Not sure how many people out there know about the Kids Bowl Free program that is being offered this summer.

You go to the website below, and “find a center near you”.  Then you can sign your kids up to get two free games of bowling per day (during the week) all summer long!  The bowling center we go to even includes free shoe rental. 

We did buy the summer pass for $24.95 so that we can bowl with the kids.  That $24.95 pays for us to be able to bowl two games per day (during the week) with the kids all summer long and it also includes shoes for us too!  Not a bad deal!

We went this past week for the first time.  They email you your coupons to use for the week on Sunday.  Just print them out and hand them to the people working the counter.  It was very easy!

Apparently each bowling center has it’s own details about using the passes so be sure to read the fine print.  Here is the link:

http://www.kidsbowlfree.com/

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When I turned 15, my mother took me to get my driver license learning permit.  After asking me to read the eye chart about 6 times, the examiner looked at my mother and said “Mam, I think your daughter needs glasses!”  Yeah, that was an understatement!  I have worn glasses ever since.

Now that I am a mother myself, I realize just how expensive glasses are!  What made it even worse is that when Ben was a toddler, he made it his personal hobby to hunt down my glasses and break them in half if they were not on my face.  He was quick too!  Sometimes even if I had them on, in one fell swoop he would snatch them off my face and “SNAP”  crack them in half (I love plastic frames!).  UGH!  It was then that I found Zenni Optical.

Zenni is an online site where you can order your glasses.  As long as you have your eyewear prescription and your pupillary distance (P.D.) you can order from their website.  You should be able to get this information from your optometrist, it is part of your medical record and you are entitled to it.

Their eyeglass prices start at $6.95 per pair!  That INCLUDES the lenses!  You can even upload a picture of yourself and “try on” the glasses!  I have purchased some great prescription sunglasses from them too.  Just pick out a plastic frame and have them tint the lenses the shade you want.  This costs a few dollars extra but the eyeglass store I used to use wanted over $200 for one pair!  I paid less than $15 for the ones I got from Zenni.

Usually I order a few pairs at a time and shipping is VERY reasonable.  Sometimes it takes a week or so for the glasses to get to me but I love this site!  I cannot say enough good things about them!

If you want to check it out, here is their link (and NO I do not get any kind of payment or referral bonus from them.  I am just a very satisfied customer!):

http://www.zennioptical.com

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When I was a kid we did not do much traveling or sight seeing.  I remember one big vacation to see relatives in Georgia and I also remember stopping in St Augustine on that same trip, but other than that, family outings were not a regular thing for us.

I have the desire to travel the world.  I have only been to a handful of states but I want to see all 50 of them.  I have a serious thing for theme parks and tourist attractions.  I want to travel to other countries and see things like Stonehenge and the pyramids.

Since money is tight, we have been sticking close to home, trying to do the “backyard vacation” thing and visit attractions we have not been to here in Florida.  We have been to Silver Springs, The Dali Museum, gone to see The Blue Man Group, etc.

Most of these places have gift shops and  that will make even the most hardy tightwad part with their money.  I love souvenirs!  I love remembering where I have been, what the experience was like, who I was with and every little detail.  Good for the gift shops and bad for my wallet!

When we went to The Blue Man Group show, Dane went off to look at all the goodies in the gift area.  Realizing trouble, I stayed put and waited at the entrance of the show.  He returned with a magnet and a few other little items.  For some reason I LOVED the magnet!

The magnet was the perfect souvenir!  Small, documenting, useful, easily packed and moved, informative, memorable!  Everything I wanted in a souvenir!  So, that’s how it began.  I now have a magnet collection.  Everywhere we go he turns to me and says “Go pick out your magnet.”  LOL!  It’s funny because I never pictured myself doing something so cheesy as collecting magnets, but it works for us.  They are cheap and every touristy place has them.  We buy the one magnet and we are done in the gift shop.

These days, all I have to do is look at my fridge and I can see where we’ve been ……. I just wish it was as easy to see where we’re going ……….

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The dreaded “L” word……. leftovers.  Actually since I do a lot of cooking at home, we always have leftovers in the fridge and usually they don’t go to waste.  Sometimes things linger and I don’t like throwing out food so here is what I do.

Leftover meat:  I cube or chop it up and place it in ziploc bags and freeze for use in casseroles and other main dishes.  This weekend we had leftover roasted chicken that got chopped and frozen for future use in chicken noodle soup.

Leftover pasta or rice:  In my freezer I have two large plastic bowls with lids (reused butter tubs) that I just put these leftovers in.  One bowl for leftover rice (usually just plain white rice) and the other for leftover pasta.  If the pasta has sauce on it, I put it in a collander and thoroughly rinse it off first before placing it in the pasta bowl in the freezer.  Then when I need a quick side dish or a certain recipe calls for cooked rice I just defrost and use it.

Leftover veggies and other sides:  Typically at the end of any given meal there is one or two servings left of the side dishes.  I will wait a few days and then cook something like meatloaf and serve all the leftover sides with it.  The kids like this because they aren’t forced into eating broccoli and there is usually a good variety of sides to choose from.  I like this because it means less meal ideas I need to come up with for the evening. 

Leftover main dishes (casseroles, etc):  These usually get eaten for lunches over the next few days.  Leftovers like meatloaf, baked ziti, cheesy chicken, etc.  don’t make it but a day or two before they have been eaten so this isn’t really an issue for me.

Typically speaking the above three steps will pretty much clean out my fridge.  Anything left in there over a week gets thrown out.  Oh, and I make sure to clean out the fridge the night before trash pickup so that anything I have to throw away makes it out of the house and to the curb in time.

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I tried for years to keep up with Oprah’s idea of a “Gratitude Journal”. That didn’t happen. I was busy with three, then four, children and running a household on a one income budget. Still I needed to come up with something to keep me going when the going got tough. So, I came up with “Just One Thing”.

No matter how bad my day is, no matter how tough things are, no matter what has happened or not happened, there is ALWAYS at least one thing, just one thing, that was good that day.

My older daughters will call me, hysterical, because so and so said this or some event happened to them and they will go on and on and on. I listen patiently and then say to them, “Just One Thing. Come on. Give it to me. I know that there was at least one little thing that was good today. What was it?” This makes them refocus and they start to think of the things that went right that day. The good things. There has never been a time when we have used Just One Thing and come up empty handed. Never.

Sometimes it is a really small thing like there was just enough gas in the van to get to the store. Maybe there were no bills in the mail or it didn’t rain. Just one thing. That’s all it takes to put it all in perspective 😀

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My kiddos are with me all the time but every other weekend they go to their Dad’s. On the weekends they are with me, we have Movie Night on Friday.

In my household we all love movies but the prices are just too high to go to the theatre on a regular basis. For the cost of one ticket, you can buy a dvd these days! By the time you pay for tickets for 4 plus the popcorn, drinks and candy, it can be well over $75 to see one movie! Granted, if money was no issue, I would LOVE to go to the theatre to see movies all the time, but until that day comes, we have movie night at home.

Friday morning, I get online at redbox.com and reserve a new release family movie. Then I make sure that I pick up frozen pizzas, a 2 liter of soda, popcorn, candy and sometimes ice cream. Using coupons and sales this usually comes to less than a total of $13. Almost the price of just one movie ticket. If you sign up for email and text updates, you can even get free rentals for redbox movies. I make sure to turn the volume up and the lights down low to enhance the “movie atmosphere”.

My kids always look forward to movie night. My son, Ben, talks about it all day on Fridays at school! His teachers comment “So, we heard it’s movie night!” LOL! Even my older daughters loved movie night right up until the day they moved out. It’s nice to be able to enjoy family time and a great movie as well!

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A few weeks back, I did some serious shopping at CVS. I ended up spending about $20 and getting a LOT of stuff (including a $10 gas card). In that stuff was a bag of Doritoes with a promo where you could win free Green Lantern tickets. So, I read the instructions, texted in my entry and WON! Yes! We have wanted to see this movie since seeing the original previews and this gave us $29 to use towards tickets.

We used the $29 to get tickets for the 3D version ($27 !!!! Cough Cough Cough!). Plus, I had a free popcorn coupon and $3 movie e-cash from the M&M’s promotion. I think out of pocket we spent $2.25 (the cost of the drink after the $3 coupon).

I liked the movie, but it was your typical “male superhero saves the world” storyline. The movie was two hours long and I was left wondering WHERE are the female superheros that save the world? As much as women do, every day, is it really that much of a stretch of the imagination that a WOMAN could save the world just as well (if not better) than a man could?

Does anyone out there have any thoughts on this?

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Just a brief thought today…..

Every six months I have my kiddos at the dentist for cleanings and checkups. That bill is not cheap. It is even more expensive if they find cavities that need to be filled. This means another trip back to the dentist for the fillings.  More time and gas to get there and wait and get home.  More money spent (upwards of $100 usually for one filling).  Not my favorite thing to do. I can think of other things I would like to spend $100 on!

The easiest way and cheapest way to save money on dental issues? BRUSHING AND FLOSSING! It is substantially cheaper to buy a tube of toothpaste, a new toothbrush, a bottle of fluoride rinse and a roll of dental floss than it is to get a cavity filled! I am not saying don’t go to the dentist. What I am saying is that an once of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Keep that in mind when it is bedtime and the kids don’t want to brush their teeth 😉

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Well, it’s summer break and so the kiddos get to go couponing with me during the week ! Actually they don’t mind. They get a kick out of seeing the before and after totals…. not to mention the fact that they get a free cookie from the bakery at each store! LOL! 

It’s been a while since I’ve done a coupon shopping post and since today was a pretty good haul, I figured I’d share 🙂

Before Coupon Total: $131.58  (Ugh!)

After Coupon Total: $33.12   for 39 items

Savings: $98.46 (74%)

Keep in mind that here in Florida there are NO double coupons!

Here’s what we got :

4 containers of Pringles potato chips

4 Hormel Compleats meals

4 bagged Dole Ceasar Salad kits

4 boxes of Royal gelatin

1 bag of Puffcorns (these were not on sale but we love them!)

6 boxes of General Mills Cereal

2 bags of Wacky Mac pasta

4 packages of Oscar Meyer sausage (kielbasa & smoked)

2 Gillette Fusion Pro-Glide razors

1 Colgate 360 toothbrush

1 bottle of L.A. Looks hair gel

1 bag of Power Bar Bites

2 bottles of Gilette bodywash

1 bottle of Irish Spring bodywash

2 bottles of Pantene Pro-V shampoo

The keys to huge savings are:   keeping your coupons organized, taking advantage of buy-one-get-one deals and loyalty reward programs (CVS extra care bucks, Walgreens register rewards, Winn Dixie loyalty card, etc) and making sure you combine your coupons with those deals!   

I do all my shopping in one circular trip so I don’t waste gas or time.  I am ALWAYS very very courteous to the cashier and other customers.   I also make sure to roll-over my extra care bucks and my register rewards each week into new free items so that they don’t expire and that way I keep getting stuff for FREE!

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