The Summertime B-word (Budget, That Is)

Summertime oozes with opportunities to make childhood memories. However, if you let them, those opportunities can break the bank. This summer, we are trying to keep the activity budget to a minimum. And, we’ve been able to do so this far by formulating a game plan, as follows:

1) Having a rotation of go-to activities. In any given week, we probably visit two of the following places: our local library, Chick-fil-a, and the local park. I can’t give enough shout-outs to our local library for scheduling so many events designed for babies and toddlers and for keeping a super clean (and fun) children’s play area.

2) Schedule in-home play dates with friends. These are simply the best, because I can have adult conversation without the need to explain why my house is a mess.

3) Splurging on one pass. Season or yearly passes can add up quickly. And, the DFW area has plenty of them to offer. This year, because of the kid’s ages and Lillian’s love of animals, we chose a yearly membership to the Fort Worth Zoo. The upside to this decision is that the Fort Worth Zoo is open 360 days a year and has lots of members-only perks.

4) Keeping a list of cheap (or free) activities in the area. I don’t mind occasionally spending a little money to see the kids have fun. However, at this age, I’m not willing to spend more than I won’t miss if an outing is cut short by a tantrum, accident, or both! Fort Worth luckily has hoards of free and cheap activities to choose from. Some of our personal favorites right now include the miniature train and local splash parks.

5) Sometimes, saying yes to (semi-planned) special treats. I can’t feed my toddler ice cream every day like she requests for health and budget reasons (ok, MOSTLY the former). But, occasionally, I like to splurge and let her enjoy some of the awesome treat places that Fort Worth has to offer. Because, who doesn’t love trying something new? Today we said “YES” to Steel City Pops. Lillian’s official review of the chocolate was “MMMMM…Yummy!” And, she thought the Strawberry (she stole mine) was “Licious.” Needless to say, it was a hit! So, we will most likely be back. But next time we might take a change of clothes.




I know that, eventually, we will want to take them on trips, enroll them in camps, and that their hobbies will become a little pricier. But, in this season of life, we are enjoying being creative in our activities. It really is SO much fun seeing them discover new things!

Creating Delicious Memories

SAMSUNG CSC

When I think back to spending time with either of my grandmothers, the memories usually involve food. Nena (my mother’s mother), used to make these melt-in-your-mouth cinnamon rolls that were, quite figuratively, heaven. But, even more than I remember how delicious they were, I remember getting to assist her while making them. My job was usually to spray (yes, spray) “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” on the dough. I thought it was fantastic.

This summer, I decided to combine two things I love: family photos and food. I poured through countless recipes from both sides of the family (as well as some I “created”), trying to pick out ones that evoked fond memories. I placed my favorites in two piles. In one pile were the recipes that I thought I could cook or bake ALMOST as well as the original (they will never really be as good). In the second pile I placed the recipes that I knew I couldn’t recreate. The latter pile was left out of the book. And, after whittling my list down to 19 recipes, I turned to the good people of May Designs.

I was introduced to May Designs several years ago, and I am absolutely addicted to their notebooks and agendas. They are small enough to fit in almost any purse, have enough personalization options to make yours unique (but not so many that you feel overwhelmed) and are sturdy enough to withstand living with a toddler. Plus, they are a Texas-based company, so I’m basically shopping local, right?!

Last year, they introduced photo books in two sizes, a 7.5″ square and 5.5″ square. They sport the same sleek, hand-sewn design as the notebooks and are again full of personalization options.

May Designs makes it so incredibly easy to design the cover and inside pages of your photo book. And, the layout choices are plentiful. But, at 40 pages, it is not so cumbersome that it becomes just another well-intentioned project (I have several unfinished scrapbooks).

Screen shot 2015-07-05 at 10.25.27 AMScreen shot 2015-07-05 at 10.25.13 AM

The outcome was fantastic! And, we even tested it out over 4th of July weekend.¬†I can’t wait to create more of these wonderful books and to reminisce with loved ones around the dinner table.

SAMSUNG CSC

What are some of your favorite meal-time memories?