How To Choose The Right Cruise For You!

How To Choose The Right Cruise For Your Family

When it comes time to choose the right cruise there are many considerations that come into play. We already talked about how you can afford a cruise for the same cost as other vacations, but now it it time to make some serious plans.

Start planning your cruise at least 12 months in advance and as many as 24 months ahead of time. This will give you plenty of time to find the best cruise, make a reservation, and pay for your vacation. With so many options available today, picking the right cruise for you can seem overwhelming.

Budget

Before you start planning you need to set a rough budget. Be sure to include what you can spend not only on the cruise but on transportation to get to the port, gratuities, shore excursions, and any other incidental costs you may experience. There are more costs involved than just the ship reservation. Once you have a general idea of what you can spend it’s time to consider where to go.

Destinations

If you have a small budget you may be limited as to where you can go. Caribbean cruises are plentiful and you can often find really inexpensive deals for vacations. Look at alternative departure ports for a bigger discount. Not only may the cruise itself be cheaper but you can save on airfare in some cases. But don’t’ just go with what you think may save you money. Think that cruising from Miami will be less expensive than San Juan, Puerto Rico? You may be surprised to find in many cases this isn’t true. Not only can flights to San Juan be more affordable but the cruise itself can cost less and go to islands a cruise from mainland Florida doesn’t.

Sail Days vs. Port Days

This question comes into play when you look at the length of cruise you want to take. Many times a cruise can be longer (7 or 9 days) but have the same number of port stops as a 5 day cruise. If visiting as many ports as possible is important to you, then you’ll want to consider not just how long the cruise is but how many places it stops. There is much to be said for picking a cruise with “at sea days” (you can spend time on ship taking advantage of all those amenities for which you are already paying) vs. a cruise with a new port every day (all those port excursions can add up and bust your vacation budget!)

Shore Excursions

Is there some place you’d really love to visit or an experience you want to be sure to have? Choosing your destination based on shore excursions is one way to cut down on your choices. This can be a handy tool when you have dozens of cruises to choose from. When you only have a few hours in port, a white sandy beach is a white sandy beach, no matter which Carribbean island you are visiting. However, if you want to have a “dolphin experience”, not all ports of call will offer that (but be sure to check out our reasoning for skipping the “dolphin experience”)

On Board Features

One final way to choose the right cruise for you is based on what is available on the ship. If you love partying, dancing, or gambling you’ll want to choose a cruise that has plenty of evening entertainment and options for those over 21. If on the other hand you have young children and prefer quieter activities you’ll want to look for cruises without or that only has a little of this. Review several different cruise lines to see what is offered so that you have an idea what to expect, especially if this is your first experience.

If you’re still worried about how to choose the right cruise, consider visiting a travel agent who specializes in cruises. You can let them know what you do and don’t like along with your budget and they can make recommendations based on their experiences. You may pay a little more for this but in the end it will be less costly than a vacation you end up hating!

6 Natural Headache Remedies For You To Try

6 Natural Headache Remedies

Headaches can wreck havoc on your day! They can sneak up on you and make your day unbearable. Many of us reach for the nearest bottle of over the counter pain medication, but did you know that there are many natural headache remedies out there that you can try? Here are a few natural headache remedies to help you the next time that horrible pounding begins.

Essential Oils

There has been a lot of talk about essential oils lately! They seem to be everywhere! That could be because, surprise, they work! They are great for a wide variety of things including headaches!

You will need:

How to make it:

  • Fill your roller bottle about 3/4 full of the fractionated coconut oil. Then, add a few drops each of lavender and peppermint. Put the lid on and give it a little shake. Roll the mix onto your forehead, temples and neck.

Lots of people also recommend using sweet marjoram and chamomile in treating headaches. My family and I really like the lavender and peppermint combination, but you may also want to try those as well! Each essential oil has lots of uses! Once you start using them you will be amazed at what they can do. I prefer Young Living Essential Oils and there is a great deal (and a freebie from me) going on right now!

A Cold Washcloth

If you are able to lay down for a few minutes, get a washcloth damp with cool water. Head to a dark and quiet room and lay down for 10-15 minutes with the wash cloth on your forehead.

Tension Headache?

If you are suffering from a tension headache, warm up a rice bag or soak a washcloth is hot water and place it at the base of the back of your neck. The heat can help loosen your muscles and send you some relief.

Scalp Massage

Try gently massaging your scalp and your temples. This can help blood flow to your brain. Added bonus if you can find someone who is willing to give you the massage! (Don’t forget to massage your ear lobes as well!)

Try Your Hands

Your hands need massaged too! You can help relieve pain by massaging one place in particular on your hands. It’s really easy.

Hold your hands out in front of you (palms down). You are going to massage the spot in between your thumb and first finger using your thumb and first finger of your opposite hand. By gently swirling your thumb around this are of your hand using light pressure you can help relieve headaches and even earaches or toothaches! Do each hand for about 5 minutes.

If you have someone who can help you, have them massage both hands simultaneously!

Drink a Glass of Water

I used to think my Mother was crazy. Every time I said I had a headache she would give me a glass of water! But did you know that being dehydrated is the number one reason people get headaches? If you feel a headache coming on, drink a glass of water and see if that does the trick!

The next time you have a headache, instead of reaching for a bottle of medicine try one of these natural headache remedies!

How do you usually deal with a headache?

8 Tips To Make Affording a Cruise Possible

8 Tips To Make Affording a Cruise Possible

Would you love to take a cruise but are afraid it’s just out of reach financially? Cruises are in reality one of the most inexpensive vacations people can take. They are also a ton of fun. We took the family on a Disney Cruise last year and we all still consider it the best vacation that they have ever had!

With a little bit of planning and research you can be on your way to an amazing getaway!  Here are some tips on affording a cruise:

Plan Ahead – You’ve seen lots of lists online stating when the best time is to book airfare or a hotel room to see the best prices. When it comes to cruises, booking far in advance can yield the best savings, especially if you have a family. Even 12-18 months out is not too far in advance to make reservations. Start planning your vacation and doing your research now and you can save a bundle!

Subscribe to Newsletters – Sign up to receive newsletters from cruise lines or travel websites that interest you. They regularly send out specials like “kids sail free” or free onboard credit. If they have any last minute specials you’ll find out about them first through these newsletters. You can also like their Facebook pages to discover promotions.

Pay as you Go – One of the best features of paying for a cruise is that you don’t have to pay the entire balance at once. When you make a reservation you can pay a deposit and then pay as you go. Most final payments are due by 60 days before sailing. This is a great way to space out payments without putting the trip on a credit card and having to pay interest. If you can pay the total at once, you may be able to get a discount as well. Call the cruise line to find out what’s available.

Book an Interior Room – The least expensive rooms on a ship are the interior rooms. The downside is you won’t have a window but if all you plan to do is sleep in the room you won’t really miss out. Before sailing or when you check in ask if there are any complimentary upgrades available. If rooms haven’t sold you may be able to move into a better room for no additional cost!

Be Flexible – You’ll get the best price on a cruise if you can be flexible. Cruising around holidays and school vacations will be the most expensive. Caribbean cruises in the spring will be expensive, but if you can go in summer you’ll likely find better deals. European cruises in the winter will also net a big savings. It may not be ideal but it can save a lot of money.  We went on a cruise to the Bahamas in August and I can honestly say that the only “bad” day that we had was when we were in port at Nassau. We chose not to do a shore excursion (see below for why) and instead spent some time walking around doing some shopping and taking a quick carriage ride, then we went back to the ship to enjoy the pool.  It was HOT (but not miserable).

Seek Alternative Departure Ports – There are numerous ports in the United States to depart from however most cruises leave from Miami or Ft. Lauderdale. Instead consider leaving from Galveston, Texas, New Orleans, or even Puerto Rico. Not only can you save on the cruise but you also may save on airfare to get there.

Limit Shore Excursions – A big cost in cruising is the port activities. When we went on our cruise, most of port excursions were about $150 – $200 per person! With a family of 5, that could have added up to $1000 to our trip for just a single day! Instead of choosing an activity at every port, pick just one or two activities, and spend the other days and time exploring on your own! Check to see if your cruise still has a full itinerary on port days as this is often a great way to do some of the activities on the ship that are often more crowded!

Stick With What’s Included There are lots of ways that cruise lines can add to the cost of your vacation. It’s easy to rack up a bill before you know it. Instead of buying lots of fancy drinks or eating in the specialty restaurants stick to the food and drink choices that are included. You’ll save a lot of money this way. If you know that you will want to have beer or wine on your cruise, check to see if your cruise line will allow you to bring your own (to enjoy in your room or for a corking fee in the restaurants).

With a little bit of planning and enough lead time you can have a wonderful cruise experience without breaking the bank!

Do you have any other tips on affording a cruise to add?

15 Tips For Shopping At The Grocery Store!

mindi cherry grocery

We talk about how to shop at the grocery stores all the time.  We talk about how to get the best deals, how to use coupons and so much more.  What we don’t talk about that often is how NOT to make other shoppers want to kill you!

I recently launched to site Etiquette Help (seriously – make sure you read through all the archives and Like Etiquette Help on Facebook), but this is one post that I particularly love.

From my 15 Grocery Store Manners | 15 Tips! post

  1. Slow Down – Breaking the land speed record with a grocery cart is not necessary nor is it acceptable in the grocery store. Slow down and be careful around those blind corners.
  2. 20 Items or Less – Why is it that every time an express lane opens, someone with an entire cart full of items jumps over? Seriously folks, the sign is pretty straight forward.
  3. Have Your Money Ready – Nobody wants to wait while you write out your check or dig for your debit card. Consider those around you and have those things ready when you get up there. You wait in line anyway, so use it to prepare for your turn when you get there.
  4. Let common sense prevail – If you are standing there with an entire cart full of items and the guy behind you has a diet Coke, let him pass. If I need to tell you why, you should never enter a retail establishment again…ever.
  5. When a new line opens, be fair – We all have seen it. Five people are in line and the line next to you that had been closed opens. Then the cart at the back of the line runs over to take the first spot in the new line. Again, did we not cover this in kindergarten? A new line is not an invitation to race those in front of you. Be fair and let the people that have waited the longest get the next register.

See the rest of the tips on Etiquette Help!

Easy Homemade Natural Toilet Bowl Scrub

Easy Homemade Natural Toilet Bowl Scrub

Whether you discovered you are out at the last minute or you are trying to rid your house of chemicals, this Homemade Natural Toilet Bowl Scrub is sure to come in handy. Not only is it very inexpensive to throw together, it is always handy if you are out of your regular cleaner. Plus the bonus of being natural means you have no fear of chemicals in your home and will feel better about telling your kids to get in there and clean too.

The benefits to using this homemade cleanser versus store bought varieties are wide ranged. The lack of unnecessary chemicals in your home and near your children is likely the most important factor to consider. The other factor is how inexpensive this is to make overall. While essential oils can be a bit of an expense up front, they go a long way and will be used in many other batches in the future. If you figure the cost of all ingredients over 10-15 batches you will quickly see how cost effective this is for your family.

One note: you will want to store this in a glass container, as essential oils can tend to degrade plastic. Get yourself a few Mason jars to store this!

Easy Natural Homemade Toilet Bowl Scrub

Ingredients

Directions:

  1. In medium air tight glass container, mix together all ingredients
  2. Use 1/4-1/2 Cup in toilet bowl and let sit for a few minutes.
  3. Use a toilet brush to scrub off any stains

You can pour this into the toilet itself or could even make it a bit thinner for spraying onto your toilet bowl if you wish. Add a bit of water or vinegar to thin it out a bit more if desired. The homemade natural toilet bowl cleaner will not only cleanse and disinfect the toilet, but leave your bathroom smelling great thanks to the lemon essential oil. If you prefer a scrub you can add ¼ Cup baking soda to the mix to thicken it and use a gloved hand to scrub the toilet with instead.

Lemon Sugar Scrub | DIY Sugar Scrub

homemade lemon sugar scrub

Are you making homemade gifts this year and looking for some more ideas for a DIY sugar scrub (or just like to make your own bath products)? If so, you will want to try my recipe for lemon sugar scrub! I love the smell of lemon and this would be a great pick-me-up in the shower!

Ingredients:

lemon sugar scrub ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Coconut Oil
  • 1 Lemon
  • Half-pint Mason Jar

Directions for DIY Sugar Scrub:

Pour sugar into bowl.

Squeeze lemon juice and add to sugar.

lemon sugar scrub process 2

Mix in coconut oil (add more if you like a wet consistency).

Zest lemon and add to mixture (reserve a little to garnish top of scrub in jar).

lemon sugar scrub process 1

Add your sugar scrub to the jar.

lemon sugar scrub process 3

Add a Label to the front and maybe a ribbon to gift.

Lemon Sugar Scrub Labels (PDF)

Find more DIY Projects!

Cheap Homemade Ant Repellents

Cheap and Natural Homemade Ant Repellents

The warmer temperatures of Spring and Summer not only bring endless days in the backyard playing in the sprinklers, but a few unwanted pests in your yard. One of the biggest pests many people deal with regularly are ants. While pesticides, pest control companies and chemicals can help with this issue, we prefer using one of these Cheap Homemade Ant Repellents. Each one has a different way of getting rid ants entirely or at least controlling the problem when they manage to sneak their way into your home. Depending on your ant problem and your individual needs some of these may not work well for your home while others may be perfect.

Cheap Homemade Ant Repellents

Cinnamon or Cinnamon Essential Oils: Whether you sprinkle ground cinnamon on the path of ants in your kitchen or line your windows and doors with cinnamon essential oils ants tend to turn around from this and not cross the barrier. Dab a q-tip in the essential oils and spread it around windowsills, door frames and any location you see them forming a line to get into your home.

Borax & Sugar Paste: Mix together a paste of equal parts borax and sugar with just enough water to form paste and spread on a plate or piece of paper near where you have seen them in your home. The sugar attracts them while the borax will kill them. If they take the paste back to their colony to share, you may effectively kill the problem at its source. This can take a few weeks to work depending on how large a colony you are dealing with.

Cornmeal: Cornmeal sprinkled near the ant mound or in the area you see them entering your home will gradually be carried back to their colony and eaten. The cornmeal will expand inside them and kill them before they are able to digest it. If the brutality of it doesn’t bother you, this can be an inexpensive method, but it does not work quickly.

Vinegar: Spray white or apple cider vinegar onto areas you have seen ants appear and you will notice they do not come back to the area. Vinegar is known to be a natural insecticide and works great and very inexpensive. As long as you don’t mind your house smelling like a pickle this is a great method.

Diatomaceous Earth: DE has teeny tiny razor-like edges on each particle and they make tiny abrasions on an insect’s insect when they come into contact. An insect’s exoskeleton cannot heal from this and they die from dehydration or a loss of moisture. Spread DE on windowsills, across all entryways and around the entire base of the house.

Garlic: A few strategically placed garlic cloves around your house will prevent the ants from coming in. They are repelled by the scent and will avoid areas these are located. Watch for entry points and place a clove of garlic there instead.

Chalk or Talcum Powder: Draw a line of chalk or talcum powder in the area of their mound or entry point to your home and the ants will not cross the line. Something in the chalk is a natural repellent.

While all of these cheap homemade ant repellents do work to some degree, they still may not rid you completely of an ant problem. The best ways to help prevent an indoor ant issue is to be diligent in how you store your food. Proper air tight containers for all foods go a long way toward keeping an ant issue at bay. Cereals, sugars, mixes and any opened container of snack foods should be stored well in a sealed container. Another important factor is to make sure your kitchen sink is clean and emptied each night. We all love leaving the dirty dishes until the next day, but the food particles remaining on your dishes are like a neon sign to the ants to come help themselves. Put dishes in the dishwasher or wash up before bedtime to help get rid of the kitchen ant problem without a repellent needed.

Do you have any other suggestions on how to deter ants?

Frugal Homemade Cleaners

frugal-homemade-cleaners

Welcome Saving With 6abc Viewers! I hope that you will find this post useful. For even more DIY cleaner ideas, Make sure to check out my Make Your Own Window Cleaner + More DIY Cleaners! post!

Like what you see here? Don’t forget to sign up for my FREE newsletter to get all the recipes, gardening, DIY and savings ideas that I share with you here every day at Moms Need To Know!

Frugal Homemade Cleaners Recipes

We’ve all seen the basics of homemade cleaners: homemade glass cleaner, all purpose cleaner, etc. But what happens when you need to polish the furniture or scrub a spot out of the rug? Here’s how to do all those tasks for less…and more!

:: Frugal Furniture Polish

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • ½ cup lemon juice

Mix ingredients together in a small container. Make sure to test of a small corner of your furniture first before applying. Rug onto furniture in a circular motion with a rag or towel. This will leave your furniture shining and smelling great!

:: Homemade Spot Shot

Ingredients:

  • Baking Soda
  • Vinegar
  • Brush
  • Water
  • Towel

Sprinkle the baking soda over the affected area and then spray some vinegar over the top. Wait for the mixture to have its reaction and then scrub the carpet with a brush to get the deeper part of the stain. After you’ve done this, wet a rag or towel with water and wipe over the carpet to bring up the baking soda and vinegar. Wipe until all the baking soda is out of your carpet.

:: Homemade Kitchen and Bath Scrub

Ingredients:

  • Baking Soda
  • Hydrogen Peroxide

In a small bowl, pour about ¼ cup of baking soda. Add in small amounts of hydrogen peroxide until you’ve formed a paste. Use this scrub in your kitchen or bathroom areas for tough, stuck on grime. This also works great for tackling those annoying stains in your bathtub and making it look shiny new again.

:: Homemade Clorox Wipes

Ingredients:

Pour a little bit of all purpose cleaner (can be homemade) in the bottom of a container until it covers the bottom. Cut the roll of paper towels in half in the middle of the roll. Place one half of the paper towels into this container and put the lid back on the container. Let it sit for about 10 minutes or until the paper towels soak up all of the cleaner. Pull the cardboard tube out of the middle of the container and you should be able to pull your wipes from the middle of the paper towel roll. Use anywhere you would use Clorox Wipes.

With these easy to make recipes you will have a sparkling clean house in no time! Make sure to check out my Uses for Vinegar and my 15 Unique Uses for Baking Soda posts as well for some more frugal and unique ideas!

Do you have any other frugal homemade cleaners recipes to share?

Make Your Own Window Cleaner + More DIY Cleaners!

Easy Homemade Window Cleaner More DIY Cleaners

If you have been following this site for a while, you know that I have been getting in to a more natural lifestyle, from using essential oils, to making my own cleaners to making more and more copycat recipes of my favorite restaurant and convenience items.

Well – now I am here to tell you about the easiest and cheapest cleaner that you will ever make….homemade window cleaner!

Why do you want to make your own homemade window cleaner?  Well – first of all – this recipe is CHEAP!  Second – it is all-natural, family and pet-friendly.  Why have an arsenal of cleaners with a bunch of ingredients that you can’t even pronounce when you can easily make an effective window cleaner that you know is safe for your home?

To make it, you will need:

And that’s ALL that you need!  Just combine equal parts vinegar and water in your spray bottle and if desired, add about 10 – 15 drops of essential oils.  The essential oils will not only give your homemade window cleaner a nicer scent, but both orange and lemon essential oils are great at cutting through grease and will allow you to use this homemade window cleaner all around the house as an all-purpose cleaner!

Looking for more homemade cleaners or natural solutions to common problems?  Try these:

How To Get Started With Meal Planning

Getting started with meal planning

How to Get Started on Meal-Planning

Meal Planning is one of the biggest ways you can save money in your family’s food budget. The problem is, for  someone who has never made out a meal plan, the idea can be overwhelming. You may not know where to start or how to do it effectively. Here are some tips to get you started on meal-planning

How to Get Started on Meal Planning

Get the right tools together. You will need a weekly planner, either one that is on paper in a book or one that is on a dry erase board and a notebook to jot down ideas and shopping lists. You will need this to be able to effectively organize and make sure you plan meals and snacks for all days.

Sit down and make a list of all meals your family loves and that fit within your budget. Ask them for input if you need ideas. This is not for scheduling, but more so you have a group of recipes to choose from for your planning. Make sure you include snacks, desserts, breakfast, lunches and dinner. Don’t worry if you don’t make it very often, this is more for brain-storming.

Now that you have those two things in order, these are the steps you should take each week you meal plan:

  1. Check local ads for what is on sale so you can build your meals around that. Make sure to include any coupon deals as well.
  2. Make sure to take into account any leftovers you could have from these meals and make plans for them either this week or the next (stick them in the freezer if you can to save them for when you need them).
  3. Note days that will be especially busy. Make sure to plan for fast meals these days.
  4. Make a list for what you will need from the store. Note amounts you will need so you don’t buy too much or too little.
  5. Make out your weekly plan. You may want to display it where others can see so you won’t have to hear the, “What’s for dinner?’ question every night.
  6. When you get home from the store, do some of the prep work for meals (you might want to check out my Freezer to Crockpot series!). This will save you time in the evenings and for meals like breakfast as well.

To make it easier to plan meals, try doing daily themes. You could do Meatless Mondays or Taco Tuesday. This just means you will be rotating something into that slot for that day each week and it will cut down on the time spent figuring things out. If you are making family favorites on those days, your family might even look forward to those days!

If you are stumped on meal ideas, try searching online. There are so many recipes to make that fit a budget-minded meal planner. Just follow me on Pinterest for so many meal ideas!

Don’t make too much work for yourself to start. Coming up with a whole month of meals can be daunting. Instead, pick a day each week to plan the meals your family will be enjoying for the following week. Once you have that mastered, if you still want to, move onto monthly planning.

What are your best tips for meal planning?

20 Summer Boredom Busters for Kids

20 Summer Boredom Busters For Kids

There is nothing quite like the freedom of the bell ringing on the last day of school and knowing that summer break is officially here.

That is, unless you are the parent who 5 days later is hearing their child saying, “I’m bored”. (when that happens – don’t forget that I have 6 natural headache remedies for you to try)

Here are 20 Summer Boredom Busters to help break up the monotony of the long hot summer days at home. Some of these suggestions are classics that you probably remember from childhood. A few of them cost a few bucks out of pocket to do or prep for – and others are new spins on classic summer fun. Grab the calendar and put something from this list on at least one day each week the kids will be home on break to remind yourself of the fun things that will help you prevent those whiney voices begging for something to do.

20 Summer Boredom Busters

  • Family Water Gun Fights.  Get out the Super Soakers or the cheap throw away guns from your local dollar store, grab some water balloons and choose sides.  On long hot days surprise Dad when he arrives home from work with an instant water gun fight.
  • Karaoke Contest.  Everyone is singing the latest hit song.  Why not join in the fun with an impromptu karaoke contest.  Just the family or invite the neighborhood kids and set up the back yard like a theater and serve up ice cream and punch.  Pick teens or adults to judge the contest and give the winner a special prize.
  • Homemade Slip N Slide.  Why spend money on a fancy water slide for the yard?  Grab a few tarps, large trash bags or plastic sheeting and turn on the water hose at one end to create your very own back yard “water slide”.
  • Pudding Paint.  This one is fun and great for toddlers to do.  Grab some cheap pudding cups or mix up your own, set them out on a table, lay out a plastic bag or tarp and let the kids paint each other with the pudding.  Fun and edible.
  • Mini Spa Day.  Great for tweens and teens this can be easy and inexpensive.  Grab some sugar, salt, epsom salt, essential oils, nail polish and massage oils to create an at home foot spa, manicure or pedicure station or just a great way to make gifts to give to friends.
  • Geocaching.  This fun activity is what we like to refer to as a “nature scavenger hunt”.  Take a day, load up the car and check out your local Geocaching areas.  Tons of fun and educational. (new to Geocaching? Check out this guide to geocaching for beginners!)
  • Library Kids Activities.  Check your local library for great reading programs, art classes and more available for free or low fees.
  • Board Game Competitions.  Put the video games and smart phones away and pull out the traditional board games for a little family friendly competition.  Winner chooses dinner.
  • Take A Cooking Class.  This is great for the kids who enjoy cooking or are always asking to help in the kitchen.  Check local community colleges and libraries for free or low fee summer cooking classes for beginners or kids depending on ages.
  • Visit the Fire Department.  Whip up a batch of cookies or cupcakes together and head out to your local fire department.  Not only will the crew enjoy the treat but they will likely give your kids a tour of the station and the trucks.
  • Be Mom For The Day.  Let the kids be the parents for the day.  Set rules but let them choose what to eat, what to wear, what chores to do and what you watch on tv.
  • Make Your Own Playdough.  Equal parts corn starch and hair conditioner make a simple, soft and great smelling playdough that kids can play with for hours.  Play with the amount of corn starch you use to make it harder if desired.
  • Make Candies & Treats.  Grab supplies for your family favorite fudge, homemade candies or cookies and spend all day playing in the kitchen.
  • Go For A Picnic.  Pack a lunchbox or picnic basket full of your favorite sandwiches, drinks and cookies and head to a local park for a fun picnic.
  • Make Puzzles.  Print off some fun pictures on paper and glue to a piece of cardboard.  Cut into fun shapes and then have fun putting the “puzzles” pack together.
  • Make Friendship Bracelets.  Whether you simply braid fun fabrics or strings together or make the traditional friendshp bracelets of your childhood this is a great way to occupy girls and boys alike for hours.
  • Host an Ice Cream Party.  Invite their friends over for an ice cream buffet.  Grab buckets of vanilla and chocolate ice cream, syrups, nuts, sprinkles, candy, crushed cookies, fruit and whipped cream and let them build their own sundae.
  • Make Homemade Ice Cream.  A play on the activity above is to have kids make their own ice cream flavors.  You can grab vanilla and various toppings and let them create their own, or simply go the old fashioned route of making ice cream from scratch in a mixer.  You can even try this easy watermelon sorbet recipe!
  • Paint A Wall With Chalkboard Paint.  Grab some chalkboard paint and create a chalkboard wall in the playroom, garage or their bedroom.  Grab or make chalk and let them create a mural.
  • Host A Garage Sale.  Put the kids to work cleaning out closets, the attic and their toy boxes and let them host a garage/yard sale (get some great tips on how to have a successful garage sale) .  As long as they do all the work let them keep the earnings for a special day at the local amusement park, movies or bowling.

No matter what they choose to do these 20 Summer Boredom Busters are a great place to start when you hear that first child say, “Mom, I’m bored”.  Most are low cost or no cost and one might even make you a little money in the process.  No matter what you choose to do, make sure to stop and savor the memories because our kids grow up way too fast.

You might want to take a look at these other posts to make your summer a little easier:

Top 10 Gardening Rules That You Should Never Break!

Top 10 Gardening Rules You Should Not Break

Gardening is a science and growing plants, flowers, plus fruits and vegetables is essential to our survival. In the past, gardening techniques were passed down from generation to generation. But these days, not everyone gardens and some of those rules of what you should and should not do have been forgotten.

Here is a list of the Top 10 Gardening Rules You Should Not Break.

Know Your Zone!

The USDA has a plant hardiness zone chart that you simply enter your zip code to find out what zone you are. Way too often gardeners order seeds or plants for their garden in Texas that were meant only to be planted in Oregon. What’s worse is walking into a nursery and thinking that you can plant everything that they sell. You can’t. The big box stores have many plants that have no business being grown in your area. The more you know the more plant deaths you can prevent.

Planting before all dangers of frost have past.

Know your last frost date. There is nothing worse than getting all your seedlings into the ground and then losing them to frost a couple weeks later. In the Southwest, you can start planting at the end of January but in the Northeast, you have to wait until Mother’s Day. This does not mean you can’t start seedlings indoors or in a greenhouse to get a head start.

Know your soil.

Do you have alkaline or acidic soil? Are you sitting in a clay-hardened ceviche mess or is your soil more similar to a sandy knoll? You can take a sample of your soil to any University Extension (do a Google search for the one for your state) office for a free soil sample test or test it at home with kits you can purchase online or at the gardening store.

Water long and slow.

Improper watering is the number one reason why gardens fail. Plants need to be watered long and slow so that the water can soak into the surrounding soil. When you water fast and for a short period of time, the soil does not have time to absorb the liquid, rather it just slides off and it is not retained.

Don’t use pesticides and insecticides unless absolutely necessary.

When you apply insecticides to your garden to get rid of bad bugs you are also killing off beneficial insects. If you spray your whole yard to get rid of crickets you are also killing off those species that eat the crickets. Now if your roses have aphids and there are not any ladybugs to be found, apply insecticide soap directly to the one plant’s leaves and the surrounding soil. That’s the key – if you must eradicate the pest do it to the one plant and not to the entire garden. Burn any infected leaves and stems so that the pest doesn’t jump onto the next plant.

Sunlight is needed.

Know how much sunlight each plant in your garden needs to thrive. If you have mostly shade and you are trying to grow tomatoes, you won’t have much luck. On average, most plants need 6-8 hours of sunlight per day, but there are a lot that can handle less and some that need more. Learn each of your plant’s sunlight needs.

The best fertilizers are organic.

The biggest problem with synthetic fertilizers is that if you accidentally apply too much you can burn the roots and kill the plant. If you use organic fertilizers such as compost, earthworm castings, or blood and bone meals you won’t ever harm the plant. The plant will only take up the nutrients it needs from organic fertilizers and not a drop more. It can’t do the same with synthetic. Another thing about synthetic fertilizers is that they are like crack for your plants… at first they get bigger faster and love it. Then you have to apply more and more for the same effect and that plant will never get enough.

Sterilize your equipment.

Every time you finish in the garden all of your tools need to be washed and sterilized in either vinegar or rubbing alcohol. If any of your plants have a disease, you don’t want to contaminate the whole garden. Keep your pruners sharp too so not to injure stems when making cuts.

Compost. Compost. Compost.

Start a compost pile and recycle the waste that your family produces. This compost is the absolute best thing you can add to your garden every season. If you don’t do anything else, compost.

Seed storage.

Store your seeds in a air-tight container with a lid and label it with seed variety, seed harvest date, and anything else specific to that plant. Even seeds leftover from seed packets should be transferred to air-tight sealed containers to maintain the integrity of the seed.

Do you have any gardening rules to add?