Sunday, November 23, 2014

Teaching Your Kids to Give

Grow a community garden like many
elementary schools do. 

Teaching Your Kids To Give: Establishing the Mentality of Life-long Giving

By Jennifer L. Jacobson and Gretchen Barry While raising kids has never been easy, it can be one of the most rewarding things that some people do--especially when children grow up to be productive, contributing members to society, and that includes knowing how to give back and enrich the communities in which they live. When should children start participating in the giving process? As early as possible. Even if they’re still toddlers, observing charitable acts that happen regularly and eventually understanding them, will leave a big impression. Learning how to give and developing that skill set is a lifelong journey. Giving is more than a task. It’s a mindset, a way of life, a way of looking at the world and asking, how can I help? How can I make connections between needs and time and resources? How can I bring awareness to specific needs and evoke action? 1. Ask Your Kids How They Would Like to Help If giving to a cause is new to your household, involve your kids as early as possible. Tell them that your family has the chance to give back. Then engage them in a conversation about the types of causes they may feel strongly about and ways they think they can help. This could involve helping families, working to save open spaces, caring for nature or a community garden, helping to save an endangered species, or helping those in need. Make a list, as this helps visualize everything. Once you have identified key topics that your family is interested in, start researching specific local organizations, and add them to the list. For example, you could include:
*Food kitchens *Pet shelters and animal rescues *Nature conservation efforts *Fundraising for various activities for low-income kids, like camp *Zoos, museums, and aquariums *Schools and local libraries (these days, even they need as much help as they can get) *Visitation of patients in hospitals *Visitation of the elderly in nursing homes

My daughter helping out at a low-income elementary school clean up. 

2. Make a Game Plan. Get creative about how your family can help the organization(s) you choose. Bake sales are traditional, but there are other ways to help. Talk it through with your family, map it out, and post the results somewhere in the home that is highly visible. Make it fun with tasks that turn into goals and accomplishments.
3. Quick Tasks and Ideas That Can Make a Big Difference • Clear the clutter. Every 6 to 12 months, have a household closet cleaning day (that includes the toy chest, and maybe even the garage). Get everyone in the family to help. • Make a donation box. Put it out where your kids can add to it. Donate often, even if it’s small. • Make Detours to Giving. When shopping, make a trip down the canned foods isle. Ask your kids to pick a can of food to put in your donation box at home. • Find ways to raise money for donations. Hold a yard sale and give all or a portion of it to a selected charity. Do the same with a bake sale, an art sale, etc. Involve our kids at all stages. • Associate getting with giving. For birthdays and holidays, aside from their other gifts, give your kids a hand-written gift “certificate of giving” with a specified amount of money that they can gift to their favorite charity. Take your child to the charity to donate that money in person if you can. For non-local organizations, write a check, and have your child include a letter. • Volunteer time in your local community. From public gardens that need weeding to historic buildings that need painting or food banks that need help, find something age-appropriate that can engage your family.
4. Growing the Mindset • Tell stories. There are lots of real-life stories about kids or groups of kids who have found creative ways to give back. Encourage empathy. Share appropriate stories of struggle. Ask kids what would you do in this situation? How would you want people to help you? • Walk them through the cycle. If your kids are very young, say, "We're going to give this can of food/winter coat/gift to ______ because it will give them something to eat/keep them warm this winter/help them __________." • Explain why you are doing it and what you’re looking for. For example, say “We don't need to store all this stuff, when someone else could really use it,” or “I bet there is a kid out there who would really enjoy playing with that toy. I know you used to love it, but how about if you pass it along to someone else, so they can enjoy it as much as you have?” Keep the focus on the people in need and your child’s ability to share an experience through an item. Establishing a detached relationship to “things” can help kids better understand the important of relationships over acquiring goods. • Develop a language of giving in your household. Find creative opportunities to incorporate giving into regular conversation. We are stewards of the planet and the things we think we own. It is our duty to help those in need when we have abundance. Teaching children about the struggles of others not only develops a lifelong giving mindset, it also helps children understand how their words and actions impact those around them--a lesson that bears repeating.
About the Authors: Jennifer L. Jacobson is the founder of Jacobson Communication and an advocate for organizations looking to make a positive difference in the world. She currently serves on the board of several influential nonprofits and organizations focused on conservation, education, and community. For more, visit:
Gretchen Barry is the Director of marketing and Communications for NonProfitEasy; the all-in-one data management software, created by nonprofits for nonprofits. From CRM and database management, to events, donor engagement, fundraising, and more, NonProfitEasy offers a one-stop, affordable, integrated software solution that is changing the status quo for the greater good. For more, visit:

Thursday, November 20, 2014

FREE Christmas Events in SoCal You Will NOT Want to Miss!!!

East Lake Village Christmas Boat Parade

Among the many delights of the Christmas season is a myriad of free or low-cost celebrations for single moms and their children to choose from. Since money is not a worry in this case, single moms will want rely on their excellent time-management skills in order to squeeze in all the holiday fun. Make room in your schedule because you will NOT want to miss out on these FREE Christmas activities.

  1. Yorba Linda’s East Lake Village Christmas Boat Parade is second only to Disneyland’s Electrical Parade and is described as a mini version of the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade. Each boat is uniquely decorated by the owner with countless vibrant lights and brilliant decorations that reflect in the lake for a dazzling Christmastime effect. Visitors should arrive early to secure a spot off of Yorba Linda Blvd. and Village Center Drive since this event is very popular. The parade will be held on December 13 and 14 at 6:30 p.m. with food trucks available from 4 - 9 p.m.
    Mom, Reina, and I celebrating at Old
    Town several years ago. 
  2. You will not want to miss downtown Fullerton’s Winter Market on December 6 from 12 - 4 p.m. Be sure to arrive early because Santa will make a special appearance. Kids get to enjoy face painting and a bounce house while adults can take advantage of a variety of food booths, holiday shopping, a beer and wine garden, and live entertainment. Fullerton’s Winter Market is located in downtown Fullerton on Wilshire Avenue between Harbor Blvd and Pomona Ave.
  3. Pick a night in December to don your footed pajamas, grab a hot cup of hot cocoa, and pile the kids in the car to witness the best neighborhood Christmas light displays in SoCal. In Brea, you’ll see row upon row of merry homes at Kramer and Birch. Take a turn into Fullerton at North Yale across from Fullerton College, and you’ll be amazed by multicolored Christmas ornament orbs lining the community trees. In Rancho Cucamonga, make your way to Thoroughbred Lane for a winter wonderland created by the neighboring community for the past two decades.
  4. Come see Knott’s Berry Farm’s ghost town converted into an old-fashioned "Knott's Merry Farm" Christmas Crafts Village, complete with Calico Carolers singing throughout the streets, festive performances of “The Gift of the Magi” and “A Christmas Carol” at the Bird Cage Theater, and a Christmas show at the Calico Saloon. Shop at artisan craft booths, enjoy hot mulled cider, and even visit an authentic one-room schoolhouse. Knott’s Christmas Crafts Village begins November 22 through January 4 and is free to the public Monday through Thursday. For more information, see: Knott's Merry Farm Christmas Craft Village
  5. For a spectacular holiday light display at the magically transformed Mission Inn, take a ride out to Riverside’s Festival of Lights. Feast on a variety of sweet treats from neighboring vendors like fresh gingerbread cookies, spice cake, hot sugar-sprinkled donuts, or gourmet cupcakes. Covered horse-drawn carriage rides that encircle the Mission Inn are also an entertaining treat for a nominal fee. Check out the website for more information: Mission Inn Festival of Lights
  6. For those who like gourmet cheese, meats, and candies, drive out to Tom’s Farms for a double treat. Tom’s Farms free Christmas Light Shows begin Thanksgiving weekend and then every Friday through Sunday in December. The kiddies will be excited to see Santa and have their picture taken with him, too. See website for more information: Tom's Farm
  7. Bazaar del Mundo in Old Town San Diego is a must-see for families who have some extra time for a day trip. Vibrant Mexican Christmas décor in every color provides an ethnic holiday experience for visitors. Specialty shops, folk art, historical exhibitions, and authentic Mexican food are among the pleasures you’ll experience to ignite your holiday spirit and give you a break from the Christmas chaos. For more information,see Bazaar Del Mundo San Diego 
Cultural Christmas Decor from Bazaar del Mundo . . . 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Beautify Your Winter Hats with a DYI Flower Clip

Since the temperature is finally dropping out here in SoCal, I'm unpacking my warm hats. I bought this one for only $1 brand new at thrift store (see the other thrifty chicks warm weather finds here Cozy Thrift Store Finds). The problem is that my hat is a bit manly looking on me. Okay, I'll be honest . . . I look like Sherlock Holmes in it. Needless to say, I had to spruce it up a bit, so I hot glued some lace to a cloth flower I bought for $1 at a craft store. Next, I attached a clip to the flower, so I don't have to commit the flower to my hat for life. This way, I can even wear the flower clip as a hair accessory, which means I have 2 accessories for about $1. I love it!

Gather a few simple materials and a glue gun . . . you're set!

Glue the lace and a clip to your flower accessory

Voila! A brand new spruced up hat for a total cost of $2! 
Linking to: Katherine's Corner Thursday Favorite ThingsOne Project at a TimePink SaturdayMoonlight and Mason JarsWeekend Retreat Blog Party

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Thrifty Chicks Ugly Christmas Sweater (and More!)

Reina found this for $15, which is
a great deal for an ugly Christmas
sweater considering that even
Goodwill marks them up
due to popularity. 

So, we've unpacked our fuzzy sweaters and displayed our scarves (see my last post: The Cutest Ever Scarf Display Rack). But now we're left with a burning question: With Christmas music already playing and stores bombarding us with holiday gifts and glitzy decor, we boldly ask is it too early to wear the ugly Christmas sweater? We found this one at a thrift store in Solvang last weekend called "Pink Trash," and we're dying to know . . . Just in case, here are the other warm and snuggly deals we can wear if it is, indeed, inappropriate to wear the ugly Christmas sweater just yet.

I LOVE plaid skirts. A steal at $5.
Plus, I had a coupon for $5 off if I spent
$15, which I did (of course). 

This green cowl neck sweater is
perfect for the holidays (and was only $2.50). 
$1 EACH & Brand New!
A steal at $5, but they are going to kill me since they're a little tight,
Oh, well. I'll wear 'em out at a place where I can sit. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Time to Unpack Your Scarves and Display them on the Cutest Scarf Rack

The top far right scarves are Grandma's
colorful vintage ones. Seeing them
everyday is comforting to me.   

Even though we aren't getting snow in California like the rest of the country, it's time to unpack the warm clothes again . . . so let's get our scarves organized with this nifty towel rack you can put together from Ikea for $20!!! I had the perfect empty corner in my bedroom, so now I can display my colorful scarves and easily pick one out rather than having to rummage through my crowded dresser drawer during the dark mornings. Isn't this a cute idea? I must admit the credit goes to a fellow blogger, but I can't remember which one (sorry!). Kudos to her for keeping us inspired. Ladies, the days are shrinking, so get indoors, get creative, and share your ideas, too!

My lonely corner is more lively and colorful. 

The naked towel rack from Ikea . . . here's what it looks like underneath.
It took me only 10 minutes to put together. Don't be afraid to DYI!  

Linking to: Pink SaturdayKatherine's Corner Thursday Favorite ThingsThe Weekend Retreat Link PartyOne Project at a Time

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Simple Ways to Spend Less this Holiday Season

According to a survey from the American Research Group, the average American spent $801 for Christmas last year. Another article from reported that the average American parent spends $271 per child on Christmas gifts. If that seems a little too steep for your single parent budget and makes you want to cringe at the thought of January’s credit card bills, then some preparation is order with that the holidays are right around the corner. Some simple changes now can save you money for added holiday expenses and help cut costs just in time for Christmas.

DIY everything. Do whatever you can for yourself, including washing your own cars, mowing your lawn, and cleaning your house to save service costs. Ask friends, family, neighbors, or people in your community to help repair items at home that you cannot fix on your own.

Mom and I selling our stuff  last November
Sell your stuff. Grab a friend and throw a joint garage sale. It’s as easy as setting up an ad on Craigslist and tacking up cardboard signs around the neighborhood. Another option is to sell your wares on EBay, Etsy, or Craigslist to make some extra cash for Christmas.

Shop smart at the grocery store. Plan meals based on sales in weekly grocery ads, especially focusing on meat, fish, and poultry prices since those items tend to be the most expensive. Plan to shop at 2 - 3 stores since one store will have better deals on produce, while another might have the best deals on meat and poultry. Finally, go to discount stores for canned goods, boxed items, and snacks.

Save a bundle on food. Give up eating out until the family comes to town for the holidays. Make simple favorites that the kids love, such as grilled cheese sandwiches and soup. With money saved from eating out, you can splurge a little at a restaurant later when the family arrives. When hosting holiday gatherings for Thanksgiving and Christmas, make it potluck style so everyone shares in cost of the meal.

I bought this evening dress
for $6 at a thrift store!
Plan a holiday budget now. Make a commitment not to purchase any unnecessary personal items until January (or after the holiday bills are paid). Next, look at your accounts and plan a realistic budget for holiday spending . Rather than go into the red this year, learn to stay within your limits and be creative with what you have instead.

Choose the frugal option in holiday spending. Take your own holiday photos and create an e-card to eliminate the cost of cards and stamps. Buy an artificial tree on sale that you can use year after year. Go to a beauty school for an inexpensive holiday haircut. Buy a new dress for the holidays at a vintage store. Finally, cut costs on holiday entertainment by going to free events.

Let go of the picture perfect holiday. Say goodbye to perfection in order to be realistic about Christmas decoration costs and gift purchases. Keep your holiday décor simple and economical by using natural items like clove-studded orange ornaments, popcorn or cranberry garland strings, and nuts or pine branches in glass jars with white candles. While the Christmas season might not resemble a Hallmark movie, having money left over after Christmas is truly a goal for any single parent to envision!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Saving Space in the Kitchen with My Cherry Colored Baker's Rack

Originally a garden colored green, my baker's rack immediately came in handy when I bought my house over two years ago. Since I have very little counter space, I had to get creative and use the rack to hold our microwave, freeing the counter for more baking and cooking space. After I decided to the kitchen theme would be cherries, the green color just didn't work anymore, so my daughter and I set off to Walmart to buy some spray paint. Wouldn't you know it that the color we found was "Cherry Red"?! 

My daughter, the artist,
loves to spray paint. 
Ladies, do not be afraid to get creative with home decor. Oftentimes, you can create a whole new look even on a tight budget. Although spray painting our rack took more cans of paint than I anticipated (three rather than two), we achieved a new look for about $15, and I am thrilled because now the rack matches the cherry decor. Having the rack also creates much needed room for the Thanksgiving preparations, and I have to confess, that's all I can think about lately!

Linking to: Weekend Retreat Link PartyMoonlight and Mason Jars Link PartyKatherine's Corner Thursday Favorite Things,One Project at a TimePink Saturday


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