Loanables - Page 5 of 8 - Helping save the planet

Sous Vide Cooking – What’s all the rage about?

 

Starbucks introduced sous vide egg bites in January, and they sell out nearly every day.  Up until a few months ago, I hadn’t ordered them because I didn’t even know what sous vide meant.  I finally tried them since I’m trying to eat less carbs, and now I understand all the hype.   They are delicious and relatively healthy.

That innocent breakfast order sucked me down a rabbit hole. There is an entire sous vide cult!  Seriously, there are sous vide message boards, sous vide magazines, entire cook books of sous vide recipes, sous vide groups, etc. Who knew?!?

So what is it?

Sous Vide RentalSous Vide is French for “Under Vacuum”. Food is put in a vacuum-sealed bag and cooked in a water bath.  It is often referred to as “precision” cooking because it comes out perfectly every time. 

My Experience

My husband and I love to cook; so, of course we wanted to try it out.  We couldn’t find one to rent and didn’t know anyone that had one; so, we ended up buying one.  (I posted it for rent on Loanables if you’re interested.)

We cooked a pork tenderloin (see recipe we followed here).  It is so easy:  seal the ingredients; set the temperature and timer; sear; enjoy!  While it was cooking, we visited with our company instead of slaving over a hot stove!  It turned out great.  What we found is that you need to season more than you would for a grill to get the same flavor, but the meat is definitely more juicy and tender.

My favorite part…

It was so easy to clean up.  Throw away the bag, dump out the water, and Voila – you’re done!

Sous Vide Pork

Here are some other recipes that we’ve tried and enjoyed:

Sous Vide Filet Mignon Recipe (You can get great quality cuts at Costco for $22.99 per pound.)

Sous Vide Egg Recipe (If you love Eggs Benedict, you will love these!)

Sous Vide Thin Cut French Fry Recipe (These are amazing.)

I love this list of 17 Foods You Didn’t Know You Could Cook Sous Vide.

Here are 2 Secret Ingredients we Love:

Adam’s Reserve House Rub for Ribs, Roast and Steaks
Sweet Baby Ray’s Honey BBQ Sauce for chicken

Have fun on your journey down the rabbit hole – we did 😉

3 Bachelor Party Ideas in Austin

There is no better place to celebrate the end of the bachelor era than in Austin, TX. With live music, craft breweries, great barbeque and a myriad of unique activities, no doubt you & your buddies will make it a once-in-a-lifetime trip.  Here are 3 themes to consider for an epic bachelor weekend (hint: the last one involves FIRE so read to the end).

Live Music Lovers

If your dates just so happen to align with Austin City Limits Music Festival, Formula 1, or SXSW then you’re definitely in luck for the music loving group! Outdoor music festivals are the perfect way to experience the best Austin has to offer- both in new, up & coming bands as well as your all-time favorites. Make plans for flights, accommodations and ticket purchases well in advance if this is your goal! If you’re heading to Austin on any other week(end) then plan to view a taping of ACL Live or check out do512 for a variety of music performances happening every day, all around town.

BBQ & Beer Fans

No trip to Austin is complete without some Texas barbeque and tastings from the local breweries. Sadly, Franklin BBQ on the East side of Austin is closed until further notice due to a fire earlier this year. But you can still try the la Barbecue or Kerlin BBQ, two food trucks on E. Cesar Chavez. Then check out Zilker Brewing Co. where you can visualize the brewing process and enjoy Dick Clark’s architectural genius. And stop by Hops & Grain while you are on the east side of town for a FREE tour before tasting in the taproom. Finally, don’t miss The ABGB on Oltorf which was awarded the 2016 Great American Beer Festival Brewpub of the Year.

Next, head out west to visit the iconic Salt Lick Barbecue and breathe in some fresh hill country air, flavored with smoke from the BBQ pit. Read about the beginnings of this half-century old establishment and watch Man vs. Food’s favorite feature here. Just a few miles further west you’ll find Twisted X Brewing in Dripping Springs, which specializes in Tex-Mex Beer. Jester King Brewery and Last Stand Brewing Co. are close by to complete your tastings in the rolling hills of Austin’s Hill Country.

Competition Junkies

For the group that wants to get out, be active and add a flare of competition to everything they do, Austin has some fun & unique experiences to try together. Starting down south of town, the newly opened, The Range at Austin provides the opportunity to hone your skills on the country’s “finest precision shooting range.” It will be great for a crowd of both new & experienced shooters.

Similarly, but in the opposite direction north, near The Domain shopping area, Top Golf Austin, is a unique venue for your group. It provides all the fun of a friendly wager for the longest (or most accurate) drive, while offering easy access to good food & drinks and some relief from Texas’ unbearable heat that you simply can’t get out on the typical country club course! If you haven’t been before, watch this video to get an idea of the experience. They have clubs for you, so you can enjoy without dragging your bag through the airport.

Finally, no bachelor party would be complete without some wild stories to take home. Consider stopping by Stunt Ranch to try your hand at Action Hero Training, Pyro School or even a fun game of Paintball. You can customize your experience with special effects and stunt experts to create an over the top adventure for your crew. Get more ideas from the Stunt Ranch Video Gallery.

Pro Tip: Grab Some Gear

No matter what your theme, make sure you’ve planned a couple of low-key, easy activities to enjoy while you’re back chillin’ out at your Airbnb. Loanables.com has a complete Bachelor Party Bundle that turns your house into a party with everything you need have fun in your downtime. Some late-night Beer Pong, Cards Against Humanity and Poker games are surely on the must-do list when you get the chance to get away with the guys.

Bean Bag Toss GamePoker chipsCardsLarge Ice Chest

 

 

Camping – On the Bright Side

I admit it. I am not a camper.  I love bathrooms, showers, my own big comfy bed, and most of all, 8 kid free hours every night after they all fall fast asleep.  To me, all I can think of when I think about camping is depriving myself of some of these simple pleasures.  That being said, I know that with 4 outdoors-y kids, an occasional camping trip is inevitable.

Since this month’s loanables giveaway is a camping trip (click here for details), I have decided to put on my optimist hat and consider all the positive aspects to camping.  So, here’s what I came up with:

  • A technology free vacation.  This has to be at the top of my list.  No whining about wanting to watch a video, play on a game station, or tune in to YouTube…it sounds like paradise.  Plus, it would be such a great impetus for my husband and I to turn off our phones and enjoy the great out-of-doors.
  • Cooking outside – everything tastes better when you cook it on a fire.  Hot dogs and hamburgers are my personal favorite because they taste best cooked over a campfire but if you are feeling ambitious, you can cook almost anything – pizza, veggies, shrimp, cheese dip…the sky’s the limit!  Check out this great collection of campfire recipes – some of them are making my mouth water as I type!
  • S-mores – this deserves a mention all its own. I know I can make s’mores anytime or even throw a s’mores party and rent this awesome s’mores maker but there’s just something special about sitting around a campfire singing songs and playing games and cooking marshmallow after marshmallow over an open fire.
  • Outdoor activities.  Our family loves to be outside doing just about anything – swimming, hiking, throwing a football, climbing trees, etc.  I found this list of great outdoor camping games to keep everyone entertained outside.  If you are thinking about things to bring with you on your trip, why not rent a corn hole set or giant Jenga?  These would be great entertainment at a campsite and everyone can play!
  • Time to read a book – Everyone can read their own or you can read out loud as a family.  In our house there are only 2.5 readers out of 6 of us so a family book works great.  For little kids I love A Camping Spree for Mr. Magee and Curious George Goes Camping.  Teenagers and adults alike might find some good camping reads here.  Wild or Into the Wild are two of my favorite books of all time and would be great for an outdoor trip!  Whatever your pleasure, being outside can offer a chance to relax…and how better to relax than with a great book.

And just like that, I am kind of excited about the prospect of a camping trip – talk about the art of positive thinking.  So, I guess I will have to overlook comfort and take some time to truly enjoy the things I have listed above, and, of course, my family.  I’m off to enter the giveaway!

How to Throw a Shrimp Boil

Throwing a great party means having great food.  But, sometimes the food part can be stressful – it’s either a ton of work or you have to pay someone else to do it.  I love shrimp boils because cooking the shrimp is entertainment for the guests.  My husband’s favorite past time is standing around a burner or grill and watching something cook while drinking a beer with friends. (If you have an outdoor TV, turn a game on and everyone is happy for hours).

The great news is that you don’t have to be an excellent chef to pull it off.  It’s fun and easy.

The first rule in cooking shrimp is DO NOT OVERCOOK THEM.  When they are overcooked, they are hard to peel. Also, remember when you take them out, they can continue to cook from all of the steam.

Follow these directions and they will come out perfect:

Boil the water and seasonings (we recommend Slap Ya Mama).  Add potatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Add onions and sausage and cook for an additional 15 minutes.  Add corn and cook another 10 minutes.  Add the shrimp and cook 3 minutes and then pull all the ingredients out in the strainer. Don’t cook the shrimp more than 3 minutes.  See more details here.

Where to get shrimp in Austin:

All grocery stores carry shrimp. If you are having a large party, you should preorder to make sure they have enough.  Here are our favorite places to buy shrimp in Austin:

– HEB – check the location nearest you
– Quality Seafood – on Airport Blvd.

Other Tips:

  • For easy clean-up, get some cardboard box trays (the kind that hold soft drinks).  Convenience stores will usually give them to you for free.  You can also order them here.
  • Want a refresher on the best way to peel shrimp, go here.

Stuff you may need:

Lastly, if you’re in Austin and don’t have the pot and burner, you can rent it here.

Thrifty Mom’s Guide to Halloween Costumes

Love it or hate it, we are now in September and Halloween is right around the corner. The sugar coma which begins Oct. 31st and doesn’t end until Christmas is inevitable, but our wallets don’t have to be emptied quite yet. We’ve got 4 ideas for you to save money and still have a fabulous Halloween costume this year.

DIY

We can’t begin a thrifty guide without a DIY option. Make-your-own costumes have been a staple for savvy moms since the beginning of time. This summer, at our church’s vacation bible school, they had Robot Day and kids came decked out in all sorts of homemade costumes crafted from cardboard, paper bags, and aluminum foil. Dryer vents for arms and plastic cups as antenna were popular. These costumes were practically free since the cardboard came out of the recycling bin from our most recent Amazon order and the other supplies were in the pantry. (Most things are available at the Dollar Store too!) Keep it super simple or get really technical depending on your child’s imagination and your resources. There are some awesome instructions here on PagingFunMums if you want the play by play. And, of course, Pinterest is always full of fabulous DIY costume ideas.

REUSE

Of course, dressing your child in the uniform they already have from their favorite activities is also a great way to save. Going as a ballerina or baseball player allows you to get some additional use out of old performance or game-day outfits. Plus, my kids love to re-live their “glory days” by telling friends and family about the time they were up on stage or hit that homerun!

SWAP

Many groups in our area hold costume swaps right around this time of year. My kids’ school has a costume swap in just one week so that families can exchange and pass down outfits used for our Pilgrim & Indian Thanksgiving celebration, Renaissance Day and other parties happening this fall. These are perfectly good costumes for Halloween as well.

Also, a local mom’s Facebook group is hosting an online costume swap until October 31. You snap a photo, name your price and list it for other mom’s to buy, while also checking out what is already posted that you can snag for yourself. So check out your online neighborhood group or a mom’s group and if one isn’t already planned, suggest a costume swap and see who else would like to trade for some new threads!

RENT

Some moms go all out for things like Halloween, and can even convince their husbands to join in the fun and dress up with the whole family! One such mom has listed ALL of her families past costumes on Loanables.com and they are available to rent for only $5 each!! When someone prides themselves in finding the perfect theme and even holds on to these costumes for years to come, I am astonished, but say “Thank you! I’ll go ahead and rent that…and that…and that!” So I don’t have to work nearly so hard myself!

 

Hopefully these tips have launched your imagination for inexpensive ways to deck the kids out this year. If you’re inspired to make some money and help another thrifty mom out, dig out those old costumes and post them for rent on Loanables so we can all share and save some cash!

Everyone Screams for an Ice Cream Party

I love parties (and planning them) but there just aren’t enough days in the year to plan and throw all the parties I want to.  This week, I decided to focus on a party that won’t take up too much precious party planning time – an ice cream party!

With an ice cream party, the food and entertainment collide making it an easy party to plan or even to throw together at the last minute.  All you need is the tools and ingredients to make the ice cream, some bowls to serve it in, and the accompaniments to make sundaes and banana splits galore!  Loanables.com has a great Ice Cream Party Bundle for rent which includes everything you need for your party.  It includes an ice cream maker, Ben and Jerry’s book of recipes, an Ice cream scoop, and a waffle cone maker.  There is even an option to purchase an Ultimate Toppings Kit which makes throwing a party super easy!

On top of the bundle, you may want to do Invitations, decorations, and a game (to play during any waiting time or when the guests are done eating their ice cream).  Below are some easy ideas (if you are ambitious you can do even more – I have seen some pretty over the top ice cream parties!):

Invitations

In today’s world, most people use Evite, Paperless Post, etc. to invite guests and luckily these sites have loads of online Ice Cream party invite options – check these out!  But, if you just love a paper invite, there are lots of options for that as well.   Check out these really cute printables.  Or, if you are feeling really crafty, you can make your own – how cute are these? or these?  And there are plenty more great ideas on Pinterest so browse away … but don’t forget, the invites are not the fun part of the party.

Decorations

I think of colorful paper goods when I think of Ice Cream parties.  There are a million ideas on Pinterest for decorating for the cutest party ever.  Here are just a few.  I say keep it simple and let the toppings act as part of the decor.

Some staples that will make your party cute without breaking the bank and creating extra waste are:

  • Tablecloth – any bright color will do but I think of pink when I think of ice cream parties!
  • Napkins – pair these with some plain napkins in bright coordinating colors.
  • Bowls, spoons, etc. – this set comes with bowls and spoons and if you are ambitious you could even reuse them!
  • Balloons – they are great for adding color and make a great favor at the end of the party.
  • I also LOVE this Ice Cream truck – you could turn it into a party photo booth (think extra activity and memory maker) and kids would play with it all year – it could easily double as a birthday present for a birthday party.  You could even repurpose an old appliance box and make your own, even better!

Party Games

The options are endless – you can stick with the ice cream theme or just pick games you love to play.  Here are some ideas:

  • Pin the cherry on the ice cream cone – this one on Etsy is super-cute but you can easily make your own just like it if you have some spare time.
  • Create and name your own Ice Cream Flavor – have each person (or team) use toppings, extract, or whatever to create unique flavors and name them.  Then have a taste test and vote on the best, worst, and most creative!
  • Taste test – buy a bunch of flavors and have a blindfold test – see who can name each flavor correctly.
  • Ice Cream Bingo – here‘s a great print and play version.
  • Ice Cream Eating Contest – see who can eat the most in a minute.

Or, why not combine your ice cream party with some fantastic outdoor games by renting the Birthday Party Picnic Bundle or the Outdoor Movie Bundle from loanables.com?  The Birthday Party Picnic bundle  even comes with an egg and spoon race game – wouldn’t it be fun (and a lot less messy) to substitute cherries for the eggs?

This is really just a starting point.  You could take this and create the diy party of the year or just rent the bundle once a month and have a standing ice cream party…you can’t lose because after all, EVERYONE screams for Ice Cream!!!

To Buy or Rent: Party & Event Edition

Weddings, birthday parties and holidays often present a challenging question. How do I get all of the gear needed to host the event without blowing my budget and leaving nothing for those special touches that make my event unique? At Loanables.com we want people to spend their money collecting memories and having experiences rather than on acquiring stuff that will sit collecting dust in an attic, or worse yet, cost more money to store for years to come. But, if you like to entertain, it’s possible the cost of owning may eventually even out. So, when it comes to special events, which items should I rent and which should I buy? The answer always depends on how many future uses you expect to get out of the item. We’ve done the math on a few common party items and you can apply the same formula to anything you are considering for purchase or rent.

Kid Table & Chairs

So, I know a family with 5 kids who was committed to doing birthday parties at home because…5 kids=5 kids birthday parties every year. That’s almost every other month! I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised, given I grew up in a family with 5 kids too, and at home birthday parties were the norm. Actually, we only got to have a party every 3 years so it wasn’t overwhelming. But, this particular mother of 5 purchased a long, folding kid table and 8 chairs for one of the first parties. She stored it flat against the wall in the garage in between uses but found that once she had it, she pulled it out for even more things like holiday meals and art projects. It cost about $175 to purchase the set, and it is used in their household about a dozen times each year. Assuming the kids fit in the chairs from the ages of about 2-12 years old, that it a cost per use of $1.46 ($175 divided by 10 years of use, divided again by 12 uses per year). To rent these items (1 kid table and 8 chairs) would cost $28. So in this case, purchasing is significantly less expensive than renting. If your situation is different because you host fewer events, the result may also be different.

Pop-up Tent

As a business owner, this is a difficult one for me. A pop-up tent seems to have many uses! I have done the occasional conference exhibit or holiday vendor show, and shade for an outdoor party or other event are key to making it bearable! The question comes down to cost and number of uses. These sorts of tents can vary widely in price. But for a good-quality, 10’x10′ canopy tent that won’t go flying in the wind, they are typically about $60- $100. This 12’x12′ pop-up tent is available to rent for $10 per day. So, it would take 6-10 uses to pay for itself. Thinking about my business, I really only do pop-up shows around the holidays. In fact, I think I did three last year. So, this probably wouldn’t be worth purchasing and storing all year long for those couple of uses. If you regularly show at a Farmer’s Market or other weekly/monthly event, though, your math will look different!

Bouncehouse or Inflatable Waterslide

Nothing completes a 3 year old birthday party more than a giant inflatable in the backyard! However, one thing I know for sure is that owning your own giant inflatable anything is not worth it! I say this, because we have had not one, but TWO in our attic for years. They have each been used only a handful of times. They are heavy and a pain to get in and out of the attic. The water ones need to stay out and dry for quite a bit before being stored. And they are really expensive! Now, they can also be expensive to rent, that’s true, but in comparison to other birthday party options, we think they turn out to be worth it for a special occasion. Your typical bounce house will cost anything from $120-$400 to rent from a company. There are a myriad of options to fit any theme. These cost $800-$2300+ to purchase initially and typically a rental company will include delivery, set up, and removal in their fee. Some of your neighbors may have a home version up in their attic though, so check the Loanables.com inventory to compare rental options from both your neighbors and local companies. Some examples include this Frozen themed bounce house in Houston or this Toddler waterslide in Austin that won’t set you back much at all!

If you have an event coming up or want to do something special for Labor Day in Austin don’t miss your chance to WIN a free rental of an inflatable waterslide and a bunch of other outdoor games like Giant Jenga and a Tug-O-War rope. It would cost almost $700 to purchase all of these items or they could be FREE if you win! Good luck!

 

How to Throw an Old Fashioned/”Retro” Birthday Party

Recently, I have seen a lot of people throwing “Retro” Birthday parties.  Being an arbitrary term, “Retro” can be something referring to a party in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s ,or 90’s…it just depends on the age of the person having the birthday (or in some cases, the age of their parents).  The one thing that seems to be consistent is that “Retro” almost always means low-tech and homemade (which of course appeals to me).

My daughter is turning 4 in September and I have been busy planning her birthday party.  September is the start of a new school year and since she only goes to school 2 days a week, we won’t have much of a chance to get to know her “friends” and their families prior to her birthday.  So, I tried to come up with a party that facilitates talking, laughing, and playing with people you are just getting to know…sounds like the perfect opportunity for an old fashioned “retro” birthday party!

With this theme, the sky is the limit – my original idea was to have a sock hop with records, a soda fountain, poodle skirts, and dancing – there are a million cute ideas on Pinterest and I am kind of mourning not following through with it (stay tuned for future party posts – I may use this idea for another party in the future).  In the end, I decided to focus on something I could easily set up at a park near my daughter’s school – something that didn’t take too much time to plan at the beginning of the busy school year and something laid back and fun – like a birthday party from my childhood.

Here’s what I decided to do:

Theme: Rainbows! my daughter would really like another Minion party.  She has been obsessed with Minions since she was 18 months old but I am desperate for a change.  I think Rainbows are cute and simple and perfect for preschoolers.

Invitations: I know “retro” does not usually mean online invitations but to make sure everyone gets the invitations and for attendance tracking, I think online invites are the way to go.  The key here is simple and maybe a little old fashioned.  I personally like this one from Punchbowl.  It looks like it could be a homemade paper invite and is cute and simple.  There are tons of others that you can choose from or make to fit your theme on evite, paperless post, etc.

Retro Birthday Party Bundle: We are going to start with  the Retro Birthday Party Bundle from loanables.com – for $60 you can rent the following for your party

  • White 12×12 Pop-up Canopy Tent
  • 6 foot Folding Table
  • 12 Potato Sacks (you can request more for an additional fee)
  • Tug of War Rope
  • Giant Jenga

It’s such a great deal and renting the bundle means so much of the party is done for you!

To the bundle, I am adding:

Party Games: I love games, especially the old fashioned party games, so in addition to Tug-of-war, Jenga, Potato Sack Races, and Egg and Spoon Races, we are going to play:

  • Hot Potato – who doesn’t love a game that only requires a potato to play?
  • Duck Duck Goose – or a game that requires nothing but kids?
  • Pin the tail on the donkey (or the cow, or cat, or … whatever)  This was a favorite when I was a kid and my kids love it.  For our party. we are going to Pin the Pot of Gold on the rainbow – like this.  You can just as easily buy one if you don’t want to make it.

Piñata: In our house, “party” means “piñata” and we had pinatas at birthday party when I was a kid so they MUST be retro:)  So, we will definitely have a piñata.

Snacks: 

  • Fruit Skewers organized in a rainbow
  • Goldfish butterflies – you can fill these with anything but our kids love goldfish
  • Fruit Loop Necklaces – this could even be a craft project if you needed extra activities
  • Water bottles with rainbow labels – free printable labels included here
  • CUPCAKES – this is a recipe for easy rainbow cupcakes.  I am going to write each child’s name on them.  This is a great way to create conversation and a great way for kids to learn their classmates names.

Decorations: I am going to go with really simple decorations because we are partying in the park.  So, in addition to the piñata, I am sticking to:

  • Tablecloth – you can get them on amazon here or at your local party store
  • Balloons – I am going to pick up rainbow colored balloons at my local grocery store the day of the party.

Prizes: With all the games, you need some prizes for the winners.  If you have ever been anywhere with a kids’ treasure chest, you know that they love cheap bracelets, plastic cameras, tops, slinkys, etc. – you can get any of that at oriental trading for very little money.  I am going to go with a selection of rainbow candy – skittles, lifesavers, M&M’s, etc.

Party Favors: Personally, I like party favors you can eat so you aren’t collecting more little pieces of junk.  My favorite favors are cookies from my friend Megan at Junebug & Moo.  She can make anything, including cute rainbow cookies!

As you can see, throwing a Retro Birthday Party can be easy, inexpensive and a lot of fun.  I would love to hear your ideas and see pictures of your parties as you put them together and create your own amazing party experiences.  Happy Partying!

Tent Camping Near Austin

It’s summer and way too hot to go tent camping near Austin.  But, it’s NOT too early to start planning and booking spots for the fall.

Here’s a list of camping sites within an hour of Austin:

McKinney Falls State Park – within Austin city limits, you can camp, hike, bike and swim!  They have 81 campsites (starting at $20) and 6 newly remodeled cabins ($86).  It’s also a really fun place for geocaching.  (My kids LOVE this.  You can get the app on your smartphone, find the treasure with GPS coordinates, sign the log book and trade a family-friendly item with something in the cache.)

McKinney Falls

 

Pace Bend Park – enjoy beautiful, sunset views of Lake Travis.  They have 20 campsites with water and electrical hook-ups ($20) and over 400 primitive spots ($15 per vehicle). You can reserve the improved sites, but the primitive spots are on a first come, first server basis.  Make sure to visit nearby Hamilton Pool – it’s one of Austin’s most beautiful treasures. If you go May 1 – September 20, you have to make a reservation.

Hamilton Pool

 

Pedernales Falls – great mountain biking trails, plus you can tube on the river. They have 69 campsites with water and electric hook-ups ($20) and numerous primitive sites ($10).  If you are into mountain biking, this is the place to go.

Blanco State Park – fish, swim and boat.  They have 29 sites with water and electrical hook-ups (starting at $20).  They also have 7 Screened Shelters ($30) – no AC, but they have fans.   If fishing is your primary camping activity, this is the place for you.  

Palmetto State Park – called the “Central Texas Tropics” because it enjoys multiple sources of water.  You can swim, tube, fish and canoe.  They have 19 tent sites ($12) and 18 sites with water and electrical hook-ups (starting at $18). They also have a group camping area for up to 100 ($60).  The San Marcos river has a steady current with no rapids making it a favorite for those that love to canoe.

 

My 5 favorite campsite cooking recipes:

Campfire foil packs – I love these because you can make them ahead of time and then just throw them on the fire.

Cinnamon Roll Ups – The kids love these, and you can indulge since you are burning so many calories with all the activities

Camp Cooker Pizza – As you’ve guessed by now, I have kids, and what kid doesn’t love pizza?

Red Wine Marinated Hanger Steaks – If you feel like getting fancy, this recipe will not disappoint.

Fire Roasted Salmon with Herbs and Lemon – You can also use fresh fish that you catch with this one – so delicious.

Lastly, you need gear…

If you don’t have the gear, you can rent it here.

Everything You Need for Camp Grandma

Grandparent Weekend

Grandma, Lovey, Mimi, Nana, picture this: You just hung up from a conversation with your daughter-in-law during which you agreed to have the grandkids come to your house for “Camp Grandma” while your son and daughter-in-law jet off to Napa for a weekend away. You are so excited to spoil those little angels while the parents are away, but you are left wondering how you can be sure they are comfortable and safe in your house without all of their usual gear. What baby and toddler stuff do they even use these days? And if you buy a bunch of stuff, what will you do with it in between visits, or will they grow out of it before it is ever used again? You want to ensure a safe and happy time for all, but you don’t want to spend a fortune. One new option that wasn’t available in years past is to rent items from neighbors or companies nearby. We find it’s best to rent anything that has a high initial cost, will be cumbersome to store in between visits, or will only be used a few times before they’ve grown out of it. The good news is, with the help of our list, you are only a few clicks away from being fully prepared to enjoy the time together and have everything you need at a fraction of the retail cost.

Sleep

  1. Infant to 2 or 3 years old: Pack ‘n Play. This is an easy solution for naps and nighttime in lieu of a regular crib. Most moms have one of these, but it may not be possible to transport it to your house for this trip. Upfront cost for a basic one isn’t excessive, but it will probably only be used a few times before the child can climb out of it and it is no longer useful. Rent here if you don’t have space to store it in between visits.
  2. 3-5 years old: Nap mat. Once they can climb out of the pack ‘n play it is not really a safe sleeping space. Most kids who attend Mother’s Day Out or preschool use a nap mat during their rest time. Ask the parents to bring this along so kids can sleep on the floor if they’re still just a little too young to sleep in a bed raised off the ground. Or just grab one of these inexpensive ones from Target.
  3. Pro tip: Use a pool noodle, inserted under the fitted sheet, as a temporary bed rail if you’re nervous a child might roll off the bed!

Eat

  1. Infant to 18 months: High Chair. It’s easiest to strap a young child in to a high chair so that you know they are safe while you prepare and serve meals. Grab either a free standing one or one that attaches to your dining table, depending on your set up.
  2. 2-3 years old: Booster Seat. A booster seat can help a toddler sit higher at the table while still using a typical dining chair. Be sure to secure it according to instructions to be sure your active tot doesn’t take a tumble while reaching for his drink.
  3. Pro tip: Unbreakable dishware. Melamine dishes will survive many years and are dishwasher friendly! You’ll thank us for this one!

Play

  1. Comfort Objects: Make sure to ask the parents to bring any specific comfort objects, blankies, or special toys like Sophie the Giraffe.
  2. Toys: Get ideas for and rent age-appropriate toys here. Look into a toy library like Toybrary Austin that allows a short term membership for borrowing a bag of toys and trading each day for new ones!
  3. Bikes and Scooters: Kids of all ages can enjoy bikes and scooters, just ask parents about their skill level before selecting a tricycle, pedal-less bike, bike with training wheels or regular bike.
  4. Outdoor Games: These giant games can keep kids off the iPads and engaged for hours.
  5. Pro tip: For an extra special day of fun, consider renting an inflatable slide or bounce house! This is something you definitely don’t want to purchase because of the initial expense and they are a bear to store, but would provide hours of fun during their stay!

Transportation

  1. Infants up to 20+ lbs. Infant Car Seat: It is crucial that all car seats are installed and used to manufacturers specifications. Today, many infant car seats can be used rear-facing until the child is 22-29 lbs, and it is very likely your children will bring this type of car seat with them no matter how they travel. Often, the seat can slide right into a “snap ‘n go” type stroller so this would also be helpful for the parents to provide for any outtings you take!
  2. 1-2+ years old. Convertible carseat: These can be used until a child reaches 35-50 pounds depending on the seat, so again, be sure to check manufacturers instructions. The parents will likely provide this type of seat because they can be very expensive, but if travel conditions require they come without, rent one here. Current recommendations include rear-facing for as long as possible, at least until 2 years old. This is a hot topic in mommy circles, so be sure to have a conversation with mom and dad about their preferences and again, always follow manufacturers instructions.
  3. 4-8+ years old. Booster Seat: Chances are, by this age its much easier for you to have a booster seat waiting for them when they arrive and it’s up to you whether you think you will use it enough to purchase your own to keep on hand. Always go with the high back booster because that back can eventually be removed, leaving just the seat when the child is tall enough for the seat belt to rest at the appropriate height across their chest and shoulder.
  4. Pro tip: A jogging stroller can be used to cruise the neighborhood, go to the park or even get around at the mall. Its a great option for kids ages 6 months to 6+ years old and will save your back from the child who just.can’t.walk.another.step.

 

We hope this list serves as a valuable guide as you prepare for Camp Grandma! But if you’re still overwhelmed, check out our Grandparent Bundle or email us at info@loanables.com to request a specific bundle custom designed for you! And keep in mind that children care more about the time you spend with them than the things you buy them so #collectmemoriesnotstuff.