Fall Camping: 7 Frugal Ideas To Get You Started

Ever go camping in the fall?  If you not, you are surely missing out.  Cooler nights….hot cocoa by campfire….crockpot meals….trick or treating….snuggling around the fire….kayaking during foliage season….sharing stories, drinks, & good food….What could more exciting than fall camping!?!?
This week, I’m getting ready for our last weekend of camping for this year.  The weekend isn’t supposed to be a great one, lots of rain, but that won’t deter us from having a grand ol’ time.
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Since it’s our last trip of the year, I’ve got a few things I wanted to do, but of course I want to keep it low key, not spending much.  Here are 7 Frugal Ideas to help get you started:
*Plan delicious but easy seasonal comfort dinners such as casseroles, chili, or crock pot meals.  Here are a few suggestions:
~Potato, Corn, & Sausage Bake
~Salsa Verde Chicken for Tacos
~Nachos
~Sweet Potato Chili
*Figure out a few fun games to play ahead of time (the more you incorporate nature the easier it will be.)  Our favorites are:
~glow in the dark tag or hide n seek
~plan a scavenger hunt (make it as easy or difficult as you like)
~make words or sentences from the nature
~make leaf people using only what you can find
*Campground offering trick or treating here are few ideas to keep your cost down:
~use your kids dress up clothing
~buy a pack or two of Halloween makeup @ the dollar store & paint their face
~ask a friend if they have anything you could use
~search around the house & make something from what you find
*Warm desserts will hit the spot on any cool night.  Some of our favorites are:
~banana boats
~shortbread cookie s’mores
~warm apple cake
~cobbler (you can use an assortment of berries or stone fruit)
*Bring extra blankets or throws to snuggle with around the fire or for a chilly night
*Set aside some “mindful minutes” time.  This is what I call the time I use to be mindful & live in the present.  It has a catchy ring to it huh?  Here a few examples to get you started:
~explore mother nature through canoes or kayaks, hiking trails, or a walk around the campground
~take in everything around you: smells, sounds etc…
~disconnect from all electronics for as long as you can during your trip
~meditate
*Decorate inside & out of your camper or tent….making it cozy & fun
~add a few throw pillows & blankets can really liven the space up
~lighting is important: have fun lighting on the outside & practical lighting on the inside
~get kids involved having them come up with a few ways to give the space some life
~make it fun since fun equals cozy….the kids will love it
BONUS:
*Embrace the weather & have fun with it
~if it rains bring boots, extra clothing, & shoes.  Then lets the kids have fun it in running around & playing games
~windy days bring kites for some extra fun in the campground field
~cold days bring extra sweaters or jackets, thermal underwear & undergarments

****If you are interested in some of the above recipes, please let me know and I’ll make a post with the favorite recipes people are interested in. ****

Got any delicious camping recipes?  Or any great camping tips?  Please share them in the comment section below.


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8 Ways To Have A Healthier Camping Experience

Camping is great but it’s also a great way to gain a few unwanted pounds if we aren’t careful.  This year, I have been determined to have a healthier camping experience.  I didn’t want to lose all the work I’ve done, keeping my weight off.  Since we all know it’s easier to put it on than it is to get it off, I thought I would share 8 different ways to incorporate healthier ideas while camping:

  1. Find local farmer’s markets or farm stands-
    when traveling always be on the lookout for stands, pick your own, & signs for farmer’s markets so you know what you have around you to choose from.  This is the 1st thing I did, when we 1st came out this area.  Lucky for us,
  2. Look on Pinterest for inspiration-
    need some ideas, good old Pinterest is there to help.  Whether it’s healthy meal ideas or fun activities or camping hacks Pinterest has got you covered.  Take full advantage of  this site or a similar one before you leave.
  3. Walk or ride your Bike everywhere- 
    this one tip alone has helped me shed the weight last year and is helping keeping the weight off.  We walk & sometimes bike everywhere around the campground.  We go for numerous walks a day, and I make it a point to make sure I hit my step goals each day.  So far, I’ve been way over 🙂
  4. Replace junk food snacks w/ healthy alternatives- 
    this I do for each trip.  I hardly ever pack junk food because I know they will get a treat from the store and 9 times out of 10 it’s candy or something else super sugary.  Plus, I don’t want to have it around me, tempting me to eat it.  So I pack cheese n crackers, hummus, rice cakes to name a few things.  Don’t get me wrong, I do indulge here and there, I just don’t make a habit of it.
  5. Stay active with your kids and/or dog- 
    this is an easy idea that some people may over look.  When your camping, your relaxing, so sometimes you aren’t as active as you can be.  For me, I try each day to do a few things with the kids, even something as simple as a walk with our dog, keeps us all active.  Because if I’m not careful, I could see myself just sitting around not being very active.
  6. Track your steps
    I have a Garmin watch I use, but there are numerous apps on your phone that will help you out.  Before tracking my steps, I wasn’t sure how much or how little I walked.  This holds me accountable and I know when I need to get off my butt.  Plus, my watch gives me little reminders throughout the day to get moving.
  7. Plan meals around few healthier foods-
    Pick healthier foods like potatoes or beans or something else and create meals highlighting these items.  For example, for potatoes (sweet or regular) you could cuts them up small and toss them in a pan with corn, & some sort of meat or beans.  Viola a healthy cheap meal that will feed a crowd or leave you with leftovers to enjoy another day.  Don’t have any ideas, refer to tip #2.
  8. Don’t forget to Have fun-

Got any ideas that aren’t listed to have a healthier camping experience?  I would love to hear your thoughts on this.  🙂


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Let Camping Help You Explore Simple Living

Since we are away for 11 days, I thought this week would be the perfect week to dedicate to camping.   So each post, will be themed around camping in some way.  Hope you’ll come and visit during this special week of fun.
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Have you been considering minimalism but don’t know where to begin?  Do you wish to simplify things, taking out the unnecessary but what do you start with?  Does the concept of simple living appeal to you in numerous ways but can’t decide which topic to focus on?  
Well, the solution is simple, why don’t you explore these concepts through camping.
Camping is a great way to explore these concepts & see if it’s a right fit.  Don’t get me wrong, you can go camping and bring the entire house with you, that’s not the camping I’m talking about, since it isn’t any different than your home.  Instead, plan a trip, pack the basics, limit the so call extra items you think you need (set a limit of 10 small items or less), limit the food you take….have meals serve dual purpose like creating one meal that turns into two, figure out what gear you have or need to buy & get ready for your adventure.
We go camping in our popup, which is so much better than the tent.  I’m not a huge fan of it, sorry I know so many people who are.  To all of you out there who do it and love it, I give you credit, because I couldn’t handle doing it more than 2 summers.  I know for some this is a luxury and for others this is roughing it.  For me, it’s much smaller than our home, holds a lot less things, little to no clutter, & 99% of the items in it serves a specific purpose.  To me this is simple living, cutting down as much as we can, & still live comfortably.  It’s amazing how much fun you can having, living with less.
Camping means & has shown us something different.  No one person has the same experiences or takes the same lessons away, which is something I love.  Your experiences, lessons, & things you take away for your adventures are only as good as you decide on.  You get what you put in.  For me camping has shown me a lot but the most important things that I have learned has been:
* how little we really need to thrive 
* family time is important to us all, not just for us parents
*getting out of our comfort zones helps us grow individually & as a family 
*given the children a greater sense of responsibility & independence
*it’s fun being adventurous
*be so rewarding being able to incorporate my 2 favorite hobbies with our trips 

It’s only Aug, you still have plenty of time to plan a weekend getaway or week away camping trip.  I found a few articles that I’m sharing to help your trip go as smoothly as possible below:
How To Go Camping Minimalist Style
Minimalist Camping
Camping With The Family: Enjoying Creation & Simply Living Together
Your Camping Essentials
 How To Pack a Camping Kitchen
What is your favorite way to go camping, tent, popup, RV?  What is your favorite camping spot & why?


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10 Fun Camping Food Ideas

In lieu of our upcoming camping trip, I thought it would be fun to do a round-up of some fun camping food I found while searching for budget friendly ideas.  Just click on the images to get to the recipe.  **Side note-The images are not mine, they are from the recipe sites.**   ~Enjoy~
Fruit Salad W/ Honey-Lime Dressing

Grilled Bananas W/ Coconut Caramel Sauce

Chocolate-Covered Watermelon Bites
Chocolate-Covered Watermelon Bites Recipe
Campfire Eclairs
Campfire Eclairs will be a new tradition. A campfire treat that tastes as pretty as it looks. So clever and easy!
French Toast Roll-Ups
French Toast Roll-Ups - cream cheese, fruit, or whatever fillings you like rolled up in cinnamon sugar bread. the-girl-who-ate-everything.com
Pineapple & Ham Skewers
Ham and Pineapple Kabobs
Grilled Pineapple

Dark Chocolate Covered Pineapple
dipped pineapple_1
Mini Bun-less Cheeseburger Bites

Mexican Corn On The Cob
Mexican Corn on the Cob - This is the best way to serve corn, brushed with melted butter and sprinkled with chili powder, cheese and lime!
What’s some of your favorite camping foods?  Got any good recipes to share?

Everyday Comforts Can Prevent Us From Truly Living

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Tonight’s our last night camping, we’ve been at the beautiful Sebago Lake area of Maine.  It’s the longest we’ve been away from home at one time, which has been such an interesting experience.  The convenience & comfort of our home has been replaced with simplicity & simple living.  To be completely honest before we left I was a little worried about the 6 of us leaving all our comforts behind for a small popup tent trailer 3 hrs away for 8 days.  It sounded like a lot to give up, even if you are living a simple life.  Of course my concerns weren’t warranted, since it’s been a great adventure, one that we’ve really needed.
We’ve literally cut out everything except for food, shelter (our popup tent trailer which has 2 bunks, a pull out couch, toilet, sink, cabinet, & fridge), clothing, free to cheap activities (outdoors & through the campground only, nothing elsewhere), & we limited technology & communication usage.  The only things we really missed was our reptiles, my gardens, & a few people important to us.  Everything that was cut, didn’t make any difference in our lives this week.
We need very little in our lives to truly thrive, yet we surround ourselves with excess of everything.  We end up creating a bubble of distractions around us that hinders our lives, without realizing it.  We get so caught up in the rat race, wondering why we are so miserable and unhappy, even though we have all these comforts around us.
When did our everyday comforts turn into distractions, preventing us from fully experiencing life?


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Happiness Is Simple

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Yesterday, we were back home from our extra long weekend, spent at my happy spot in Maine.  4 days spent camping, spending most of our time outside, getting in tons of family time, relaxing, & having no expectations about my days…….letting it unfold naturally.
Driving home (it’s a 3 hr ride one way) I had plenty of time thinking about the last days.  As I was thinking about it all, I noticed my thoughts kept gravitating around the fact that we had so much fun doing simple things like riding bikes, going for walks, talking around the campfire, playing cards, listening to the band, going on firetruck rides, participated in an ice cream eating contest, & trying winning at candy bar bingo to name a few.  When we weren’t doing stuff, my little ones played hard enjoying the outdoors, & doing it all with a few simple toys like their bikes, a few coloring things, & cards.  The rest of the time they played on the playground or with rocks, pine cones, & dirt.  I don’t think any of us has been happier than we were this past weekend, which shows me 2 things:

1. Simple living isn’t just a fad……..it’s a way of life for us all
                                      &
2. Happiness is simple, we just complicate it.

Not once during our whole trip did any of us miss anything that was left behind, other than our reptiles of course.  My life wasn’t miserable or unsatisfying because I didn’t have a 100 different kitchen gadgets or have 100 different TV channels to watch.  Instead having a lot less and  simplifying what we took (only taking the basics) we were content with having what we had, which brought us more happiness.  We were able to focus on things that mattered to us, rather than the distractions that over take our lives.  Even though I’ve been simplifying things at home, I realized I haven’t gotten as far as I would like to.  Yes, I did start but somewhere over the last few months, I’ve been slacking but taking a step back I was able to see this more clearly.
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Simple living isn’t something that happens over night, it’s not a destination.  It’s a mantra, a motto, a belief……a statement that motivates you to strive to continuously reevaluate your life and put your focus towards what’s important.  Having this mini break from our every day not only gave me clarity, it showed me this is exactly where I should be & how I want to continue living.  If anything, it gave me more of an incentive.

Happiness is simple, yet so many people live without it.  If you stripped everything down, what would it take to really make you happy?


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Budget Adventures: 8 Ways To Keep It Simple

Next weekend, is the 1st of many trips that we will embark on this summer.  We love traveling, revisiting special places, & exploring the world around us.  But in order for my large family (there is 7 of us….2 adults, 2 teens, 1 preteen, & 2 elementary school kids) we need to cut cost wherever and whenever possible.  That’s where my creativity, baking & cooking skills, & my frugalness comes in handy.  Here are 8 tips to help you cut some cost during your next trip.

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1. write everything out…….I mean everything
As some of your already know, I am a list gal.  I have numerous things in numerous spots around my house.  It’s just the way I am.  With that being said, it is a huge benefit for me to be like this, because I am always ready for our adventures as long as I wrote it down.  A month ahead of time, I write out our trip list, with everything we eat, use, need etc.

2. Look over list & delete as many things as possible, things you don’t really need to bring with you or can do w/out
Once you have your list, look it over and start deleting the unnecessary.  You don’t need 10 pairs of pants for a week away.  Instead adopt a minimalist attitude and bring only the bare minimum.  But make sure you bring everything that consist of so you don’t need to buy things during your trip.  Otherwise, you will end up spending more.  If need be, go over your list a few times during the month, that way the week before your trip, you aren’t doing everything at once, rushing through it.

3. Choose simple foods, meals, & drinks to have during your trip
For our trips, I always try to make yummy but super simple meals.  But keeping it simple doesn’t mean you can’t go healthy because you can.  I make sure each meal & snacks consist of 5 ingredients or less, that way the prep & cooking time is very short.

4. Make as many things as you can from scratch ahead of time, instead of buying premade & prep food beforehand
Food is something I try to make as simple as possible.  I make as much food ahead of time as I can from potato & pasta salad to foil dinners already in foil ready to go, doing a little work beforehand, makes for a much more enjoyable trip.  With this in mind, prep as much food as you can before you leave.  Get most of your cutting, portioning, slicing etc done, so it’s one less thing to do.
This tip is also including non food items that we use like firestarters.  Whatever you can make yourself, do it because every dime you save counts.

5. Let each kid under 10 bring a bag that they hold filled with toys or things of interest to them
This is for the ride there are well as when the kids have some down time.  Bringing a special bag packed by them with their special toys, books, art stuff etc helps keep them from getting the “I’m bored” bug.

6. Allow for reusing of clothes instead of bringing a 50 outfits
This is something  new I did last year and it was such a big help.  Bring as little clothing as you can because it does add it up and take a lot of space, especially for us having 7 people.  If we are going for a week, they bring 4-5 days worth of clothes.  Before doing this we brought a lot of clothes but only really used a few days worth, the rest was just a waste of space.  I line dry wherever we go, so that helps to extend the clothing life, which allows us to reuse pants or shirts that haven’t been soiled.  But my kids do bring a few bathing suits each, since my kids live in them during the summer months.

7. Utilize the area your going by researching free ways to entertain your family while you are there
Wherever we go, I research the area during our visit for special events, places, or things to see and visit while we are there.  Usually, these things are free, which helps keep the cost of our trips down.  We don’t mind spending a few dollars, but that’s it.  For example, next week we are leaving for Sebago lake in Maine, and the place we are going has so many free activities for the entire family to do, we won’t spend much there.  They have this cool water hayride where the kids soak others at the place along this path.  As well as numerous other things like a mud bog boogie, cool magic show, reptile show etc.

8. Incorporate your hobbies and/or kids hobbies
I love sharing our hobbies with each other, which is something we all do during our trips.  My husband loves fishing and kayaking so he taught our kids how to fish and they go with him.  I take the kids kayaking as well as going on photo walks, which my kids enjoy as much as I do.  It’s fun sharing something we love with the people we love, while making memories together.

Keeping it simple is the best motto to have during trips, since your time is best used for exploring & making memories.  What are some other ways can cut costs during your trips?  Have other tips or ideas that you find useful?  Please share with us all.   

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