Non-Consumer Mish-Mash

by Katy on March 21, 2010 · 11 comments

It’s time again for Non-Consumer Mish-Mash, where I write a little bit about this and a little bit about that.

A Fir Tree Among the Ivy

I took my sons and a one of their friends to a reading fair at The University of Portland today. This annual event is put on by the students and is great fun. Not only are there dozens of fun activities and snacks, but the kids get to pick out a brand new book at the end. I don’t know who chooses the books, but they tend to run on the Caldecott/Newbery award winner style, and are fantastic!

Unfortunately, most the the participating kids were part of the five-and-under crowd, which made my posse rather conspicuous. But it did say it was for students through middle school, so we were slipping in right under the wire. (Seriously, my son’s friend is probably at least 5’10”, so he was a Douglas fir tree among the ivy.)

Luckily, there really was something for everyone to do, and the boys quickly earned enough stickers to go choose a book. My sons picked Twilight and The Titan’s Curse, and my son’s friend nabbed The Hobbit.

But my favorite part was an activity where kids wrote out what they think they can do to help the environment. My 11-year-old wrote “Buy less, use what you have until it’s worn out.” I just kind of wish the slips hadn’t been made of that flat styrofoam craft material. Kind of defeats the purpose.

Spring Break — Non-Consumer Style

This week is Spring break for all of Portland public schools. Because we don’t have the money¬†to fly off to Hawaii or Mexico, (and I didn’t swing any fun freebie trips) we’re sticking around town. But that doesn’t have to mean business as usual or that we’re going to break the budget.

There’s lots to do in Portland that’s both fun and inexpensive. And this is true in any city.

First of all, I started to think about all the coupons and gift certificates I already have. We have gift certificates to the library second hand store, an asian restaurant, Taco Bell and a movie theater. This may pretty hodge-podge, but we can mix this into the week to make the week memorable, but frugal.

Yesterday, for example my older son had spent the night at a friend’s house, which turned into the second night at our house. I then took the kids to see a second-run theater to see The Fantastic Mr. Fox, for which I used a 2-for-1 coupon, which ended up being $12 for the five of us. I later made a nice dinner from scratch and then rented them a $1 DVD of Astro Boy for night two of the sleepover.

Today we went to the reading fair and then chilled out at home.

Later in the week we’ll spend one night at the beach with friends, and weather dependent, probably do some bike riding.

My goal is to do something fun and out of our routine every day. This doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive, just something to make the day seem special.

Do you have any Spring break tips to share? Please share your ideas and experiences in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Dana March 22, 2010 at 1:37 am

My children are 6 (kindergartener), 4, and 16 months. We live in a tiny town that’s so small there isn’t even mail delivery.

Doing anything out of the ordinary would require a trip to “the city”, and that’s a 30-minute drive. So, this week we’ll be doing some baking for the freezer, staying up a little later for out-loud reading, making new play-doh, stuff like that.

It’s not exactly true that there are inexpensive things to do in *any* city!



Katy March 22, 2010 at 9:31 am

True. It does take a city to provide all the different opportunities, but I’m sure there’s lots you can do that we can’t.

Your church sounds great!



Jinger March 22, 2010 at 4:50 am

Enjoy your young sons…..Just wait until they are college students and decide to drive 500 miles alone on the interstate to visit friends for spring break!


Katy March 22, 2010 at 9:30 am




Amanda October 23, 2016 at 7:08 am


I was reading this reply and thought “She’s there now. How is she doing with that aspect of having her boys all ‘grown up'”? It seems as if you are handling it with the same aplomb I have witnessed since I signed up for your blog. Good luck!


Ashley March 22, 2010 at 5:28 am

Our Spring Break is next week. We’re in a small town with no form of entertainment (excpet sports…. which will also be on break that week). One of the churches started spring break activities for the community, with a large-scale “play date” for the younger kids on one day, a health check up event (for us no-insurance people) on another, and a couple other things I cant recall. For the youth (middle/high school kids), the local youth groups are invited to participate in one massive local mission trip where the kids stay in town and help clean up (and fix up) homes and shabby looking buildings in town.

I’m going to be wrapping up the spring cleaning, hosting a yard sale, and (hopefully!) working in the clothing closet on the last day of vacation.


Kris-ND March 22, 2010 at 10:50 am

I like your idea of taking advantage of where you live. I think we often forget about things that are local to us, until you a)have no money to go elsewhere, or b)have family come and need to find things to do, or kids on spring break,

I also live in a smaller town, that is not only small, but geographically isolated from the bigger areas of my state. To put it in perspective, you have to have a reason to get to my town. It isn’t someplace you would just pass through…lol

Spring Break can be difficult here, because you might be in the middle of a blizzard, or it might be 90 degrees. The state has set timelines for opening alot of the historical attractions, so even if it is 90 degrees, most things are not

That being said, when you must improvise, you start taking a good hard look at what is really available.

I certainly don’t have the opportunities that you have for activities, but there is an amazing amount of life going on under the radar here…lol

We are fortunate to live in a very historically rich area of the country, if you like wild west history.

We have a Historical Trading post nearby run by the National Park Service. While the “big” stuff is in the summer and fall, everyweekend, the museum is open, and you have “characters” dress in period dress and will explain how life went then. Since the landscaped hasn’t changed much since then, it is an incredible experience.

Their was a local concert and play recently. I have lived here for 4 years, and had never realized that organization existed.

If the weather stays decent, we are going to drive the Northern loop of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, which is a GORGEOUS drive through the ND Badlands. It is so close, but we rarely remember it is there.

My daughter is going through a course through the college(she enrolls this fall) and will be working with the elderly and at the local food bank over spring break.

My poor son’s activities are limited to the Prom and

Great Idea to look around your area and find something.


Shannon March 22, 2010 at 3:30 pm

We are on spring break too—with a 4- and 6- year- old. We started the week by getting a big stack of books and movies from the library. Tomorrow we are taking the grandma to the Anthony Thomas chocolate factory, which is just 10 minutes from here, for the free tour (I heard you get a piece of candy at the end too!) and then to lunch somewhere that I have a coupon for (luckily I have 3 good choices in front of me.) Wednesday is the playdate with two of the boys’ friends. They are coming over for movies from the library, homemade pizza, board games, and maybe an art project or whatever they are in the mood for. I try to make these experiences really fun to “sell” the low- consumption-fun model to the boys and their friends. Thursday is spring cleaning, where I shell out 25 cents per job to the boys throughout the day (last year I got the whole house sparkling in less than two days!) Friday we go to Red Robin to celebrate my sister’s and my birthdays together. Should be a good week.


Tracy Balazy March 22, 2010 at 5:27 pm

Do your communities offer the Museum Adventure Pass? In metro Detroit, Macy’s sponsors it. You go to any library and pick up vouchers to get up to four people at a time in free to many museums and cultural institutions, such as the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Cranbrook Institute of Science, which are normally $8 and $9.50 for adult admissions, respectively.

Our other cheap/free entertainment is movies. We rented Julie & Julia tonight from Redbox for free (as opposed to the usual $1); I signed up for their e-mails and they sent me a code to use at checkout, and I’ll get a free movie rental each month. I just discovered Redbox (, and between that and our library’s large selection, we’re seeing movies for free or almost free all the time. No more Blockbuster fees!


Molly On Money March 22, 2010 at 6:26 pm

Our spring break was last week. We baked and baked and baked and than went on You-Tube and followed directions to create duct tape items. I now have a table full of duct tape flowers, a duct tape belt and a brand new duct tape cover for my iphone that my kids made me! Oh, and let’s not forget how the kids duct taped baby doll arms to their own arms and ran around for an hour frightening the dogs.


Karen March 22, 2010 at 8:41 pm

My kids are all grown up now but I remember spring break fondly. If I had one idea to pass along to parents of younger children, it would be to make sure to let kids have down time and not have to endure too many activities. I fear that so many kids now are run ragged by activities, and wish they had time to just imagine, think and dream. Having down time is essential to creating thinkers, and it also teaches kids not to look to parents or family to fill every minute. Let there be some blank moments!


Cancel reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: