How to Save

Free Kids Events in July

Posted on Friday, June 27th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Creativity lesson(preschool activity)Need something fun for your kids to do in July? If they enjoy making arts and crafts, or building projects, there is plenty for them to do! Here are some frugal kids events that will take place in July (and the end of June). All of them are free to attend!

Lowe’s Build and Grow
Lowe’s Build and Grow has free kids clinics on Saturdays. Each child will receive a free apron, goggles, patch, and the chance to build a wooden project. Parents must register their children ahead of time if they want their child to attend.

June 28, 2014: Sheep Drop Game – Kids will build their own wooden sheep drop game that is based on the movie “How to Train Your Dragon 2”.

July 12, 2014: Kids will build a Turbo with pullback motor

July 26, 2014: Kids will build a TurboTaco Truck

Lakeshore Learning
Lakeshore Learning offers free kids craft events every Saturday. They start at 11:00 in the morning and end at 3:00 in the afternoon. These events are for children who are age 3 and older. No registration is required.

July 5, 2014: Silly Summer Cap – Kids will make a headband shaped cap that they can decorate with markers, stars, and pipe cleaners

July 12, 2014: Count and Decorate Octopus – Kids will make a cute octopus craft that helps them count. Each tentacle has a certain number of decorations on it to help kids count from 1 to 8.

July 19, 2014: Wiggly-Eyed Glitter Fish – Kids will make a fish from paper and craft sticks that they can decorate with glitter and a googly-eye.

July 26, 2014: Make & Shake Noisemaker – Kids can make a noisemaker out of a folded paper plate. They can decorate it with markers and glitter.

Home Depot
Home Depot offers free kids workshops once a month. Kids receive a certificate of achievement, a Workshop Apron, and a commemorative pin. They also get the chance to build a project. Registration is required.

July 5, 2014: Build a Bug House – Kids will learn how to build a bug house that they can actually keep bugs in. This project is for kids ages 5 – 12. The event will start at 9:00 in the morning.

LEGO Club
LEGO offers an in-store mini model building event every month. The event is open to kids who are 6 -14. It starts at 5:00 in the evening. Quantities are limited and offered “while supplies last”.

July 1, 2014: Build a LEGO Beach Van Mini Model Build – It is a little green van with a surfboard on the top.

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4th of July Crafts for Kids

Posted on Wednesday, June 25th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Fireworks clusterThe 4th of July is celebrated with a parade in the morning and fireworks at dusk. What are you planning to do with the time in between? One way to keep your kids entertained is to let them do some crafts that fit in with the 4th of July holiday. These ideas should fill at least an hour or so.

Chalk Fireworks
Kids of all ages can draw their own fireworks. All you need is some chalk and some black construction paper. Or, you could use sidewalk chalk if you want to do the artwork outside. Draw a dot anywhere on the page (or sidewalk). Make lines that go out from that dot. You can make them all one color or mix it up. Keep adding lines that go outward from the dot until the drawing resembles a firework.

Hand Print Fireworks
All Kids Network has a very cute kids craft that makes fireworks. Have your child trace his or her hand onto red construction paper. Do it again on blue paper and white paper. Make as many paper hands as you can. Cut them all out.

Arrange the patriotic colored paper hands in a circle (with them overlapping at the center). Use some glue to add glitter around the edges of the fingertips all the way around the circle of hands. Check out the All Kids Network website to see a photo of the finished art project.

4th of July Coloring Pages
Kids of all ages can color! Crayola has several different designs of coloring pages that connect to the 4th of July. Parents can print them out for free (as many times as needed). Crayons, markers, or colored pencils will all work well with this simple coloring craft.

Popsicle Stick Flag
iVillage has a 4th of July craft that turns popsicle sticks into an American flag. Have your kids save their popsicle sticks after they have eaten the treat. Or, you can buy a package of craft popsicle sticks from any craft store.

Paint three sticks white. Paint three sticks red. These will become the stripes of the flag. Cut three popsicle sticks in half and paint them blue. Those will become the blue part of the flag. Glue the red and white sticks onto a piece of cardboard. Glue the three, blue, half sticks onto one corner of the flag. Stars can be made from paper and glued onto the blue sticks (or you can leave that area blue).

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Two Ways to Make Pasta Salad

Posted on Monday, June 23rd, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Pasta salad istockSpending the day out in the sun, enjoying the summer weather, can make you long for something cold to eat for dinner. No one wants to overheat their home by using the oven on a warm, humid, day. One option is to serve your family a cold pasta salad for dinner. Cook the pasta the night before and put together the pasta salad just before dinner time.

The Best Macaroni Salad Ever
You can’t possibly go wrong with a recipe for the best macaroni salad ever! This recipe comes from The Pioneer Woman website. Visit it to see wonderful step-by-step photos that show how to make this recipe. You will need:

* 4 cups elbow macaroni
* 3 whole roasted red peppers (chopped)
* 1/2 cup black olives (chopped fine)
* 6 whole sweet/spicy pickle slices (diced)
* 3 whole green onions (sliced) (white and dark green parts)
* 1/2 cup mayonnaise
* 1 tablespoon red wine or distilled vinegar
* 3 teaspoons sugar (more to taste)
* 1/4 teaspoon salt (more to taste)
* Plenty of black pepper
* 1/4 cup milk
* Splash if spicy sweet pickle juice (extra to taste)

First, cook the macaroni in lightly salted water. Follow the directions on the package. Drain and rinse pasta under cold water. Mix the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper together. Add in milk. Splash in pickle juice for extra flavor. Set the mixture aside.

Put the cooled macaroni in a large bowl with 3/4 of the dressing. Toss the salad, and add more dressing if you want. Stir in the olives, red peppers, pickles, and green onions. Chill for 2 hours before serving.

Roasted Chicken and Bow Tie Pasta Salad
This recipe is from Cooking Light and has been posted on MyRecipes. They suggest that you use rotisserie chicken from the deli and cut it up for the pasta salad. This recipe makes 6 servings. You will need:

* 3 cups of uncooked bow tie pasta
* 1/3 cup orange juice (fresh)
* 1/3 cup lemon juice (fresh)
* 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
* 1 tablespoon stone-ground mustard
* 3 teaspoons sugar
* 1 and 1/4 teaspoons salt
* 1/2 teaspoon black pepper (freshly ground)
* 1 and 1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar
* 2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
* 1 and 1/2 cup seedless grapes (halved)
* 1 cup celery (cut thin and diagonally)
* 1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
* 1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (toasted)
* 3 tablespoons fresh chives (chopped)
* 2 tablespoons fresh parsley (chopped)

Cook the pasta by following the direction on the package. Drain the pasta, and let it completely cool. Combine the orange juice, lemon juice, olive oil, stone-ground mustard, sugar, salt, black pepper and rice vinegar in a large bowl. Whisk to combine them. Next, add the pasta, chicken, grapes, celery, red onion, walnuts, chives, and parsley. Toss the salad to combine the ingredients.

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What to do with Leftover Garage Sale Items

Posted on Friday, June 20th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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garage saleYour garage sale was successful and you made some money. Most people will end up with some items that did not sell. What are you going to do with those? Here are some ideas that help you to get rid of the stuff that didn’t sell at your garage sale.

Donation
You can’t wait to get rid of the “leftover” items from your garage sale. There are people in need who would love to have them! Pack up the clothing, bedding, towels, and kitchen items into some boxes. Donate them to your local Goodwill (or your favorite charity).

Make sure you contact the charity and get information about when they take donations. Ask for a receipt. You might be able to claim those donated items as a tax deduction.

Sell it on eBay
Are you active on eBay? There is a chance that your unsold garage sale items might sell if you post them on eBay. Doing so gives those items a wider audience of potential customers. Things like electronics, toys, and vinyl records could potentially attract attention on eBay. Take a good photo of each item and be extremely honest in your description of it.

Help your family
You don’t need the items that you were trying to sell at your garage sale. Do any of your family members need it? Consider offering the unsold items to a family member who can use it right now. Give the items away as a gift and feel good about making things easier for your relatives.

College students who will be moving into their own apartment are usually in need of kitchen related items. They might also need a nightstand, end table, lamp, bookshelf, or other furniture. Pregnant relatives will soon have a need for the baby clothing and baby items. Start asking family members if they would like some of the stuff that didn’t sell.

Give it away through Craigslist
Find the Craigslist website for the city or town you live in. Look for the “free” section (that is under the “For Sale” category). People post items that they want to give away for free on their local Craigslist.

Someone who wants some or all of your garage sale items that did not sell can contact you. Typically, the person who wants the free stuff is expected to come to you in order to pick it up. You are not required to bring it to them. Craigslist can be a bit “iffy”, but might be worth a try if all else fails.

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The Best Things to Buy at Garage Sales

Posted on Wednesday, June 18th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Collection of wedding dresses in the shopOne of the great things about shopping at garage sales is that you could end up with an excellent deal on the things you buy. The key is to understand what your current needs are and to avoid buying things that are a waste of money. Here are a few of the best things to buy at a garage sale.

Wedding Dress
Are you planning a wedding? Brand new wedding dresses can be incredibly expensive. You can save a lot of money if you buy a wedding dress from a garage sale. Check to see if it is in your size.

The dress will probably require some tailoring in order for it to fit you well (but so will a new wedding dress). Designer wedding dresses, that have not been heavily altered, can go for a fraction of their original cost when sold at a garage sale.

Baby Clothing
Babies and toddlers grow so quickly! Your budget might not allow for frequent purchases of brand new clothing. Take advantage of what you see at a garage sale. There will be some items that have never been worn, or that have only been worn once.

Typically, people sell baby clothing at a garage sale when they are done having children. It should be priced very low (because people really want to get rid of it). Select clothing that is in good condition and that will fit your baby or toddler right now. Pick a few items that you think your child will grow into within the next few months.

Hardcover Books
Book lovers quickly realize that hardcover books are way more expensive than eBooks. Those of you who prefer to read books that are in hardcover format can find awesome deals at garage sales! A lot of people are transitioning from physical books to digital ones and are looking to unload their hardcover (and softcover) books at a garage sale. The prices will be low!

Basic Tools
You won’t find a better price on a hammer or screwdriver than at a garage sale. Another good reason to buy basic tools at a garage sale is that you can immediately see if it works. Power tools, on the other hand, require you to plug them in a test them before you can find out if they are functional. If you need a hammer, screwdriver, pliers, or other basic hand tools, a garage sale is the best place to buy them.

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How to have a Successful Garage Sale

Posted on Monday, June 16th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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garage saleWhat are you going to do with all the stuff that is stored away in your garage or shed? If you haven’t used it in years, it may be time to have a garage sale. Here are some tips about how to prepare for a garage sale and make it a successful one!

Go through your stuff.
Has it been a while since you went through the stuff that has been taking up space in your garage or shed? Now is a good time to go through it. There may be a couple of things that you want to keep. Throw away (or recycle) anything that is broken. It is unlikely that you will be able to sell it as-is.

Start gathering similar items together. Get a box and fill it with kitchen related stuff. Put the baby clothing into another box. This initial step towards organization will pay off later on!

Put a price on everything.
People are more likely to consider buying something if they know what it costs. Take the time to stick a price on everything. All you need is a marker and a roll of masking tape. Stick a piece of tape on the item and write a price on it.

Don’t make the mistake of pricing items as if they were brand new. People go to garage sales because they are looking for items that are priced incredibly low. Consider making things $1.00, or $0.25. Large items like furniture or exercise equipment should be priced less than $50.00 (or they won’t sell).

Set things up in your garage.
After everything priced, it is time to organize it. Set up some card tables or other foldable tables inside your garage. Fold clothing and arrange it nicely on the tables. Put the kitchen items in a nice arrangement on another table. Like goes with like. Ideally, you want to do this prep work a few days before your garage sale. When you are ready for the garage sale, all you have to do is carry out the tables of pre-arranged items.

Get a cash box.
Where are you going to put the money that people give you after buying your stuff? A cash box is the perfect spot. You can pick one up from an office supply store. This will help keep the dollars and change organized. It is a good idea to visit your bank and pick up some quarters and single dollar bills so you can make change for customers.

Advertise!
Make a Craigslist ad that states the time and date of your garage sale (and your address). Post some information about it on your Facebook page. Put a sign in front of your house. All of these efforts will help attract people to your garage sale.

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Cold Soup Recipes to Beat the Summer Heat

Posted on Friday, June 13th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Eating SoupWhat can you serve your family for dinner on summer evenings when it is too hot to use your stove or oven? How about some refreshing, chilled, soup? Cool off with something delicious and nutritious. Here are a few recipes for soups that are intended to be served cold.

Gazpacho
Simply Recipes has an easy recipe for Gazpacho that takes 15 minutes to prepare. It will serve 8. You will need:

* 6 ripe tomatoes (peeled and chopped)
* 1 purple onion (finely chopped)
* 1 cucumber (peeled, seeded, and chopped)
* 1 sweet red (or green) bell pepper (seeded and chopped)
* 2 stalks celery (chopped)
* 1-2 tablespoons fresh parsley (chopped)
* 2 tablespoons fresh chives (chopped)
* 1 clove garlic (minced)
* 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
* 1/4 cup olive oil
* 2 tablespoons lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
* 2 teaspoons sugar
* Salt and fresh ground pepper (to taste)
* 6 (or more) drops of Tabasco sauce (to taste)
* 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (optional)
* 4 cups tomato juice

Combine all of the ingredients. Blend them until they reach the desired consistency. Place in a non-metal, non-reactive storage container. Cover it tightly, and refrigerate it overnight.

Chilled Cucumber Soup
Country Living has a recipe for a healthy, creamy, soup. It takes 15 minutes to prepare, and makes 6 servings. You will need:

* 2 cups Greek yogurt
* 1 cup vegetable broth
* 2 English cucumbers (peeled, diced, and divided)
* 4 green onions (sliced and divided)
* 2 tablespoons fresh dill (chopped)
* 2 tablespoons fresh parsley (chopped)
* 4 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice
* 2 teaspoons salt

Combine the Greek yogurt and vegetable broth in a bowl. Puree 1 peeled, diced, English cucumber, 2 sliced green onions, the dill and the parsley in a food processor. Add the cucumber mixture, fresh lemon juice, and salt to the yogurt mixture. Whisk to combine it. Stir in 1 more peeled, diced English cucumber and 2 more sliced green onions. Refrigerate for 1 hour. If you like, you can garnish each serving with chopped dill and croutons.

Icy Olive Soup
Taste of Home has a recipe for Icy Olive Soup that will make 6 servings. It takes 15 minutes to prepare. You will need:

* 2 cups plain yogurt (16 ounces)
* 2 cans condensed chicken broth (undiluted) (10 and 1/2 ounce cans)
* 2 cans sliced ripe olives (drained) (2 and 1/4 ounces each)
* 1 cup cucumber (coarsely chopped)
* 1/2 cup green onions (chopped)
* 1/2 cup sliced pimiento-stuffed olives
* 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
* Seasoned croutons (optional)

Stir the yogurt in a large bowl until it is smooth. Whisk in the broth. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Cover it. Refrigerate it for 4 hours. Stir it again before serving. Garnish with croutons if you want to.

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How to Pick Ripe Melons

Posted on Wednesday, June 11th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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WatermelonHow can you tell which melon you should buy from the grocery store? Is it better if the melon is heavy, or light? Can you tell if the melon is ripe by the smell? Should you tap the melon and listen to the sound? If so, do you know what you are actually listening for? Here are some helpful hints that will teach you how to pick ripe melons from the grocery store.

Watermelons
One of the foods that is in season during the month of June is the beloved watermelon. You definitely want to make sure that you pick a ripe one from the selection at the grocery store.

The What About Watermelon blog suggests the following:

* Look for a watermelon that is firm. It should be symmetrical and should not have any major bruises or scars. (Minor scratches are ok). You want to choose a watermelon that is dark green in color.

* Pick up the watermelon. The heaviest watermelons have the most water in them. Watermelons are actually 92% water. It stands to reason that they should be nice and heavy.

* Turn the watermelon over and look for the “ground spot”. It is the area where the watermelon sat on the ground. That spot will be a creamy yellow color (because it didn’t get to see any sun while the watermelon was growing). Avoid watermelons that have a “ground spot” that is white or greenish. It isn’t ripe yet!

What about tapping the watermelon? The What About Watermelon blog says that tapping the watermelon doesn’t provide any useful information. There is some debate over what the taps should sound like. There isn’t a definitive agreement on which sounds mean that the watermelon is a good one.

Cantaloupe
The I Adore Food blog suggests you take a look at a cantaloupe’s “belly button”. Yes, really! The “belly button” is a circular area located at the top of the cantaloupe. It is where the melon was connected to the vine while it was growing.

If you find the cantaloupe’s “belly button” it means that it was cut from the vine. Ideally, cantaloupes should separate from the vine on their own once they are ripe. The ones that have a “belly button” were cut before they finished ripening. Pick a cantaloupe that lacks a “belly button”.

Don’t buy a cantaloupe that has a sticky or waxy skin. The skin should be dry and feel sort of like a cork. Look for a cantaloupe that is symmetrical in shape and heavy for its size.

Smell is important. The cantaloupe should smell good. Put it on your counter at home, and pay attention to the smell. It may be continuing to ripen! Cantaloupes will be at their “ripeness peak” for about 3 days (so eat it while it smells good).

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June in Season Fruits and Vegetables

Posted on Monday, June 9th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Strawberry WaterJune is National Fruit and Vegetable Month. Now is a good time to add more fruits and vegetables into your diet. Start with the ones that are in season during the month of June. Produce that is in season typically is at its lowest price of the entire year!

The Huffington Post points out five produce “superstars” that reach their peak season in June.

* Cherries – low calorie and contain antioxidants, lycopene, fiber and vitamin C
* Cucumber – 96% water and contains vitamins A, C, K and magnesium and potassium
* Okra – good source of fiber and vitamins A, B6, C and K and calcium and magnesium
* Papaya – one medium papaya contains nearly 70% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin A (and 3 times your intake of vitamin C).
* Plums – rich in vitamins A, C, and K and also a good source of fiber

Woman’s Day has put together a short list of fruits and vegetables that are in season in June.

Fruits
* Apricots
* Blueberries
* Cherries
* Kiwi
* Peaches
* Nectarines
* Strawberries
* Watermelon

Vegetables
* Beets
* Corn
* Green Beans
* Peas
* Yellow Squash

The Vedge has a list of produce that is in season in North America. It includes everything from the Woman’s Day list, and adds some more.

Fruits
* Blackberries
* Cantaloupe
* Figs
* Lemons
* Passionfruit
* Pineapple
* Plums

Vegetables
* Arugula
* Bell Peppers
* Carrots
* Cucumber
* Kohlrabi
* Lettuce and Salad Leaves
* Radishes
* Spinach
* Zucchini

The Vedge also has a separate list of the produce that is in season in June for the UK and another list for Australia. All three lists are posted on the same page (and clearly marked).

Would you like to find in season produce that is more specific to where you live? Epicurious has a Seasonal Ingredient Map. It is interactive.

Scroll through the bar at the top to select a month (it is currently set for June). Click on your state. A short list of in season produce will appear along with a link to a description of that ingredient and a link to recipes and cooking tips for that particular type of produce.

This month, start adding some slices of banana to your cereal. Toss chunks of freshly cut apple into some oatmeal. Grill some ears of corn on the barbecue for dinner. Throw together a salad with lettuce leaves or spinach, and add some strawberries. These are just a few ideas of what you can do with the June fruits and vegetables.

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Frugal Educational Activities for Kids

Posted on Friday, June 6th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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art suppliesSummer vacation is fun, and something many children look forward to. Unfortunately, it is also a time when kids tend to forget some of what they learned last school year. Parents can help keep their kid’s academic skills, and love for learning, growing all summer long. Have your kids participate in some of these frugal educational activities.

Michaels Passport to Imagination
Spend $2.00 (per child) for 2 hours of in-store summer crafting fun! These kids craft classes will take place on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, starting at 10:00 in the morning and ending at noon. Parents who want their child to participate must sign them up on the Michael’s website. The first week begins June 16, 2014, and the last week will be August 1, 2014.

The theme is “museum road trip”. Every week, for 7 weeks, the craft classes focus on a different museum. For example, Week One focuses on the Field Museum in Chicago. There are three days of related crafts planned, including some “at home projects”. Parents can download all the projects from the Michaels website.

LEGO KidsFest
This summer, the LEGO KidsFest is coming to Georgia and Texas. More LEGO KidsFests will take place in the fall, in Virginia and Indiana. Each LEGO KidsFest includes creative and educational activities for the whole family to participate in. There will be LEGO and DUPLO Construction Zones, LEGO models on display, group builds, and more.

Visit the LEGO website for more details about dates and locations of the upcoming KidsFests. Children under the age of 2 can get in for free. Tickets are $20.00 for children age 3 through 17 (and also for Seniors). Tickets for adults are $22.00. Strollers are permitted, and so are cameras and video cameras.

Pottery Barn Kids Story Time
Pottery Barn Kids will be having Story Time every Tuesday, starting at 11:00 in the morning. Kids can become a book club member and receive a book club passport at their first story time, and a special gift after attending five story times. It is free to attend, and does not require registration.

On June 28, 2014, they will be holding a special Super Hero Celebration. Kids are invited to dress as their favorite super hero. They can create their own super hero mask and take home an exclusive super hero activity guide. Select stores may have a visit from Spider-Man or Captain America. Contact the Pottery Barn Kids store near you for details. This event will encourage kids to use their imaginations!

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