Friday, June 17, 2011

Solvang & Camping

Today is my birthday! After much discussion on what where to go and what to do, plans changed and we ended up planning something else up until the very last minute. I am not one for last minute planning; but it came together and we had a great time.

Two days before my day, we decided to go to Solvang for the day. The evening before, about 9:00pm, I realized that we would be driving on windy roads in the dark. To avoid that issue; I started looking for a cheap place to stay for the night. Everywhere was well over $100/night. I needed to find something much cheaper. Then came my bright idea. I said, Lets go camping! Hubby was was not too thrilled about the idea of going camping and looking in the garage for camping gear (just a tent and 2 sleeping bags) at the very last minute. He didn't complain too much because I think he was too tired to waste the energy and because it's what I wanted to do for my birthday. The girls have been wanting to go "real" camping somewhere besides our backyard. We didn't tell them we were going cuz I wasn't even sure they had space available.

It seemed impossible to get going in the morning. Hubby did realize the night before we needed stakes for the tent. We headed out to buy them when I asked, You packed sleeping bags, right? He gave me that look of, I forgot. At that moment, we turned around to get them. All he had to remember was a tent and sleeping bags and he forgets half of the items!

We finally get on the road to Solvang! We stopped Sunny Fields playground to eat a picnic lunch. After lunch the girls played on this awesome castle looking playground.

From there we rented a surrey from Wheel Fun for $25 and rode it around Solvang's danish village. The guy gave it to us for a little longer than the hr. rental time; but it only took us about 20 min. to ride around the village. So, we spent the rest of the 40 min. going around and around the designated streets.

We then got the girls some ice cream at $3 each for a kids scoop, emphasizing to be careful the scoop doesn't drop. Of course, 3 min. later my oldest drops her ice cream on the dirty ground. Since, I paid $3 for a barely eaten ice cream, I quickly picked it up and put it in a bowl for her to continue eating. I'm sure the 30 sec. rule doesn't apply to ice cream. I just told her to not eat the bottom that landed on the ground. That became impossible when the ice cream started melting. That's the last time they get a cone!
Solvang is famous for their danishes and cookies; so hubby and I had to get one. We didn't get the famous butter cookies. Instead we both got an apple filled danish cookie with almonds at $1.75 each. It was tasty! We stopped for photo opts of the girls in the wooded red shoe and at a windmill.

After walking through the village, we went to Classic Organic Farm where you can pick your own berries. My youngest loves strawberries and was so excited to be able to pick them herself. The oldest doesn't like strawberries; but they did have raspberries for her to pick. Everyone was happily picking berries. The owners are too busy working in the fields to take money from customers; so they implemented an honor system of what you take and drop your money in the barrel. We picked a pint of strawberries for $2 and got half a pint of raspberries for $2.50.

After berry picking, we went to Ostrichland! Ostrichland is a bunch of ostrich and emu wandering around a fenced in field waiting for you to feed them. So, for $12 the 4 of us got to enter Ostrichland. Hubby and I fed them rabbit food from a bowl which sits on a dustpan. You hold on to the dustpan handle with 2 hands, and the ostrich peck away. They were entertaining to watch for about 10 min. It was a fun experience to at least try once.

Since the famous Split Pea Andersen's soup was right down the street; we had to pay a visit. I'm not a huge fan of pea soup; but I do like it especially when it's in a bread bowl with all the fixin's added such as diced ham, croutons, cheese, chives, and bacon which was $9.50. The girls got their picture in the HAP-PEA and PEA-WEE cutout and we headed for the lake.

We got to the Cachuma lake around 8:45. Luckily they had quite a few spaces ($25/night) available. We drove around the dark trying to find campsite numbers. We picked a space somewhat close to bathrooms, a playground and showers. Hubby used the the car's headlights as he put together the tent. He got it up in about 5-10 min and I threw the sleeping bags and blankets inside. The girls were so excited to find out they were going "real" camping! We played a game of UNO and had somewhat of an uncomfortable sleep on the hard ground.

The next morning, the girls woke up before 7:00; super early for me, to use the restroom. Early bird hubby took them. He went back to sleep when the girls were hungry. I was still too tired to get up and had the oldest go to the car right next to the tent to get her berries to eat and some dry cereal.
Hubby went to the general store to look for firewood so we could make Smore's. We can't do
camping without a fire and Smores! But $10 for firewood and lighter fluid was too much. The girls wanted to collect twigs and put them in the pit. We started to light them; but needed fluid. As hubby was leaving for the store again; our camping neighbors had noticed our struggle of trying to make Smores and were very nice to give us a couple logs with some fluid. We had our fire and our Smores. Camping complete! After our Smore breakfast, I took the girls to the playground while hubby packed the car. We then stopped at their nature center before we left for home.

It wasn't necessarily a frugal birthday; but it was a fun birthday!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Free Father's Day Card from Tiny Prints

Get 1 Free Father's Day card from Tiny Prints. Enter promo code: FREEFD
Offer Expires 6/13/11

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Natural History Museum

I'm not a big fan of history or museums ...yawn. But, my husband loves them and wanted to check out the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles. It was the 1st Tuesday of the month, so we all got in free. I haven't been here in quite a while so I had an ounce of enthusiasm for things I may not have remembered seeing before. We also avoided the $8 parking fee by parking by the swim building. It was about a block further down; but it was free!

The 1st area we went to see were the minerals, gems, rocks. There were so many pretty gems to look at. The girls were also very interested in looking at them and had fun telling what each gem looked like. They would say, "Mommy, this looks like snow, like icicles, like ice cream with chocolate chips on it". They also loved looking at the jewels and the big diamonds. They are going to be typical girls when they grow up who love jewelery. Just the opposite of their mom. The only bling I wear is my wedding ring and a Tinkerbell watch I took from my daughter cuz I need one and she didn't wear it.

The 2nd areas we went to were the animal dioramas. Rather than looking at these dioramas, I could have seen most of these animals alive at the zoo. My 3 year old was wondering why the animals didn't move as she zoomed past all the dioramas. She did have fun guessing what all the different animals there were. She did give a lot of deer answers which I would have too for the caribou, elk, black tailed deer, white tailed deer, mule deer, etc, etc. I think we had seen quite enough of the deer species.

We then went into a bird exhibit; which I guess is a little interesting if you like birds. There were some exhibits with buttons that did things and the girls loved pushing all the buttons. It quickly became annoying when you hear all kinds of bird noises at once for a period of time from them button pushing. So, quickly moving on to...

The Dinosaur area. This is what hubby was most excited about. It turned out they had the main dino area closed for a bigger area to open later this summer. We did see them working on a couple huge fossils in the dino lab.

The Insect Zoo was interesting to see and the girls enjoyed looking at various specimens under the microscope in the Discovery Center.

Overall, I'm glad I didn't pay to come here. Heck, I wouldn't even come back for another free Tuesday visit for another long time.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Painting & Creepy Puppet Show

Today, there were a few different free activities going on; so we decided to them all!
First, we went to Home Depot's Kids Workshop to build a valet organizer for Father's Day. This would actually be very useful for hubby. My husband always comes to help; so this was not going to be a surprise Father's Day gift. Plus, the girls had other plans for their organizer. The oldest wanted to use it as a museum for her Playmobil set and the youngest wants to use it for her doll house. So much for being a gift for dad!

After the girls got home and painted their organizers; we stopped at Beverly's craft store for their rock painting event. They were showing them how to paint a ladybug. Of course, my youngest had to go against the flow and wanted to paint a puppy. Hubby helped her with that while I browsed the store.

Our last free outing of the day was to the Puppet Festival. The outdoor festival had a variety of puppet performances which included marionettes, ventriloquists, and a session where kids could play with different types of puppets. There was also a couple craft tables to make butterfly and caterpillar puppets which the girls enjoyed.

A giant 15 foot scary lookin' pink fairy puppet thing came walking around on stilts from time to time. It was definitely an attention getter; but not our cup of tea.

The shadow puppet show was the grand finale of the night. They encouraged people to stay until the end to see this award winning show and we were looking forward to watching it. Then they mentioned the performer had based the story on her survival of cancer. Since, the majority of the audience were children, I thought it would be a celebratory story. A story that might include butterfly, birds or some type of friendly,renewal images. But nooooooooo! It turned out to be CREEPY. The performer came around the seating area waffling this awful incense around. Then, the show began with eerie organ music. The 1st shadow image was a bird, a friendly image, then a tree (OK, not so bad). Then, she started talking about herself getting sick, she needed to find a doctor, she was being eaten up inside. She was dying, dying, dying as a shadow of an old lady that looked like death appeared during her narration. That's when I said it was time to leave. We were the 1st of several families with small kids who left. I don't know who decided to show this material at a place where kids are the majority of the audience. Aside from the giant pink fairy & the shadow performance, the festival was entertaining.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

$10 for $20 worth of clothing from Old Navy and Groupon
For $10, you get $20 worth of graphic tees, dresses, and other summer apparel at Old Navy. This Groupon expires July 30 and can be combined with in-store promotions.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

$5 off Coupon at Supercuts

Click here for a $5 off coupon for any haircut at Supercuts.