? Do you have an RV or tent already?

Okay, then are you going to stay on private land, at a campsite or what? Make sure you have any necessary permission or reservations to avoid a last minute scramble to find somewhere to park your sleeping bags! If you don’t have an RV or tent and don’t plan to acquire one, see if you know anyone who will let you borrow one or if there is an inexpensive campsite with cabins for rent (like a National Forest). Wherever you choose to stay, don’t forget to make sure you have comfortable sleeping gear, like sleeping bags or blow up mattresses.

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Next, what are you going to eat? Think about EVERY meal and snacks!

(If you have small children and don’t pack snacks, I promise that you will regret it.) We often pack hot dogs and marshmallows to roast over the campfire, which covers one meal and a fun dessert of s’mores for an easy prep. Lunch can be something simple like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, premade for zero prep other than taking them out of the cooler to gobble up. Also, make sure you have whatever it takes to prepare the meal when you get there, whether it be a portable grill like this fairly inexpensive one my husband uses constantly, even at home Backyard Grill 278-sq in Portable Charcoal Grill, Black, matches or a butter knife. It’s not going to magically appear in the wilderness! 😉

Don’t forget to grab the gear for whatever activities you have planned

Fishing poles and all the accessories, if that’s your chosen pastime (and could provide a meal, but have a back-up plan in case the fish don’t wanna come to dinner! 😉 ). Comfy shoes and water bottles for hiking. Binoculars & camera for bird watching. Buckets and containers to store berries in for berry picking. Reusable bags if you decide to scavenge for hidden treasures like arrowheads and interesting rocks. There are sooooo many fun things you can do outdoors that cost very little! Whatever you are doing, don’t forget the sunscreen, sunglasses and bug spray! Trust me, I’m talking from my own painful & itchy experiences here, y’all!! 🙂

If you are camping with small children, make sure to bring their “comfort objects”.

Add them into the headcount while packing up to go home, whether it’s the teddy bear who rides with them in their car seat or the rocket ship they must have tucked in next to them to be able to rest at night or any special blankets. I love to bring these cute flashlight pals Flashlight Friends – The Huggable Loveable Child’s Flash Light and/or dream lights Pillow Pets Dream Lites – Pink Butterfly 11″ with us, because it helps make up for the absence of a regular night light with my scared-of-the-dark little ones. Both of my kids have their own, and they love them for home and especially for travel. My son has the blue camo dog in the dream lites and the dinosaur flash light pal, while my daughter has the butterfly dream lite and the unicorn flash light friend. They are AWESOME!!

What is your best tip for camping with kids?

Camping can be fun, just make sure you are well prepared with everything possible that your little ones may need or be accustomed to. It will make a huge difference in the outcome of your trip if you go prepared instead of flying by the seat of your pants. Need tips for traveling with little ones? Head on over to Traveling With Little Riders! Looking for gift ideas for your outdoorsman? You need THIS LIST!!!

For more great summer kids posts, check out:

Simply Rachel


Traveling with Little Riders

A couple of years ago with one of my little riders.

A couple of years ago with one of my little riders.

Planning to travel this summer? Have small children? One of your big concerns is probably how to keep the little rascals entertained and happy on the trip to where you’re headed, right? Here are some of my tried and true tips for ways to keep toddlers and preschoolers happy while traveling!

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Snacks!!! Any parents know to bring something for the kids to munch on, but here are my tips to make this a success. Pack familiar favorites, as well as occasional treats and things they will like, but don’t really get at home. A treat they enjoy plain made in a cool shape can be exciting at this age! Make sure they are safe to consume while strapped in a car seat, and not overly messy. For children who are past the major choking stage, some good options are homemade cookies (like my super yummy healthy cookies or these less healthy easy cake mix cookies), raisins and other dried fruits, real fruit dye free gummies, goldfish crackers, cereals or mixes made with cereals, sandwich crackers, pretzels, grapes, bananas, apple slices, string cheese, etc. Some of these are assuming you are hauling a cooler, but that’s almost a given on a long trip with munchkins, isn’t it? 😉

Coloring books. If your children are a little older, make sure to get them some that also have appealing games in them, like mazes, color-by-number, dot-to-dot and things like that to keep them more mentally stimulated for longer.

Stickers. Encourage them to get creative. You could let them decorate their own activity boxes, notebooks, memory books from the trip or bookmarks & cards for family members using their stickers, like this set of 1,000 animal stickers for cheap or other varieties. You can also give them a little notepad and have them put a sticker in it every time they find a particular object you agree on them finding and counting, whether it be a school bus, fire truck, the same color of car that you are riding in, churches, fields of cows, seagulls….whatever would catch their interest and be something they would find plenty of without it being too terribly easy.

Electronic games. I rarely allow my children to play with their electronic games at home, so when they get them during a waiting time (like a road trip, when I need to make important phone calls quietly at home or while waiting at doctor’s office), it will hold their attention for a very long time.

Love pure quality essential oils, but have a tight budget? Want to be sure they are safe for your children? I love Barefut Essential Oils and the Kid Friendly line! They  run some amazing specials on top of the usual super affordable prices!


I Spy. This game can carry on quite awhile, just adjust it to your child’s capabilities. You can use this to hone their skills in different areas. Some examples? I spy something big/little/green/orange/soft/wet/tall/round/square/sharp/etc. It doesn’t just have

to be colors! 🙂
DVD player. In a modern age, I’m sure most parents think to bring a way for their kids to watch movies on trips, but it bears mentioning. This portable DVD player is a #1 best seller!

Children’s Songs. This one could drive a parent absolutely batty, but there are times when listening to 100 children’s songs and pantomiming along is the preferred torture. When your other options are whining, crying or bickering…who can judge you belting out “Twinkle Twinkle” complete with theatric gestures? 😉

Books. This may seem like a no brainer, but it has to be included. What I do to make books even more engaging for them to look through is to give them a “mission” to accomplish. “See if you can find the purple pony hiding in this book!” or for those who can count “Count how many fish are swimming through this book!” or any other searches you can send them through the pages for. This really appeals to my goal oriented munchkins, and can make half a dozen books last as long as 20 books might without the extra missions. This traveling book is chock full of travel activities!

What are some of your favorite tricks for entertaining little ones on the road? Need some money saving tips? Try my Cheap Travel Tips!


Tomato Cucumber Macaroni Salad

Tomato Cucumber Macaroni Salad

Tomato Cucumber Macaroni Salad

Want a quick & healthy dish for a summer lunch? Try my Tomato Cucumber Macaroni Salad!

It’s super simple, and a hit any time I make it. I made it the night before while I was making baked mac and cheese for supper, and let it chill overnight to marry the flavors better. It really did blend the tastes together even more strongly by morning.

Here’s how you make this easy pleasure macaroni salad:

Boil two cups of macaroni noodles to al dente.

While the noodles are boiling, chop up two medium cucumbers and two medium tomatoes. Toss in a medium sized bowl with a bit of salt and pepper.

When ready, drain the noodles and rinse with cold water until they are cooled off. Dump in the bowl with the chopped veggies.

Pour in ranch dressing to taste and stir well. You can eat it then or chill overnight.

This would be good with sweet onions, shredded carrots, broccoli, chopped olives, tuna or shredded chicken stirred in, as well. It’s a versatile sort of “dump salad”, and oodles of fun for the palate to play with a variety of ingredients. I love to use fresh veggies from my garden for light and refreshing lunches in the summer time, so it varies what I make according to what produce is on hand.

This is great for packing in something like these World Kitchen Pyrex 6-Piece Food Plus Storage Set for lunches, if you have a cooler to carry or refrigeration available wherever you’re headed for work, school or play. Just pop one open on your lunch break and dig in! 🙂

What are some of your favorite lunches? What splendid summer veggies do you have an abundance of to gobble up? Also try my Weeknight Dinners!

Peace, smiles, and good vittles for all! 😉

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Dandelions Are My Favorite Flower

Sweet Smiles of Spring!

Sweet Smiles of Spring!

Dandelions are my favorite flower!

A lot of folks look at dandelions as a weed, a nuisance, something to be combatted removed at any cost. I see a dandelion and I think of dimpled hands, smiling faces and bright yellow bouquets offered with lots of sunshiny sweetness and pride in a gift well chosen.

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Many people see dandelions as pesky plants they want to eradicate. I see a beautiful bloom that speaks of love and innocence.

♥ I love this beautiful Real Dandelion Seed Pendant Necklace! ♥


I’m sure most people list something fancier as their favorite flower, like roses or tulips, and I understand that. I love those, too. They are lovely to look at, last longer, and smell sweeter than the humble yellow blossom that I’m so fond of. Fancy flowers can’t compete with dandelions and the feelings they evoke in my heart, though.

Sweet Smiles of Spring!

Sweet Smiles of Spring!

These plain and simple flowers have been handed to me by sticky hands, accompanied by the biggest, most genuine proclamations of “I love you!” that you can imagine, with slobbery sweet kisses and tight hugs from dirty little arms. I have very early memories of running to my mom with a sunny bouquet picked with all the love in my little heart and seeing the smile it put on her face. Dandelions bring up so many memories of sunshine and love, that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.

Dandelions may be a nuisance to you. That’s okay.

♥This is a beautiful story of a dandelion seed in The Dandelion Seed Book!♥

To me, dandelions are a symbol of all things sweet and special, generous and innocent about childhood and the love of the children God has allowed to touch my life!

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Penny Pinching Popsicles

Penny Pinching Popsicles

Penny Pinching Popsicles

Whose kiddos don’t enjoy an ice cold treat on a warm day? I haven’t met one yet! Here comes the quandary for the penny pinchers like me who also try to minimize their children’s intakes of artificial dyes and an overload of sugars on less-than-special occasions. The cheap popsicles are full of naughty dyes and sugars. The “healthy” versions are way out of our daily budget for the voracious appetites of our chilly chompers. My solution? Homemade on the cheap, of course!

My children have already started their popsicle trip for the summer, so I was planning to make some homemade popsicles to satisfy their cravings. Last year I’d already purchased a new set of popsicle makers on sale for a dollar, so I was prepared with the right tools. You can also get them on Amazon for less than five dollars: Ostart 8 Cell Frozen Ice Cream Pop Mold Popsicle Maker Lolly Mould Tray Pan Kitchen DIYA similar model to the one I have is: Easy Pack 8 pc Popsicle Maker

As I scanned the juice aisle, I spotted fruit punch marked way down to 50 cents for the real kind in the refrigerated section!! SCORE!!! It’s not the 100% fruit kind, but it is dye free and no corn syrup, so I’m good with that for a treat.

When I got time after I’d gotten everything put up, I poured a set of popsicles up, let Princess Pennypincher put the tops on them and popped them in the freezer to set up. I made a set of 8, but I can easily make a minimum of three more sets out of this one juice container. At this price, that’s less than two cents apiece, y’all!!! It didn’t take much longer than it normally does to fix two sippy cups full of their water splashed with juice, either, so it’s not at all time consuming. A trick for removing them from the freezer container more easily without getting all handle and no popsicle? Carefully twist the handle as you pull the popsicle out if it starts to stick on you. My children love the cold, sweet treats. I love that there is no guilt in allowing them to indulge- from a health or budget perspective. Win-win!!! 😉

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Decorate Your Own Box Home



My children are like any other child I’ve known: fascinated by the worlds in their own imaginations. I am always looking to find things that keep their busy little hands and imaginations occupied without a lot of expense or mess. Something they’ve been having fun with lately is a huge box. I have given it to them as their own home within our home, to decorate as they please and have altered at whim.

They scribble on it at whim. I’ve put in window flaps and ceiling flaps and little eye shaped peepholes galore. They think it is awesome, and have spent hours and hours pretending it’s their castle, house, doctor’s office, art center, restaurant and who knows what all else. It’s their creative corner. I am thinking I should give them stickers to put on it, but I’ll have to supervise that one pretty well. 🙂

This is a simple, free activity that brings them endless fun. I’d encourage you to try it with your kiddos. 🙂

Decorate Your Own Box Home

Decorate Your Own Box Home


Super Yummy Don’t-Tell-Them-They’re-Healthy Snacks

Veggie snack

Veggie Snack

I decided to come up with healthier versions of premade snacks my kiddos can just open the fridge and get out when I’m in the middle of something.

My kiddos are always munching away, and often get hungry when I really don’t have time to make even a quick snack.  By the way, I actually do tell my kids when their food is healthy, because I want them to know they are eating well and still enjoy what they’re eating instead of thinking junk is better. It sounded cute, though. 😉

Here are a few of my ideas for quick and healthy snacks…

One idea I came up with for inexpensive premade snacks of the healthy variety is to chop up some veggies into little stick shapes, get some ranch dressing or other preferred veggie dip and put it all together in a two sided container. In this case, I used a KFC Go Cup, because it is about the right size and already divided into two sections for the two parts. I have a lot of cucumbers from the garden and carrots are cheap, so that was my choice for this particular cup. Some other suggestions would be celery sticks, cherry tomatoes, sugar pea, broccoli, cauliflower or baby carrots.

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Using the same KFC Go Cup, or a similar divided container, such as these awesome Easylunchboxes 3-Compartment Bento Lunch Box Containers “Classic” (Set Of 4). Bpa-Free. Easy-Open Lids (Not Leakproof)
, try slicing apples or green grapes and making a dip of peanut butter and honey.

The above suggestions have to be refrigerated if not being used immediately, but the ideas below are good for a snack drawer or shelf the kids can free range graze. 🙂

In small sandwich baggies, put in handfuls of homemade snack mix. One that I tried recently was Taco Seasoned Chex Mix. It could be adapted with your own seasonings you’d normally use in tacos, I was just trying it following their recipe to start. I like that it has very little sugar (a small amount in the cereals) and is fairly filling.

Another sandwich bag filler is GORP: Good Old Raisins and Peanuts. I mix two parts each of raisins and peanuts with one part M&Ms or chocolate chips, and it is soooooo yummy! I wouldn’t call it a health food, but it will fulfill your kiddos’ junk food cravings without allowing them to completely binge on sugar.

You can whip up a batch of my Yummy Oatmeal Banana Healthy Cookies and put a couple in each baggie for a great quick and healthy snackeroo that will satisfy even a hungry hubby. 🙂

This premade healthy thing can be applied to simply putting various fruits, veggies or nuts into serving sized containers for your kids to grab at will. Children tend to eat what is easily accessed, just like adults, and it is up to the grownups in their lives to provide them with solid choices.

What are some of your favorite homemade convenience snacks? Need more snack ideas? Check out After School Snacks!



Egg Carton Flowers

Egg carton flowers

Egg carton flowers

I had a stack of egg cartons piling up, waiting on some inspiration, and my daughter brought them to me wanting to do a project. I came up with egg carton flowers. She was thrilled! Since my little princess enjoyed her new project, I thought I’d share it with other folks who might want something new to do to keep their munchkins happy. 🙂

We gathered together our supplies: An egg carton (of course! 🙂 ), then some scissors, markers, marker stampers and some stickers that aren’t pictured below.

Egg carton flower supplies

Egg carton flower supplies

First, I cut the top off of the egg carton, then cut between the cups. Next, I cut the cups into a smoother rounded shape around the top. Last, I went snippety snip around the cup to make the petals. The different stages of development in the picture should help fill in any confuzzlement left by my description. 🙂

From there, it was up to Princess Peachy to finish up. She smashed the petals flat with her little hand, then got to work decorating. She had a good ol’ time being creative with decorating them all sorts of different ways with the supplies we had on hand. When she was finished, we arranged them in a flower shape on a green piece of construction paper. You could glue them on, if you want, but my little one enjoyed rearranging them too much to let me glue them on.

What household item do you have overflowing, but don’t want to throw out because you think you can find some nifty way to upcycle it? Maybe I can come up with something. 🙂

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From Cheap to FREE: Kids’ Summer Movies 2014

Movie Star Munchkins

Movie Star Munchkins

During the summertime, I know alot of parents are looking for inexpensive activities to fill the days with fun. Alot of those activities are available in the great outdoors, but sometimes you might prefer a cooler way to beat the heat. There are alot of awesome programs for seeing great family movies with your munchkins this summer without going through lot of change! Here are a few summer movie deals I have found for the kiddos:

Carmike Cinemas have different promotions according to location. The one closest to me is offering a movie, drink and popcorn for just $4 total. You’ll have to look up your location for their times and promotions.

Regal Cinemas is not free, but they have $1 movies certain days during the summer at participating locations. Check the link for details, to see if your local Regal Cinema is participating, and what their specific schedule is.

This is not a theater in my state, but they do have absolutely free movies at certain times during the summer at Bowtie Cinemas. See link for details.

What movies would your little ones like to see this summer?