How to Save

Easy Recipes for Easter Egg Dye

Posted on Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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easter eggs naturally dyedWhat does your family use to dye Easter eggs? The “old standard” is to purchase a package of pre-made dye. Those who aren’t so keen on that option have plenty of other ways to decorate Easter eggs. Start with some of these easy recipes that will enable you to turn white hard-boiled eggs into eggs of an entirely different color.

Kool-Aid Dye
Did you know that you can use packets of Kool-Aid to dye Easter eggs? People have also used Kool-Aid to dye yarn, or to temporarily dye their hair. This recipe comes from the Hey Jen Renee blog. You will need:

* 1 packet of Kool-Aid (or more if you want to make dye in a variety of colors)
* 2/3 cup of water (per packet of Kool-Aid)
* Hard-boiled eggs that have cooled

Put one packet of Kool-Aid into 2/3 of a cup of water. Stir! If you are choosing to make many colors of Kool-Aide dye, you will need a separate cup for each color. Put one hard-boiled egg into each cup of mixed dye. Let the egg sit for as long as you like. Remove it after it becomes the color of the dye. Don’t forget to refrigerate the egg after it has been dyed.

Onion Shell Dye
The Ulicam blog has step-by-step directions that include photos. From it, you can learn how to use onion shells (or onion skin) to dye Easter eggs. You will need:

* Raw eggs
* Plenty of onion shells (red, yellow, or both)
* A small collection of fresh flowers
* String

First, carefully place small flowers onto a raw egg. They will stick better if you moisten the egg shell. Wrap the entire egg (and flowers) in onion skins. Carefully wrap string around the egg. Try not to move the flowers. Use plenty of string so that the onion skins will remain wrapped around the egg while it boils. Place the onion skin wrapped eggs into a pot. Add the leftover onion shells in it. Cook it for 12 to 15 minutes. Next, rinse each egg in cold water and carefully peel off the onion skin. You will end up with uniquely decorated Easter eggs.

Red Cabbage Dye
Martha Stewart has lots of recipes for natural egg dying techniques. One of them is the Red Cabbage Dye. You will need:

* Hard-boiled eggs
* One head of cabbage
* 4 tablespoons of salt
* 4 tablespoons of vinegar

Start with eggs that have been hard-boiled and cooled. Boil one head of cabbage in 2 quarts of water for 30 minutes. Strain the pre-boiled cabbage water into a bowl. Add 4 tablespoons of salt and four tablespoons of vinegar to the water. Lower the egg into the mixture. Let it soak for 30 second to 1 minute for a pale color. Leave it soaking for longer if you want a deeper color.

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Frugal Alternatives to Easter Decorations

Posted on Monday, April 14th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Easter BasketThe typical Easter basket includes plastic grass, candy, plastic eggs, a chocolate rabbit, and possibly some toys. All of that can add up to quite the expense. This is especially true for families who have multiple children that all are expecting something special from the Easter Bunny. Here are some alternative Easter decorations that can make things more affordable.

Use the Ones from Last Year
Where did you put last year’s Easter baskets and plastic eggs? You can repurpose them and use them again this year. Most children won’t remember exactly what their Easter basket looked like last year. It is impossible to tell last year’s plastic eggs from the ones in the stores today.

Paper Instead of Plastic
Plastic Easter grass is one of the most useless things in an Easter basket. You cannot eat it, and it isn’t a toy. Its entire purpose is to be a “filler” for everything else to sit on. This year, instead of buying more bags of Easter grass, substitute shredded paper instead.

Shredded newspaper will serve the same “filler” function that Easter grass does. If you really want it to be green, try shredded some of the green construction paper that your children have in their art supplies. Paper can easily be recycled when Easter is over.

It Doesn’t have to be a Basket
Don’t be afraid to think “outside of the box” when it comes to Easter baskets. Little kids will be just as happy with large, plastic, bowl that has been decorated with an Easter design. It might be more accessible for kids who had difficulty getting around the basket’s handle last year.

For older children, consider an Easter bin instead of a basket. Purchase one of those canvas bins that are designed to hold things. Pick out one in a bright Easter color. After Easter is over, your child has a functional bin that he or she can fill with toys, socks, or other items.

Skip the Plastic Eggs
Many children have difficulty opening up plastic Easter eggs. This experience could turn a happy Easter morning into an exercise in frustration. The purpose of the plastic eggs is to hold small pieces of candy. Skip the plastic eggs until your child has developed the fine motor skills that are required to easily pop them open.

Older kids tend to not care so much about the plastic eggs. They quickly figure out that all of them will contain jelly beans (or a particular type of small, wrapped, candy). It isn’t a surprise anymore. Just toss the candy into their Easter basket. They will not miss the plastic eggs.

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Don’t Miss Out on Tax Day Freebies and Deals!

Posted on Friday, April 11th, 2014 at 3:18 pm
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Chocolate Chip CookiesNobody enjoys paying their state and federal income taxes. The process is tedious and can be stressful. You might discover that you didn’t have as many deductions as you hoped for. Each year, a variety of restaurants, fast food places, cafes, and other stores offer tax day freebies (and discounts). Those should make your day a little brighter! Here are a few to check out.

Schlotzky’s is offering a free “The Original” small sandwich, (with purchase of a 32 ounce fountain drink and chips) on April 15, 2014. There is no coupon required.

Boston Market is offering a “Tax Day Tax Break” on April 15, 2014. Get two half chicken individual meals for $10.40. The meals come with two home style sides and freshly baked cornbread.

California Tortilla is offering a free chips and queso (with any purchase). To get it, say the secret password: “Taxes, Shmaxes” to the cashier. This offer is good only on April 15, 2014.

Great American Cookies will be giving out one free chocolate chip cookie to every customer on April 15, 2014. The limit is one per customer.

Sonny’s BBQ is offering a 1/2 price rib platter on April 15, 2014 (at participating locations, only). Get a platter of sweet & smokey or dry-rubbed ribs with two sides and bread. This offer is for dine-in only, is for the dinner portion only, and does not include Baby Back Ribs or All You Can Eat.

Sonic is offering 1/2 price drinks & slushies on April 15, 2014. There is no coupon required.

White Castle has a printable coupon for 15% off your total “in castle” purchase on Tax Day. It is valid on four days: April 12, 2014 – April 15, 2014.

Pinkberry (participating locations) is doing a Treat Receipt. Bring in your receipt from the day before and get 50% off a small Pinkberry. This offer is valid through April 20, 2014.

Wienerschnitzel is offering a Chili Dog for $0.99. This offer is valid through April 27, 2014. There is no coupon required.

Don’t forget to stop by the local “mom and pop” restaurants and stores in your area. They might be offering Tax Day freebies and deals, too. People tend to overlook the smaller stores because they don’t get as much attention online as the big, chain, fast food places do.

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Easy Recipes for an Easter Brunch

Posted on Wednesday, April 9th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Anonymous woman holding a blue cast iron casserole dishThis year, instead of having an Easter dinner, why not have an Easter brunch? It can take place much earlier in the day than dinner would. A brunch might be easier for your family to schedule than dinner would be. Typically, brunch is less expensive to serve than dinner is. Here are a few easy recipes for an Easter brunch that you can start with.

Bacon Cheddar Deviled Eggs
This recipe comes from KitchMe. It adds bacon and cheddar cheese to the typical deviled egg recipe. You will need:

* 12 eggs
* 1/2 cup mayonnaise
* 4 slices of bacon
* 2 tbsp cheddar cheese (finely shredded)
* 1 tbsp mustard

First, you need to hard-boil the eggs. While the eggs are boiling, place the bacon in a large, deep, skillet. Cook over medium heat until the bacon is evenly brown. Crumble the bacon, and set it aside.

After the hard-boiled eggs are done, and cooled, it is time to peel them. Cut each one in half lengthwise. Remove the yolks and put them in a small bowl. Mash the yolks with mayonnaise, crumbled bacon, and cheese. Stir. Fill the egg white halves with the mixture. Refrigerate them until it is time to serve. This recipe gives you enough servings for 24 people.

Cheesy Ham and Hash Brown Casserole
This recipe also comes from KitchMe You will need:

* 1 package of frozen hash browns (32 ounce package)
* 8 ounces of ham (diced)
* 2 cans of condensed cream of potato soup (10.75 ounce cans)
* 1 container of sour cream (16 ounce container)
* 2 cups of sharp cheddar cheese (shredded)
* 1 1/2 cups of parmesan cheese (grated)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. In a large bowl, mix the hash browns, ham, cream of potato soup, sour cream, and cheddar cheese. Spread the mixture into the baking dish. Make sure it is evenly spread. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese on top. Bake for 1 hour (or until bubbly and light brown). This dish can be served immediately and it will serve 12 people.

The Easter Brunch can be held before Easter in place of dinner. Or, it might be fun to have the Brunch the day after Easter dinner. The above recipes are a good way to use up leftover hard-boiled eggs and ham. Turn them into something more interesting than ham and egg salad sandwiches.

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Mother’s Day Photo Canvas: Free 8×10 or $40 any Larger Size

Posted on Monday, April 7th, 2014 at 2:30 pm
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 Surprise Mom this Mother’s Day with a beautiful canvas photo of her family! Canvas People are offering a FREE 8×10 canvas or $40 any Larger Size. Such an great deal on a memorable gift!

 

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How to Hard-Boil an Egg

Posted on Monday, April 7th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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EggsA popular part of the celebration of Easter involves eggs. Children find it incredibly fun to mix the dyes, add stickers, and decorate eggs. Before they can get started, parents are going to need to take the time to hard-boil those eggs. Here is everything you need to know about how to hard-boil an egg.

How to hard-boil an egg
Martha Stewart has a very simple explanation about how to make sure your eggs are properly hard boiled. She suggests you boil 12 large eggs at the same time. It is also advisable to make sure the eggs are room temperature before you begin.

First, place all the eggs in a saucepan. Cover them with cool water. Make sure the water covers the eggs completely by 1 inch. Slowly bring the water to a boil over medium heat. When the water has reached a boil, cover the saucepan and remove it from heat. Let it sit for twelve minutes.

After that, transfer the eggs to a colander. Place the colander (and the eggs) under cool running water to stop the cooking. If you have followed the steps correctly, the eggs can be peeled and served immediately.

How to tell if eggs are still good
It is vital that you make sure that the eggs are good before you hard-boil them. One quick way to tell if the eggs that are in your refrigerator are still good is to take a look at the expiration date that is in the egg carton. If the date has passed by, it is probably a good idea to purchase a fresh carton of eggs.

Another way to tell if an egg is still good is to place it into a bowl that has been filled with cold water. Wait to see what happens. If the egg floats to the top, that is a sign that the egg is rotten. Eggs that are still good will sink to the bottom of the bowl. Mythbusters tested this, and can conform that a rotten egg will float in water (because its density is less than one).

The Food and Drug Administration advises that you store eggs in their original carton and use them up within 3 weeks of purchase. The Food Network points out that eggs (including hard-boiled Easter eggs) should be out of the refrigerator for no more than two hours. Eggs that have been out of the refrigerator for longer than two hours should not be eaten.

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How to Make Your Own Play Dough

Posted on Friday, April 4th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Save Big on Toys for Your Little OnePlay dough is one of the most common types of toys that appear in Easter baskets. The packages that have small containers of play dough are the perfect size. Cut down on the cost of your Easter spending by making your own play dough. Here are some great recipes to try!

The Best Play Dough Recipe
This recipe for play dough comes from Food.com. It may seem odd to find it there. If you think about it though, it becomes clear that every ingredient in the recipe is an edible item. You will need:

* 2 1/2 cups of flour (and a little extra for non-stick purposes)
* 1/2 cup of salt
* 1 tablespoon alum (a preservative that you can find with the spices in the grocery store)
* 1 3/4 cups boiling water
* 2 tablespoons salad oil
* Food coloring (your choice of color)

Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Get a glass measuring cup. Add in the alum, boiling water, oil, and food coloring. Mix it well! When it is well mixed, add it to the flour. Kneed the flour. Add a little more flour until the mixture stops sticking to your hands.

Now, you are ready to divide up the homemade play dough into small, airtight, containers. Want to make things a little more festive? Store the individual amounts of homemade play dough in plastic Easter eggs. It may not last quite as long as it would in an airtight food container. Kids will find it fun to pop the plastic egg open.

Gluten-Free Play Dough Recipe
This recipe comes from Parents.com. Kids who have celiac disease, a gluten allergy, or gluten intolerance will need a wheat free form of play dough. Little kids have a tendency to want to taste and/or eat some of their play dough. Kids may also experience an allergic reaction if they touch the regular play dough and then put their fingers into their mouths. Avoid the danger with this gluten-free play dough recipe. You will need:

* 1/2 cup of rice flour
* 1/2 cup of cornstarch
* 1/2 cup of salt
* 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar
* 1 cup water
* 1 teaspoon cooking oil
* Food coloring (your choice of color)

Mix all the ingredients together in a pot. Cook it on low heat for 3 minutes while stirring. Keep stirring until the mixture forms a ball (or 3 minutes have gone by). Let the gluten-free play dough cool completely before you store it in a sealable plastic bag.

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The Best Things to Buy in April

Posted on Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Spring SkirtsThere are certain things that go on sale in a particular month. You can save money if you figure out the best time to buy an item. Here is a quick review of the best things to buy in April. See something you need on the list? Buy it soon, before the price goes back up!

Thrift Store Items
Many people begin their annual spring cleaning in the month of March. Those that live in areas where spring has not yet sprung may begin in early April. One side effect of spring cleaning is that people tend to find a lot of clothing or household items that they no longer want or need.

What happens to those items? People often donate them to a thrift store. April is a great month for thrift store shopping. There should be a lot of new items to choose from. Everything you buy at a thrift store will be less expensive than if you bought a similar item from a department store.

Spring Clothing
You may have noticed that stores tend to put the seasonal items on the shelves far in advance of when most people are going to use them. As a result, the new line of spring clothing probably arrived a few months ago. Stores are now getting ready to place their summer items. This means they must get rid of the spring clothing in order to make room. April is a good month to find sales on brand new spring clothing.

Gym Memberships
Warm spring weather encourages people to go outside and take a walk. People start going for runs, riding their bikes, and doing other types of exercise outside. This is bad news for gyms and fitness centers who need to somehow entice new customers to sign up for memberships.

If you are someone who prefers to exercise in a gym (instead of outdoors) now is the time to seek out a membership. It will cost a lot less now than what others paid for it in January (to go along with their New Year’s resolutions).

Easter Items
It never fails! Wait until the day after a holiday, and take advantage of the sale on the holiday candy. Buy only what you are likely to eat before it goes bad. Some of it may not store very well. Parents of small children might want to stock up on baskets, plastic eggs, and Easter grass to store away for next year while it is on sale.

Tax Day Freebies
There is a fabulous trend that restaurants, bakeries, coffee shops, and fast food places participate in during the month of April. Be on the look out for “Tax Day Freebies”. You will find plenty offers for free food and drinks on, or around, April 15 every year.

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Save Money on Spring Drinks

Posted on Monday, March 31st, 2014 at 7:00 am
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LemonadeSpring weather influences people to go outside and walk around. Eventually, you are going to get thirsty. It can be tempting to spend some money on a cold, fruity, drink at a coffee shop or smoothie place. You can save money if you make the same drinks at home. Here are some easy to make recipes for spring inspired drinks.

Classic Lemonade
What could be nicer than a cold glass of fresh lemonade? Martha Stewart has a recipe that only requires three ingredients. You will need:

* Lemon juice (3 cups) (From about 20 lemons)
* Sugar (superfine) (2 cups)
* Water (4 cups)

Pour 3 cups of lemon juice into a pitcher. Add 2 cups of superfine sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Stir in the 4 cups of water. Add some ice, and garnish with lemon slices. This will make about 2 quarts of Classic Lemonade.

Homemade Cool Lime Refresher
Love the Cool Lime Refresher from Starbucks? You can make a “knockoff” version of it at home if you want to. This recipe comes from Brewed Daily You will need:

* Fresh lime juice (3 tablespoons)
* 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar
* Ice (1 cup)
* Water (8 ounces)

Get a 16 ounce glass. Combine the lime juice and sugar. Stir it well until the sugar is dissolved into the lime juice. Fill the glass about 2/3 full of ice. Top it with water. Stir the drink with a straw or spoon before serving.

This recipe does not contain green coffee extract like the Starbucks version does. Some of you may prefer the drink without the coffee. Those that want the coffee can add green coffee bean extract to it.

Strawberry Smoothie
Save yourself a trip to Jamba Juice with this recipe from Betty Crocker. You will need:

* Yoplait Original 99% Fat Free strawberry, strawberry kiwi, or strawberry mango yogurt (6 ounce container)
* Fresh or frozen strawberries (1/2 cup) (sliced)
* Orange or pineapple juice (1/2 cup)
* Pineapple chunks, strawberries, or kiwifruit slices (optional)

Put the yogurt, strawberries, and juice into a blender. Cover it. Blend on medium speed for about 2 minutes (or until it is smooth). Pour it into a glass. Garnish it if desired. Serve!

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Frugal Kids Events in April

Posted on Friday, March 28th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Kids CraftsNeed something fun for your children to do? There are several free (or frugally priced) kids craft events that will be taking place in April. You can give your children the opportunity to create art or build a project without having to deal with the clean up.

Lowe’s Build and Grow
Children who attend a Lowe’s Build and Grow event will build a wooden project. They also will receive a free apron, goggles, and patch. You must register your child ahead of time if you want him or her to attend these free events.

April 12, 2014: Recycling Truck – Kids will build an awesome Recycling Truck. This project may spark a child’s interest in recycling. This event will begin at 10:00 in the morning.

Home Depot Free Workshops
Home Depot offer free do-it-yourself workshops for children of all experience levels who are ages 5 – 12. Kids will receive a free Workshop Apron, a commemorative pin, and a certificate of achievement. They also get to put together a project. You must register in advance for your child to attend.

April 5, 2014: Build a Birdbath/Bird feeder from the “Rio 2” film – Kids get to put together their very own birdbath/bird feeder that is decorated with characters from the “Rio 2” movie. This workshop will begin at 9:00 in the morning.

Lakeshore Learning
Lakeshore Learning offers free kids craft events every Saturday. They start at 10:00 in the morning and end at 3:00 in the afternoon. The events are for kids who are age 3 and up. No reservations are necessary.

April 5, 2014: It’s Spring! Bird’s Nest – Kids will design and create a colorful nest for a “fancy feathered friend” (which is included in the craft).

April 12, 2014: What’s Happening? Write & Wipe Schedule – Kids will decorate a weekly scheduler that they can use to plan out their week. Wipe off the scheduler and change it at any time.

April 19, 2014: Sunny Days Light Catcher – Kids will make a masterpiece that will captures the sunlight and will brighten up any window.

April 26, 2014: All Aboard! A Storytelling Puppet – Kids will create their own cute sailor and matching boat puppets. Time to tell a story and make a puppet show!

LEGO Club
LEGO Club holds monthly events in the LEGO stores. They start at 5:00 in the evening and are free to attend. Kids will have the opportunity to put together a mini-model. It is offered “while supplies last”.

April 1, 2014: LEGO Helicopter Mini Build – Kids put together a mini LEGO helicopter.

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