Fun Friday: Freebies and Things to Do!

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Whenever Friday comes around, my kids always say, “It’s Fun Friday!!” We try to do something special that doesn’t cost a lot of money. I’m going to try to round-up the current freebies and things to do as I see them each week.

Taking advantage of doing things together with the family that don’t cost a lot of money is a great way to help you stretch your budgets farther. And grabbing those free samples are a wonderful way to try new things without wasting any money if you don’t like them. (Check out my post on “Freebies: Worth the Time and What Do They Save?”)

So here’s what you can find for the week of 2/6/15:

Kroger Affiliates: Free Yoplait Greek Yogurt – 2/6/15 only

SavingStar: Free Arm & Hammer Baking Soda – Thru 2/8/15

Redbox Code: Code LOVE will work at Kroger stores through 2/12/14. Other codes: NDNQM3QK, 5DKH9WZQ, 29T7MWGX, 92494TK3, or VXHTNG54 valid at kiosks through 2/16/15.

Lowe’s: Build and Grow Clinic on 2/14/15 – kids can make a Sweetheart Picture Holder. Sign-up before it’s full!

Home Depot: Kids’ Workshop on 2/7/15 – kids can make a heart box. Starts at 9AM. Make sure you register!

Williams & Sonoma: Junior Chef Class on 2/7/15 for kids ages 9-13. They are learning how to make Asian Dumplings. For adults, a Technique Class on 2/8/15 for Asian Cooking: Dumplings and Noodles.

Barnes and Noble: Free Storytime (Ready Rabbit Gets Ready) at 11AM on 2/7/14. Don’t forget about their free online storytime, too!

Field Museum in Chicago: Free admission in February for IL residents!

Chicago Auto Show: 2 Free Tickets when you fill out a form and bring it to a Chevy Dealer. (see site for details.)

Free Sample: Sign-up for Advil PM while supplies last!

Free Sample: Sign-up for Zarbee’s Naturals Elderberry Immune Support, while supplies last. Facebook Offer

Chick Fil A: Free Hot or Iced Coffee during the month of February

Menchie’s (& More!!) – Free Froyo on 2/6/15 from 4-8PM at participating locations. Since it’s National Yogurt Day other places such as Race Trac, and Yotopia are also offering freebies. If you have a frozen yogurt store near you, see if they are running a promotion, as well! Whenever you see a “National ‘Food’ Day” look around to restaurants that sell those products as you’ll find a lot of freebies that way!!

Wendy’s – Purchase a Frosty Tag for $1 donation and you’ll get a Free Jr. Frosty with each purchase in 2015!

Crayola Color Alive: Download a Free Page and watch it come alive via their App. Great way to get some free art and fun into your kids’ week!

Printable: I love this adorable “Build an Olaf” that is actually a dice game!

Printable: New SpongBob movie releases 2/6/15. Here’s a SpongeBob Printable for some coloring fun!

And a few Free eBooks: (Keep in mind prices flip fast on Amazon so be sure to check current price before purchasing!!)

Off the Grid Living: Your Step-By-Step Off Grid Survival Handbook

Shampoo Making: Natural Homemade Recipes

101 Ways To Make Your Money Go Further – The Essential Guide to Surviving on a Budget

8 Different Crochet Stitches: Learn to Crochet Something New with Crochet Patterns

How to Crochet: 16 Quick and Easy Granny Square Patterns

Frugal Living: How to Save Money and Live on a Budget Happily

The Ultimate Guide to Saving Money Learn How to Save Money Effectively and Efficiently For Life

DIY Protein Bars: Healthy, Nutritious And Easy To Make DIY Protein Bar Recipes You Can Make Tonight!

Salads To Go

219 Cooking Tips & Techniques you might find useful!

Frugal Cooking With Beans: 50 Incredibly Mouthwatering Easy Frugal Cooking With Beans Recipes

Children’s book: I Love to Eat Fruits and Vegetables (Children’s Book): (Bedtime stories children’s books collection) (I Love to…Bedtime stories children’s books collection Book 3)

Kids books: Terry Treetop and the Lost Egg: (Animal habitats) (values book) (Rhymes eBook) (Adventure & Education for children) (Preschool) (Beginner reader … Books for Early & Beginner Readers Book 3)

Kids Book: A to Z of Silly Animals

Kids Book: Spike the Dinosaur

Kids Book: The Kindergarten Progressive Reader – Book 1 (All Aboard for Kindergarten)

Hoping that you all can find a freebie that will make your Friday a “Fun Friday!” too!!!

Do You Want to Build a Snowman….Out of a POM Juice Bottle?

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A few years back our Jewel had the POM Wonderful juice on a crazy sale so I bought up a ton of their juice. The bottles have such a great shape and I wanted to keep them to re-purpose them. That’s when it hit me that the bottles looked like an unfinished snowman.

So I wanted to share this post with you in case you had one of their bottles, or wanted to try the POM juice, and then turn it into a craft for you and the kids to do together. They are fairly easy to make. Here’s what you’ll need:

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~POM Wonderful Bottle (empty and clean)
~Foam Ball
~White Paint
~Brush (Foam brushes work great!)
~Container for paint (We used a Dixie Cup.)
~Velcro Dots
~Pipe Cleaners (thin and thick)
~Sharpie Marker (optional)

The Velcro dots can be found at most stores that have a craft section. I was able to pick mine up at Walmart and I’ve used them for several projects. As far as the foam brush, I found ours at Lowe’s for around $.99 in the paint dept. Most dollar stores will sell the foam balls and pipe cleaners. Dig around in those art supply boxes you have at home and you might find something there you can use, too. Get creative!

Before you get started on painting the POM Wonderful bottle, I recommend you get the foam ball scooped out for the head. Otherwise you might get foam pieces on any areas that may still have tacky paint on them. Here’s how to fit the foam ball:

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Take the lid of the POM Wonderful bottle. Using the “grippy” side, twist it on top of the foam ball as this will be a great way to get the perfect size hole that you’ll need. Once you get it twisted to the point where you can scoop out part of the foam, you can stop and just use another tool to dig the hole deep enough until it’s the right size. I think I used a small screw driver to scrape ours out. I do recommend that you stop every so often to check to see how close you are getting the proper fit.

NOTE: For the first one I made, I used a styrofoam ball and it was too fragile and crumbled a bit. It was also difficult to add the facial features. Overall, I thought the foam balls ended up looking more like snow, too.

After you have finished that part, it’s then time to paint. I liked the look of the heart on the bottle (as did the kids) so we covered it with a Velcro dot before we started. After they painted the bottles white, we peeled off the Velcro dot and carefully painted as close to the heart as we could without covering it. The kids got a big kick out of their snowman having its own heart!

Once the paint has dried, put the foam head on and it’s now time to decorate!! It’s at this point that the kids (or yourself) will have to decide what type of snowman they want to make. My daughter picked Olaf (of course!), my son wanted a simple one with a blue hat and scarf and then they decided they wanted to make one that looked like Mikey from TMNT for their Daddy!

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As far as making the Olaf snowman, we decided to squish in the sides of the bottle to look more like him. It was a little tricky but overall not too complicated. We did this after it was painted and had to touch up part of the paint. So you may want to consider pushing in the sides before painting.

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For Olaf’s arms, we just twisted and bent the ends of a brown pipe cleaner. We did the same thing for his tuft of “hair.” I carefully made a small hole in the sides and top of the bottle to slide the pipe cleaners into. (Please be careful when doing this!!)

For other decorations on the snowmen:
~Small piece of orange pipe cleaner for nose
~Velcro dots for eyes and buttons
~Small piece of bent pipe cleaner for mouth
~Fluffy pipe cleaners for scarves
~Middles cut out of Velcro dots for the Ninja eyes
~Sharpie marker for drawing on eyebrows
~Wrap pipe cleaners around each other for a hat

And there you have it. Cute decor for the house and a really fun activity for the kids. It’s a great way to re-purpose those POM Wonderful bottles. And if you haven’t tried their pomegranate juice yet, it’s a wonderful way to taste test it. I like to pour some of mine into smoothies for a bit of flavor.

I hope you have a fun time creating these with your kids if you try it!!

What I Learned From a Game App!

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It’s amazing sometimes when you get those moments of clarity in life when things just suddenly make sense. They can come from the most unexpected places, can’t they? My latest one was from a game app!

My kids love playing an App called Hay Day. I don’t mind them playing it because I think it has a lot to teach them about responsibility, money management, multi-tasking, etc. They enjoyed it so much that I decided to download it myself and we often sit and help each other manage our farms. If they are getting low on wheat to make chicken feed, then I might sell them a few at a low price. Later on, they might help me out with an apple pie for my farmstand.

The game starts off fairly simple and you just have a few things to maintain. But as you “level up” you get more responsibilities. More animals to feed. More crops to grow. More people to take care of via boat, train, farmstand, truck deliveries, etc. And then begins the juggling act. And it’s at this point where I was feeling like it was one more thing to have to squeeze into my schedule. My husband would often say, “It’s suppose to be fun!” But no, there I’d be having to make sure every animal was fed and all my crops were at a reasonable stockpile.

I would have things I’d want to achieve like purchasing a pie oven or a pet cat. Or upgrading my barn to hold more things. (Always a stockpiler, even in a fantasy world!) And I tried to do it all. But I couldn’t. I didn’t have the money or the time or the resources. And I began to feel like I was failing at everything as nothing was properly being taken care of. And it was at that moment that I had one of those moments of clarity: By trying to do it all, I’m not getting anywhere.

So I decided to set one goal and just maintain what I could beyond that. OK, so I’m going to save for that pie oven. I sold all my resources I didn’t need. I didn’t save up anything for the barn, train or boat. And I only spent time on what I could. And what do you know, I bought that pie oven FAST! My animals didn’t die. And I was having a bit of fun again.

I took this new found “knowledge” and started applying it to my every-day real life. Instead of trying to get 10 things done at home each day, I focus on one major thing I’d like to accomplish. And maybe I won’t finish it in one day but I keep putting my time into it until it’s done. Maybe the laundry isn’t 100% caught up or there may be a spattering of rinsed but not washed dishes in the sink. It was OK. I didn’t need to stress about it. And here’s what I discovered: I got my goals done FAST!

I cleaned out and inventoried my pantry. I came up with a great deep freezer organization solution (sharing with you soon!). My bathroom cabinets were back to a state of organization again. And our closets are out of their previous state of chaos. And with each task I finish, I’m getting closer to the life I want to be able to lead. I won’t be wasting time trying to find things and can use that time for my end goal: getting back to more homemade and healthy cooking for my family. And quite honestly, I know I can’t get everything done on my own. That is truly the hardest part. But I’m slowly realizing that it’s OK to ask for help. That my family doesn’t mind doing a few odd tasks if it means more time together in the end. They are loving how the house is looking and I see them doing what they can to help keep it that way.

I am also applying this “wisdom” to my blog. I have so many wonderful things to share with all of you but I’m trying to wrap up a few things I’ve already begun. All energy focused on one goal to achieve a bigger goal in the end.

I wanted to share this with all of you because I have a feeling several of you are in the same situation I was in. You are spreading yourself too thin. Taking on too much and only able to put bits and pieces of yourself into each one. And in the end, you are feeling like you are failing at everything. You’re not. But you need to change your path before you are in too deep. Life is to be enjoyed. Sometimes, you need to say, “No” to people when you are truly overloaded and don’t be afraid to ask for help. It doesn’t mean you are weak. Not at all. It just means you are wise and know that you deserve to feel like things are fun again.

So take a little “me time” this week and see if you can have your own moment of clarity. I’m hoping you find your way back to the fun you once felt, too!

No Foolin’ April Fitness Challenge – Week 3 and 4

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As some of you might have noticed, I missed some postings on this challenge. My family had been hit with a terrible virus going around our area that took us out for almost two weeks. It was the worst one I’ve ever had to deal with. I’ve been putting my focus on just trying to keep up with the daily things going on so I apologize for the delay in this posting. But with that said, here’s my latest update:

Week 2 I gave you a few more new tasks and here’s my progress for each:

1) Make one new change this week to your normal meals/snacks, focusing on a healthier change. (Make sure you check with your Dr. before making any new changes!) – Even though we were sick, I did pay attention to the snacks that we were eating and did what I could to make mine healthier choices, especially any that were eaten later in the day! My main change was trying to cut back on any excess sugar.

2) Watch your habits when you cook in the kitchen. – I put a lot of focus on what I was eating while I was preparing our meals. If for some reason I couldn’t stop nibbling on things as I was chopping them up, I made sure to cut back on what I dished out on my plate at mealtime to counteract it.

3) Start a Food Journal. – I get a big fail on this one but to be honest, our meals were so bland that I didn’t even want to log them. We ate a lot of chicken noodle soup, crackers, applesauce, etc. I know for a fact that our meals weren’t nutritionally the best BUT they did keep us from feeling ill so to get off track for a few weeks is OK with me in this situation!

And now moving on to Week 3-4 as I’m combining them. Oddly enough when I planned this series I had only designated one new thing for the last 3 weeks.

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A) Add in 1 day of 1 new exercise. Try to keep it simple at first, especially if you aren’t very active right now. Maybe try some yoga, Tai Chi, walking, etc.

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B) Set aside one day each week for a “fun food day.” This can be whatever you want to make of it. Some ideas: themed meals, “letter day” (where your meal all starts with the same letter), “try something new day” where you eat a food you’ve never had before, etc. It can even be as simple as “Taco Tuesday.”

I’m hoping that these will add a little more fun and energy to your week. Remember, you still need to keep up with the tasks from the first 2 weeks, too, which are:

~Drink More Water
~Start a Journal (for goals, dreams, daily shares, etc.)
~Keep track of weekly weight/measurements
~Make one new change each week to your normal meals/snacks, focusing on a healthier change.
~Watch your habits when you cook in the kitchen
~Start/Log a Food Journal

I’ll check in with you soon with an update and with next week’s new set of baby steps!

Disclaimer: Never start a new exercise/diet regimen without consulting your Dr. first. Tips are to be taken as suggestions and not promises of guaranteed results.

No Foolin’ April Fitness Challenge – Week 2

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Hard to believe a whole week has flown by since the last posting. For those of you just tuning in, you’ll want to read the First Week post before you proceed.

Before I move on to Week 2, I wanted to share what I did last week:

1) Drink more water. – Boy did I ever drink more water! We have a water cooler and I added so much water intake that we went through our supply that is normally more than than a enough for the month…3 days earlier than normal!

2) Start a journal. – The journal I ordered online took a few days longer than I expected to get here but it was worth the wait as it’s perfect for logging little daily notes. I’m just getting started on my entries but I’d rather be a few behind and have a nice journal that will encourage me to continue.

3) Log your weight and measurements; such as arms, legs, waist and hips. – Got these done. I’ll be adding them to the journal now that it’s arrived. I am notorious for losing small slips of paper so it’s nice that it will all be in one place!

And…moving on to Week 2. Now keep in mind what I said last week: this is a slow progression and just a month of focusing on small changes that will hopefully lead us to focusing more on our health. With that said, here are the challenges for Week 2:

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1) Make one new change this week to your normal meals, focusing on a healthier change. (Make sure you check with your Dr. before making any new changes!) Some things to consider:
~Adding a meatless day to your weekly meal plan and getting protein elsewhere, such as beans.
~Switching one lunch (or two) a week to a healthy salad with toppings that you like, such as berries, nuts, fruit, chopped veggies, etc.
~Adding no extra sugar/salt to your meals, if this is a current habit of yours.
~Cutting out all refined sweeteners. (This is a hard one as sugar/sweeteners are in everything these days!)
~Swapping out one beverage (such as pop/soda, sugary drinks, etc.) for a glass of water.
~Adding more fruit/veggies to your daily intake.

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2) Watch your habits when you cook in the kitchen. Are you constantly nibbling while you cook? Work on changing this habit as it can lead to a lot of extra calories without you even noticing.

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3) Start a Food Journal. Now this can be combined with the journal you are already keeping or you can keep it separate, either in a book or via an App/online such as MyFitnessPal. I started using that App a few months ago, randomly but not consistently, and on the days I logged my food I was shocked quite often at what was actually in foods I thought were healthy and/or what vitamins/nutrients I was lacking or what things I was over on at the end of the day. This is also a great way to notice a pattern of any foods that might trigger a negative reaction to your body.

So those are your 3 new challenges for Week 2. Don’t forget…you still need to keep up with the 3 you started for week one.

I’m hoping that these little baby steps will help you focus on a little bit of a healthier lifestyle.

Disclaimer: Never start a new exercise/diet regimen without consulting your Dr. first. Tips are to be taken as suggestions and not promises of guaranteed results.