Simple City Life

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Summer Independence #Save4Summer

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and Walmart Family Mobile. All opinions are mine alone. #Save4Summer #CollectiveBias

It's that moment in parenting where you think, "How did we get here so fast?" Having a now eleven year old I feel like I am asking myself that a lot lately. With age comes the desire for independence, and we strive to reward positive behavior with a sense of independence. I do believe that is is very important for children to feel confident and trusted with independence. This new platform of parenting is exciting and terrifying all at the same time. As you can imagine the one thing that our big eleven year old is begging us for is a phone. I have been holding off for sometime, but with that newly acquired independence, I hate having her out and about without a way to reach home. I was thinking about how as a kid I ran the neighborhood with a quarter in my pocket. We had payphones on every corner, a way to reach home. Well, fast forward and we have turned in that quarter for contracts and pricey cell phone service. Most phone plans come with data plans, placing the internet in the palm of your child's hand. Cost is obviously a big consideration as well as the level of responsibility of the child too. These are just a few of the reasons making this leap into independence is so challenging!

Once Elliott was accepted into a bigger school and we moved to a new neighborhood, the conversation of getting her a phone has continued to come up. I started to do my own research and became very overwhelmed. It was all getting so expensive and included way more that a eleven year old needs. I started to give up on the idea when I heard about Walmart Family Mobile. I love that we do not have to commit to a service plan, the phones available are just right for a younger user and the price was perfect. 

I have to be honest and say it was glorious to walk in, select our phone, grab the start up pack and head out- no obnoxious sales guy trying to talk you into a higher priced phone or more data. After buying this house, we need to keep our bills as low as possible! You are able to add as much as you would like to your pre paid phone line. We kept things simple with a basic line that allows unlimited talk and text for $24.88, with a added 1GB of Data you still pay just $29.88. This is exactly what she needs to keep us informed of where she is going and we are able to touch base with her this summer to arrange pick up times and or for peace of mind when she is walking the dog or at the park. 

I am really excited to give this new independence a true test drive this weekend. She and her brother will be walking in a local 4th of July parade- being able to know when she is ready and exactly where she is going to be afterwards is wonderful! I am so excited for this her and this huge milestone. It's scary, but it is so beautiful watching their confidence grow as they become more and more independent beings. 

I can't believe we are here already. A beautiful lady is sitting the couch across the room. She was once my tiny baby girl and now she is turning into an amazing young lady. She is so very happy with her new independence, while we are so happy to be saving money! She is a great kid and I imagine things will go very smooth for this transition. 

I hope you have a great Independence Day this week. What are you doing to save money this summer? 

4 Simple tips for a healthy, budget friendly and safe road trip. #fuelthelove

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #FueltheLove #CollectiveBias

Road trips are in my blood. My mom always loved taking us kids on adventures around the US. She was never much of a flight traveler, always commuted via motor vehicle. We went all over, Washington State, Florida, S. Carolina, through the S. Dakota badlands and out to Colorado just to name a few. I have so many memories from those trips. They were some of the best times I had growing up with my siblings. Now that I have a family of my own, I enjoying passing this down to them. No matter what there are always bumps in the road when traveling with kids. We have used these few tips to help keep our trips budget friendly, full of fun and worry free.

Pack your own healthy foods.
No one enjoys the feeling of gut rot while sitting in a car for hours on end. Packing your own food is not only healthier, but far less expensive then eating out. Depending on the length of the drive we pick one meal a day to enjoy eating out and the rest we pack and take.
In order to execute this well, you need to plan ahead. Things that you will need to have are a nice sized cooler, ice packs, ziplock bags and a roll of paper towels. For shorter trips I will use reusable items, but for those long trip, I do keep things simple and bring throwaway items.
We typically pack bags of chopped veggies, pre cut fruit in baggies, bread and meats, nuts, dried fruits, and hummus.

Stretch Your Legs. 
Since we are bringing our own food along, it is a great excuse to stop, get out of the car and find a nice place to eat together. We will map out parks and unique landmarks along the way to stop at and picnic. Some the the stops may seem small and trivial to you as a adult, but the memory that lasts for child is priceless. Over the years we have come across unique play equipment and places we never would have found if we hadn't planned that little bit of extra time to stop and play. Another added bonus is the kids are able to burn off a little energy, making the time in the car more peaceful.
one of our favorite discoveries while stopping at a local park years ago

Audio Books. 
This right here has changed our travels so much for the better. Getting everyone to agree on the radio station can be a nightmare or channel surfing for stations as you travel is awful! We started doing audio books several year back as a way to pass the time while driving through the night. I was amazed at how well I was able to get into the story, it was a life saver at helping us stay awake and alert. We have since started incorporating them for the kids. We pick out a series from the library and literally listen to books the entire trip. The children are engaged in the story, are much quieter and content to focus on the story while enjoying the scenery. It has been a life saver for us. It also creates a unity throughout the family, allowing for great conversations and excitement to jump back in the car together in order to find out what happens.

Car Maintenance. 
This may seem like a no brainer, but you do not want to overlook anything. Getting a basic once over is critical to avoid this little mechanical mishaps. Have your fluids checked, oil changes and tire's checked. Make sure to talk with you mechanic and get the right oil for your vehicle. Recently we took our car to Walmart in order to have the oil changed while we shopped for some of our healthy foods to take along. We were able to get our car right in, have time to grab what we needed and head out the door in just around 30 mins. I always forget that Walmart has a service center at several of their locations. This summer they have Pennzoil motor oils available om rollback to help keep you car running smooth and affordable. The mechanics at the Automotive Care Center can help you decide what formula is best for your vehicle. It was very nice to accomplish two things at once.

What fun summer trips do you have planned? Will you take advantage of Walmart' Automotive Care Center for your car needs as well as running errands?

I'd love to hear how you make your road trips run smoothly, 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Creamy and Cheesy Jalapeno Dip #stonyfieldblogger

It feels like I am running a summer camp these days! My 11 year old twin great-nephews are here from North Carolina for 10 days and we are showing them all the amazing sights and kid size fun Milwaukee has to offer. Between chasing Alamea and making sure the boys and Madison are well equipped with full days I am doing my best to be the greatest camp director ever! The boys are having so much fun and even though they are men of VERY few words  I can tell they are loving being here and so are we. Since my extended family lives so far away I rarely get to spend much time with them so when the opportunity came to make the 12 hour drive south to pick up the boys and bring them back to Wisconsin I cleared my schedule and hit the road. Dragging Madi along with me;)

Madi introducing the North Carolina cousins to Wisconsin Cheese Curds:) 

I think one of the biggest challenges during this week is feeding everyone! Trying to give them healthy and delicious snacks and meals and not just loading them up with processed junk food because it's fast, easy and cheap.  Since I know the boys and Madison love Mexican food I decided I would make a creamy and cheesy jalapeno dip with Stonyfield OrganicGreek Yogurt and pair it with the delicious Late July  Organic Sea Salt by the Seashore Multi grain Tortilla Chips I received as part of being a Stonyfield Blogger.  ( I know, I know being a blogger is rough! LOL!!!) I thought it would be a great healthy snack for them to munch on mid-day and I could probably even use the dip as a topping for bake potatoes later in the week.

 One of the twins helped me whip up the yummy spicy dip and we both agreed it was pretty tasty but would be better cold. We also whole heartily agreed that the tortilla chips were the best part of the pair. I even stocked up on another bag while I was at Whole Foods today grabbing some more Stoneyfield yogurt for the fam.  I only regret I didn't grab the Jalapeño Lime Clásico Tortilla Chips which sound so good! Late July's products are USDA certified organic, Non GMO and help promote delicious and healthy snacks. The Multi Grain Tortilla Chips I received for this post are even gluten free! So if I swap out the flour in my dip recipe for corn-starch then the whole snack is gluten free! We don't have gluten issues here at our house but I always like to think of that especially if I know I am going to be hanging out with Courtney's family. Be sure to learn more about Late July by liking their facebook page and following them on twitter as well! 

Okay on to the recipe:

2 TBS Butter
2 TBS Flour or Corn-Starch
2 Cups of Stonyfield Organic Plain Greek Yogurt ( I used the non-fat)
2 Cups of Cheddar Cheese or Mexican Mixture either Grated or Cubed)
1 Jalapeno (broiled and diced)
1/4 Cup Salsa of choice
1/2 tsp-garlic powder
1/2 tsp-chili powder
1/2 tsp-paprika
1/4 tsp-cumin
salt and pepper to taste

First rinse the jalapeno and take out the seeds and cut off the end with the stem. Rub a little olive oil on the pepper and then place under the broiler for a bout 5 to 8 minutes until it begins to become chard. After it is broiled then place the pepper in a plastic grocery bag or plastic sandwich bag and close tight for about 5 to 10 minutes.

Easy Peeling
If you place it in the bag you will be able to peel the skin right off before dicing it up. Then set the diced jalapeno pepper aside. 

After the pepper is diced begin to melt the butter in a sauce pan and when melted whisk in the flour until blended and not lumpy. Turn the heat down to medium and add the Greek Yogurt while continuing to whisk. Add the cheese and keep mixing until it is melted and smooth. Be careful not to turn the heat up too high.  Add the rest of the ingredients including the diced jalapeno, stir and add salt and pepper to taste.

 Enjoy either warm or place in the fridge after it has cooled off for later in the day or to take to the park for a picnic. 

If you are looking for a great new snack to try this summer I would highly suggest grabbing a bag of Late July organic chips and either trying out my recipe or one of the yummy one's on the Stonyfield Recipe  Page. That's all from me for now, I am off to bed so I can be ready for what tomorrow's adventure await at the Troyanek Summer Camp!

I just love these kids! 

Happy Snacking,
"Aunt" Abbie

*As a Team Stonyfield ambassador, I am being compensated. All opinions are always my own**