Halloween Trick or Treat Bags for Your Kids

How many orange pumpkins have you bought over the years for Halloween? Come on, there’s no shame, we’ve all been there. Oh, and I haven’t forgotten you, pillow sheets! You are creative and so is your child – let’s make a fun treat bag that celebrates that! It will give you an easy project you can enjoy with your kids, and their friends may just call you the “cool” parents, even though we know you already are!

Kids sitting on stoop in Halloween costumes with trick or treat bags.
  1. Sew one! A simple pattern can make for a super cute bag for Halloween. For most projects, all you need is different colored felt and a pattern! You could also reuse the fabric for other seasons depending on what you choose!
  2. Repurpose a shirt/ sew a patch on. Have an old spooky shirt? Cut it with a simple tutorial and you’ve got a great bag! You also can sew or iron patches of a canvas bag for a well-traveled look!
  3. Stencil on a canvas bag! Use paint, spray paint or whatever you like to make your own unique saying on your kiddo’s bag, or go classic and put their name on it!
  4. Line your bag in ribbon. You can line the top by gluing the ribbon along the edges of the bag. You can also cut two little holes in the top of the bag and wrap the ribbon around the bag and to the top and through the holes.
  5. Use bandanas! Get a few different colored bandanas and tie them together or sew them up to make your own unique bag!

Keep Crafting with Your Kids!

Ask your kiddo what theme they’d like to do, or make something to go with their costume. Ask some of their friends to join and make a party out of it! Come up with your own idea if you like!

Family outside in the mountains

10 Spend Free Fall Weekend Ideas

It’s my opinion, but I wear it proudly – Autumn is worth the whole year. In other words, I seriously love fall and wait for it each year with expectation. I enjoy the other seasons as they come, but there’s nothing like the season of fall to me. If I had to peg the one underlying reason I love this time of year it’d have to be that the outdoors turn into the perfect playground, from gorgeous colors, to perfect temperatures, football games, etc. it’s all so inviting!

So since the outdoors are gearing up to create the ideal backdrop for all your family fun, why not enjoy it all without the cost? That’s right, here’s how to have the best fall weekend without breaking the bank!

  • Go hiking: If you need an all-day event, or your looking to spend some energy with your older kids or your pets this option is made for you! You can stay active and enjoy the scenery – talk about the best of both worlds!
  • Host a scary viewing party! Get your favorite spooky show or movie and invite your friends over! Borrow a projector and take it outside or watch on your deck or screened in porch.
  • Use fall foliage for décor: Acorns, pinecones, and leaves make for beautiful décor pieces! No need to go out and buy what you can find in your backyard. If you are nervous they are filled with bugs, dry them out or try one of the many cleaning options on Pinterest!
  • Take lunch to the park: Instead of staying inside, take lunch outside! Heck, it can be your own backyard!
  • Have a candlelit story time: Put the phones and electronics away. Light some candles and turn the lights off. Read the kids a book by candle light. You’ll feel like your back in the day and get to focus on one thing at a time for change! 

Cup of coffee with whip cream and caramel on a table next to fall leaves.
Enjoy a cup with a friend!
  • Make tea or coffee and invite a friend over: Enjoy a low-key chat without having to go out and spend money. A warm cup of hospitality is just as sweet as friendship.
  • Volunteer: Easy, free, and it helps someone else! This is the best one on the list. It’s never too early to teach your kids to put others’ and their needs first. It is the season of gratefulness after all!
  • Clean/Organize: Open the windows and freshen up the house for the season! Organize the kids’ toys, the kitchen, or make a box to donate. Does a room in your home need a good scrub, too? Get some kitchen cleaning inspiration!
  • Break out the board games: Work together or enjoy a little friendly competition playing some games. This is great for those kiddos that need a little break from technology.
  • Go outside and draw what you see: Take another look at your backyard or your front yard. Draw your best rendition! Be sure to include all the color you see!

Get More Frugal Ideas!

Enjoy the best season of all! Remember, fun can be free!

Oakbur Quill Co.
Woman organizing dishes in the kitchen cabinet.

Organizing Your Home with a Monthly Walk Through

The best remedy for a busy household is a routine that sticks. You might be thinking of your morning or nightly routine, and that is definitely part of it. However, the routine I’m thinking of is when it comes to your home. That’s right – I’m talking about home organization. It’s amazing what a monthly check in can do for your home and your sanity!

So, let’s break this down and discover some great options for keeping your home in order.

The monthly walk through can sound intimidating, I get it. Bear with me. If you can find a few hours toward to beginning or the end of the month to walk through your home and process the items – you’ve won half the battle. Schedule this in advance if you have kids or a busy schedule to where someone helps you or watches your kids for a bit. It can change as the months do – make it work for you.

How to get the most out of your walk through:

  • Set a couple boxes out for donation or sale (depends on how much you must sort through)
  • Set out a trash bag
  • Use a designated area for items in the wrong place or that need to be relocated
  • Grab some post its (To label or write out where you want something to go later)
  • Motivation: caffeine, music, having guests at your home, clearing more space for family, etc.
  • Focus on the room you’re in until your done with it
  • Ask yourself: “Have this been used or worn in a year?” “Is this in the most practical place it could be?” “Do I need this or really want it?” Etc.

As you go through each room you don’t have to pull things out of closets, drawers, or under the bed. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Start with clutter or items sitting out. Then after you’ve done this system for a while you can dig deeper into the details, or you may already have things pretty organized. Start where you’re at and let yourself progress. You’ll find not only will your home become more organized, but you’ll be downsizing some of your stuff.

Once you’re able to go through your home fully you should have 3 areas/ bins/ boxes. One for donations/sale, one for items that can relocate to another room or place, and trash items. Follow up after your monthly organization by going ahead and putting these items in their new place.

Click For Cleaning Tips!

I hope that you can implement this strategy and that it serves you and your family well.  Happy organizing!

6 Shade Ideas for Your Yard This Summer

We’ve entered the part of summer that is just hot no matter what you do. You may have spent the season hoping for some relief, but it’s not too late to make a dream relaxation spot in your yard! I’ll be looking at some shade ideas that you can do yourself or purchase. Not only can shades be great for you and your family outside, but they can also potentially save energy if they cover part of your home, too!

Let’s check out some cool ways to stay shaded!

Sun sailSun sails are a cute, modern way to protect an area from the sun. They are rather inexpensive but offer decent protection. Check out some options here. The trick to making one is getting your measurements right for the area that needs fabric and researching what fabric would do best. Here’s a sun sail how to you might be interested in.

Sun sails add a touch of relaxation!
Sun sails add a touch of relaxation!

Palapa – If you’re in a coastal area, this is perfect –  Palapa has that island vibe. You can find it at most home improvement stores. Palapas umbrellas are popular. You could make your own, or add palapas to whatever shade project you’re interested in.

Trees – Obviously these take time to grow, but you can choose something that grows fast or purchase something that’s already grown to a certain size. This can provide some good shade that will only grow.

Plants with trellis – A trellis is a great idea for gardeners. The trellis itself will block some of the sunlight, but you can look up vines or plans that climb so that it will cover them well. Here are some great options for climbing plants! Be careful not to put the trellis too close to your home, as it may encourage the vine/ plant to grow onto your home. Though vines look lovely on a home, they are actually bad for the siding on your home and can attract bugs to your home.

Patio curtains – There are many ways to implement curtain shades. You can hang them from anywhere vertically to help the angle of the sun. You can hang them from a deck, a pergola, or install your own base and hang them from there.

Pergola – Thesecan be expensive but make a great atmosphere in your yard. Though they are a little bit more involved, they can make a great project! Try on of these free pergola plans!

Keep Cool With This Post!

I hope these ideas inspire you to choose an option and maybe even make it a project for you and your family! Stay cool!

Back to School Tips for Your Family

School has started for many kids or is soon to start, and I want to help you dream of all the ways to get organized. After a year and a half of different/flexible home and school schedules – most are back to regular pacing at school. I want to help you return easily to the swing of things. I hope these tips help you and your family have a smooth transition and help you all succeed.

Let’s get started!

Set up a drop station

Organization is such a powerful discipline. It takes a little time on the front end but saves you time in the long run. Drop stations can be a variety of things, but mostly they have:

  • Area for shoes, backpack, jacket
  • A whiteboard/paper with a calendar and/or schedule for the family
  • Place for the mail
  • Small place to sit
  • Charging station for school laptops/ tablets

You can set up the area for what fits your situation best. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just make it practical for you. The aim is to have an area that reduces clutter, keeps everyday items in one place, and reminds everyone what’s planned for the day/week/month.

This is a great drop station!

Lunches

It can be tough to stay consistent and creative with meals. For packing lunches, try packing for two or three days at a time. That way it will still be fresh, but you’re not having to do it every night.

Also, you can get your child to help you pack their lunch if they aren’t old enough to do it all themselves. Let your kids get a fun lunch box or two to help them get excited to help you pack! For older kids, encourage them to write out healthy things they’d be interested in for the week so you can ensure you have those items, and they can ready themselves to pack it.

For a quick planning tip, try a combo of the following:

  • Protein (meat, peanut butter, protein bar, etc..)
  • Fruit/ veggie (tangerines, apples, banana, etc.)
  • Drink
  • Healthy side item (nuts, popcorn, yogurt, baked chips, etc..)
  • Possible dessert
  • Don’t forget the ice pack!

Homework

Many people suggest doing homework in increments to help your child stay on task. You can do 15 – 30-minute increments and encourage breaks based on age and what feels best for your child.

It’s quite beneficial if your child uses a planner – that way you both can keep up on what needs to be done. Plus, you can help show them study skills and how to take notes in a way that caters to how they learn.

Lastly, if a particular subject is hard for your kid or kids – try rewarding them for it. You can also try starting with that homework, so the hard work is done first. Get more ideas on how to help your kids with homework here.

Reading with your child can help keep them engaged.
Reading with your child can help keep them engaged.

Supplies

Supply lists usually are specific to your child’s school, but you can also pick up items that apply to their interests. Try to nurture their favorite subject or hobby with some extra supplies that allow them to practice whatever it is.

When picking up items, try bargain stores as they often put out good deals for the season. You might also go in with some friends a get bulk items online to save some of bigger cost items. Check out more money saving tips here.

Routine

A lot of people have some type of routine with their kids, but adding to it, or giving it an adjustment can help during the school year.

Only you can decide what works best in your home as far as routines. It really depends on your life, resources, and children. When it comes to routines think about what your goals are, what your children are motivated by, and what adds fun and lessens stress to your morning/evening.  Then think of practical ways you can implement those things.

Ex: Maybe your kids have the opportunity to get up on their own to an alarm clock 20 minutes before you check on them, and if they are up and onto eating breakfast, dressing, going to the bathroom etc. they get a reward after doing so for 5 days in a row.

More Back to School Tips!

I hope that this gets your wheels turning and aids you in preparing your child or children for the year. Remember, it doesn’t have to be strict or perfect implementation and it won’t be, but having that aim makes everyone more productive regardless.

Gravel Driveway Repair and Preventative Care

Gravel driveways are a great, budget friendly option. Like everything else, they’ll need some maintenance and upkeep. There are plenty of things you can do to both avoid and fix problems as they arise. I’ll be looking at some of the options.

Drainage is the most important component of a gravel driveway. If your driveway has major drainage issues – you may need to do some back tracking. It could be that your driveway wasn’t put together correctly. More than likely though, the repair and upkeep addressed in this post will help you fix most issues.

Preventative –

  • Making a crownmost expert sites recommend this strategy to keep drainage moving downward. All you have to do is rake gravel to a peak in the center of your driveway. It doesn’t need to be super high, just enough to encourage the water to flow down the middle instead of down the sides.
  • Trenches and edging – These are great ideas that will give water a safe place to go. You can try digging shallow trenches on both sides of your driveway. You may also try doing a little rain garden or any type of edging that will keep your gravel in place and move the water to the end of your driveway.
  • Drains – Some people also put drains on either side of their driveway, these are more involved, but may be a perfect solution for you. Some people will install them on the sides as edging with metal or plastic grids overtop the thin drains. The most common drains are culvert pipes or French drains which are both dug underground (usually) to redistribute water.

Problem areas – 

  • Potholes – These can be tricky. Essentially, they are an issue of trapped water. A great do it yourself site, suggests a helpful process.
    • First, they recommend digging the hole out wide and deep enough, so the edges are solid. This way the gravel hole will hold for the filler.
    • Once it’s clear, you can fill with thinner/ crushed gravel.
    • Next, tamp/push down the gravel with a steel or wooden tool.
    • To finish, fill the remaining area with regular gravel to the top off the hole, plus some extra to blend it out.
    • Lastly, smooth out the gravel so everything blends well.
  • Clogged culverts– Sometimes debris and rocks can clog your pipes which prevent its whole process. There are plenty of tools you can purchase for this, or you can rig your own system. This home site recommends using something to push the debris while also spraying water down the pipe. 

Start Your Gravel Driveway Today!

I hope this helps get you started in planning how to maintain and take care of your gravel driveway. Ask a professional for help if you find a big issue or just want help making sure you do things well. May your driveway stay in good shape with this information!

Man spraying outside of mobile home for bugs with a natural spray.

Natural Remedies for Keeping Bugs Out of Your Space

Being outside is probably one of my favorite things. However, summer can make the outside and even the inside of my home breeding ground for an array of insects.

As I’ve started a veggie garden and have pets running inside and out – I’ve wanted to find natural, safe ways to get rid of bugs so as not to harm the animals, plants, or people. I’ve found that even though these remedies may not act as fast, they are still perfectly efficient. Plus, many of these homemade options are cheaper than a heavy-duty alternative. Obviously, huge infestations or structural issues with your home will need a professional, but for your small to moderate bug issues – try the ideas below!

Make your own natural remedies to protect your home from pests!

Bugs in general –

  • Lavender – you can spray a lavender mixture around your home or keep dried bits of it around to repel annoying bugs like flies and mosquitoes. Another great herb to ward off flies is basil!
  • Catnip – put a few plants around your porch, deck, and outdoor spaces to deter mosquitoes. Check out more bug repellent ideas from this home improvement website
  • Coffee grounds – Placing these around common entry points of your home will discourage pests that don’t like strong smells. Be mindful of leaving these out in areas where you have your pets.
  • Purchasing/ keeping helpful bugs – you might want to introduce some bugs that take care of other pests naturally (if they aren’t already present in your yard). Praying mantis are an example of these types of bugs. They eat fruit flies, aphids, and spiders.
  • Citrus – tons of solutions can be made from citrus to keep bugs away. For example, you can mix citrus of your choice with witch hazel or vinegar and water.
  • Earth based / or natural store made solutions – there are plenty of human and pet safe sprays you can buy that do the same thing as the toxic sprays, such as Neem oil. It may take them a little longer to do the job, but you keep everyone safe.

Ants –

  • Cleaning with vinegar is a good option to ward off or keep your kitchen or food preparation areas free of ants.

Stink bugs / fruit flies –

  • Dish soap can repel both of these critters. Mix  dish soap with apple cider vinegar in a small dish to attract and catch fruit flies.

Carpenter bees – According to a bee and removal company, these bees love untreated or wet wood, so, a great way to prevent them is to seal or stain the wood around your home.

  • You can also try a plethora of natural sprays. One easy one it to try using peppermint essential oil mixed with water and white vinegar. This will lure them out so you can seal the area.
  • Carpenters also aren’t a fan of noise. You can play music right by their nests and this can push them out for good.

I hope that these options take care of your pest issues and give you and your family an amazing, safe time outside and in! Do you have any great natural remedy ideas? Let us know at mediacontent@vmf.com.  Happy summer!

Kids enjoying summer

7 Refreshing Ways to Cool Off in Summer

Summer is here and it’s time to get out and enjoy those long days! I am not the best with heat and humidity – so I fully understand how important it is to stay cool. Not only is it nice to get some relief from the sun – it’s important to stay hydrated and keep your body from overheating. Below are some fun and refreshing ways to cool off this summer. Let’s jump in!

  1. Stay hydrated – This one is obvious, but often the key to staying hydrated is already having drank a good amount of water before going out in the sun. It will also help to drink steadily out in the sun and slowly after as well. It’s also quicker and easier for your body to convert room temperature water than ice cold water. This means room temperature water hydrates you quicker.
  2. Stay in/covered for the hottest part of the day – This is a great way to protect yourself from overheating and getting burnt. Usually somewhere between 11AM– and 2PM-3PM are the harshest sun exposure times. This is prime time in the summer. I don’t suggest missing out, just think of a shady place you could spend this part of the day or taking breaks if you’re out in the open for a while during this time bracket. You might go inside for a bit or build a shade structure over your yard.
  3. Recipes for great drinks – a tasty drink can make everything better! Search recipes for your favorite refreshers! I suggest a watermelon drink with lime and mint. Yum! Tasty summer drinks
  4. Cool snack ideas – Get some inspiration from these recipes on Pinterest! Eating cold snacks is a perfect idea for summer! If you know you’ll be outside for a while, try eating less, or light foods or even water-based foods. This could be deli meats, fruits, granola, salads, etc. All of these options can help your stomach settle well while also still fueling up.
  5. Keep your feet cool – putting your feel in water, kicking off your shoes, or finding a place for your feet to be shaded helps cool the rest of your body. I love sandals and wear them all summer long!
  6. Bandana or neck towel – Similarly, keeping your neck cool is important. This can also help you if you are overheated. It can bring you quickly back to relief and can help if you have nausea from the heat. Soak your neck accessory with water or sneak a few ice cubes in and put on the back of your neck for instant relief.
  7. Wear loose fitting and light fabrics – When I get hot the worst thing is a fabric sticking to me! It feels like you can’t escape the sweating. However, if you wear loose and cool fabrics you’ve got space for air to get in! Don’t forget sunscreen and a hat!

What are some of your favorite tricks to staying refreshed in the summer?

More Summer Fun!

exterior of mobile home

Prep Your Mobile Home for Summer

As summer approaches, it’s time to give your mobile home a little love! In this post, I’ll be looking at some easy ways to prepare your home to have the best season yet. Take a little time to focus on these items. Be thinking of ways to protect your home from heat, seal in the cool air, and just prep your home for all the activities in summer. Check out the ideas below to get started!

  • Try filling or patching up your driveway. Whether you have a gravel, concrete, or even an asphalt driveway – you can fix those edges and fill in dips or holes. You don’t have to do a complete overhaul, just work on the problem spots that weather and time may have disrupted. Check out options for your type of driveway!
  • Take care of the weeds in your yard. You may have already done this if you planted some new items late winter or early spring, but either way it’s a great time to spray and/ or pull weeds. Be sure you deal with the roots or recover an area with wood chips or rocks.
  • Clean and repair windows. You lose a lot of cool air if your windows aren’t sealed well. Caulk where needed and fix screens as necessary. You can also clean windows well as a housekeeping piece. Check our post to help you with your windows! Woman cleaning windows in house
  • Make sure your AC and fans are in working order. You can clean your unit. Dust those ceiling fans or if you’re in a warm climate you may already feel the need for some fans. Try installing some fans to help circulate and push the air through and keep you cool.
  • Clean your deck. Does your deck need a good pressure washing or leave in cleaner? Mine does! The rain and tree leaves can do some damage to your deck, so be sure to clean them up yearly if you’re able. It looks great and protects your deck by giving it a longer life. Could your deck use an extra layer of protection? Staining your deck is a great early summer project!
  • Set up outdoor tools if you haven’t already. Garden hoses, grills, sprinklers, lawn chairs, etc. Dust them off, spray them down, and get them clean for all those summer celebrations and projects. Needing to add some tools to your collection? – these are great ones to have for your mobile home!
  • Repair skirting. The underside of your home is an important focus when it comes to keep the air you want in and keeping unwanted critters out from under the bottom of your home. Take this time to repair your skirting, maybe add some all new, or even check out the condition of your vapor barrier.

Clean Your Vinyl Siding!

I hope this gets you thinking of other ideas and that you can make a day of projects and simple updates before summer comes! Happy prepping!