Packing Tips (for camping trips)

packing tips

 

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Camping is a great way to create a relatively low-stress, low-cost, low-maintenance vacation.  It takes just a bit of forethought to plan, register, pack and execute a camping trip as opposed to months or more of budgeting, researching, planning, mapping and creating a more elaborate vacation experience.  Camping can help you reconnect with your family and yourself, creates lasting bonds and memories and instills relaxation and calmness to what can be an overworked, overstimulated lifestyle.  If you want to make the most of your camping trip, you’ll need to know how, what and WHERE to pack all your gear and equipment.  Follow these 10 packing tips for camping trips and take the stress out of planning your next getaway!

 

1. Back to Basics.

Part of the fun of camping is forgetting about all the extras in life – electronics, toys, games, equipment, utensils and STUFF – that we get bogged down with.  Get back to basics by keeping your packing simple.  Consider everything you’re planning on taking carefully and think, “Is this NECESSARY for 3 days (5 days, 7 days, what have you) away?”  Take what you need and leave the rest behind.  If you realize you’ve left something that really is essential, most campsites or state and national parks have stores for your convenience.

2. Don’t go overboard.

Over-planning is one way to stress-out any family vacation, but it also makes packing a million times harder.  If you’re going camping for a few nights, chances are you won’t have the time (or energy!) to play every single outdoor game in your garage, do every single sport-related activity, or make every single gourmet meal and campfire treat you’ve got on your “ideal” list.  Limit yourself.  Pick just a few favorite games, activities, meals and treats and save the rest for another time.

3. Become ONE with nature.

Guess what?  You’re camping, not spending the night at the Ritz.  You’re going to get a little dirty.  There will be bugs.  You’re hair and clothes will probably smell like campfire from the minute you get there.  So don’t worry about bringing a new outfit for every single day for every single person.  You won’t need accessories and tons of shoes.  You’ll probably want some soap, but don’t worry about cosmetics and the whole beauty regime.  Don’t be afraid to be RUGGED!  That’s what camping is all about.  The biggest key when picking clothes is to remember you want to be warm and dry.  Pack extra socks and a sweatshirt for everyone, along with just a few items to wear daily.

4. Make a List.  Check it twice.

Camping doesn’t require a ton of fancy gadgets or equipment, but there are some definite things you don’t want to be caught without.  To make sure you pack what you NEED and leave what you DON’T get a complete list of gear.  You can find some sample lists online.  The Packing List Place has one, as well as Love The Outdoors.  Keep in mind that any pre-made list will likely need to be altered to fit your family and your particular geographic area so look it over ahead of time, whittle it down and add on as necessary.  It’s also a good idea to make two checked columns – one you can check off for “checked and ready” and one you can check off for “packed in car”.  That way you’re covering your bases and are less likely to accidentally leave something behind in the driveway.

5. Be prepared.

Check ahead for area conditions – weather, area emergency issues that might be a problem (wildfire probability, flooding, avalanche, etc.), park or camp site maintenance issues that might affect you, etc.  The more prepared you are, the better able you will be to refine your packing list.  When you check the forecast, for example, there may be no rain indicated for the week so you can likely pare down your wet weather gear.

6. Don’t lug your luggage.

Instead of packing a different suitcase for every family member, consider packing items into plastic tubs with lids according to category.  This is perfect since they come in different sizes for different amounts of things (extra large bins like these are great for bigger camp items like lanterns, emergency radios, skillets, hot plates, camp stoves, etc. while medium sized bins are good for clothing), stack nicely together, have flat tops, are water resistant, and pack up well since they aren’t odd shapes.  They are also easy to identify by using large labels such as these or simple tape with permanent markers.  Consider using bins for clothing, cooking, food, games and activities, and weather-related gear (ponchos, boots, warm sweatshirt, etc.).

7. Pace yourself.  

Don’t plan on throwing everything together willy nilly at the last moment.  While camping can be a relatively stress-free family vacation you’re simply asking for trouble if you don’t give yourself time.  Begin packing preparations two weeks in advance.  It might seem excessive, but you’ll want to make sure all of your gear and equipment is in working order before you actually pack it away.  You’ll also want to replace lost or broken items, make sure you have the right amount of things for your whole family, and create a “map” for packing your car.

8. SPACE yourself.  

Chances are you’ll be driving to your destination, so make sure to leave plenty of room for passengers.  Crowding can make people (especially little people!) crabby!  So don’t try to cram so much into the passenger area of your car.  Use storage areas for smaller items (like the pockets on the back of the front seats for small backpacks or bags) and fill up your trunk or cargo area with clean, well-packed, boxes and bags.

9. Think outside the box.  

Utilize the space outside your vehicle as well.  This will ensure that you have ample room for your passengers inside!  While clean and sturdy boxes, backpacks and bags are great in the cargo area, you can pack dirty, cumbersome or large items outside.  Use a bike rack on the top of your vehicle and consider getting a cargo carrier for the top of your vehicle, like this one.  You can carry other large items for outdoor activities (like kayaks, canoes, folding tables, etc.) with various types of carrying racks.

10. Make a map.

A packing “map” can be super useful when planning for your trip.  Essentially, list the items you’ll need based on bin, bag, box, etc. along with WHEN you’ll need them.  Following the “first in, last out” rule, decide which items you’ll need to access right away and which can be accessed later.  Then either draw the items in a diagram or simply number and label them according to when they will be packed in the car – this way you’ll know ahead of time what needs to go where in order to not only make everything fit efficiently, but also to have what you need WHEN you need it.

 

Looking for more helpful ideas for camping? Try these 7 Tips for Easier Camping!

 

Kimberly Mueller is the “me” over at bugaboo, mini, mr & me, a blog that highlights her creative endeavors. She especially likes to share kid crafts, sewing attempts, recipes, upcycled projects, photography and free printable gift tags/cards. When she’s not enjoying being married to her best friend, chasing after the natives (AKA her three kids) and attempting to keep the house in one piece, you can find her with a glue gun in one hand and spray paint in the other. Aside from DIY pursuits, she also enjoys writing, reading, music, singing (mostly in the shower) and the color yellow. Kimberly recently published a craft book entitled Modern Mod Podge. You can also find her on FacebookPinterest,Bloglovin’ and Instagram. Email her at: bugabooblog(at)yahoo.com

27 DIY Play Kitchens

27 DIY Play Kitchens

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Up-cycled, hand-built, or repurposed, play kitchens are a great way to spark imagination in your little ones! Customizing your child’s play space is easy when you see the inspiration and tutorials in this fabulous roundup of 27 DIY Play Kitchens!

27 DIY Play Kitchens - Tipsaholi.comA play kitchen can be made from just about anything and made to fit almost anywhere! With so many trends and ideas for these fun projects scattered around the web, it can be hard to find the kid kitchens that will really spark creativity in you and your children. This list narrows the ideas down to the best of the best – the custom builds, the recycled furniture, the most creative accessories, and some of the simplest and most budget-friendly play kitchens out there, all gathered into one place to get your wheels turning. So whether you are looking for an extra-special project that will last for decades or an easy fit for a small space, this roundup of 27 DIY Play Kitchens is the perfect place to start!

1. Fancy cottage kitchen from Remodelaholic

2. Handbuilt kitchen from A Happy Nest

3. Playroom market by Pretend Fancy on Remodelaholic

4. IKEA nightstands kitchen from Small+Friendly

5. Dresser top kitchen from Kate’s Creative Space

6. Cabinet and plywood kitchen from Young House Love

7. Recycled microwave stand kitchen by Dans le Townhouse on Remodelaholic

8. Elegant kitchen from Apartment Therapy

9. Play kitchen by “cathinca” on Flickr

10. Plywood hand-built kitchen by The Crafting Chicks on Remodelaholic

11. Country kitchen by “sli015” on Flickr

12. White and yellow kitchen from Peek-A-Boo Pattern Shop

13. Upcycled nightstand kitchen from Vintage Songbird

14. Glamorous kitchen by Twice Lovely on Remodelaholic

15. Mint kitchen from Mint in the Middle

16. IKEA kitchen makeover from Visual Vocabularie

17. Hand-built kitchen with window from Craftiness Is Not Optional

18. Upcycled nightstand kitchen from Nikki’s Nacs

19. Upcycled entertainment center kitchen from Giggleberry Creations

20. Boy-friendly play kitchen from Always Preparing for Peanut

21. Red and blue kitchen from BoligLiv

22. Build-it-yourself kitchen from Better Homes and Gardens

23. Cardboard kitchen from Parents Magazine

24. Reclaimed deck board outdoor kitchen from B Organic

25. Outdoor mud kitchen from Simple Toys, Simple Living

26. Simple outdoor kitchen from The Adventures of Tig & Serena

27. Nature-inspired outdoor kitchen from Growing a Jeweled Rose

The best of the best in diy play kitchens

 

Kayla Lilly is a photographer, writer, wife, and mama making a house a home in eastern Idaho. She met her mister while working at an amusement park and married him a year later after deciding there was no way to live without him. The amusement has continued as they’ve added three kids and a passel of pets to their lives while finishing college and starting a photography business. Drawing inspiration from the whirlwinds of marriage, parenthood, and the media, Kayla blogs at www.utterlyinexperienced.blogspot.com, and spends the rest of her time chasing chickens, organizing junk drawers, diapering toddlers, and photographing everyone willing to step in front of her lens.

Feature image via Vintage Songbird

7 Simple Family History Projects for Kids

7 Family History Projects for Kids | Tipsaholic.com #family #kids #history #photo #project

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Family history is often considered a hobby for adults, but children can get involved in the details of their family legacy and learn to love genealogy work too – and it’s easier than you think! Gather the family and get to work on a few of these 7 great family history projects for kids and watch their eyes light up as they learn about the people and places that have made them who they are.

 

1. DIY “Family Tree” ornaments

For a simple ornament for any tree, copy family photos and employ the kids to cut them down and paste them to sturdy cardstock, attaching ribbons to the backs for hanging. You can see examples of this idea here. Make notes on the back regarding names, dates, and events so children can learn the specifics regarding their heritage.

 

2. Family photo puzzles

Puzzles are a great way to familiarize children with the faces of their ancestors. Copying family photos and pasting them to a piece of cereal box cardboard is a great way to make your own puzzle. Cut the photo into pieces and help children put the puzzle together, discussing who is in the photo. Puzzle blocks or popsicle-stick puzzles are another way to create a family history puzzle. Walmart and Walgreens also offer special printing services for puzzles made from your photos.

 

3. Kid-friendly family cookbook

Pass down your favorite family recipes by asking your children to help you create a “heritage” cookbook. Ask them which family dishes are their favorites and get them into the kitchen for recipe “testing.” You may want to photograph each of your foods to add to your book. Once you’ve selected several recipes together, create pages using family photos, food photos, the recipe and notes on whom it came from, and fun things like colorful paper or stickers. Use a binder, simple photo book, or create your own recipe booklet to turn your recipe pages into a book.

 

4. Easy family photo book

Even the youngest members of a family can enjoy photographs of the people who came before them. Scan family photos into your computer and use basic photo editing software to add captions telling about the people in the photos or make copies of photos and write the information a slip of paper you can place with it. Purchase a simple photo book like this one to put your genealogy photo book together. Place the book among other books the children like and they’ll be sure to pick it up again and again.

 

5. Family memory game

This family memory game will keep kids entertained while also helping them to learn about their heritage. Make copies of family photos and paste them to an old deck of playing cards or simply mount them on thick cardstock and cut them out, as seen here. You may want to scan the photos and use editing software to add boxes containing text that tells about the person or moment in the photo. Memory is a great game to play with even young children, but if you like, you can make a couple of sets of the cards and combine them in order to play games like “Go Fish.”

 

6. Family “tree” wall

Allow children to help you choose and arrange photos on a wall in an area of your home where they will be exposed to them often. Frame special items like handkerchiefs, medals, and pocket watches to add interest. You may even want to go bold and paint a “family tree” on your wall or purchase one of these wall decals to create a display. This family wall at Design Mom also includes a genealogy fan chart.

 

7. Family map

Knowing where your family came from can give a sense of pride and love for family history in a way few other things can. To make the idea more tangible to children, purchase a large map like this one on Amazon. Use tacks and colored string to pinpoint the countries and cities of their ancestors. You may decide to add photos and identifying information on small pieces of paper to further knowledge of the family’s origins.

 

Your kids will surely be eager to engage and learn more about their family history when you complete these projects together. Personalize each craft and idea to suit your family’s needs and add new photos and items from time to time. They will love watching your genealogy come to life once more!

 

Kayla Lilly is a photographer, writer, wife, and mama making a house a home in eastern Idaho. She met her mister while working at an amusement park and married him a year later after deciding there was no way to live without him. The amusement has continued as they’ve added three kids and a passel of pets to their lives while finishing college and starting a photography business. Drawing inspiration from the whirlwinds of marriage, parenthood, and the media, Kayla blogs at www.utterlyinexperienced.blogspot.com, and spends the rest of her time chasing chickens, organizing junk drawers, diapering toddlers, and photographing everyone willing to step in front of her lens.

 

Featured image courtesy of Jones Design Company.

6 Ways to Reconnect with Your Significant Other

6 ways to reconnect with your significant other - Tipsaholic.com

 

If you’ve found yourself caught up in the whirlwinds of life and losing touch with your mate, you’re not alone. It’s easy to neglect the person you love most when work, family, and health can require so much of your attention. If you’re ready to rekindle the flame and reconnect in your relationship, take time out today and start with these six suggestions.

6 ways to reconnect with your significant other

1. Share your knowledge

You are an individual. You have interests and hobbies outside of your relationship, but why not bring them into it as well? Start teaching your significant other about something you love. Photography, baking, painting, or fast cars – sharing your knowledge can help you find new activities to explore together.

 

2. Power down at bedtime

Gadgets have turned “pillow talk” into a thing of the past. Bring it back to your nightlife by keeping the TVs, smartphones, and laptops out of the bedroom and reconnect as you lie side-by-side. It’s amazing what a person can open up about in the dark!

 

3. Start recognizing (and appreciating) the things he/she does do

Too often we focus on what our S.O. is not doing. It’s easy to get carried away, get angry, and forget the good things. Try writing a list of things your loved does for you and your family, then choose one or two specific ones and let him/her know you appreciate them.

 

4. Establish “no phone” zones

Nothing kills a long-awaited night out (sans children) like a phone call, email, or text in the middle of dinner. If you’re really committed to focusing on each other, consider turning the phones off during your time together. If you need to be available in case of emergencies you can leave the phone on but out of sight, where you won’t be tempted to pick it up every time you see a new text alert.

 

5. Go out of your way to do something for him/her

If there’s something you can do to make your partner’s life a little easier today, go for it. Does the bathroom need to be cleaned? Is the car due for an oil change? Choose something your love would normally be in charge of and take care of it, giving them some extra time to relax…with you!

 

6. Play a game together

Taking a few minutes to play is a great way to reconnect, whether it’s a board game you both loved as a kid or a few rounds of poker. Outdoor games get you out of the house and enjoying nature together. Doing a puzzle may remind you how well you work together. Games that require less critical thinking will leave plenty of time for talking without the pressure of eye contact. Choose something you will both enjoy and play.

 

Kayla Lilly is a photographer, writer, wife, and mama making a house a home in eastern Idaho. She met her mister while working at an amusement park and married him a year later after deciding there was no way to live without him. The amusement has continued as they’ve added three kids and a passel of pets to their lives while finishing college and starting a photography business. Drawing inspiration from the whirlwinds of marriage, parenthood, and the media, Kayla blogs at www.utterlyinexperienced.blogspot.com, and spends the rest of her time chasing chickens, organizing junk drawers, diapering toddlers, and photographing everyone willing to step in front of her lens.

6 Habits to Strengthen Family Ties

6 Habits to Strengthen Family Ties | Tipsaholic.com #family #bonding #activities #kids

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Families are under constant pressure these days. Whether it’s the distractions of dear old Dad’s job or daughter’s softball commitments, time together is becoming more and more scarce. If you’re ready to recommit to strengthen family ties, put down the electronics and start with one of these family-fortifying habits.

 

1. Family dinner

Research has proven time and again that dining together as a family promotes lifelong healthy eating habits. Other benefits of this family practice include improved communication and raising kids who learn to eat a variety of foods instead of fixating on mac and cheese. If family dinner isn’t already a part of your routine, aim for at least one family meal a week and build from there.

 

2. Read together

Besides the obvious benefits of inspiring a love of books and advanced school readiness, reading together as a family is a great way to wind down at the end of a long day.

 

3. Family game night

In an age of seclusion via personal electronic device, families tend to be a bit disconnected. What better way to get back in sync than to share some laughs over a card game or two? If you’re ready to go beyond the board game, introduce games of strategy, brain teasers, and puzzles. For a real challenge, get out of the house for a family scavenger hunt like this one from Spot of Tea Designs! Make game nights a permanent on your calendar to ensure the whole family can leave room for it in their schedules.

 

4. Get active together

It doesn’t matter if you’re swinging at the park, canoeing across mountain lakes, or horseback riding across desert dunes – getting active outside as a family is a great way to connect. Try a new sport or hike a new trail to keep your family interested and excited.

 

5. Start a new tradition

See if your family can come up with an idea that’s all their own instead of following the traditions of others. Get creative! What’s something you all enjoy doing? Could you do it on a certain day each year or always in a certain place? These are the things your family will cherish and remember over many years and multiple generations.

 

6. Define your family’s values and priorities

Get everyone on the same page by determining and writing down your family’s beliefs, goals, and values. Allowing every family member to be involved in the process will encourage continued support and discussion of those values. Be sure to show the reasons behind each belief or goal and explain how remaining loyal to them will benefit the family as a whole. For even more family fun, you can make a poster to hang where you will be reminded of your commitments.

 

Kayla Lilly is a photographer, writer, wife, and mama making a house a home in eastern Idaho. She met her mister while working at an amusement park and married him a year later after deciding there was no way to live without him. The amusement has continued as they’ve added three kids and a passel of pets to their lives while finishing college and starting a photography business. Drawing inspiration from the whirlwinds of marriage, parenthood, and the media, Kayla blogs at www.utterlyinexperienced.blogspot.com, and spends the rest of her time chasing chickens, organizing junk drawers, diapering toddlers, and photographing everyone willing to step in front of her lens.

 

Featured image courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens.

Playlist: Kids’ Music Even Parents Will Love

Kids' Music Even Parents Will Love - Tipsaholic.com

 

The way kids absorb everything they hear and repeat it back unfiltered can be a little scary sometimes. My girls love music, but I’m hesitant to turn on the radio sometimes for fear they’ll pick up on some of the more, uh, unsavory lyrics being sung. Rather than listen to mind-numbing kids’ songs, though, I’ve tried to find music they can sing along with that also appeals to me. These are some of my favorite collections of kids’ music that even parents will love.

 

playlist: kids songs even parents will love

You Are My Sunshine by Elizabeth Mitchell

Pretty much everything by Elizabeth Mitchell is fantastic and it’s hard to decide which of her albums is the best. This one is a top contender, though. Accompanied by little more than a guitar, she sings old favorites like “Skip to My Lou”, “Here Comes My Baby”, and of course “You Are My Sunshine.” I’ve found this album is perfect for calming grumpy little ones (and big ones too!) on long car rides. Check out Little Seed, a collection of Woody Guthrie covers, and You Are My Little Bird for more of Mitchell’s work.

 

Yo Gabba Gabba! Music Is Awesome (Songs from the TV show)

If you aren’t already familiar with Yo Gabba Gabba!, you should know two things: 1) it’s a kid’s show created by the lead singer of the Aquabats and 2) they have a segment called “The Super Music Friends Show” where popular singers and bands give a mini-concert. With songs about sharing and washing your hands and the like, they’re clearly geared toward the littles. But since they include bands like Mates of State, Chromeo, The Shins, and (of course) The Aquabats, you’ll probably enjoy it as much as your kids do. Our favorite songs include “Lovely, Love My Family” by the Roots (vol. 1) and “Balloons” by The Postmarks (vol. 3).

 

Tumble Bee by Laura Veirs

This album gets more play at our house than almost any other because it’s just so good! It contains songs that you are probably familiar with but may have forgotten about, such as “King Kong Kitchie Kitchie Ki-Me-O” and “Jamaica Farewell”. Laura Veirs somehow makes these old songs seem new again and will have you tapping your toe and singing along in no time. The track we listen to most, “All the Pretty Little Horses”, is about as lovely and haunting a lullaby as I’ve ever heard.

 

The Johnny Cash Children’s Album by Johnny Cash

That’s right: the Man In Black made an album of children’s music. And it’s awesome. Try listening to “Dinosaur Song” or “Nasty Dan” without grinning from ear to ear. I dare you. It can’t be done.

 

Here Come the ABCs by They Might Be Giants

Let’s be honest. Most of the music They Might Be Giants has written could be children’s songs. (“Particle Man” anyone?) This album is specifically geared toward kids, though, with every song related somehow to the alphabet. “Alphabet of Nations” is a fun list of countries around the world, which my map-loving daughter loves, and “Z Y X” is perfect for my husband, who is always trying to teach her to say the alphabet backwards. TMBG might be an acquired taste, but this album is full of weirdly catchy tunes that are easy for both parents and kids to enjoy.

 

BONUS: The folks over at Sesame Street are geniuses at parody. Cookie Monster singing “Share It Maybe” (a spoof on Carly Rae Jepson’s “Call Me Maybe”) is a favorite at our house, but we also love to watch the characters sing with Katy Perry, Bruno Mars, Train, and others. Each song is hilarious in its own right and definitely worth a listen. To my knowledge, they aren’t available to purchase, but you can find them collected on YouTube. I highly recommend pulling them up and singing along!

 

Jen is the mother of two sweet girls; her days are filled with Dr. Seuss books and laundry, block castles and pink tutus. Reading is her first passion. Finding and testing out delicious recipes is a close second. She and her husband are working on making their fixer-upper home into something amazing. It’s a satisfying but painfully slow process. Read more from Jen at her blog: Nothing Can Come Of Nothing.