Frugal Outings: Otter Point Estuary Center

In the search for affordable, fun, and educational things to do, we ran up to the Harford County Estuary Center: Anita C. Leigh Estuary Center up at Otter Point Creek

Otter Point Creek

It’s a beautiful place, with several educational displays, a beautiful veranda from which to relax and write or have a picnic. It even has a series of trails that go down around the Chesapeake Bay’s estuary. It’s gorgeous.

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I made friends with this little turtle. I also had the chance to look at the many different aspects of estuary life and the Chesapeake Watershed.

Turtle Estuary Fake

Estuary centers are the perfect place to bring children and engage in scavenger hunts, learn about nature, and view it first hand (please, though, leave all wildlife and fauna where it was found). There are also different programs at many centers, like Otter Point’s Center, throughout the year for different age groups.

Estuary Rep Room

This estuary center is not the only center in the area. They are a network across the country. You can find out more by going online and seeing if there is an estuary center near you!

Ducky

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Recipe Of The Day: Throw-Together Pie

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I’m not going to lie to you all. The main ingredient in this pie was hope. Hope that it would come together into some sort of edible form.

Everything went wrong with this.

I got all the fruit from the discount bin at a local grocery store for $2, but when that store discounts produce, it’s for a good reason. You’ve gotta use it that day, or you’re sunk.

Here’s the problem, though – I got home, got busy, and ran out of time to bake pie. Oh no. I peeled the fruit, diced it quickly, and tossed it into the fridge with a bit of vanilla and sugar.

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Then, the next day… I didn’t have time! Again! Eek. I need a better plan when I buy stone fruit.

After an urgent care visit, I didn’t have the energy to face baking a pie, but the fruit was already cut. I was at the point of pie crisis. It wasn’t going to be patient another night.

So, I caved.

I stopped at a grocery store and bought a pre-made pie crust for $2. I made two half-pies in an old sheet pan. Pie-halfs. Pie calzones? I don’t know, work with me here. Sprinkled some sugar on the top, and I was off to the races.

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It came out of the oven looking, if I do say so myself, gorgeous and tempting. I wanted to cut into it right away, but I was good. I walked away. Even a cheater pie deserves a moment to rest.

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Is it as good as the pie crust I make myself? Nope. This one has a bit of a bizarre aftertaste that I blame on the preservatives.

Is the pie still pretty good? You bet your britches. The fruit is amazing, fresh and sweet and just a little tart. A real earthy flavor. The peaches and plums compliment each other beautifully. Perfect for a late-summer afternoon.

Why didn’t I just make a cobbler with the fruit, instead of buying a pie crust? Cobblers are cheaper and better than bought crust.

I have a great answer for that – because it didn’t occur to me until I sat down to write this post. Oof. Pie I had determined the fruit was going to be, and pie it was.

Frugal Entertainment: Beach Vacation for Less!

Imagine a beautiful seashore, the waves rushing up around you. Now imagine that entire trip being convenient, and cost effective. My husband and I love going to the beach, and we especially love spending as little money as possible.

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How is it possible?

  1. Take trips to state parks, rather than expensive beach towns.

    We visited Cape Henlopen this year in Delaware. It was a two-hour drive from our house, so it is something we can do for a day, or we can go for a week. The state park has a campground, so when we want to get away for a few days we take a tent and our furry companion and go!

    State Parks normally cater to RVs and have cabins as well, for those who are not comfortable with an air mattress and using the joint bathing facilities.

    With low daily rates, and fewer opportunities to park with our money (no boardwalk = no impulse buys), we have a much more relaxed time.

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  1. Pack your own food.

    We take a large cooler, dried goods, and do not eat at restaurants. Those little snacks, impulse purchases, and “cheap” meals add up quickly. Instead, we choose one or two places to dine at in the evening throughout the week. This allows us to feel like we got special treats while at the same time saving money overall.

  1. Bring your own equipment or rent it.

    Yes. I said rent the bikes and the kayaks. Hear me out. If you don’t already have a bike or a kayak, and you are not the type of person who would use them more than once or twice a season. The upkeep permits (boats/kayaks, etc.), and maintenance can cost you more than they are worth to own. This is an instance where renting makes more sense. Especially at a state park, because the costs are not usually inflated compared to beach towns.

  1.  Hit up free entertainment throughout the season.

    In the summer, many of the local towns have live bands and free movie nights. We’ve driven to the closest town, and it still feels like a fun vacation activity because it is all new to us, and the beach atmosphere makes it especially fun. We try to plan these days with a single boardwalk exploration or one of our fancy dinners. That way we have dedicated time to spend if we want to.

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  1. Bring some friends!

    Many state parks allow you have a certain number of tents or people per site. If you are frugal and have friends you feel you can share the space with, this is even more cost effective. Most tent sites are thirty dollars a day or less. If you take another family with you, or another set of couples, you can have a fun vacation with friends that make memories and won’t break the bank!

    But make sure that you really can get along in those circumstances because relaxation is the key.

  1. Head to the beach during the off-season.

    Many parks discount their rates outside of the summer months. This means that there is often no lifeguard, so swimming is usually either prohibited or at your own risk. But, if you are like me, you go more to look at at the ocean then to swim.

    Check with your local beach of choice for discounts, permitted activities, and other incentives to go in the fall or spring!

  1. Budget your spending, and stick to it

    This one may seem like a no-brainer, but we’ve all planned on a budget, said we were going to stick to it, and then just saw the one thing we “had” to have. Or we didn’t count “little” purchases. If you want to have a nice vacation without worrying about the cost you really do have to have clear spending limits and stick to them.

    One popular tip, that really does work, is the cash envelope system. My husband and I each get a certain amount to spend, we put the amounts in an envelope for each of us, and when it is gone, it is gone! No worries about the debit card, keeping track of bank accounts, or checking balances.

Have a fun and safe beach vacation! – Aster

Saturday Book Review #1

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Wow, this was amazing. I found Patrick Rothfuss a little daunting to get into, but once I took a deep breath and dived in, wow – what an author. Reading his Kingkiller Chronicles, I’ve been fascinated with Auri. Once I learned about a while book devoted to her, I was totally game to read it… but I figured that a book by Patrick Rothfuss about a character like Auri would be a little out of the ordinary.
I figured right!
If you’re going in expecting an illuminating story that wraps up loose ends… you’ll want to throw it across the room. If you go in expecting a character study, you’ll have a much better time.
I read The Slow Regard of Silent Things in just the right mood, though. I had a cat curled up on my feet, a quilt tucked up around me, and the baby was asleep. It was a still summer evening with the seven o’clock sunlight coming through the window, and the world was peaceful and quiet. That was a perfect time to enter Auri’s world.
I’d love to tell you more about it, but if I do, I’ll ruin everything. Trust me. Just go ahead and give this a shot, even if you haven’t read anything else by Patrick Rothfuss. You may love it, you may hate it, but you won’t forget it.