Just wanted to give my readers a heads up on this great sweepstakes!  The prize is a Haunted Hollywood Vacation trip to FOX Studios in LosAngeles, CA! You even get an instant Goosebumps DVD coupon just for signing up!  Click on the picture below to check it out! Good luck!

 

*** DISCLOSURE NOTICE *** I am a Bzzagent and was given the opportunity to have my family try their new Halloween TruMoo for free (and for the record Ben LOVED the orange colored vanilla flavored one!)

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As many of you know, I used to be pretty active with coupon shopping (you can find all of my couponing posts HERE).  Now that there is an Aldi near my home (less than five minutes away), my need for coupons has greatly decreased.  I let my two newspaper subscriptions run out and then cancelled them. I thought that would be the end of my couponing.  Apparently this is not the case.

While I am definitely not couponing as much, I find it interesting that once I stopped my subscriptions, I continued to get coupons.  Every week, there is a free newspaper distributed to my neighborhood (by the regular newspaper delivery guy) and in that free paper are the same coupons that were in the Sunday paper!  All this time I had been paying for two subscriptions when I could have been getting the coupons for free!  Jeesh!  Oh, and since my single, male neighbor doesn’t use his paper I get that one too! So, same amount of coupons FREE!

So, if you have a newspaper subscription just for the sake of getting coupons, start watching the driveways in your area.  If you see that they are getting a free weekly paper, maybe you can cancel your subscription and save a few dollars.

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We only have six weeks left before school is out for the summer.  Can’t believe that they school year went by soooooo fast!  I have started kicking around ideas for things to put on our summer to-do list.  Having gone through years of therapy with Ben, I try to really structure our summers so we have time for fun as well as get some things accomplished.  He does not do therapy during the summer – we work on getting those goals accomplished at home so we can have some family time without being overly scheduled.

Here are a few ideas to get you started planning some summer fun of your own!

  • Sign up over at KidsBowlFree.com so that the kiddos can bowl for free all summer!  They also have a form for the adults to sign up at a rate of $25 or so for four adults on the pass ~ that is a HUGE savings!
  • Regal Movie Theaters does the Summer Movie Express with $1 movies on certain dates during the summer
  • Michael’s craft stores have the free Passport to Fun kids crafts during the summer. Check your local store for details.
  • Home Depot has free Kids Workshops one Saturday each month
  •  Cinemark movie theaters has the Summer Movie Clubhouse program where it costs $5 to go see all ten films (or $1 per film if tickets purchased separately)
  • Going to the public library is free and ours has a great selection of movies and books that keep my kiddos entertained for hours and hours and hours at a time
  • Check around at local museums, science centers, etc to find out when their “free entrance days” are
  • We spend a lot of time outdoors, and usually go to the beach, springs or local pool at least once a week. I make sure to pack a cooler with drinks and snacks so I don’t have to buy any (BIG savings there!)
  • Family game day is always fun! We do board games or video games and snacks
  • Friday is ALWAYS movie night at our home ~ complete with movies from Redbox or the library or Netflix, pizza, soda, popcorn and candy
  • Pinterest is a WONDERFUL source for cheap ideas to keep the kiddos entertained!  There are tons and tons of great ideas and things to try!  Over spring break we have used a few of them . DIY slurpees were a total HIT   and my son thought that taking a bath in the dark with glow in the dark bracelets in the water was super COOL!
  • It takes a little planning but lots of fun can be had for very little money!  If you sign up for emails from Groupon.comLivingSocial.com , and HalfOffDepot.com  you can get INCREDIBLE deals for local attractions that might otherwise be out of your price range. For example:  I just got 3 tickets to CoCo Key Water park that would have cost me over $70 but I paid $31 !  That is more than half off and wayyyyyy less than the cost of one ticket to Wet N Wild!  We have also gotten great deals on ice cream, mini golf, an indoor trampoline arena, Monkey Joes, and various restaurants all for more than 50 % off!
  • Shopping centers and malls offer a lot of entertainment for free!  Here in Orlando we are lucky and have Downtown Disney which hosts a T-Rex Cafe complete with dino bones excavation area (free to walk through and see the dinos and play in the excavation area), Lego shop (free to go in and play with all the cool legos!), free boat ride across the waterway to the shops, and lots of other free and neat things to do and see!  Most malls have an indoor play area these days and the mall also offers an opportunity for the older kiddos to window shop.
  • Teach a skill ~ my kiddos all loved learning to cook and sew!  You can have some fun, get things done (hey, you have to eat anyhow!) and teach a valuable life skill all at the same time.  Pinterest is a great source of kid friendly recipes and craft / sewing ideas too!
  • On the weekends we usually wander over to the Dollar Tree so that the kiddos can spend some of their allowance money (you can see my post on WHY my kids get allowances HERE).  Kids get thrilled even when the only have $1 to spend!  At the Dollar Tree, the possibilities are endless!
  • Get a cheap game from Gamestop.  Not many people know that if you go into Gamestop and tell them that you are looking for Wii games under $5 (or whatever system you have) they will print a list of all the titles they have in stock that are under that price!  $5 for at least a full day of fun is a deal!  You can also rent the newer video games at Redbox for $2 plus tax.

Hopefully this list of ideas gets you inspired to schedule some summer fun of your own!  I would love to hear back from you if you have any ideas to add to my list!

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Usually I host family get-togethers at my house.  It is easier on Ben (the Autism just doesn’t make it easy to travel to other houses).  I always make a TON of food and anyone who wants to take home leftovers is more than welcome to take some home.  This brings up the issue of what to put it in.

A few years ago I noticed that whenever I was getting ready for family dinners, since I was making so much food, I would have several plastic bowls with lids that would normally go into the garbage (sour cream bowls, cottage cheese bowls, cool whip bowls, etc).  While I don’t like to keep these for storage here at my house (I tend to use more heavy duty storage containers), I realized that it would be great to have them on hand for whenever someone wants to take home leftovers from my house!  No need to worry about returning the bowl, they can either keep it for themselves or throw it away!  Plus, at least they get used at least one more time before going into the trash 🙂
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Recently, Ben has not been feeling well. He had a sinus infection and missed three days of school last week because he was coughing so badly!  I have found that peppermint hot chocolate really helps clear the sinuses and just makes you feel better!  I was getting him hot chocolate almost every day at the Cumberland Farms store near us and it was “only” $1 per cup but then everyone in the household started wanting some and I soon realized that I needed to find a cheaper way to do this.

I got some peppermint extract but it was just too difficult to put only “one drop” into each cup of hot chocolate.  After thinking about it,  I realized that I could just make his hot chocolate as usual (from a regular packaged mix) and then add one or two Junior Mint candies to it!  Stir the hot chocolate until they have dissolved and it was just the right amount of mint!  He loves it!

A “movie theater” sized 4 oz. box of Junior Mints has about 48 pieces in it.  That is enough for at least 24 cups of peppermint hot chocolate!  Cheaper to use and easier to find than the extract!

Here is the cost breakdown (rounded):

  • Prepackaged hot chocolate mix bought at Aldi: 10 in a box for $1.19 = 12 cents each cup
  • Junior Mints bought at Dollar tree: $1 for a box of 48 (use 2) = 4 cents per cup
  • Total cost to make a cup:  16 cents (instead of $1)
  • Total cost to make 24 cups:  $3.84 (instead of  $24 !!!!!)

Not only is that a GREAT savings ($20 extra bucks stay in MY pocket!) but I love the fact that I can keep this on hand so whenever I need to I can just make some up instead of running up to the convenience store!

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Boiling eggs is simple enough and making devil eggs for hor dourves is super easy!  With the holiday season right around the corner, a lot of people start looking for an easy and inexpensive dish to take to pot lucks and gatherings.   Since eggs are relatively cheap, they are a good candidate as the beginnings of a crowd pleasing dish. Here is the recipe I use for my deviled eggs (which disappear as soon as they are put on the table!).

You will need:

  • eggs (as many as you want, each egg makes two deviled eggs)
  • mayonnaise
  • yellow mustard
  • garlic salt
  1. Put the eggs into a pot of water (the water should cover the eggs) and bring it to a boil on the stove.
  2. Once the water has come to a rolling boil (BIG bubbles in the water, moving fast), turn the burner OFF and cover the pot with a lid.  Leave the pot on the stove, covered, for half an hour
  3. After half an hour, drain the eggs and fill the pot with cold water and let the eggs sit in it for a few minutes to cool them down
  4. Peel the eggs and rinse them off and pat them dry
  5. Once all the eggs are peeled, cut them in half, longways
  6. Scoop out the yolks (yellow part) and place them into a small mixing bowl.  Place the whites onto a plate lined with a paper towel (so the eggs don’t slide around)
  7. Once you have all the eggs cut and yolks in a bowl, add a few spoonfuls of mayonnaise and a squirt or two of yellow mustard.  Don’t add too much mayonnaise or mustard at first, because it can cause your filling to be too runny.  Remember, you can add more as you go.
  8. Mix the yolks, mayonnaise and mustard really well with a fork (or electric mixer), working out the lumps as you mix.  If the mixture is too dry, add a little more mayonnaise.  Mix until smooth.
  9. Add a dash of garlic salt and mix well.
  10. Take a ziplock bag and open it wide.  Scrape the yolk mixture into the bag and then zip it shut.
  11. Place everything into the fridge until you are ready to serve the eggs.
  12. When you are ready to serve the eggs, cut off a corner of the ziplock bag and squeeze the filling into the egg whites.
  13. Top each deviled egg with a dash of paprika (optional)
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Over the past few months I have gotten some really good deals over at Living Social. Just this past week I bought a certificate for $16 worth of seafood at a local restaurant and I only paid $3 for it! I like this site much better than Restaurants dot com. With Living Social you get what you paid for. There are no “must spend $35 to use coupon” type restrictions. I previously purchased a $20 certificate for Coldstone Creamery thru Living Social for $10 and it was enough for four of us to get the largest ice cream sundae they make and still have 2 cents credit! LOL! Try Living Social’s website. You just might like it!

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I know I have posted before about leftovers and also about making a monthly menu plan.  Today when I was cleaning out my fridge and taking inventory of the freezer so I could plan my menu for August, it occured to me that I left out a clever tip I use every week.

When I clean out the fridge, I take all of the leftovers out and go thru all the shelves making sure everything in there is fresh and edible.  I put the leftovers on the counter and throw away the stuff that is no good.  Often I still have some leftovers that are only a day old or so and I am not willing to throw away good food.  Because the leftovers have been in the fridge for a day or two, my family does not “see” them there.  Kind of like if you open the fridge for a glass of water and the milk is on the same shelf, you just don’t really “see” it there.

To combat this, I repackage my leftovers, taking them out of the current container they are in and putting them in a different container (or even a storage bag) and then place them back into the fridge on the leftover shelf (the bottom shelf in our fridge is where all the leftovers are kept).  That way when the family opens the fridge and looks around, they see a different container in there that was NOT there this morning and it catches their attention and are more likely to eat it.

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