How to Save
Posted on Monday, April 7th, 2014 at 7:00 am
A 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.
Posted on Friday, April 4th, 2014 at 7:00 am
Play 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.
Posted on Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014 at 7:00 am
There 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.
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.
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).
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.
Posted on Monday, March 31st, 2014 at 7:00 am
Spring 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.
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.
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!
Posted on Friday, March 28th, 2014 at 7:00 am
Need 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 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 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.
Posted on Wednesday, March 26th, 2014 at 11:46 am
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Posted on Wednesday, March 26th, 2014 at 7:00 am
Spring is the season that the flowers start blooming. Many children love the bright colors that different kinds of flowers come in. Give them the opportunity to make flowers any color they can imagine with these free to print spring coloring pages. This activity is a good way to fill up a rainy spring day.
* Buzzing Around is a picture of a happy bee that is buzzing around three spring flowers. This image is large enough for younger kids to easily color.
* Easter Lilies is a picture of three, large, Easter lilies that need to be colored in. This image is large enough for younger kids to be able to color.
* Spring Starts is a picture of a very large tulip leaning towards the sun. It says “Spring Starts” on the page. This image is large enough for the little kids to color. It also includes some small details that older kids can add color to.
* Spring Flowers is a picture that includes drawings of seven different kinds of cartoon-like flowers. The fine details in this image make it a fun challenge for older kids. When they finish coloring, they can cut around each flower, glue them on another paper, and create a spring flower mixed media artwork.
At Coloring Castle
There are twelve different flower coloring sheets to choose from. Each one is designed to look like a specific type of flower. The name of the flower appears next to the drawing. These coloring pages have fine details that will be fun for older kids to color in. Kids who really enjoy coloring these flower pages might want to learn more about the flower they colored – and maybe even plant some in a garden.
At Educational Coloring Pages
There are ten different flower coloring sheets here. Four of them have bold lines or wide spaces that younger kids will enjoy coloring. (Two of them show flowers that have a smiling face on them). The rest have the type of fine details that older kids (and maybe even teens) will find to be an interesting challenge.
Not interested in going through a lot of printer’s ink? There is another, simple, option to using printable coloring pages. Stop by your local craft shop, or a chain store like Michaels, and pick up some flower shaped stencils. The stencils will allow you to reproduce the same flower shape, over and over again, on any kind of paper. Older kids will be able to use the stencils themselves, while younger kids may need a parent’s assistance.
Posted on Monday, March 24th, 2014 at 7:00 am
Spring weather gives you the opportunity to go outside. After a long winter, that alone can seem like a dream come true! While you are enjoying the weather, why not take the time to do some fun spring activities? Here are a few to get started with. Which of these frugal activities will amuse your bored children?
Plant a Garden
Start a family garden in your backyard. Discuss what vegetables you want to plant. The garden will require maintenance (such as weeding and watering) long after the first seeds are planted. Split up the chores, and turn your garden into a fun family activity.
Get some Exercise
Need to burn off some energy? Take a ride down the nearest bike path. Another option is to go for a jog or walk. Pick a day when the weather is pleasantly warm. You don’t necessarily have to travel the entire length of the bike path. Stop and turn back whenever you like. Spring is a great time to re-start the exercise program that was part of your New Year’s Resolution.
Buy a drink at your favorite coffee shop and sit outside on the patio. Choose a restaurant that has outdoor seating. It’s a great way to lift your mood and enjoy the nice weather. Families that have patio furniture can dine at their own outdoor table. That should lead to some refreshing dinner conversations.
Pick up a bottle of bubbles from a dollar store. (You can also make bubble solution with some water and dish soap). Sit in the grass in your backyard or at a local park. Blow bubbles and let your children chase them. Little kids will find this activity endlessly amusing! For older kids, you might want to spend a little more money and invest in some of those giant, shaped, bubble wands. See who can make the biggest bubble.
Spring is a great time for a sidewalk chalk mural. A few packages of sidewalk chalk don’t cost very much money and should last through several drawings. Your children may find it relaxing to sit down on the warm concrete and draw a picture. Chalk drawings provide a way for children (and parents) to use their imaginations.
Visit a Farmers’ Market
In many parts of the United States, the only time you can visit a Farmers’ Market is in the spring and summer. Kids who have no interest in grocery shopping might find it interesting to pick out individual, colorful, local vegetables at the Farmers’ Market. Often, there will be live music, children’s entertainment, and sweet treats to enjoy, too.
Posted on Friday, March 21st, 2014 at 7:00 am
One easy way to save money on fresh fruits and vegetables is to buy it when it is in season. That’s when you can get it for the lowest price of the year! Here are a few great recipes that feature produce that is in season in the month of March.
French Onion Soup
Simply Recipes has an easy recipe for soup. It features onions, which are in season in March. You will need:
* 6 large red or yellow onions (peeled and thinly sliced)
* Olive oil
* 1/4 teaspoon of sugar
* 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
* 8 cups of beef stock
* 1/2 cup of dry vermouth or dry white wine
* 1 bay leaf
* 1/4 teaspoon of dry thyme
* Salt and pepper
* 8 slices of toasted French bread
* 1 1/2 cups of grated Swiss Gruyere with a little grated Parmesan cheese
Saute the onions and olive oil on medium high in a large saucepan. Around 10 minutes into the process, add the sugar. Stop when the onions are well browned. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute. Next, add the stock, vermouth (or wine), bay leaf, and thyme. Cover it and let it simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the bay leaf. Ladle soup into bowls. Cover it with toast. Sprinkle cheese on top. Put in the broiler for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Cheese should be bubbly and lightly browned.
Sausage with Smashed Potatoes and Cornichons
This recipe comes from Real Simple. It features potatoes, which are in season in March. You will need:
* 1 1/2 pounds small red potatoes (halved)
* Salt and pepper
* 3 tablespoons of olive oil
* 8 Italian sausage links
* 1/2 cup cornichons (chopped) Cornichons are pickles.
* 3 tablespoons of cornichon brine
* 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
* 1/2 small sweet onion (chopped)
* 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley (chopped)
Put the potatoes in a sauce pan. Cover them with water. Bring to a boil. Add the salt. Reduce the heat and let it simmer until potatoes are tender. At the same time, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausages to the skillet. Turn them occasionally. Cook until browned and cooked through. In a large bowl, whisk the cornichon brine, mustard, and the rest of the olive oil. Add salt and pepper. Next, add the potatoes, cornichons, onion, and parsley to the bowl. Mash gently. Cut the sausages into large pieces and serve over the potatoes.