June – 2010 – Frugal Novice
Monthly Archives

June 2010

Menu Plan Monday – June 14-19

Menu Plan Monday

Did you all have a good weekend? Mine didn’t go quite as planned – I got sick. And getting sick when you have two small children is just not a good thing to do! Brian did a great job taking care of everything, and I had some forced relaxation. I got, for the first time I can remember in years, 8 hours of sleep. It was interrupted once, briefly, by J at 4:15, but it was still great to get that much sleep.

On to my menu plan for the week – we’re keeping things pretty simple.

Monday: We’re trying, thanks to MyBlogSpark, the new Wanchai Ferry Beef & Broccoli meal. Look for my post about it on Tuesday – along with a giveaway also courtesy of MyBlogSpark!

Tuesday: Chick-Fil-A night! Free kids’ meals, plus we’ll use a coupon we have for a free spicy sandwich (which is really good). So, for the cost of one combo, all four of us will get dinner. Not too bad!

Wednesday: Burritos. We do ours with ground beef (seasoned with taco seasoning), Basmati rice, black beans, and shredded cheddar. I might saute up some onions to go with it, too.

Thursday: We’ll grab something quick to eat, because we’re having a game night (courtesy of HouseParty.com – they provided the games and everything!) at our house and will need to get ready for that. I’ll post about this next week – keep an eye out for it, because there’s a giveaway to go along with that post too!

Friday: Breakfast for dinner – one of our favorite things to do.

Saturday: Grilled chicken, brown rice, and cooked carrots.

So, there you have it! I’ll try to spice things up with some new recipes next week. In the meantime, be sure to check out the two giveaways I have going on right now:

$25 gift card to the grocery store of your choice, from FoodOnTheTable.com (ends THIS Wednesday at midnight!)

SAT Test Prep Course (valued at $490) from Knewton.com

My mom also has a great giveaway for a $50 gift card to Family Dollar going right now – be sure to stop by and enter!

Christi

Friendly Friday – June 11

Hi everyone – Welcome to Friendly Friday!

Remember, YOU can host the link list on your blog too! Just click “Get the code here…” at the bottom of the list. Hosting the list is a great way to get even more traffic to your blog and make Friendly Friday even more beneficial for everyone.

Thanks for joining the Friendly Friday celebration hosted by Christi at Frugal Novice, Xenia at Thanks, Mail Carrier and Charla at Healthy Home Blog! We invite you to join us every Friday to make more friends in blogville, get more blog followers and follow other great blogs out there.

To join in the Friendly Friday celebration, include your link in our list, follow the hostesses in the first 3 spots and then start blog hopping! Visit other blogs on the list and comment to give them some blog love. Then take a minute to follow them through Google Friend Connect – this is a good way to keep up with other blogs, but also lets us show support to each other!

When people comment on your blog and let you know they’re a part of Friendly Friday, return the favor and follow them back. This way everyone gets traffic and followers out of participating, and it’s a win-win situation. We would love for you to also grab our Friendly Friday button and post it on your blog and/or in a post – the more bloggers that find out about Friendly Friday and participate, the better!

Spotlight on Friendly Friday Followers!

We love your participation and want to show it! In addition to gaining followers, each week we’ll select three blogs at random and will feature links and a write-up for those blogs in the content of next week’s Friendly Friday post. There are so many seriously wonderful blogs out there, and this will be a great way to highlight some of those each week. Say hello to the lucky chosen 3 for this week (and feel free to stop by and give them a little extra love):

Jen at Piney Flats Style likes to write about everything she loves and doesn’t love, her home (which is really charming by the way), decorating on a budget, and “plain old casual country living.”  She has a lot of great photos in every post.   Jen’s  projects have included her awesome Office Nook and Wraparound Porch and so much more.  It would be easy to spend a long time looking at all of her interesting projects and  photos of her house.

At They Call Me Old Fashioned, Diana writes about their two children whom they consider their greatest blessing. Recipes are also on her site with mouth-watering photos, plus her sewing category features the cutest felt play food for kids which she sells at a farmer’s market (what about the  internet?). She tells about using fitted cloth diapers and reusable cotton cloth wipes which she says work better than commercial ones and can be washed with the diapers.  Sounds like a great idea!

Heather & Amy at All Ruby Cakes, where it’s “all about the rubies and cakes,” are not only sisters but best friends.  And they love to shop!  They have a lot of great giveaways and freebies on their site as well as a lot of info about the latest fashion, products, gadgets,  movies, books, and other things.   The Mineral Makeup sounds great!  If anyone is interested in having Heather and Amy do a product review or have them host a giveaway, just contact them.  They would love to do it!

Now that you know about these 3 wonderful blogs, it’s time for you to join in! Add your link below and we’ll see you back here every Friday! And don’t forget, you can grab the code to share the link list on your blog too.

We appreciate followers through GFC and Twitter, and we’ll follow you back – just leave a comment with your URL and/or Twitter username. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Knewton Review & SAT Test Prep Course Giveaway

Even though my boys are years away from preparing for the SAT, I’ve heard a lot about prep courses lately as several of my coworkers’ children are finishing up their junior year of high school. Since scholarships are often based on test scores, investing in a prep course to help boost scores can really yield a high return.

I’d heard of a few companies that help students prepare for the SAT, but was most recently introduced to Knewton. Knewton is unique in its cost-effectivenes; while many programs cost as much as $899, $1,499 or more, Knewton is much less at $490 – and is changing the model of SAT test prep. Continue Reading…

Top Ten Tuesday – Free or Cheap Kids’ Outings

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about ten inexpensive ideas for activities to do with your kids mostly at home, and now I thought I’d follow that post up with ideas for things you can go out to do – because every mom knows you can’t stay at home all the time or you’ll all go stir crazy! So, for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, here’s a list of suggestions to get out of the house and save your sanity. :)

1. Dollar movies – If you don’t have an actual dollar theater near you, don’t despair – at least two big movie chains have great summer programs in place to let you treat your kids to a movie without breaking the bank. Two that I found both have $1 movies on Tuesdays: AMC has Summer Movie Camp, and will be showing movies like Shrek the Third & Madagascar 2; Cinemark has Summer Movie Clubhouse – movies shown vary by location. We have a Cinemark and I know ours is showing things like Charlotte’s Web & Despereaux.

2. Building Workshops – Both Lowe’s and Home Depot offer these great sessions on various Saturdays. They’re FREE and your child gets to build fun projects each time, with your help. Note – Home Depot says these are for children 5-12; Lowe’s doesn’t specify an age.

3. Story Time at the library – I know, I know, this was on my other list too – but it really belongs better on this list, because it’s a GREAT idea for getting out each week, exposing your children to books, and meeting other people in your local community. Ours has a summer reading club that provides prizes for the kids each week – and the story time for infants and toddlers is filled with lots of songs and puppets, too. It’s a really fun experience for them.

4. Michaels offers free demos and events; some are completely free. Some require a purchase, but are still inexpensive.

5. Vacation Bible School: Most churches offer one at some point during the summer, and these usually last about a week. I always grew up with them being each weeknight, but some now are during the day too. I have a lot of fond memories of going to VBS – we’d sing fun songs and we always did crafts, too. Check around to find schedules for your local churches. Often they’ll be scheduled for different weeks and it’ll work out for you to take your child to more than one.

6. Bowling for FREE! This program is really great – participating bowling alleys let kids bowl two free games every day during the summer! You have to register, and there are age limitations that vary by location. The only downside is that there aren’t locations available everywhere – there’s not one in my city – but there are a lot listed so see if there’s a location near you!

7. Museums – Even ones that typically charge for admission often have free nights, especially during the summers. Just Google “free museums” for your area and you’ll find all kinds of options. Bank of America has a program called Museums on Us, where cardholders can get into museums free the first weekend of each month. Check their site for the schedule and a list of participating museums. I know my mom, dad, and brother took advantage of that this past weekend and really enjoyed it. Target also offers free or reduced-price events in many major cities.

8. Playtime Co-op Day – This requires some planning, but can be a lot of fun. Visit with moms in your neighborhood and each agree to handle one aspect of entertainment; one mom could handle sprinklers or swimming, another could do sidewalk chalk, another could provide her swingset, for example. The children start out at one house and then move to others throughout the day. Switching to a new activity and location keeps things fun, AND gives each mom that’s participating a break. Team up for lunch, and make it fun. Picnic, anyone?

9. Paint your own pottery – There is a small cost for this one, but is a lot of fun (and can take up a large chunk of the afternoon). Before I had children, I took our friends’ small children to do this while babysitting one day, so that they could make Mother’s Day gifts. I spent about $5 per child. The cost includes the piece you purchase, plus all the supplies that the location provides – glazes, brushes, stamps, stencils, etc. Once you’re done with your masterpiece, leave it to be fired and then pick it up a week or so later. Kids will think it’s neat to see how their project changes from flat to glossy. Our friends’ kids were SO proud of their pieces.

10. Geocaching – I have to admit I’ve never tried this, although I’ve heard it’s fun. Not sure what exactly that is? According to geocaching.com, it’s “a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online. Geocaching is enjoyed by people from all age groups, with a strong sense of community and support for the environment.” It’s basically a scavenger hunt of sorts, and it’s completely free – the only caveat is that you need a GPS device of some sort – your iPhone will work too. This sounds like it would be a great family activity. Go to geocaching.com to find out information for your area.

Edited to add: Bry from Trying to Reason suggested a great alternative to geocaching – letterboxing! Clues are given online and no GPS device is required. Thanks, Bry!

Christi

Kung Pao Chicken Recipe – and Our Menu for the Week!

Menu Plan Monday

You know how last weekend I was all exhausted after painting the house? Well, I didn’t learn my lesson. This weekend I had a garage sale with some friends, and here I am all exhausted again! It was a great sale, though – we had a ton of traffic and I got rid of all my big items. I used my money to buy things for sprucing up our back patio that we love. It’s covered and perfect for playing, so I thought it would be nice to make it a little more homey.We haven’t put everything together yet, but you better believe I’ll make a post about it when we do! We picked up an outdoor loveseat and coffee table from the collection below at Target (on sale! woohoo), and bought an outdoor fan to help beat the Texas heat a little. I also bought a citronella candle to stave off the mosquitos that seem to love J so much, but I’m wondering if there are any other better solutions (besides bug spray). Any kid-friendly suggestions?

 

On to the menu plan for the week. Remember last week how I wrote about Food on the Table? Well, I used their site again this week and found two more great recipes to try! I’m pretty excited about both of them, actually, and will share them here with you. Continue Reading…

Friendly Friday 6/4

Welcome to Friendly Friday!

Starting this week YOU can host the link list on your blog too! Just click “Get the code here…” at the bottom of the list. Hosting the list is a great way to get even more traffic to your blog and make Friendly Friday even more beneficial for everyone.

Thanks for joining the Friendly Friday celebration hosted by Christi at Frugal Novice, Xenia at Thanks, Mail Carrier and Charla at Healthy Home Blog! We invite you to join us every Friday to make more friends in blogville, get more blog followers and follow other great blogs out there.

To join in the Friendly Friday celebration, include your link in our list, follow the hostesses in the first 3 spots and then start blog hopping! Visit other blogs on the list and comment to give them some blog love. Then take a minute to follow them through Google Friend Connect – this is a good way to keep up with other blogs, but also lets us show support to each other!

When people comment on your blog and let you know they’re a part of Friendly Friday, return the favor and follow them back. This way everyone gets traffic and followers out of participating, and it’s a win-win situation. We would love for you to also grab our Friendly Friday button and post it on your blog and/or in a post – the more bloggers that find out about Friendly Friday and participate, the better!

Spotlight on Friendly Friday Followers!

We love your participation and want to show it! In addition to gaining followers, each week we’ll select three blogs at random and will feature links and a write-up for those blogs in the content of next week’s Friendly Friday post. There are so many seriously wonderful blogs out there, and this will be a great way to highlight some of those each week. Say hello to the lucky chosen 3 for this week (and feel free to stop by and give them a little extra love):

Chelsea is the blogger behind Twee Poppets. Wondering what that name means? “Twee” means cute, and “Poppet” means sweet child. The theme of Twee Poppets is, in Chelsea’s words, “cute little items for cute little kids!” Each Tuesday she hosts a blog hop called Tuesday Tag Along, which is another great way to get to know other bloggers. Discover fun Etsy shops through her reviews and giveaways, too!

At One Savvy Mom! Sarah, a mom of two toddlers, writes reviews for products and events.  She always has a lot of fun giveaways going on. From jewelry to toys to kids’ gear, get the skinny on all sorts of new items when you visit Sarah’s blog. She’s also planning to run the NYC Marathon in November to help raise funds for Standing Tall, a unique program for children with disabilities.

Shannon at Coupon Mommy of 3 is a co-host of “Facebook Like You Back,” a meme that takes place each Wednesday to help bloggers get followers on their Facebook pages. She writes about couponing, freebies, and match-ups along with hosting giveaways and writing product reviews. Shannon’s a mom to three sweet girls and is most recently learning about the world of cloth diapering!

Now that you know about these 3 wonderful blogs, it’s time for you to join in! Add your link below and we’ll see you back here every Friday! And don’t forget, you can grab the code to share the link list on your blog too.

I appreciate followers through GFC and Twitter, and I will follow you back – just leave me a comment with your URL and/or Twitter username! Have a great weekend, everyone!

Reminder – Friendly Friday Tonight!

This is just a reminder that Friendly Friday has a new start time tonight – the list will open up at 10PM CST instead of 11, to make it easier for the East-coasters. Looking forward to seeing everyone!

Food on the Table: Review & Giveaway

When Amanda from Food on the Table contacted me to see if I’d be interested in reviewing their site, I said yes pretty quickly. What made me decide this might be worthwhile? Their opening graphic on the welcome page:

Weekly meal plan? Can’t get by without one. Quick recipes my kids will actually eat? Yes please! Savings… and organization… and less stress? Sign me up. Continue Reading…

Top Ten Tuesday: Freebie Sites

This is my second time to participate in Top Ten Tuesday!

I love finding freebies, but before coming across these sites I’d only get them every once in a while. Now my mailbox is often filled with free samples, most of which we’ll be able to use. Sample sizes of shampoo and conditioner are perfect to take on trips; samples of snacks are great to keep in the car for, “I’m huuuuuuungry!” meltdowns you know your children will inevitably have.

On to the point of this post – where can you find the best freebies out there? Some of these are long-time favorites of mine, and some are more recently discovered: Continue Reading…