Tuesday, June 30, 2015

What is in your wallet? Membership cards part 2

  Continuing on my series of what's in your wallet.  My second card is almost as loved as my first card with the Botanical Gardens.  This is my card to the Norfolk virginiazoo.

This card was the second year of a 2 year subscription.  Again with all these membership cards come perks that are only privy to the members.  The zoo offers special discounts throughout the park to include the gift shop, and restaurant.  Another zoo perk is early or extended admission.  Special night programs after the zoo is closed are a great benefit.  Summer camps or school holiday camps are offered at a discount to members as well.  They also have a special story and an animal hour not just for members that my daughter loved she had her first up close encounter with an

  We hold a family plus one visit to this establishment.  Meaning we can bring our entire family plus an additional person.  This is great for when an out of town visitor is with us.  It is good for anyone and not any particular one.  From grandma to cousin or even a friend of one of the children. (One friend is plenty since I have 4 kids I can't imagine everyone taking someone).

  This zoo has several areas to explore.  There is the nocturnal area where you may catch sight of a sloth or porcupine.  The reptiles building where the snakes

 are slithering on an unlucky day.  I prefer to see them just laying around and less active.  Outside areas are spread out where you travel to areas such as Asia to see a tiger

or to spy an Ostrich
 in Africa.

  Pick up a token for the train that takes you around the grounds and through a tunnel for an exciting time!

  There is a lot of information on the website and from several visits and the ever lovely pinterest.  I made up several different scavenger hunts for my youngest to do throughout the park.  She enjoyed the zoo more that day as she was able to check things off.

  I printed off hunts for finding different colors,  keeping track of quantities such as 1 fire hydrant, 2 flowers, 3 camels.  There was one for animals and it was still fun even if all the animals were not at our zoo.

  As I stated with my gardens pass I have gotten so much more from this membership well past the price of the pass.  This is another membership that just keeps on giving.  Check out your zoo and see what kind of rates they have and then think about it.  You have all year to use, throughout the seasons and the learning that comes from a visit regardless of the ages. 

I tried it!!

 A perfect and healthy snack oh and easy makes for a happy mom and satisfied children. This is even a recipe the children can make.

  3 ingredients: bananas, peanut butter and graham crackers

I first saw this recipe on pinterest and sadly sometimes I am all about easy recipes.  But whats better than easy. FAST.  Ok, well maybe its not that fast but it is close enough.

Take your bananas however many you choice depending on how many mouths you are feeding, a spoon of peanut butter (again you can even play around with your taste preference)

Squish you banana up first then add your peanut butter to the mixture.  Smear desired amounts on half a graham cracker add the top and pop them in the freezer.  I find that the longer they stay in the softer the cracker gets so I prefer about 2-3 hours.

My kids eat these and I have no guilty conscious when I eat them which is also great.

Genius, quick and healthy snack!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Social media + technology + me

I am so excited as my blog is growing.  I am creating it by myself and learning more and more of what I can and should do. 

As you saw I started out showing you my deals and I will continue to share those deals with you that I may acquire.  I will also share some deals I come across I do however apologize in advance for the short notice that you are given.  I will continue to add just the videos to that I make via You Tube for the reviews I received.

Lastly, I have just added share and follow buttons for Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.  I invite you to follow me on those platforms as well.  On each of them I do post different items from what I post on my blog so; you may find something of interest there as well.

Thank you for all your support in this journey and I hope I can continue to keep your interest and help where I can!  If you feel moved to share my blog that's even better yet until next time.......

State Park Challenge Park #4

  Amongst the hustle and bustle of Virginia Beach down the road from the busy popular beach is a nice quiet state park.
  First Landing State Park just like all the parks I have visited thus far provide a lot of trails and water views or more wooded areas.  This park has beach on one side of the road and a more wooded area on the other side.  So you may choose to stroll along the shoreline or on one of the wooded trails.

  On the beach you get the privilege of taking your shoes off and having a more leisure stroll. Atleast that's how I feel when I hit the sand.  Like everything just slows down.   Whether you like to people watch, swim, look at shells or watch the crabs this beach provides it all.
  The wooded area offers a variety of trails and of course you are able to pick your distance and complexity.  There is a variety of things to look at in the wooded area. Different birds, trees and let's just leave it at that!

  We did arrive at this park after our 3rd park so it was later in the day.  Not quite dusk by the time we got across the street to the wooded area.  I can not say enough that we sprayed bugs spray before our journey but that doesn't stop the bugs from buzzing in your ears and flying around your head even if they can't or have no interest in biting you.  I enjoyed the the trail we picked I like to look at the variety in trees.  I may post a Wordless Wednesday of trees.

  As with every park we get the privilege of seeing a critter that we may not have seen up close or even at all.  My children have never seen crabs before and I will not post her reaction to crabs (and they were plentiful on this beach) ((let's just say she held onto my husband's leg like a fireman's pole)).  It's funny now but it was pretty serious then.  However we could appreciate this little fella.
You can catch up on my adventures at other parks to complete the Virginia State Parks trail-quest.




Movies Old School

  Theaters are so yesterday!  Everyone is doing it.  Yes, the theaters are getting better with their spacious reclining leather seats.  Movie viewing is not the same when I sit in a standard cloth covered upright, constricting seat! Although I am easy to pacify with refillable popcorn and a drink.

  Why follow the norm though? Why not try a classic experience?  Those theaters will be there forever.  However the drive-in theaters will not be.  Why miss out on such a great, unique experience?  I now realize how fortunate I was to have grown up surrounded by two fairly close drive-ins. Later in life I moved near home and was close to another 2.  That's a total of 4 within an hour of each other!  My mother lives in Florida and I have even went to them near her down there. Some of them even have double screens!

  Which brings me to my point of how faithful I am to them still to this day.  I looked them up around my current area and they are not close. The closest one is two hours away.

Two hours may not be that far except when a movie gets out at 1 or 2 am.  I had tried to find camping accommodations in the area but that was unsuccessful.  So yes, we did drive all the way home!

  I think my favorite part is double features!! You can't get that at a theater.  One price of $8.50 for adults and $4.00 for childrenand thats for two movies!  We as a family were excited to see both movies; Jurassic World and Pitch Perfect 2.  Now after the movies I can say I was not impressed with one but that is well after the fact.  Check the lineup it is not always easy to line up same rated movies with each other.

  At goochlanddriveintheater there is a fully stocked concession stand with everything you need. Popcorn, nachos, pretzels, hamburgers and soda.  The food alone is great but so are the prices!! (Refillable tea anyone?)  A small kids play area to entertain children until show time which varies based on dusk.  

  Arrive early to pick your best viewing spot and also to ensure you catch your blockbuster movie! (Driving 2 hours for a movie and not seeing it would not be a good thing)
There are lots of seating options.  Inside your vehicle or outside on some chairs, blanket or grass.  I was impressed that this theater had staff walk around to tie down your hatch so people behind you could see the screen.  The movie is only played on a certain radio station at this location versus individual theater speakers you place in your windows.

  Overall great experience by everyone in my family and we will be back!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Family Friendly Camping

  I have previously camped with my family and with my girls for a girl weekend.  Since I have had two more children they have not had the privilege of this lifestyle yet.  I decided to introduce them to the concept.  Now my 4 year old is familiar with the highlights. Campfire, s'mores, flashlights and sleeping bags.  However she has never been in a tent.

  I have no problem with tent camping but if there is a cabin available that is my first preference.   We do not own a camper but hopefully in the future we can acquire one. Until then it is tent camping for us.  I must also admit I also prefer a nice cozy campground versus the wild, wilderness.  You know the campgrounds that have more people than wildlife.  Those are the ones for me.

  As a good introduction and a night of entertainment we assembled one of the small tents I own in the middle of the living room.

We brought all sleeping items and spent the night inside.  We finished our nightly routine and retired to the tent for the night.  Flashlights, shadow puppets,

trusty guard dog outside the tent and a cozy family tucked inside.  I never heard a complaint and no one had to make a late night trip to the bathroom.  I would deem this a successful event as the smile they went to sleep with they also woke up with.  The next day they even took their nap in there.

  It was a great family moment.  We did keep the tent up for a second night and again they really enjoyed it.  I think they are ready for the real thing.  Hello sleeping on the ground, night noises, and more fun!

Today is Great America campout!  There are alot of events planned for this exciting day.  Check out your local state parks to see their activities for the weekend.  How to make s'mores, build a campfire, pitch a tent.  Great starter classes to start a tradition with your family.

Find your Virginia State Parks here:http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/find-a-park.shtml

Follow my trips to visit my local state parks here:



Thursday, June 25, 2015

What's in your wallet? Membership cards part 1

  I have lived in this area for a few years now and each year I think I appreciate it more, learn a little more about it and see more then the previous year.  A good way to watch the ever changing environment is in a controlled  environment.  I have acquired several memberships and utilize all of them even well above the "pays for itself" concept.  I currently have 3 memberships right now and am about to get another!

 The first membership I got was the Botanical Gardens.

 I have renewed this one and have even gotten it for two years versus one year on some occasions.  I enjoy this membership the most as you get to see the flowers, bushes and trees in every season.  The rose gardens bloom twice a year.
Hibiscus,  Azaleas, Cherry Blossoms, Dogwoods, Crepe Myrtles. The garden is in abundance of all things that grow.
This garden also has a small area for bonsai and a hot house featuring some exotic varieties and orchids.

They have a great children's section. 

 World Of Wonders is an area they encourage and inspire children to explore their surroundings.  An A-Z of plants, different  regions represented,  little houses to play in, water to splash in and different activities to include scavenger hunts.  They also offer summer camps and a variety of learning programs. P.S. they have a yurt and offer great birthday parties.

One event I am glad that was brought back is their butterfly house.  You walk into this large screened house and are greeted by several different fluttering beauties. 

 If you look closely you are able to see all stages of the life cycle.  The are a couple very well informed staff members on hand to answer any questions and to give you tips on growing your own. 

Winter time things do not slow down. There are actually still things that are not brown and in hibernation. Camellias are in bloom to name one!  The garden offers a great light show as you drive through the Garden of Lights a million twinkling lights featuring scenes and beautiful colored patterns.

  There is even a Polar Express.

The gardens offers a variety of programs throughout the year.  Members receive a newsletter announcing upcoming events and activities.  A discount is given to members and you get first options for some events.   

Walking is only one option to tour the gardens. A tram with frequent stops or a boat ride to enjoy another view of the garden. They also have bike nights three days a week for the family to ride their bikes throughout the park.

So as you can see the gardens offers something for everyone all year.  Check out your local gardens and see what they have to offer.  My garden offers reciprocity which means I can go to other gardens free or at a discount as well as receive a discount for shopping in the gift shop.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

I tried it!

  We had spaghetti tonight.  I like to make this for many reasons.  It is easy to make, I usually have the ingredients, it is fast to make and everyone likes it.

  I do not go out of my way to make my own noodles although that would be nice but I do whip up my own sauce if I do not have an handy jar in the cupboard. No worry I do not pluck tomatoes from a plant, boil them down in my sauce process.
My sauce consists of 3 jars

 (depending on how much you are making) and a variety of spices.
Oregano, Basil, Garlic and chopped Onion.
  You of course need your noodles of choice.  I have gotten my family accustomed to wheat pasta.  My meat of choice is breakfast sausage. I started this concept a few months ago and it just works.  I take a few patties out fry

 them up while the noodles and sauce are cooking then marry them when the sausage is done.
I don't usually serve anything with this dish but sometimes we buy a loaf of bread or a make focaccia bread.  I will add that recipe next time we have it. 

Wordless Wednesday

Our local Botanical Gardens butterfly house has opened.  I have never visited it so early in the season but was able to see more caterpillars than butterflies this time around.

I even got to see actual eggs being deposited on a leaf! I have raised butterflies the last couple years and never saw this process.
The have a small area in the back where they have the chrysalis and cocoons set up.
Then of course all the flying beauties. A few now and plenty more to come as the season progresses on.
This is my favorite exhibit at the gardens!