Category Archives: frugal family fun

Portland Hill Walks

Happy 2012!!!

Our new year’s celebration was pretty mellow, Bailey’s and decaf in bed talking about our family schedule for the east coast new year. After having survived the flu, it was wonderful to have beautiful winter weather for a long family walk.


One of our favorite family activities is talking long walks together, self-narrated by Laura Foster’s book Portland Hill Walks. She developed a series of walks to guide you to the best vista, learn about the local history, and enjoy previously unexplored areas of Portland. It’s taken us a few years, but we’ve almost completed every walk in the book.


We started doing our hill walks when our Big Guy could fit in a Kelty pack. Now, at almost 6, he can regularly walk 5 fairly hilly miles (with lots of water and snacks). Girly still uses her chariot, our faded and beloved Zooper stroller, which we’ve put at least a hundred miles on. She’ll walk for stretches, but it’s honestly still easier to cart all our water bottles, extra layers, dollies…


While getting some fresh air outdoors is our main objective, I’ve found that it has given us a deeper sense of place. We remember the quirky history Foster has researched and it has certainly gotten us away from doing the same repetitive park trip weekend after weekend. And there are often parks along the way to take a play break. Usually our walks end up taking us 3-4 hours, and sometimes we’ll grab a bite to eat at a local place, which Foster often includes in her guide tips too.


I bought Foster’s Portland City Walks book for Hubby for Christmas, and I imagine we’ll have just as much fun on those adventures…


Have you discovered Laura Foster’s walks?
Which one is your favorite?


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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Spring Break

Happy Spring Equinox!


Our kids may not be in elementary school yet, but I’ve decided that we all need a “spring break.” Life has been more stressful than usual, and I just feel the need to unplug.


Thankfully my mom’s schedule as a teacher makes a visit to the grandparents an option, and the moment I offered to have our Big Guy visit, she eagerly accepted (Girly is home since Grandma’s hip has been hurting her lately, and she’s simply at a higher maintenance age). The love is mutual, as he’s has been begging lately to visit. They typically get some quintessential country experiences, like collecting eggs and feeding pigs at nearby farms. I think it’s also good for us to get a break in the name of family bonding 😉 


At the end of the week, we’ll meet up with them on the coast for a couple nights. Hopefully this will create the feeling of a vacation without the expense of a true vacation. We’ll also continue our tradition of volunteering for SOLV’s Great Oregon Beach Clean-up, and our Big Guy has been talking this up lately…yes, he is a little chatter box like his Mama!


I will also be taking time off from the blog this week, so this will be my only post for the week…enjoy your spring break!


What are your spring break plans?


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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Eco St Patty’s

Our family has strong Irish roots, my Grandmother’s maiden name was Green. We visited Hubby’s Great Great Grandparents homestead in Ireland before getting married. He has several second cousins in Ireland, and one even works for the Irish EPA.


So, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I’ve done a little research on all things eco/sustainable.


Boycott Cheap Holiday Decorations 

Eco-crafts for St. Patty’s


Eco-responsible Drinking


10 Eco-friendly Ways to Wear Green





Our green family action will be taking the bus to/from our favorite local Irish pub: County Cork. They also recycle all of their kitchen oil into biofuels!


Do you celebrate St Patty’s?


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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Snow day…well sort of!

Snow is pretty rare in the valleys of Oregon, and we only really get a snow event every few years at best. In great anticipation of the “big” snow day that we are expecting, I’m frankly not focused on our finances at the moment. Instead I’m reminiscing about childhood snow days, which are priceless.


I recall the bunny hill that seemed so treacherous, and the numb feeling of thawing out after finally retreating to the warmth of home. Hot chocolate was a must, along with soup and grilled sandwiches. I must have been an early feminist, because we always insisted on making a snow woman 🙂 


Snow days also have a funny way of changing our priorities, and suddenly nothing seems as important as savoring the snow and playing as hard as possible. I’m looking forward these kinds of traditions and memories for my kids.


Last year I wrote about cheap ways to enjoy a Winter Wonderland.


I also found a couple some fun snow day ideas on ParentDish, Snow Day Fun, and 5 snow day favorites.


As it turns out there really wasn’t much snow to celebrate, but it has been fun fantasizing…


How do you celebrate the snow?


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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Healthy Eating & Living

In honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Obamas spent time yesterday volunteering at Stuart Hobson Middle School in the District of Columbia painting apples in support of Michele Obama’s initiative to create healthy eating and living habits.


Creating healthy eating habits for your kids (and yourself) is not only good for your health, but also good for your wallet.  Some quick tips on how healthy eating can help your bottom line.

  • Eat in, rather than out, is almost always healthier and cheaper
  • Veggie snacks, i.e. carrot sticks or ants on log (celery with peanut butter and raisins)
  • Hot cereal! This is a great and healthy alternative to expensive cereals, add in apples, raisins and nuts for an added bonus. Yum! 
  • Make your own applesauce with kids instead of cookies, they will remember the activity
  • Buy in bulk, you’ll save more than you think on good whole foods than you think you can
  • Make a list and stick to it.  Good intentions can go out the window to grocery marketing.  Better yet, shop at spud! (mention SFF and we get a referral)
  • Drink only tap water and you’ll save a bundle and be much healthier
  • Don’t buy junk food.  Not only is it bad for you, but it’s bad for your wallet
  • Buy in season and on sale, it is amazing how much you can save when you shop smart
  • Visit a farm and see where your food comes from, great cheap activity that reconnects

Help build happy, healthy, and smart kids.  Here is a great resource for kids volunteering, on a site called Compassionate Kids.


Another quick shout out to a great blog post on MLK, Jr. from the folks over at The Story of Stuff, entitled Honoring the Spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.Through Action.


Did you volunteer yesterday?  It not too late, the volunteer spirit lasts all year!
What are your tips for healthy eating?


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Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.