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Posts Tagged ‘affordable’

America’s National Parks – FREE on Veterans Day!

In budget, coupons, Your World on November 5, 2010 at 10:56 AM

 

Yosemite Park Image Credit: JDrmar

 

 

Take a hike.  Literally!  In honor of Veterans Day, that’s  11 November this year, the entrance fee at all national parks (there are over 100) is  FREE.

To sweeten the deal many outfitters, shops and hotels in our natural treasures offer discounts like buy-one-get-one half off, or for free deals and other  money-saving specials. Check out these sweet deals  at:  Park Partners .

Remember, prior military service isn’t required to take advantage of these offers.  But if you’re a veteran, savings at some locations are even better.

Sample Savings:

Death Valley National National Park, CA

Furnace Creek Resort
Earth-friendly organic t-shirts 2/$20, regularly $14.99 each

Everglades National Park, FL – Shark Valley Tram Tours

Shark Valley Tram Tours honors veterans by offering 50% discounts to veterans and their dependents on all tours.  Call Shark Valley Tram Tours at 305-221-8455.  Or visit them  at www.sharkvalleytramtours.com to receive  more information or to make reservations.

Grand Canyon National Park, AZ — Buy one West Rim Sunset Tour and get one free.  You’ll also receive 20% off any retail purchase in all Xanterra operated gift shops.

 

Click here to find a national park near you.  Or visit http://www.nps.gov .

Happy Trails!

Halloween Still Rocks!

In budget, Your Food, Your Home on October 14, 2010 at 7:18 AM

Next to Christmas, Halloween was my favorite holiday when I was a kid. Though my days of dressing up as Piglet and Minnie Mouse are long gone, Halloween is still celebrated in my home.   

Here are a few EASY treats and tricks to help you have fun this Halloween season. Click the title links for instructions.

Cagey Ghost

Turn unused tomato cages into friendly or spooky ghosts. I made this project last night.  It’s super easy and a lot of fun to make.

Note:  If you intend to place your ghosts outside, consider using a plastic shower curtain ($2 at Walmart)   instead of a white bed sheet.  The plastic cover will protect your little friends if it rains.

Pumpkin Fashions

17 spooktacularly sensational ideas for turning your so-so pumpkin into a jack-o-lantern with pizzazz!

Last Minute Budget Friendly Costumes

It’s not too late to deck out your little (and not so little) ones with creative and easy-to-make  customs.

Healthy Halloween Snacks

Halloween isn’t just about the candy.  Here are 15 fun, hearty and healthy snacks.

Pumpkin Hair Bows

These adorable pumpkin clips are perfect Halloween accessories for your little one’s hair.  This trio was handcrafted by Paige’s Pretty Bowtique.

Free Screen “Scream” Saver

Enter this spooky 3D graveyard if you dare.  Brave the stormy night as the living dead, bats, assorted  ghouls and howling sounds materialize.

Happy Halloween! 

*Sources: Family Fun, Screen Saver and Etsy

The Benefits of Cooking Groups

In Your Food, Your Guest Writers on October 4, 2010 at 8:21 AM

Image Credit Michaela Kobyakov

 

There’s almost nothing bad that one can really say about cooking groups. Defined for the sake of this article as groups in which likeminded people gather in a single place, cook large quantities of food, and reconvene to do the same thing weekly or monthly, a cooking group provides a number of opportunities: it gives one a chance to meet new people, discover foods and ingredients that one otherwise might not have come across, and come away with leftovers for less than it would cost to eat out or cook for one.  

Cooking clubs may specify a type of food or impose a dietary restriction to attract a specific crowd; for example, a number of cooking clubs exist to produce vegan or vegetarian meals. In doing so, they help people meet others in their community who may have similar social or political interests and bring together a group that may, depending on the surrounding area, be otherwise unserved by the restaurants around them. Others may focus on a style, or each week suggest a guideline to produce variety; one, for example, may emphasize Italian cooking one week, then produce Korean or Indian food the next. In doing so, attendants are forced both to expand their repertoire and get to learn new things to make when cooking outside of the cooking club. 

Some members may have connections of some kind, which can then translate into better deals and better meals for everyone. If a club has an attendant who, for example, butchers meat, that person may be able to provide cuts at a discount as well as in bulk, then share their expertise when that meat is prepared, served, and enjoyed. If a particularly experienced baker participates in one, they can show off the ways in which they prepare certain goods in order to teach other aspiring bakers. Amateur (or professional) beer brewers, winemakers, and distillers can supply their wares as well, adding another element to a cooking club. 

Cooking clubs often also cook enough to leave everyone with leftovers. This is an obvious convenience, as one’s labors are rewarded not just once, but several times throughout the week. Better yet, some produce difficult to make condiments, sauces, reductions, and garnishes, many of which either require costly ingredients or are, for various reasons, prohibitive to make at home in small quantities. By making them for a cooking club, you can get the experience without having a mountain of something that can only last a few days, ensuring that all of it will be used before it turns, expires, or otherwise becomes inedible. 

Organizing and finding a cooking club can be easy. Groups often promote them on social networking sites, friends (and friends of friends) likely know someone involved with one, and co-ops, local grocery stores, and area coffee shops may all help locate cooking clubs. If there are none, start one: by merely talking to your friends, gauging interest, finding a big enough kitchen, and hitting up farmers’ markets and bulk foods aisles, you’ll be well on your way. 

Andrew Hall is a guest blogger for My Dog Ate My Blog and a writer on online schools for Guide to Online Schools.

The Science of Savvy Shopping!

In budget, Your Fashion, Your Guest Writers, Your Home on October 1, 2010 at 7:37 AM

(5 tips to a better quality of life)

By: Jennifer Brown Banks

In today’s tough times, there’s a special joy when we get a good deal for our hard earned buck. True? 

It almost feels as if we’ve cashed in at the lottery.

And with the housing crisis, double digit unemployment, and soaring consumer prices, we all need to save where we can.

But what few “divas” recognize is that being an “educated consumer” goes far beyond knowing the best stores to buy treasured items, or the debt cutting value of coupons. It’s much more.

This epiphany came to me recently when a friend of mine, while visiting my home, complimented my setting, (and the stuff I had acquired) while comparing it to hers.  Ironically, she makes more money than I do, and has similar circumstances.

For me my place is embraced as a “blessing”, while she views hers as a burdenShe often complains that her home is a money pit that she constantly puts cash into, but can’t get any real joy out of.

Because of this experience, I felt compelled to share my shopping secrets to enhance not just your ”surroundings”, but also your quality of life.

Here are a few cardinal rules.

  1. Know that it’s not “where” you shop, but “how” you shop that matters. Don’t believe me? Here’s proof. I’ve watched shows like Oprah and the Antique Road Show, (and no doubt you have too), where folks have scored items at garage sales, thrift stores, and specialty shops, for a couple of bucks, that were later appraised for thousands of dollars. Hello! Learn to spot quality.
  2. Recognize that there’s no value or validation in trying to keep up with the Joneses. One of the reasons that my friend “Wanda” is busted and disgusted, is that she’s constantly trying to establish her worth by buying what she feels will qualify her as being one of the “in”crowd. Big mistake. Instead, do you! As a point of reference, I don’t have cable. Never have. Though I enjoy T.V., so far it hasn’t impressed me enough to shell out extra money monthly for the idea of a few extra channels, (no matter how many million folks have it). Stop “perpetrating.”
  3. Consider that too much “impulse shopping” can lead to too little peace and buyer’s remorse. Evaluate. After you’ve taken a trip to your local mall and made purchases, how do you feel? Will your credit card payments last much longer than the life-cycle of the item (s) you’ve bought? Are you sacrificing paying an important bill to catch a deal? Your answers will determine your course of action.
  4. Keep in mind that your purchases should do more than just add to your “inventory”, they should add to your quality of life. For example, I love to buy house plants, beautiful baskets, books, fragrant candles, and unusual frames, because not only do they add to my décor, but they are reflective of my values and personal hobbies. Surround your surroundings with things that make you smile, that call to   mind special times, and are aesthetically pleasing. Make your place your personal sanctuary. 
  5. Accept that inner emptiness and low-self esteem can NOT be made better by “things.” It’s sad to say, but it’s true. Some folks shop to fill an emptiness. Whether it’s a bad marriage, a dysfunctional childhood, or feelings of inadequacy. Once they come down from their “shopper’s high” they’re in more debt and have even less that they feel good about. Don’t let this be you. There’s great truth to the adage, “Money can’t buy happiness.”

 With an uncertain economy, you can be certain that shopping habits from days of old can be detrimental to your finances and your family’s well being.  There’s no reason you can’t still be cute; just be smart as well!

And keep in mind that ain’t nothing cute about being “busted” and disgusted. 🙂

 

Jennifer Brown Banks is a veteran freelance writer, columnist, professional blogger and managing editor at Coffeehouse for Writers.

Affordable Home Decorating Ideas

In budget, Your Guest Writers, Your Home on September 26, 2010 at 9:47 PM

Image Credit Barun Patro

 

With the economy putting a strain on our pocket books, we have all had to make changes to our 2010 budget. For many of us, decorating was the line item that got scratched off that list first. However, eliminating that expense completely may not be the best solution. After all, tighter budgets actually mean we now spend a lot more time at home than in the past. 

It’s more important than ever to have homes that provide us with a clean, safe, beautiful environment where we can relax and rejuvenate mentally, physically, and spiritually from all the additional stresses we now face. Psychologists agree that the healthier we are, the more productive we are at work and out in the world around others. Feeling at home in your home has never been more important than it is today. So instead of eliminating that much needed face lift to your home, try approaching it differently. 

Incorporate Nature

As we head into autumn, considering utilizing the fall foliage. Create wreaths with twigs and leaves, or hang bouquets of twigs on the wall. You can even use them as a centerpiece to a table, or as an accent to the foyer. 

Rearrange a Room

If you are just looking for a little change in your home, you’d be surprised what rearranging a room can do for your feng shui. If you do not want to incorporate this traditional, yet modern technique, simple move the items around. Put your bed on a different wall, at an angle, or facing a new direction. Switch the location of your couches and move your TV or bedroom furniture. Consider turning your dining room table, or moving your china cabinet. Since the weather is always nice in San Diego, a sofa bed on the patio for an afternoon snooze might be the change your home craves! 

Find Discount Furniture

For those of us in America’s Finest City, there are plenty of places to find discount furniture in San Diego. Consider replacing your old couch with a sofa bed, or add a sofa bed to the kids’ room for sleepovers. Many southern California industry professionals, such as San Diego furniture stores have responded to these budgetary needs by stocking a modern selection of furniture at highly discounted prices. 

Use Couch Covers and Pillow Shams

If you don’t have the time or money to upgrade your furniture, give it a quick facelift with a couch cover and pillow shams. It is cheap and easy to create your covers from scratch, or you can simply find a set at a local bedding or furniture store. If you want to customize the look, you can always find a great fabric and have someone make appropriate alterations to fit your items. Be sure to take appropriate measurements before ordering the cut and hem! 

Playful Placemats

You can spice up your coffee table, end tables, or dining room table with durable and unique placemats. With various types of lamination available, it is easy to make customized placemats for all areas of your home. Consider collages of your kids, family members, favorite pop culture icons, fun vacations, or educational tips. You can get plenty of ideas online for interactive crosswords that provide coffee table tips for the reader! You could even laminate a few Trivial Pursuit cards or questions together to make for great dinner conversation or distractions during the commercials. 

Author Bio: 

I am a blogger and writer living in San Diego, CA and I like to write about ways to find bargains on living room and bedroom furniture. I enjoy shopping around at my local San Diego furniture stores for great deals on furniture that not only makes my house look great, but makes my wallet happy too.

Express Your Style!

In Your Product Reviews, Your World on September 24, 2010 at 9:07 AM

I’m in love …

with personalized stationery!  Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved seeing my name in print.  I guess the writer in me was evident even then.  🙂

Enter,   Expressionery.com .     A chic personal stationery shop I recently discovered. From address labels and social calling cards to embossed napkins and seasonal stampers,  you’ll find everything you need to express your unique style.  

They’re  offering  40% off all Halloween designs.  Simply enter the code “SPOOKY” at checkout. The Halloween-themed items include a variety of personalized stationery, including party invitations, photo cards, note cards, stamps and more.  The deal is only good through Friday, October 8.

Check ’em out.  You’ll be glad you did.

12 Simple Separates: Your Guide to Lookin’ Good and Feeling Great!

In Your Fashion, Your Guest Writers on August 1, 2010 at 11:03 AM

 by Heather Claus of 365 Days of Style

 

 

It’s a tough economy and times are tight. Everyone wants to cut expenses without giving up quality of life.

I do, too.

In fact, I’ve been learning to “tightwad” for over a decade. Sadly, I’ve not mastered it, but I have found a balance in my life. I prefer to spend money on priorities, rather than having it just dribble away with each purchase.

Thing is, I love fashion.

Well, not fashion, exactly. I love style. Personal style. I love to create my own style from what’s in fashion, what’s out of fashion (I’ve been a fan of vintage for 25 years), fun accessories, and even garments I design and sew myself. All that can get expensive.

I’m sure you know what I mean.

Add on top of that many of us live multiple lives. Home life, mommy life, social life, business life… that’s a lot of wardrobe – and a lot of moolah, if you’re not careful.

That’s why I created 12 Simple Separates. The goal behind this PDF is to teach you to purchase (or thrift or sew) just 12 basic garments that can be combined into 80 combinations. That’s FOUR MONTHS of work weeks without duplication. 12 garments make 90% of a work wardrobe. Just add shoes and accessories.

It’s not just about money, though. It’s also about time. Having a million options every morning can make getting dressed MORE complicated, not less. Having a set of clothing that you know fits, looks good and will work for the office makes hectic AM dressing a breeze.

Of course, this doesn’t just work for the office. A wardrobe for SAHM duty would use the same combinations of tops and bottoms, just in a more comfortable, casual style.

Are you a small business owner? It’s easy to put together a professional wardrobe on a budget, even when most of your time is spent working at home in your yoga pants (guilty!).

Thing is, getting your 12 basics together is cost-effective, and once you have them, you’ll have the time and money to put towards other priorities – like cute shoes! *smiles* Or gorgeous jewelry, a family vacation, car repairs…

This PDF will get you started. If you have questions, feel free to ask me here, or to email me directly at info@365daysofstyle.com. You can also visit and register at my site for weekly style lessons and new PDF files as I add them!

I’m Heather Claus, and I love style. I didn’t always, but once I learned I knew anyone could, so I taught. Register at 365DaysofStyle.com for weekly style lessons, fashion giveaways, and daily style resources – and don’t forget to follow me on twitter! *smiles*

Free for You and Me!

In Your Freebies on July 1, 2010 at 1:49 PM

Before heading out this holiday weekend, take advantage of these HOT freebies and coupons!

 

  • For a limited time, receive free sample bottles of Erik Prautsch’s Hairtrigger shampoo and conditioner.  These items are from his newest line called SMOOTHSMOOTH.

  • Transform a backsplash, toy box, or office wall into a high-performance dry-erase surface with IdeaPaint!   Click here to receive a free sample.

  • Before you head out this July 4th weekend, print this coupon to receive a free 32oz fountain drink at Pilot Travel Centers.  Click here to find a Pilot Travel Center.

5 Things I Love

In Your Home on June 2, 2010 at 12:13 PM

… and think you will too!   

RoomMates.   These stylish, fun, repositionable, and removable wall decals are perfect for those afraid of commitment. Make boring walls, laptops, and just about any flat surface you can think of, come alive in minutes.  They’re available in a variety of designs (even peel-and-stick mirrors) and sure to please even the most selective adults and kids.     

Scroll Tree

 

Hemp Stripe Bone Toy.  Green pet owners and their dogs love these Harry Barker squeaky toys.  The bones are made from 100% hemp and recycled post-consumer plastic. Mix colors and sizes for the most economical pricing.   

Hemp Stripe Bone

 

Magic Cymbal Monkey Toy.  Rediscover retro classics like this toy monkey at Retro Planet.Com.  You and the kids will laugh as this battery operated chimp jumps around playing his cymbals.   

Cymbal Monkey

 

Beach Bubble Hanging Glass Terrarium Kit. Terrariums are returning in new and fresh ways.  No longer caged houseplants, today’s terrariums are works of modern art.  This gift wrapped trio includes a glass terrarium, white sand and a tillandsia (air plant). Available on Etsy at Terradctl’s shop.   

Pineapple Tillandsia

 

Tiny Prints Greetings.  – Celebrate special moments in your life with on-line greeting cards that you create, and Tiny Prints ships out the next day!  Use one of their creative designs or with just 3 mouse clicks, design your own by uploading photos and artwork.   

Father’s Day is this month, give their service a try.  They’ll address and mail your card (current special is $1.99 per card) or send it to you for free.    

I recently used their service to design my son’s high school graduation announcements and have since recommended them to several friends.  Their prices are competitive, the cards are made of  quality material and their customer service is quick and unparalleled.    

5 Bags

 

Father's Day Card

 

 

Military-Friendly Family Attractions: Active Duty and Retired Get in For Free!

In budget, Your World on May 27, 2010 at 9:23 AM

Image Courtesy Robert Linder

 

Businesses across America recognize the valuable contributions our active duty and retired military families make by offering free admission to museums, water parks and other family attractions.   For those traveling near a military base, make (down right cheap 🙂 ) reservations for space-available accommodations by calling  the following phone numbers:  

Army: 1-800-GO-ARMY-1  

Air Force: 1-888-AF LODGE  

Navy: 1-800-NAVY-INN  

 Happy Memorial Day!

 

  

Image Courtesy Helen Bobis

 

 Kings Dominion – FREE admission to active duty and retired military personnel on Sunday and Monday of both the Memorial Day and July 4th weekends as a part of its Tribute to the Armed Forces program.  The exact dates are May 30, 31 and July 4, 5, 2010  

Valleyfair Amusement Park – Free admission to members of the armed services, active or veteran. Must show military ID. May 30th and 31st.  

Carowinds Theme Park– FREE regular admission ticket to any active or retired military personnel on Sunday and Monday of both the Memorial Day and July 4th weekends.  

Queen Mary – Offering free admission to veterans and active U.S. military personnel over the 2010 Memorial Day Weekend.  

The New Orleans Zephyrs – Offering free admission for all military personnel and their families for the Memorial Day game on Monday, May 31.  

Blue Star Museums – Over 600 museums will offer free admission to Military & their families from Memorial Day, May 31, 2010, through Labor Day, September 6, 2010.  

Colonial Williamsburg – Will hold a free commemorative program and free admission on May 31st from 10am – 10:45am  

Alabama Adventure – Active Military admitted free with Military I.D. May 29th – 31st.  

Gilroy Gardens – “Gilroy Gardens Salutes our Heroes with FREE ADMISSION to the park. This offer is for all Military, Police and Fire Personnel. Guest must present a valid Military, Police and Fire ID to receive one (1) FREE complimentary ticket.”  

Kings Island – Free admission to military personnel Memorial Day and July 4th weekends.  

 Lowry Park Zoo – May 31, any active duty, activated, retired or drilling reservist, or National Guardsman is entitled to free admission.  

 Knott’s Berry Farm and all three Southern California Knott’s Soak City water parks –Palm Springs, San Diego and Buena Park are offering FREE admission to active and retired United States Military personnel on Sunday May 30th and Monday May 31st AND  Independence Day (July 4-5) weekends as part of their Tribute to the Armed Forces Program.  

 Hawaiian Falls Waterpark in Texas is offering free admission to all active duty military personnel to their three area waterparks, including parks in Garland, The Colony, and Mansfield, from 10:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Memorial Day, May 31.  

 Thank you Free Sample Momma for providing this list!