Thursday, March 22, 2012

Scrapbook for Kids

I always get bogged down with scrap booking with my kids when we go somewhere special. I'm sentimental about the kids having mementos from vacations and fun days but it can be really difficult to keep up with all the little bits that we want to preserve.  I've come up with an idea that I'm now going to use. I've found lots of little picture holder books and mini scrap books on sale at various arts and crafts stores or in the clearance isle of walmart. I'm taking a little time to let my kid use a Sharpie to Title the book or use supplies I have like foam letters. Then take the empty book with on the outing or vacation. As stickers, movie stubs, museum fliers and other bits are collected they can go right in the book. Later when pictures are developed from the outing we can slip them in and wha la! The memento is complete. If extra embellishments are wanted then they can easily be added on a rainy day.
I think the brown bag scrap books are great for this too but require some prep and may end up being a lot of fuss! Unless of course you have used a rainy day and made some up. The pockets are great for little treasures and will open more than the regular picture sleeves. 
For those treasures that are to big and need attention later carry a bag in your tote, diaper bag or purse.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Savings Just Keep Adding Up!

My local Market has another great sale this week and I've found some ways to take advantage of the savings.
Green and red grapes are on sale for .99 lb!!! That's an almost unheard of price so we just had to think of a way to store them. I decided to take them off the stems, rinse them in a colander and roll them onto a kitchen towel to dry. Once dry we simply put them in a zip top heavy duty freezer bag and stored them in the door of our freezer.
The little frozen bites of heaven make a healthy, quick snack for my family. We do NOT thaw them the texture won't be firm so we eat them frozen and the delight in your mouth on a warm afternoon is better than any Popsicle or Ice cream bar!

Another unbelievable bargain, 3 lb bags of yellow onions for 79c each, I bought three bags! I am taking a little time to peel and chop them and just throwing the diced bits into those handy dandy freezer bags. I press the air out and lay flat in the freezer. Now all I have to do is reach in and take out the amount I need while preparing meals. It really helps to get supper going in a hurry and I only have one crying session! lol. I usually use 3 lbs of onions a month give or take so I could be saving my self from paying full price for three months. I'm thinking I'll run across another sale in that time and replenish my supply before I run out so I won't have to pay full price by "buying forward". That means buying more than I really need at a cut rate price and having enough to use until they go on sale again. Of course I'll leave a few out to use fresh while I can.
Look for seasonal bargains and find ways to store them. Sure it will take a little time to prepare store them but when you add it up I bet it saves time compared to preparing just a little if you do it every time you need it for a meal. 
Happy Savings!!!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Spring Break Zoo Day! 
Price break wasn't bad either!

Our schools are on Spring Break this week so we went to the zoo.
We were gifted a zoo membership for Christmas by our family so we took the money today and signed up for an annual membership. Believe it or not there was a coupon!!! Yes even events and amusements often have coupons. Our family is so great at holidays and birthdays about asking what the kids need or want. We often give suggestions that are non traditional. If  your kid's rooms are like our's they have enough toys and electronics to keep every nook and cranny filled with overflow. Since we are asked for suggestions we try to be ready with ideas that make the givers feel good about how they spend their money and the kids feeling great about the gift. This year when asked at Christmas we suggested that instead of individual gifts we'd like a family membership to the zoo! Grandparents loved the idea of treating the kids to such a wonderful gift that truly keeps on giving all year long and the kids LOVE going.  Here's how the cost broke down. Normal family membership for 2 adults and children under 21 in a household costs 99$. We had a coupon for 10$ off so that took it to 89$. There was a bonus if you paid an additional 20$ you could take a guest with you on each visit. This is really great for us because grand parents, cousins and friends often want to go with us. So for 109$ we get unlimited visits to the zoo, free parking, fast entry members only lines, discounts to special events during the year and a 15% off gift shop purchases. That is a bargain in my book. So now even when we have limited funds we know we can go to the zoo with no further costs!!! With this membership it takes the pressure off of trying to doing the entire zoo in one trip! We did preferred sections today knowing we didn't have to exhaust ourselves  trying to see and do everything. We can go frequently so the  next trip we'll do things we didn't do today. 
Luckily our zoo is very nice and has natural habitats instead of bars and cages so it gets very high marks every year in comparisons to other zoos. There are reptile houses, nocturnal exhibits, African animal sections and much more. Here are a few pictures of our visit. Look in your city for family friendly memberships at museums, amusement parks etc.. You may be surprised at how little you would have to pay over the price of just one admission to get a membership that would give you unlimited or frequent access and discounts that would give your family something to do all year long!
Our zoo also brings in special exhibits throughout the year. Right now there is a dinosaur exhibit and it does cost extra but members get a discount so it was totally worth it. Later in the year they have a butterfly exhibit, there are activities at Halloween and Christmas too!
I love putting captions of what I think the animals are saying!

                                         Whatchu lookin' at?!
                                         Hide ya'll that lady has a camera!
                                         Gimme a kiss!
                                         Yeah this is my park, I'm letting you check it out!
                                         Does my butt look big in this dirt?!
                                                       The humans are just boring me to death today!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Potatoes, Tomatoes and Fruit! Oh my!!
Last night on a milk run to our local grocery store we ran across a couple of unavoidable deals. I mean we just couldn't pass up a 15lb bag of red potatoes for $1.98, tomatoes at .79lb and unbelievable kiwi .99 for a 2 lb container that had about 10 kiwi and also a whole pineapple for .99!!! 
I already have potatoes in the pantry so I started brain storming and googling to find out how to freeze potatoes. I discovered that all you have to do is peel, cut into the desired shapes and blanch them for a few minutes. You run them under tap water and then I dried them on cooling racks and we are throwing them into freezer bags. Now I have french fries, stewing cubes for soup, casseroles etc... and I'm grading some whole smaller ones for hash browns. I'm seriously considering buying another bag but I've got to rearrange the freezer to see what that situation is. Here's a couple of styles drying after being blanched while cooling. Those racks are at least 15x10 the hash browns are in a gallon size bag. I karate chopped the hash browns into 6 sections and laid the bag flat in the freezer so even if they stick I'll be able to break sections off to set in a skillet or thaw for a casserole. What you don't see is a whole batch of cubed potatoes that I cooked and used to made potato salad to go along with supper tonight. Three adults and two children ate on it and there is plenty left over to have later this week. 

I took the fresh pineapple, some kiwi, oranges, a grapefruit, green and red grapes, 2 bananas, coconut and walnuts! The kids are eating it up and everything is fresh but the coconut. There was enough to fill a tupperware salad bowl and another 6x6 container about half way. I cut the whole pineapple but put half back for chicken/pineapple kabobs on the grill tomorrow.

I feel very accomplished to have taken advantage of great deals and put the groceries to such good use! We will eat on these bargains for weeks to come. Preparing the potatoes the way I did will allow me to rush a meal together. I read up on blanching the potatoes and found out that it decreases the cook time when you use them whether you deep fry, bake or casserole them. All the bargains mentioned were purchased at Super Lo Foods.