7.10.2017

Quick Fill Water Balloons Are Super Easy Outdoor Fun


Last summer a care package from my mom arrived on our doorstep with Bunch O' Balloons. Do instant fill water balloons really work? When Bunch O Balloons arrived via infomercial a couple of years ago they seemed too good to be true. Self sealing water balloons? No way. But we had to find out for ourselves.  As it turns out, we discovered that quick fill water balloons are super easy outdoor fun. 


(This post contains affiliate links.)

This summer, we decided, rather spontaneously, to have an epic water balloon fight with friends. It was a warm day, so it was water balloons and watermelon with friends! We had a mega pack of Bunch O Balloons waiting to be used.

We found out some things about Bunch O Balloons that might be good to know:

  • Older kids can fill up the balloons all by themselves, which is great for independent play.
  • They are the perfect size for kid's hands, which makes them easy to throw.
  • Because they fill so well, they are hard, but not impossible to break. 
  • Expect a few "duds" or water balloons with holes, but just one or two.
  • Because they fill so quickly, what used to take all afternoon, now takes just an hour depending on how many balloons you have. It was the perfect amount of time for us!

You can get Bunch O' Balloons here or find them at your local retailer.


The best kind of water balloon fights are those with very little "safe-zone" space. That way everyone gets wet and has a blast! The kids can play together on teams or have their own set of the quick fill balloons.


The kids ended up figuring out how to make the balloons break faster and got up close to really get each other wet. There were so many smiles and it was a great afternoon of fun.

What do you think? Do you think Bunch O Balloons work? Have you tried quick fill water balloons? Leave a comment below with your experience!


6.17.2017

The Best Streaming British TV Shows To Binge Watch Right Now

Best Streaming British TV Shows

One of my favorite ways to relax (after the kids go to bed) lately has been to binge watch British TV shows on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. Call me an Anglophile, call me a streaming-ophile, call me a Downton Abbey addict having withdrawals. Whatever it is, I have been devouring streaming shows from that Island-Across-The Sea and I can't get enough. So I decided to share a list of my favorites. It you love British dramas on Netflix as much as I do, then you will love this list! I have seen almost every single one. Most of these british TV shows are PG to PG-14.

Netflix 

North and South 
This british period drama is more of a mini-series than a full fledged TV show. But it's worth a watch.  It's about a young woman who moves with her father to an industrial mill town and she has difficulty adjusting to her new life there. She befriend's some of the townspeople and clashes with the mill's owner. It's also an interesting peak into the 19th century class struggles and mores of the time.
Midsomer Murders is a long running (19 series/seasons) british TV crime drama follows DCI Barnaby and his partner as they solve the crimes that occur through the midsummer region of England. It takes place in modern day, although. It reminds me of a grittier version of America's 'Murder She Wrote'. Some episodes are suitable for late tweens, early teens.
If you want to watch Sherlock on Netflix, you are in luck! This heady drama follows, arguably, britian's most famous crime-solving detective into the 21st century. Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock is just a brilliant, but significantly more flawed than other incarnations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's beloved character. The seasons/series are short, but the episodes are long. Each episode functions like a mini-movie.
I fell in love with this british TV drama in the first episode. It's about the fictional first department store in England and takes place during the late 19th century. A young smart tenacious woman is employed at a department store and catches the eye of the store's manager.  Season 1 is fabulous, Season 2, I'm not quite sure about... It was cancelled after Season 2, but it's such a great little show - it's worth watching.

The Crown  (TV-MA)
I devoured the first season of The Crown in no time. I can't quite remember why it is TV-MA - but the IMDB Parent guide has a breakdown. Claire Foy does a remarkable job conveying Queen Elizabeth II's resolute duty to the British Empire at such a young age. And then there is Matt Smith, of Doctor Who fame, who plays Prince Phillip. The Crown is set from the late 1940's onward. It's a compelling drama, that takes a look at how the reign of the new queen affected her family and the country. The second season is due out in late 2017.
Netflix has released seasons of Call The Midwife is stages, so I had to wait awhile in between seasons. I love this series for its look at post World War II London (1950's) and the area of the East End known as Poplar. It follows the mid-wives and nuns of Nonnotus House and is based on the memoirs of midwife Jennifer Worth. There are very sensitive and dramatic scenes and subjects range from pregnancy and birth to still birth and infant loss.  
Broadchurch is a suspense-filled and super intense British drama spanning two seasons and stars David Tennant and Olivia Colman. It is set in modern day. The plot follows the disappearance of a boy in a small seaside town in England. It is not suitable for kids below 14 or 15. There are 3 series/seasons, although only 2 are on Netflix. 
Elizabeth and Darcy (of Pride and Prejudice) are 6 years married and approaching their annual ball at Pemberley when something happens in the nearby woods. This Austen-inspired mystery spans 3 episodes and is very well done. Of particular note, are the performances and casting of the two main characters.

*Wives and Daughters...This is a great old British period mini-series that used to be on Netflix and is no longer available for streaming. It is available on Netflix DVD. I am hoping it returns to streaming.
Now if we could just get Victoria to come to Netflix...It's currently on PBS here in America and pbs.org

Best Streaming British TV Shows

Hulu Plus

Imagine what would happen if Elizabeth from Jane Austen's Pride and Predjudice suddenly appeared though a doorway in your bathroom and you took her place as the story you had read so may times came to life? That's the premise to Lost in Austen on Hulu and it's equal parts smart, romantic and quirky.
Speaking of Pride and Prejudice, did you know the original BBC mini-series staring winsome Jennifer Ehle and and steamy Colin Firth is on Hulu. Jane Austen fans will relish in the fact that the superlative cinematic version of her most popular novel is available for viewing over and over again whenever you want! Pride and Prejudice on Hulu is broken up into four episodes that are 50-ish minutes long.

Fans of Downton Abbey will love this drama about the inner workings of a lavish british home and the lives of it's occupants - the upstairs family and the downstairs servants. It's set in the mid to late 1930's and it's a remake of the original and very well done. 

This British drama follows the towns of Lark Rise and Candleford and their inhabitants as they interact with one another. Laura is the main character and much of the goings on are seen through her perspective. Laura befriends the postmistress Ms. Macey. There are four seasons available for viewing.

It was made over 10 years ago, but this British TV version of Robin Hood is still great. It ws originally put into the same time slot as Doctor Who, airing when Doctor Who went on hiatus. It's a fun and interesting show with all of your favorite Robin Hood Characters. Tweens might like it too.
(the following contain affiliate links.)

Amazon Prime

Downton Abbey
If you are reading this post, then you have probably already seen Downton Abbey. If you haven't, every season is available on Amazon Prime right now. It follows the lives of the beloved Earl of Grantham, his family, household and community. Highly recommend!

This show is also available on Hulu Plus as well. See above for a description.

I've only seen one episode of Doctor Thorne, but it is a period drama with all the british awesomeness you would expect. It's about a doctor in 19th century England and a struggling well-to-do family. And it's from Julian Fellowes who created Downton Abbey.
The same beloved Pride and Prejudice that is available on Hulu is available on Amazon Prime. See above for a full description. 
This british period drama has 2 seasons, although only one is offered on prime video. Cranford is the penultimate show on my list and is set in 1840's England. It is well written and has a charming cast. If you are familiar with british television you will recognize a few faces including Dame Judi Dench. 

Poldark is set is post American Revolution England, specifically Cornwall. It stars Aidan Turner as brooding and handsome Roy Poldark who returns after the war to find his father dead, the family business in ruins and his young love engaged to another. I'm on episode five of season one and so far it's really good. There are a few steamy scenes, but so far it's pretty much PG-13 in that sense. It's also on PBS.org for free if you can't watch it on Amazon Prime.

Other Streaming TV Shows in the Commonwealth
These Australian streaming TV shows on Netflix are must watch!

So, have you seen any of these streaming British TV shows? Am I missing some that I must watch now? Because you know I would love to add to this list. Comment below, because I would love to know which ones are your favorites! 


5.30.2017

Avalon Bay EcoWash Portable Washer Review

I was sent an EcoWash Portable Washer to test out and review.

*Disclosure: I was sent an EcoWash Portable Washer by to test out and review by Air-n-water.com

I was instantly intrigued by the EcoWash. We have had some issues with our traditional washer recently and I was wondering how well the Avalon Bay brand portable washer did in a pinch and if it might be something we could take camping this summer. I decided to test out some of the kids clothes, mostly because they are smaller and I would be able to fit more clothes in. According to the directions, it can wash up to five pounds of clothes!


I received the EcoWash in the by mail and it was a breeze to set up! The barrel pops onto the base, and I added the lid and the hand crank and I was ready to go! The EcoWash has a huge barrel with a wide opening and a lid that seals super tight so no water gets out. You rotate the barrel using the hand crank (Pssst, if you have kids this is the perfect job for them). You let it drain out the bottom spot (comes with angle attachment). And rinse again to be sure all the grey water is gone. Wring out if needed and hang dry! That's it.



Tips from our experience:

  • We used a very gentle detergent just in case not all of the soap residue came out our first time around. 
  • Able to wash 6 shirts3 pairs of cotton pants and 1 pair of jean shorts. I probably could have added more.
  • I also forgot the fabric softener. It's a good idea to add a little fabric softener if you are going to hang dry.
  • If you are unable to wring out and hang dry, you might want to invest in a little mini spin dryer.
  • We had access to warm water, so I added warm water to our load. For the extra clean.
  • For us personally, it's not going to be an every day use item, but we will definitely use it for camping and when (or if) our washer breaks and we need something in a pinch.
The Avalon Bay EcoWash is perfect for:
Boating
Camping
Apartment Living
Washing delicates
When your washer is being serviced
Anyone without access to a washer
Those concerned about water and energy conservation

Pros:
So easy to set up!
Drains easily
Saves water and detergent
Washes in about 2 minutes
Rinses well, if used according to directions
Washes 5lbs of clothes!
Perfect for camping!

Cons (not many):
Occasionally needs extra rinse cycle.
Small, but still takes up some room in compact spaces.

DISCOUNT CODE: ECODEAL or GO GREEN for 10% off.

Special thank you to Air-n-water.com for sending me the EcoWash to test out and share my opinion with you. If you would like to find out more visit Air-n-water.com. Right now they are offering free shipping and 10% off with the code GOGREEN (20% off if you sign up for their email list).

5.20.2017

Vista Strawberry Festival is almost here!




There is so much to see, taste and do at the Annual Vista Strawberry Festival. I've written about our love for the festival before. You can check that out here. We go every year. It's one of the can't miss local events. It is so much fun! Did you know that the City of Vista was once the "Strawberry Capital of the World" and San Diego County's only celebration of the Strawberry? This year, they are expecting over 95,000 people in a attendance!  The Strawberry Festival is put on by the Vista Chamber of Commerce. It is a wonderful day where the community comes together and Vistans share their great city with others. The 2017 Vista Strawberry Festival is Sunday May 28th.

The streets of Downtown Vista, CA transform bringing you entertainment, activities, food, and community booths. There's a strawberry pie eating contest, a runner's costume contest, Children's costume contest, "Strawberry Idol" singing contest, baking contest,  kid's zone, amusement ride zone, beer garden for adults, and so much more! 


Here are our top tips and what to see and do at the Festival!
Vista Strawberry Run:
There inaugural event of every Vista Strawberry Festival is the Vista Strawberry Run. There's a 10k, 5k, and a Kid's 1 mile race. Our family LOVES to run. I'm more of a walker. (But I still love to get out there on the streets. This year, I am the family photographer at all the races. ;-)





Kid's Zone:

For families, the Kids Zone is where it's at! There are 2 Kids Zones.

Kids Zone #1 is all Carnival Rides and requires purchase of a booklet of tickets. There's a Ferris Wheel, Slide, Bunjee Jumper, and more! It's located on

Kids Zone #2




Food Court and Beer Garden

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Kabobs, so good!

Hunter Steakhouse booth in the food court! 

 Strawberry flavored popcorn!

Here's the essential info:

What: Vista Strawberry Festival & Strawberry 5K, 10K, & Kid's Run
When: Sunday, May 28th, 2017 (The last Sunday in May every year)
Where: Downtown/Old Town City of Vista (Strawberry Run on 110 Citrus Ave) 
How much: FREE to the Public! (Bring some spending money for the Kid's Zone and various eats)


Visit the Vista Strawberry Festival website to register for the Strawberry Run and for details on all the festival activities.

Here are some tips from our experience at the Vista Strawberry Festival:
  • Take the Sprinter train if possible. Parking downtown can be a struggle and the Sprinter drops off right across from the Vista Village and it's a short block or so walk to all the fun.
  • Bring a little spending money. Whether you want to sample some of the strawberry inspired treats and delicious food, enter the beer garden, or purchase some locally grown fresh berries, you want to be sure to be prepared. 
  • Kid's Zone #1 is open Friday night through Sunday night.
  • The best time to go to the Vista Strawberry Festival is early in the morning. 
See you there!

* Special thanks to the Strawberry Festival for providing our family 2 tickets to the Strawberry Run.

3.19.2017

Five Podcasts For Curious Kids

podcasts for kids

My family and I are addicted to listening to podcasts, specifically podcasts for kids and families. If you have kids that are always asking “Why?” or pepper you with seemingly random questions about how stuff works…then podcasts just might be for you and yours. We love them for a variety of reasons. They are great for long car rides, they get the kids off their screens and engaged. They are fun to talk about together as a family and the ones we’ve found are both entertaining and educational.  Here are the podcasts we love in no particular order.

Host Molly along with producer Marc and writer Sanden encourage kids to turn on their brains to the wonders of science and engage in curious thinking about subjects like "Why is the ocean salty?" and "Do we all see the same colors?" They interview a variety of super smart and interesting guests and their creative take on the podcast has my kids begging to listen to the next episode. Brains On! is operated by the American Media Network and Minnesota Public Radio. Don't have an iPod or MP3 device? You can listen online to Brains On! via Soundcloud 

Kid's stuff podcast explores the process behind today's creatives and what goes into, you guessed it, making stuff for kids. Mike Bradecich brings his passion for arts and entertainment to the podcast. Whether you are a parent, kid or you just prefer kid-friendly content...you will love the behind the scenes approach. We loved the recent episode interviewing Laurie Berkner. She's one of our absolute favorites! www.kidstuffpodcast.com

Dream Big Podcast
7 year old Eva Karpman inspires listeners to Dream Big in their lives. She interviews a variety of guests, including interviewing guests like John Bergman of the popular “Teach Yourself Anything” YouTube Channel. 

But Why? 
With subjects like “Are yawns really contagious?” and “Why do your fingers and toes turn wrinkly in the tub?”, this podcast tackles kids most yearning and unique questions. It’s led by kids, for kids. Kids can even can submit their own questions! It's produced in partnership with NPR and Vermont Public Radio. Visit NPR to learn a little more.


This science podcast for kids is great for the whole family! Hosts Marshall and Lindsay believe that the more kids can learn about science, the better off our world will be! They believe science should be fun and about the process! Tumble was listed as "Best of iTunes" in 2016. http://www.sciencepodcastforkids.com

Hope you will check them out and get inspired to be more curious about the world around you!

podcasts for curious kids