10 Free (or low cost) Things to Do in Oregon

I love Oregon, don’t you?  Yeah, the rain gets old, but it makes for some really great landscapes.  One of my favorite things about Oregon is how many things there are to do here, many of which are free or very low cost.  My family and I are outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy hiking and time on the water, both of which are pretty cheap activities.  We don’t stop there though, we love experiencing all of the activities that Oregon has to offer.

If you live in Oregon, or if you are planning to visit soon, check out this list of 10 free (or low cost) things to do in Oregon and find yourself something great to do this spring break or summer vacation.

  1. The Beach.  I have lived in Oregon my entire life (save for a couple of years I lived in Texas when I was young), and I just recently learned that in many other states you have to pay to go to the beach?!  Is this true?  I have never in my life paid to go to the ocean, I’ve never even paid for parking to go on to the beach.  If you live in Oregon and haven’t visited the beach, I implore you to do so at the first opportunity.  We have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world here. Bring a sweatshirt though!  It can get windy on these beaches.
  2. Silver Creek Falls.  For just a nominal parking fee, you can check out some of Oregon’s most beautiful waterfalls.  You can complete the 7+ mile hike and view all 10 waterfalls, or you can walk among the shorter, easier trails and view just some of them.  Plus, at the main park, there are plenty of picnic tables available and a great family-friendly swimming hole. This is one of my favorite places in Oregon to visit.
  3. Salem’s Riverfront Carousel.  The Riverfront Carousel in Salem is a non-profit attraction.  It is also very unique to Oregon in that all of the characters on the carousel were handcrafted and made with the theme of symbols important to Oregon.  Additionally, all of the carousel animals have been sponsored by people and companies that are local to the area. The carousel costs just $1.50 per ride.
  4. Mt. Hood.  Yeah, it is going to cost money to ski or snowboard at Mt. Hood, but you can take a drive to visit and see some amazing views of this beautiful mountain.
  5. Water play.  Kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding are all wildly popular activities in Oregon.  If you already have the equipment, these activities are super cheap and Oregon is full of awesome lakes that you can park at for free and spend your day on the water.
  6. Jamison Square.  Jamison Square is a park in the Pearl District that is located in the middle of high rise condominiums.  There is a fun tiered fountain that runs non-stop that is a blast for the kids to play in, plus there are tables available for picnics or just to relax for us grown-ups.
  7. First Thursdays of Portland.  If you are in the Portland area, First Thursdays of Portland is a great event to attend if you enjoying visiting local artists and vendors.   At this event you will find booths featuring artwork, food, wine and beer tastings and more.  The vendors charge, of course, but you can see a lot of local flair for free just by walking around.  This event happens monthly, on the first Thursday.
  8. Oregon Zoo.  On the second Tuesday of each month, the Oregon Zoo offers discount days.  On these discount days, it costs just $5 for admission to the zoo.  If you have never been before, the Oregon Zoo is amazing.  On our recent visit with a family member from out of town, they commented on how beautiful our zoo is compared to other zoos throughout the country.
  9. Brewery and distillery tours.  Okay, so this one isn’t exactly child-friendly, but this is a fun way to spend a date night or day out with your spouse or friends.  Oregon is a treasure trove of breweries, distilleries and wineries and most tours are free.
  10. Tillamook Cheese Factory.  Tillamook Cheese is well known throughout the country for being among the best cheese and you can actually watch it being made!  The Tillamook Cheese Factory opens their doors for free tours where you can watch cheese and ice cream being made.  They also offers lots of free samples of their cheese varieties.  As of this date of this post (early 2018), their visitor center is closed because they are building a new one that is scheduled to be opened later this year.

What are your favorite things to do in Oregon when you are on a budget?

 

Refreshing Strawberry Iced Tea

Strawberry Iced Tea

 

I love strawberries, they are hands down my favorite berry and have been since I was a small child. They are what I like to think of as nature’s candy.  I also love iced tea (in case you hadn’t seen my Blackberry Tea recipe, I basically live on iced tea during the summertime) so I am always looking for ways to use them! Here is what I did to make this delicious and refreshing beverage:

  • First, combine the 2 cups of fresh strawberries and 3/4 cup Sugar.  Stir together and either mash or puree in a food processor.  My family prefers to taste the fruit pieces in our drink so I typically just mash ours with our fruit masher.
  • Mix with 1 gallon of unsweetened Ice Tea (I used Lipton Tea this time, but I also really like it with the Lipton Green Tea)
  • Serve over ice, garnish if desired and enjoy!

strawberry iced tea

 

I don’t live in the south, of course, but I love me some good southern style iced tea.  Although I am not big on super sweet beverages though, so you may want to add more sugar to your tea than I have here in my recipe.  I also think that all good teas deserve to be served in a mason jar because, well, they just taste better that way!  I bought this case of Kerr Mason Jars a while back specifically for our iced tea drinks.

With summertime fast approaching, I am very excited for our family summertime BBQs.  During our BBQs we always serve either this tea or the Blackberry Iced Tea (depending on how late into the Summer it is) and they are both always a hit.  Oh, and if you could use some tips on throwing the most awesome BBQ, check out this post.

 

 

Related:

Refreshing Blackberry Iced Tea

Easy Ways to Workout When You are Short on Time and Money

Frugal Fitness: Hiking, Nature’s Best Workout! My 3 Favorite Oregon Trails

How I Got Rid of My Migraines for Good!

Refreshing Strawberry Iced Tea
*45 calories per 8 ounce serving.
Refreshing Strawberry Iced Tea
*45 calories per 8 ounce serving.
Ingredients
Servings:
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French Fries: Gluten-Free? Or a A Big Gluten-Free No-No?

So, do you remember how I told you all about my decision to go gluten-free and how I am now migraine-free because of it?  Overall, it has gone well and it hasn’t been too hard to go gluten free (except for the occasional sandwich craving…but that’s what gluten-free bread is for, right?).

My main problem was how busy we have been.  Both of my kids were in competitive basketball, which meant for the last 3 months, we have been on the road every single weekend for tournaments.  Some days we would be gone from sun up til sundown and some days we would have to rent a hotel and be gone the entire weekend.  This doesn’t leave much time for healthy eating, which meant a lot of trips through the drive-through.

Honestly, I’m still fairly new at this gluten-thing.  I thought as long as I avoided breads, buns and breaded meats I would be doing ok.  I drove through McDonald’s one day and got a chicken breast with guacamole and lettuce and some french fries.  I woke up the next day with an awful migraine.  The kind of migraine that keeps you in bed the entire day and I was so upset. I mean, I have been doing great with my diet have been migraine free for over 3 months.  Once my migraine began to subside a little bit I wrote down everything that I had eaten the day before and knew that it had to have been McDonald’s because the rest of my diet that day consisted of eggs, veggies, fruits and cheese, all of which I have had before with no issues.  So, I started doing a little bit of researched and discovered that, the McDonald’s fries were the culprit.  Yes, that is right.  McDonald’s uses gluten in their fries. 🙁  Some of the things I have read say that they use a coating that is designed to make their fries crunchier, some say that it is in the beef flavoring that they use on their fries (I didn’t even know this was a thing).

I have since learned that many other restaurants use a coating on their fries as well, so it is always important to request gluten free fries when ordering at any restaurant.

Good luck to you my gluten-free friends!  I would love to hear about any other sneaky gluten inclusive foods you have found.

An Exercise for Dealing with “What-If” Anxieties

I know I don’t talk much (or at all) about it, but my daughter suffers from terrible anxiety.  She was diagnosed officially with Anxiety at the age of 11, but the truth is, I have known that she deals with this since she was 6 years old.  She was that student in the 1st grade.  She screamed, cried, kicked, hit and ran every morning when I took her to school.  Every.  Single. Morning.  I know you have all seen kids act like that at school drop off time because I’ve seen them too.  I remember when I was a kid and seeing a girl in my class do it.  I also volunteered with the elementary students my senior year of high school and I witnessed it with a couple of kids.  I also know that you may think that these kids are just being bratty, or misbehaving, but what you may not realize is that these kids are not just misbehaving, they are having full-on anxiety attacks.  They need your support, not your judgment.

Back in the 1st grade, my daughter was having full-on “what-if” anxiety.  Her big thing then was “What if my mommy got in a car crash while I am at school?”  You guys.  She literally fought me to go to school every day because she was afraid I would get in a car crash and die while she was gone.  Can you imagine the anguish that would put on a child every day?  Before I developed postpartum depression, I have never dealt with anxiety from myself, and I am ashamed to admit that I honestly didn’t know how extreme it was.  I was frustrated with her.  I wanted her to just go to school, enjoy learning and have fun with her friends.  “How hard could that be?”  It was only 1st grade after all.  I did not have the right mindset to deal with an anxious child.  I had never dealt with it and didn’t understand how debilitating it could be.  In time though, we learned to get through.  It’s worth noting that for the first several years (through 5th grade for our daughter and through 2nd for our son) our kids went to a small Charter School.  Their school had 200 students with only k-8 in attendance and this school was relatively close to home.  That meant fewer kids and mom could be there to get her in an instant when she was having a hard time.  And let’s be honest here, I picked her up all the time.  It has always been important to me that she knew I was there to support her always.  I may not have understood her feelings, I did know that she needed her mom.  I did let her miss way too much school though.

When she approached middle school we began discussing transferring her to the nearby larger, public school.  We knew that if we waiting until high school, it would be virtually impossible because of her nerves.  Plus, where we live, there are several elementary schools with just one middle school and one high school.  That meant that 6th grade is where all kids come together.  There would be plenty of “new” kids to the school and we figured that this would be a great time to send her and it was.  The change was great.  She discovered new friends and amazing new classes that she fell in love with, but she also discovered that going from 200 students throughout 9 grades to 1000 students in 3 grades was definitely overwhelming.  While she didn’t fight and scream and kick, she often teared up and begged me to let her stay home.  Throughout the 6th grade, I found myself giving in to that over and over again, so I decided it was time to put a stop to it.  At this point, it was time to go to the doctor and get help, which is when she received her officially diagnosis.

With various treatments over the last couple of years, her anxiety symptoms have gotten much better but she still has her good days and her bad days and she still needs help.  She has recently been doing a lot of worrying about whether or not her friends like her still.  No reason for her to feel this way other her “what-if” anxieties that she faces (What if they stopped liking me over the weekend?  What if they never liked me to begin with and have just been pretending? These are the kinds of questions she asks herself).  At a recent follow-up visit with her doctor, we learned an amazing trick to dealing with those what-if anxieties that has helped her already!

In this world of non-stop mental illness news, I think we could all use a little bit of help in dealing with our anxieties and panic attack symptoms.  I feel like if the things we have learned can help someone else, I would really, really like to share them.

Okay, so here is a good anxiety exercise that we learned recently for dealing with “what-if” anxieties that has helped tremendously.  I highly suggest doing this activity every single day, even when your anxiety symptoms aren’t that high:

Get out a piece of paper to write on, and think about your “What-If” anxiety trigger.  Now, on your piece of paper, write down 3 reasons why this trigger may not be true.

Here is the example that we used to help my daughter on that first day:

Anxiety trigger: What if my friends don’t like me?

Why this anxiety trigger may not be true (her answers):

  1. They have never said they don’t like me.
  2. They smile and wave at me in the hallways and talk to me in class.
  3. Nothing has happened that would have changed our friendships.

It seems so simple really, but as it was explained to us, when you start doing this every single day and writing it down, you will eventually start to retrain your brain, so that when you start having those anxiety symptoms and “what-if” worries, your initial thoughts will be the reasons why these anxieties may not be true, as opposed to your anxious mind convincing you that they are.

Fun Peeps Easter Treats Recipes

Ahhhh. Peeps. The classic Easter treat that you either love or you hate.  I’m a big fan of honesty so I will just come out and say it.  I HATE Peeps.  Like EWWWWWW. Hate them.  That said, I always add them to my kids’ Easter Baskets because they are so cute and they are such a classic part of Easter, it just feels wrong to leave them out.j

We always have a family get together on Easter and I started thinking that I would love to create an Easter themed recipe to bring to the party.  I did a little bit of cruising around online and found some seriously adorable recipes that use, you guessed it, Peeps.

Check out this fun list of Peeps Treats that I rounded up for you:

Pistachio Salad Easter Peeps Dessert Cups – Mom Endeavors

Peeps Push-Up Pops – Joy in the Works

Totally Delicious Peeps Cheesecake Easter Dessert – Lemon Lime Adventures

3-Ingredient Peeps Fudge Recipe – The Thrifty Couple

Peeps Cake with Marshmallow Frosting – Bitz ‘n Giggles

Peeps Easter Ideas -Organized Island

Hoppin’ Good Easter Trail Mix – Totally the Bomb

Birthday Cake Peeps S’mores – Moments with Mandi

Peeps Pizza – Baking Beauty

Homemade Marshmallow Peeps Paleo – Forest and Fauna – You can even enjoy your own homemade treats if you are on a Paleo diet!

Valentine’s Heart Cupcakes

Do you have a favorite Valentine’s treat that you make for your family and friends?  These Valentine’s Hearts Cupcakes are one of our favorites to make and they are always a hit.

I like to present them to family and friends, but they would also be a great classroom treat if your child’s school allows homemade treats.

 

Valentine's Heart Cupcakes
Suprise your loved ones with these fun and pretty Valentine's Hearts Cupcakes.
Servings Prep Time
24Cupcakes 30Minutes
Cook Time
15-20Minutes
Servings Prep Time
24Cupcakes 30Minutes
Cook Time
15-20Minutes
Valentine's Heart Cupcakes
Suprise your loved ones with these fun and pretty Valentine's Hearts Cupcakes.
Servings Prep Time
24Cupcakes 30Minutes
Cook Time
15-20Minutes
Servings Prep Time
24Cupcakes 30Minutes
Cook Time
15-20Minutes
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, mix your cake mix with your eggs, oil and water as directed on the box.
  2. Once your batter is mixed fill your cupcake liners a little over halfway full and bake according to package directions.
  3. Let your cupcakes cool, fill a decorating bag with your cherry frosting and cut a small tip off the end of the bag.
  4. Frost your cupcakes with your decorating bag.
  5. Press your candy hearts onto the frosted cupcakes starting at the outside and working your way in.
Recipe Notes

I love making these cupcake treats with my kids!  They are easy to decorate and the kids have a blast.

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How to Step Away from “Work Mode” When You Work from Home

Do you work from home?  Do you find it hard to stop being in “work mode” while you are at home?  I started working as a Blogger and Virtual Assistant way back in 2012 and for a long time worked all the time, without ever stepping out of work mode.  I would wake up early and work, I would work on road trips, I would work while sitting down watching a movie with my family.  While it is handy to have the ability to work like that, it really is unfair to your family to never really be there with them.  Additionally, you need to be able to create time for yourself in order to be your most productive self.  It took me a long time, but it eventually clicked that I needed to do differently and I am much happier (and more successful) now!

If you want to learn how to step away from “work mode” when you work from home, check out these tips and see how much they can help you!

  • Schedule it.  Honestly, if I don’t put something on my schedule to make it happen, it simply won’t happen.  This goes for everything I do, so that means I schedule my working hours and my non-working hours.  This is beneficial for productivity as well.  Schedule your day as though were driving into a regular job and you are likely to accomplish more.
  • Have a dedicated workspace.  Even if you work on your laptop, make an effort to create a workspace within your home for workspace.  If you make a habit of plopping down on the sofa to work, you are never really out of your workspace, so it becomes harder to step away from work mode.
  • Put your phone down.  This day in age, we are so lucky to have the technical advantages that we do.  We can get an order notification right on our phone via email, phone call or text message.  But in order to be out of work mode, you can’t have your phone going off all the time.  Choose several time blocks throughout the day that you set your phone down.
  • Remember your reasons.  I am willing to bet that one of the reasons you wanted to work from home, to begin with, was because of the flexibility and freedom that comes from being your own boss.  Never allow yourself to forget this, because if you are too focused on work, that freedom really isn’t there, is it?

Do you work from home?  I would love to hear any tips and tricks that you have found useful in your work/life balance.

 

Do you want to learn how to make money from home?  Check out this post I did a while back to get some ideas:

Online Side Hustles, Surveys and Other Money Making Ideas!

 

 

 

FREE Funny Breakfast Themed Printable Valentines!

Good morning and happy Groundhog’s Day!  How do you feel about the Groundhog’s prediction?

Enough about Groundhog’s Day (okay, I may be a little upset with ol’ Punxsutawney Phil right now…I want Spring dangit!).  Valentine’s day will be here in less than 2 weeks!  Print out these cute, funny and free Printable Valentine’s for your kids to give out at school!

FREE PRINTABLE VALENTINES

 

Easy Ways to Workout When You are Short on Time & Money

Alright fellow moms, I know what it is like to be short on time and on a budget, it is hard to do anything, let alone work on your fitness.  Even though we know it is important to take care of ourselves, we all know that self-care is one of the first things to go when we are crunched for time and cash. You still need to focus on yourself though, because when mom doesn’t take care of herself, it is hard for her to take care of everyone else (and what would everyone do if mom couldn’t take care of them?).

So, if you are like me and you are finally taking time for yourself and your health, you don’t need a lot of time or money to get a good workout in.  Check out these easy ways to workout when you are short on time and money:

  • Daily Burn – Groupon is currently offering 60 days of Daily Burn for free!  You can make a huge difference in your body and your health in 60 days.  There are lots of levels of workouts starting from easy to difficult and some are just 15 minutes long.  You can spare 15 minutes, right? Once your trial is up, you can cancel it or, you can continue on if your budget is looking better.
  • Workout DVDs.  Workout DVDs can be done in the comfort of your home and they are very cost effective.  Plus, you can buy workouts according to what you want to do and how much time you can spare each day.  This DVD, for example, features 10-minute workouts.  Be sure and scroll down to the middle of the page to see other similar DVDs.
  • Walk around the block.  Grab your kiddos and take a quick stroll around your neighborhood.  As we mentioned, even a few minutes of exercise each day will help you move toward your goal and it’s free to do!
  • Join a gym.  Most gyms offer a free 7 or 14 day trial, why not head in to a couple of your local gyms and sign up for those free trials (one at a time of course)?  Depending on your location, you can likely get several months of working out for free, while figuring out which one you want to to actually sign up for.  Additionally, Groupon has lately been offering significantly reduced gym memberships, so be sure to check that out too!  If you have little kids, many gyms offer daycare for a reasonable price.
  • Local B/S/T or Buy Nothing Challenge groups.  If you are on Facebook, join your local FB For Sale, B/S/T groups as well as Buy Nothing Challenge Groups.  I have joined all of my local groups such as these and I often see workout equipment being given away for free or super cheap.

What has been your favorite budget-friendly workout?

Gluten Free Review: The Essential Baking Company Super Seeded Multi-Grain Gluten Free bread

Since I am fairly new to the gluten-free world, I have decided to go ahead and review some of the GF products on the market.  For the most part, I am trying to go gluten-free by simply taking those types of foods out of my diet, however sometimes you really want a sandwich, am I right?  Since I have little to no room in my kitchen I have no desire to try baking my own gluten-free bread at this point.  So when the family requested sandwich night for dinner the other night, I decided to join them.  I knew that I would need to make sure that I had gluten free bread, so I headed out to my local Safeway store and found this The Essential Baking Company Super Seeded Multi-Grain Gluten Free bread and decided to give it a try.

It was a quite expensive as are most Gluten Free products, but I figured since I rarely eat bread these days, I was willing to spring for the $5.99 loaf.  I was pleasantly surprised by the taste of this bread.  It’s almost like regular bread, the only difference being that it tastes a little dry, but your condiments can make up for that.  I also tried it as toast the next day during breakfast and discovered that one cycle through the toaster was not enough.  It needs to be almost to the burnt level and then you cannot tell that you are eating GF bread at all.

Overall, I am a fan and will buy it again for those sandwich cravings and splurges.  I’m not a fan of the price, but it’s not so bad if it is an occasional treat.

*This is my own personal view, I was not paid or compensated in any way.  I simply wanted to share with others who are learning their own gluten-free ways.