Living Well on a Shoestring Budget

Saving you money, every day.

2012 Summer of FREE (or nearly so) FUN!

1. IF you haven’t checked out our 2012 Summer Reading programs, do so here!

2. Follow us on Facebook  for lots of freebies, tips and great deals!

3. You can buy the Living Well on a Shoestring Budget book here for only $9.95! You’ll immediately start saving money with these easy and frugal tips!

WELCOME TO THE 2012 SUMMER OF FREE (or nearly so) FUN!
This is a comprehensive list of all the fun and free activities you can do with your children, so you don’t have to hear “I’m bored!” or “There’s nothing to do!” after the first week of break!


 A new program enlisting bowling lanes all over U.S. and in parts of Canada allows kids to register and bowl two games for free every day. Check out KIDS BOWL FREE to find participating lanes near you. One catch: The kids usually need to have their own bowling shoes or must rent them. On the other hand, the lanes also have a “family pass” program that, for $25, allows up to four adult family members to bowl two games free every day too.

Check out AMF BOWLING where kids 15 and under can bowl for free all summer!  Simply register and you’ll get a weekly voucher for two free games per child per day through September 3. Shoe rental is not included.  Valid 7 days per week, until 8pm.


A.C. Moore Every Saturday from 1-3 pm, A.C. Moore offers free classes or make and take projects.  Click to learn more about recommended ages.

At Apple Camp, kids ages 8-12 learn the ins and outs of iMovie and how to make a film in about the time it takes to watch one.  The workshop, held at the Apple Retail Store, spans 3 days and leads up to an Apple Camp Film Festival, where campers debut their masterpieces.

Bass Pro Shop if offering FAMILY CAMP From June 9-July 15, on Tuesdays, Thursday, Saturdays and Sundays from 1-5 pm.  They will offer a different craft for your child to create each week, plus a free family photo, S’mores cookout, casting targets and more.  Click to learn more about times and crafts being offered.

Lowe’s has FREE Build & Grow clinics two weekends per month! Build a wooden project, get FREE goggles, apron, patch and more!

Home Depot offers FREE monthly Kids Workshops –
• FREE hands-on workshops designed for children ages 5 – 12 offered the 1st Saturday of
every month at all The Home Depot stores between 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
• Workshops teach children do-it-yourself skills, tool safety and instill a sense of pride
and accomplishment.
• All kids get to keep their craft and receive a FREE Kids Workshop Apron, commemorative
pin and certificate of achievement.

Michael’s Children ages 3 and up can participate in a variety of craft workshops this summer.  Some are free and others require a purchase.  Click to check out their summer schedule.


Why pay for something when you can have it for free?  Here is a list of 101 restaurants where KIDS EAT FOR FREE! Please contact the restaurant location you will be visiting before to make sure that the restaurant is participating in this promotion.

is a “real-world treasure hunting outdoor game. Players try to locate hidden containers, called geocashes, using GPS enabled devices” such as your smart phone “and then share their experiences online.”  Go here.


Find trails to hike/bike/run/walk here


Carmike Cinemas Starting June 7, stay cool with us this summer and enjoy our 2012 Summer Kid Series! Ten weeks of summer fun every Thursday for only $2.
$2 Movie Combo includes: drink, popcorn, and admission!

Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse offers 2 different money saving movie programs.  You can prepay $5 per person for 10 shows, or if you buy your tickets at the show they are $1 each. Find a Cinemark near you here. You can also sign up for their newsletter and each week they will send you a different money saving coupon for snack and drinks at the snack stand! All movies are G & PG rated and perfect for kids.

Classic Cinemas  This year the Series will be 8 weeks, and will run every Wednesday at 10AM, starting June 13th – August 8th.  There will not be a movie on July 4th.  The Series will only show G or PG rated films, which makes it perfect for all ages! Admission is only $1 per person!

Clearview Cinemas  Beginning July 11th, 8 weeks of  Family Fun on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 10:30!  They have a family movie that admission is only $1, find theaters near you here.

Harkins Cinema all shows begin at 9:45AM, start dates vary depending upon location. You may purchase the season pass and it is less then $1 per movie, or you can buy them the day of the movie for $2 per ticket.  Find a theater near you here.

Malco Theatres  Kids Summer Film fest runs on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10:30. Tickets are only $2.

Rave Cinemas  FREE Family Film Festival- 2 days a week you can go see a movie for FREE, each week there are different days and different movies, see the movies, dates and locations here.

Regal Cinemas  During this 9-week festival, participating Regal Cinemas, United Artists and Edwards Theatres will offer selected G or PG rated movies for only $1 on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings at 10:00.

Select Skating centers KIDS SKATE FREE are offering 2 FREE passes, per week all summer long!


If you live in, or are planning to visit Colorado, please be sure to check out this website full of FREE things to do there!

Through their partnerships with educators and arts organizations, Target helps students and their families engage in arts and cultural events nationwide – FREE or reduced pricing. Find locations and times at the above link!

Find a local farmer’s market here

Find a PICK YOUR OWN farm near you – pick strawberries, raspberries, apples, peaches and more!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you have any to add, please do so in the comments below!! Enjoy!!!!!

This list would have been much more challenging to compile, if not for the excellent work of The Thrifty Mama, ChaChing on a Shoestring and Mr.FreeStuff.  Thank you!

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Free Summer Reading Programs for Kids 2012

Free Summer Reading Programs for Kids 2012.

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Whole Foods One Day Deal FRIDAY, $3.99/lb for boneless, skinless chicken breasts!

Chicken Breasts (Boneless, Skinless & Air Chilled)
Animal Welfare Rating: 2

Stovetop, grill-top, or oven-roasted – with our chicken, you get great-tasting air-chilled meat from animals raised with care-no antibiotics, ever!

Reg. $6.49/lb

Sale $3.99/lb

You Save: $2.50/lb

Case discounts may apply. Not combinable with any other offer. While supplies last.

Valid in Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Ohio, Marlton and Princeton, New Jersey stores.

You can get some excellent recipes HERE

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200ct bottle of Vitamin D3 (1000iu) PLUS a SS 20oz water bottle by New Wave for $1.24. Free shipping! HURRY!

How would you like a bottle of Vitamin D3 (1000i.u, 200 capsules), and a New Wave 20oz Stainless Steel water bottle for $1.24??
Hurry, this offer ends TONIGHT!
We just bought stainless steel water bottles that for each person in our family for $6.25 each!
I checked them out at Whole Foods this last weekend (they are $12.99 there!).

Here’s how to get the $1.24 price though!!

 PLUS  =$1.24

If you have not yet ordered from Vitacost, you can get the following deal.
Here’s how:
**Click on this link, and sign up HERE
Once you sign up, you will receive an email with your coupon code good for $10 off a $10 order, usually within a few moments.

Once you receive your $10 off code, go HERE
and order the Vitamin D capsules for $4.99. With this order, you now receive FREE SHIPPING.

Then go HERE  and pick out which water bottle you would like (the blue one is $6.25 before you use your discount!)

So go get your free $10, your free shipping, your Vit D, and your stainless steel water bottle!

I use  Vitacost ALL the time and fully endorse them as a reliable, safe company. I have never found their customer service to be lacking!

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It has been a really long time since I posted…and since I smelled bad.

Yeah, I know. That is a strange blog post title. But both sentiments are accurate.

…since I posted….
The whole writing thing…kind of went out the window. I don’t do well in winter. Well, it is really the lack of sunlight that does me in…and you all know that living off of a Great Lake = NO SUN.  We’ve even had a record-breaking year for how warm AND sunny it has been AND I went to Florida for 2 weeks, and still got the blahs.
Blah, blah, blah.
I am back now.

…and since I smelled bad…
So, what I discovered in the early part of this winter, is that I stink. No, that’s not true. I have known for a long time that I stink. I mean, ripe here.  Early this winter though, I decided that enough is enough.  Some serious bad funk started to come from me.  Thyroid disease, hormonal disruptions, four kids later, and maybe some other reasons, probably all contributed to this funk, but honestly…I HAD to take a shower everyday. It was just non-negotiable. Sometimes, twice a day – and I still smelled bad. This is not environmentally friendly. It is not even friendly to my poor, dried out skin.  And to make matters worse, even when I got out of the shower…my pits STILL smelled funky – just not as funky as they had before I stepped in the shower. My pits smelled slightly bad and slightly like Lady Speedstick.  What’s a girl to do?!

My old standby Lady Speedstick anti-perspirant was failing me.  I had already gone through all the natural deodorants like Crystal Spray, Tom’s of Maine etc etc. NONE of them worked.  My husband recommended Degree, but I turned him down.   I know all about the health dangers of anti-perspirant, but really, I smelled so bad that I couldn’t NOT wear it…could I?

I was on a mission to uncover the root of the funk.  It was a smelly job, but someone had to do it.   I may have a super-sniffer, but I am used to stinky jobs.  And hey, I’ve been changing diapers for so many years, I don’t even recall when I wasn’t changing diapers, so I can’t tell you.  That made me the most qualified Secret Stink Detective.

My first order of business as SSD was to list the facts.
Just the fact, ma’am, just the facts.

Fact 1:  I didn’t always have this problem. This was a problem that started after my C-section.  Something hormonally shifted in me, or maybe my body just got fed up with toxins. I don’t really know. I just know that from the moment I had my C-section up until this winter, I fought a smelly downhill battle.

Fact 2: I smelled bad, and I offended myself. It was embarrassing. I apologized to my husband a lot. He is such a sweet guy, he always claimed not to notice. I tried to make sure I smelled “less bad” when he was around.

Fact 3: I had really bad night sweats. Not every night, but several times a week.  Bad enough that I would change the sheets, and my pjs etc.  What made no sense to me, is that I went to bed COLD, like “BBRRR!”, yet would wake up an hour later ON FIRE (well, not really on fire, because I was covered in sweat, which is salt-water, but you get the point, right?).

Fact 4: Whether or not I recently applied Lady Speedstick, and whether or not I had just stepped out of the shower – I always smelled a little bit like Lady Speedstick.

Fact 5:  I wasted an incredible amount of water, detergent and time trying to get myself not to smell too bad.  I washed several loads per week of king sized bedding and medium sized pjs.

Fact 6:  My husband never once complained. Not even when he woke up drenched in my sweat, because I was curled up to him.  He is a better man than I!
As a SSD, I did all sorts of research.
I went to the doctor. They suggested “prescription strength” anti-perspirant.
No thanks, I just want to know why I smell so bad.
I had hormone tests done. Nope, everything that could be measured was “normal”.
Hmmm, no ideas were forthcoming from the medical community.
Just a prescription to try to mask the problem (in more than one way!)

Online resources suggested that my body was toxic.
More online research suggested that aluminum (present in all anti-perspirants) builds up in your body. In small quantities, it is OK, but applying LSP everyday, sometimes multiple times per day is not a small quantity. (Off topic: Aluminum is also in vaccines, and also in much of our drinking water. We don’t need to ever supplement our diet with aluminum, we get MORE THAN ENOUGH every day just by living the life that we do!).
Ahh, so it is the aluminum right?  Quite possibly.  Also, a suspect in endocrine diseases (like thyroid!).
I am pretty sure that all those other ingredients on the label of LSP weren’t doing me any favors either. They certainly weren’t helping me to smell better.

My job as SSD led me to stumble.
I stumbled across a blog all about smelly mamas (and here, I apologize, I simply do not recall the name of this blog AT ALL).  But the blog discussed my problem.  And then it suggested making a homemade deodorant. Not an anti-perspirant, but a deodorant.  So, by using this, I am going to sweat, and we already have established that my sweat stinks, right?



You read that correctly. In fact, my sweat does not actually smell terrible.  It does smell terrible when I have LSP on (or any other “anti-perspirant/deodorant).

Here’s how it went down:

Day 1: I chose a Saturday because I didn’t have to leave the house.
I whip up a homemade deodorant recipe of the following:  Coconut oil, baking powder, corn starch and a few drops of tea tree oil. I look at this powdery goo and think,
“I could eat this!”, and am not at all sure how I feel about this fact. I put some on my fingertips, smear it on the pits and wait for the funk to begin. Keep in mind, I already smell a bit funky, because I always smell like LSP.

I go about my day.

End of the day:  I don’t smell any worse than I did at the beginning of the day. WHAT? I know that I got sweaty chasing around my kids. I know that the pits of my shirt got damp – but my tee doesn’t smell any worse either! HOLY COW – total fluke!

I go to bed. I have no night sweats.

Day 2: I smear it on again. I didn’t take a shower this AM.  I go about my day.  That evening, I get ready to take a shower, POSITIVE that I am going to smell bad because hey, it’s been like, almost TWO days. But nope, my results are the exact same as yesterday.
I take a shower. I don’t smell as much like LSP as usual. I don’t really smell all that funky either.  The “edible deodorant” also makes the razor burn go away. I didn’t even know that my armpit skin was irritated, until now I realize that it is not irritated. It feels…good.

To make a long story short, by the end of week 1, I no longer smelled like LSP at all, whether or not I have showered. I don’t smell bad at all. I sweat, yes, but it is appropriate to the activity.  I can go TWO days between showers. I have not had a single night sweat for an entire week. It has been almost four years since that has happened.

Next up, is convincing the husband to try it. He is a die – hard Degree fan. “It’s the only one that works. I sweat. I stink. A lot!” (of course, keep in mind, that my husband has NEVER smelled even CLOSE to as bad as me, but still, he thinks he smells terrible and needs Degree).  But, perhaps my husband has noticed that my edible deodorant is working  – because he agrees to try it, with virtually no argument.  And it works. Totally.  My husband doesn’t smell. From day 1 on, it works.  Forget the whole “Strong enough for a man, but made for a woman” BS (and what the hell does that mean anyway?!).
My edible deodorant WORKS miracles.

So, I’ve tinkered with the recipe a bit, and came up with a few preferences.  But here it is. This is great for sensitive skin too (who DOESN’T have sensitive skin? Our skin absorbs EVERYTHING we put on it!)

Remember, it is deodorant, not anti-perpirant, so you will still sweat, but you won’t smell bad! You also won’t sweat nearly as much as you think you will. I sweat LESS using this than I ever did using an anti-perspirant.  And, sweating is an important way for our bodies to detox. You really don’t want all that funk stuck up in your lymph nodes. : )

6T cornstarch (make sure it is ORGANIC, so you are not putting funky GMOs into your pits!)

2T baking soda (make sure it says ALUMINUM FREE)

10+ drops of tea tree oil

You can stop here, or add 10+ drops of your preferred essential oil scent.

I used 10+ drops of lavender too.

Whisk it all together.

Add 1 tsp of coconut oil at a time ( i used three total).

It is powdery, and you just put a tad bit on your fingertips and spread (it really spreads!).

If you want it to have more substance, add more coconut oil, or about 1tsp of liquid African Black Soap (my husband loves ABS – it is GREAT for skin problems!).

At this point, you can use it as it is, as a powder, as a paste, or pack an old deodorant container full of it, let it set for the day..and there you go! Enjoy!

Some hints, tips and everyday wisdom:  If you leave it in a bowl, and set it in the sunlight, it will all melt together (coconut oil melts at 76 degrees) into a nice free-from paste. This makes it incredibly easy to put into an old deodorant container. Mash the paste in, and put it in the fridge. WALLAH! In a couple of hours, you have a deodorant stick just like you are used to.  As long as your home stays below 76ish, no problems. If you want it more solid, keep it in the fridge. I haven’t had any issues at all. I like the powdery form best actually . . .but hubby LOVES the stick.

So, for several months now, I’ve been keeping my LSP, just in case, I need an anti-perspirant.

It went into the trash can today. Smell you later!!!!


I’ve lost my Marbles – Really.

Basically, before WordPress decided to help me lose even more of my precious marbles – (since I wrote the whole blog, posted it, and then discovered that WordPress published nothing) –  here’s the deal:


The Brain Store

$25 for a $50 gift card.

Very cool store, I personally want half of the toys there – for me.

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Mama always said . . .

Mama always said that there was no excuse for ignorance as long as libraries existed.  She grew up in war torn Germany, came to Canada, and then to America.

She had a very difficult childhood, but always had books.
“Anything you want to learn, you can learn from a book,” she’d always say.

And she is right.

Although now, with the Internet, we, as humans, have even less of an excuse for ignorance.

So, if you haven’t bookmarked this site, please do so now.

Lots and lots and lots of free e-books about a wild variety of topics.

Also, if you are a member of Amazon Prime (I highly recommend being a member), take advantage of the MILLIONS of free books, movies, tv, games etc., at your fingertips.

Remember – simplify the holiday! Start sing-songing this ditty now, while you’re doing the dishes and OOPS! did your child overhear you?!  Now they think they got a “hint” and will be ever so excited to see what fulfills each of these categories!

“Something they want,

something they need,

something to give,

something to read.

This and a bag of chocolates

is what my children happily receive”

Peace out.

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Did anyone miss me?

I gotta tell you, it is not easy to write a blog. A part of me wants to write like this is my private journal, but it’s not is it?  I mean, somewhere, someone is reading this – right? One single person?  Is anyone out there?  Anyone?


I feel like that girl archer in the the animated D&D cartoon that was on for a couple seasons when I was a kid.  In one episode, she was all alone, yelling “Is anyone there? Hello? Anyone?” And then the wizard voice spoke down from the sky that she had to face her greatest fear of being alone.  So then (I forget the details), she realized that she wasn’t alone and said, “Then I’m not alone? Then I’m not afraid!” and then she wasn’t alone anymore. Random, random. Why do I remember this, but not where my keys are??

For the sake of posterity then: I’ve been posting LOTS of cool deals on Facebook (do you follow me on Facebook? – if not, click that little “LIKE” button on the lower right hand side : ) Go ahead, and do it, cut this gal a break!)

If you haven’t yet looked at my book “LIVING WELL ON A SHOESTRING BUDGET”, I highly recommend that you do. It will pay for itself in less than a week. You want to know how to save money – buy the book!

It is the season to be merry. Later tonight, I will post a link to my article that was just published (YAY ME! FIRST MAGAZINE ARTICLE EVER PUBLISHED!! WOOT!! HAPPY DANCE WITH ME!!!) called $aving the Holiday$.  You will enjoy it, and yes, it will help you save many things – your mind, your stress, sanity, oh yeah – AND MONEY!


Watch for it! Spread the good cheer, spread the word, get your friends to follow my blog, my Facebook, buy the book and give it as gift (it IS a gift that will KEEP ON GIVING!)



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Starbucks Deal!!

If you do not have a Starbucks reward card, go here, and register for one now.  Well, I mean you really don’t have to unless you like Starbucks, but if you do, then you should have their reward card. You can turn any gift card into a reward card too.

Friday, December 2nd:  Get one pound of Starbucks Christmas Blend for $9.95 (regular price $14.95), or a 12-pack of Starbucks Via Ready Brew for $7.95 (regularly $11.95)

Make sure you have your card with you!  Go get your FREE tall custom made beverage, because… you get a

Free Beverage with Whole Bean Purchase

When you use your registered Starbucks Card to buy 1 lb of whole bean coffee at a participating store, we’ll give you a handcrafted Tall (12 fl oz) beverage of your choice!

AND THEN…wait for a few minutes in Starbucks and . . .WALK OUT THE DOOR WITH A NICE, FRESH HOT CUP OF COFFEE OR TEA

Free Refills on Brewed Coffee or Tea

Paying with your registered Starbucks Card gets you brewed or iced coffee or tea refills at no charge during the same visit to a participating store.

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Step right up – Get your freebies right here!

Get your FREE $10 gift card from target with a $50 purchase! Print out the coupon here! Hurry before they stop giving them! (Thanks, Cha-ching on A Shoestring!)
Need a date with your honey? Here’s a coupon for $10 off a $30 purchase at TGI Friday’s, good through the end of January (Scroll over Dec 1st and print coupon! They have lots of other cool gaming coupons too!)

Are you following me on Facebook yet? Why not? LIKE ME< LIKE ME< LIKE ME!!  : )

Have you checked out my tre’ cool book??

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