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Category: Frugal Fun

Our $0.31 night of fun!

Did you get your $0.31 ice cream from Baskin Robbins tonight? We certainly did!

We've missed a lot of the other recent great food freebies and deals since I was too sick to make it out of the house. But the antibiotics are finally kicking into gear and I'm feeling much more energetic (I didn't know that was possible at 40 weeks pregnant, but compared to how sick I was last week, I feel great this week!) so we ventured out tonight to enjoy some very inexpensive and delicious ice cream.

Of course, apparently we weren't the only ones to have decided to hit up Baskin Robbins tonight. In fact, we had a hard time even finding a place to park–there were scores of people everywhere when we pulled up! The line was stretched quite far out the door but that didn't deter us. After all, patience is a virtue, right?

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Waiting on the bench outside for Daddy to bring our ice cream. Kaitlynn wasn't too thrilled at having her picture taken!

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And still waiting for Daddy to get to the front of the line! The girls were very patient and had a blast watching through the window as the long line of people gradually made it up to the ice cream counter.

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Ice cream at last! Yum!

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Yours truly (aka The Very Pregnant and Swollen Mama!) with my two little precious girlies.

It was a fun and memorable evening–all for only $0.31 per person!

Guest Post: Frugal Fall Family Fun

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photo by Brian Hathcock

Guest Post by Kate from Cincinnati Cents

Fall is such a magical time of year for children. Trees seem to change right before their eyes, bursting into brilliant hues of red, yellow, and orange. The warm air of summer has subtly been replaced with cooler, crisper mornings. Children are amazed by their power to create a frosty cloud when breathing into the cool fall air. It is a season of change, and with that change, comes a limitless supply of family fun that will last until the first snows of winter.

Pumpkins are wonderfully symbolic of harvest time, and most children have an amazing fascination with them. For young children who are not quite ready for the carving experience, paint is a creative option.  Don an old t-shirt, lay out newspapers on the table (I’m sure we all have plenty lying around), and pour paint into old yogurt cups. Voila! You have the perfect recipe for creativity. Cheerful faces can be painted on to adorn your child’s pumpkin, and their creations will last right through the Thanksgiving season.

For older children, carving a pumpkin is always a memorable experience. From the first cut into a pumpkin, the kitchen is filled with the fresh smell of autumn. The seeds that are scooped out can be washed and set aside for later roasting. They make a yummy treat after the hard work of creating a perfect pumpkin.

The designs for pumpkin carvings are limitless. There are several online sites that offer free downloadable templates, with everything from very traditional pumpkin faces, to popular characters, and intricate scenes. Once the pumpkin is carved to satisfaction, a candle can be placed inside, and you have a one-of-a-kind autumn decoration.

Autumn leaves offer a great potential for creativity as well. Placed under paper, children can create rubbings of the leaves they find. Unpeel the paper from your child’s crayon, and rub the side of the crayon against the paper. Children are often amazed that the texture and shape of the leaf magically appears on their paper. As an added learning experience, older children can then identify their leaves, and label them accordingly.

Colorful leaves can also be torn and arranged on a sheet of waxed paper in the shape of animals or other objects of your child’s liking. Once your child is satisfied with his or her creation, place another sheet of waxed paper on top of the leaf design. Carefully iron the creation on low heat. The leaf project will need to cool for a few minutes; afterwards, punch a hole in the top of the waxed paper, slip a string through, and your child will have a unique fall creation to hang up.

Fall projects can also be created through the use of “puffy paint”. Mix equal parts of white shaving cream and white school glue. Add in various colors to create a multitude of options for projects. I often use Kool Aid to color our puffy paint, as it is inexpensive, and forms bright hues. Children can then use this “paint” to make puffy pumpkins or fall leaves (be sure to use heavy paper, as this paint is very thick).  When finished, glitter can be sprinkled on top to give the project a shimmery effect. These should be laid flat to dry for 24-48 hours, depending on how thick the paint is applied.

Of course, if you do not feel creative this Fall, that’s perfectly alright, too. Grab a rake, pile up a mound of leaves, and turn the clock back a few years. Jump with your children and let the leaves fly. It’s amazing how much fun it is to be a child again!  Enjoy your Fall!

Katie is a homeschooling mother of four. She blogs at Cincinnati Cents,
where she shares money-saving ideas, deals, and frugal activities to
enjoy as a family.

Ask the Readers: Food ideas for a road trip?

Cherilyn emailed and asked:

We are planning a 16+ hour road trip in December with three
adults, two kids, and two dogs – yikes! The decreasing gas prices are a
blessing but we would like to save even more by taking most of our own
food. We don't want to have to stop for every meal. Can you give me
some ideas for inexpensive ideas for eating on the road? Ideas beyond
bottled water, beef jerky, and muffins are appreciated since that is
all I can come up with. Thank you! -Cherilyn

I know many of you will probably be doing some traveling to visit family and friends over the next two months so I'd love to hear any and all ideas for road-tripping on the cheap–especially when it comes to food. What are some of your favorite frugal foods to pack and eat on the road? What ideas do you have for keeping food fresh and tasty while traveling? I'm anxious to hear!

Guest Post: Family Fun Night

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photo by Ella’s Dad

Guest Post by Katie from Cincinnati Cents

After a busy week of school, work, and extra-curricular activities, it’s sometimes difficult to imagine cramming another activity into an already-packed schedule. However, taking the time to purposefully plan a block of family time together is worth more than every quiet moment we could ever possess.

Picking one evening every week (or every other week, as your life may dictate at the time) as a “family fun night” allows families the ability to reconnect on a weekly basis, ensuring no one is lost in the shuffle of the daily routines of our lives. The night chosen is immaterial, as is the exact amount of time allotted to the event. It is crucial, however, that the activity chosen is enjoyable for all, and that every member of the family feels included. The focus should be on the family unit as a whole, and not on one particular individual.   

There are always a few more popular choices around our house for a family evening together. In the winter, and during inclement weather, our children love having a picnic in the living room. We spread blankets out over the entire floor (which not only creates a “picnic” atmosphere, but protects the carpet as well!), and enjoy our picnic dinner together. We often put on our family movies, recapturing the kids’ younger moments together. They laugh together at each others’ antics and marvel at how small they once were.

Cooking together is another fun choice for families. One of our favorites is making homemade pizza. The smell of warm yeast quickly gathers everyone around the kitchen counter, and eager hands rapidly knead the dough. Once the dough has risen, and is rolled out to the desired shape, children enjoy choosing their own toppings, and “decorating” their pizza. It is simple to make personal sized pizzas, allowing each child to become a master chef for the evening.

A family game night is an inclusive choice for families with children of varying ages. Older children can pair up with younger siblings for more challenging games, thus allowing co-sibling teams to be formed. On the flip side, younger children delight in playing their favorites with older family members. If every family member chooses one game, no one feels excluded. But, of course, who chooses first? Put numbers in a bowl and allow everyone to choose. This not only ensures a fair order, but also assists younger children in easy number recognition (as a homeschooling mom, I can’t resist those “teachable moments”!).

As odd as it sounds, we have also made family cleaning into a fun evening on more than one occasion. We have a master list of weekly chores that we highlight as we go along. When we choose this “divide and conquer” method, every child picks a few jobs out of each category. We then divvy up washcloths and cleaners (or spray bottles of water for our younger ones), put on some loud music that we all enjoy, and dive in. Afterwards, the kids tend to find a treat that has mysteriously appeared on the counter– usually ice cream!

The possibilities for a planned day or evening together are endless. The end result however, is priceless. Everyone goes away with such a feeling of connectedness–a sense of belonging that cannot be recreated outside this integral family unit. These moments are worth more than any number a price tag could bear.

Katie is a homeschooling mother of four. She blogs at Cincinnati Cents,
where she shares money-saving ideas, deals, and frugal activities to
enjoy as a family.

From Crystal: What are some of your family’s favorite ways to celebrate a night of fun together without spending a lot of money? I’d love to hear!

Guest Post: All From One Little Pumpkin

Guest Post by Monica from The Homespun Heart

One of my favorite Fall decorations is a simple pumpkin! I

recently purchased a 3.4 lb. pie pumpkin at Wal-Mart for $0.78/lb. I thought it would be fun to see how much we could do with just one pumpkin several days in a row to really stretch the value of purchasing it!

Join me as we follow the life of the this small pumpkin…

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When I first brought the pumpkin home, it made a lovely decoration perched on my porch.

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A few days later, it made a fun greeting for a few ladies I had over for an Autumn in Avonlea gathering.

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The next morning, it made a fun vase for our First Day of Autumn breakfast.

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And, at lunch, a great hiding place for lunch during our scavenger hunt.

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Next, I cooked the pumpkin. (Just half the pumpkin and place cut side down on a baking sheet for one hour at 350 degrees; I got about four cups of cooked pumpkin from the two pumpkins I cooked.)

I used the cooked pumpkin and made some delicious Pumpkin Struesel Muffins.

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Pumpkin Streusel Muffins

1/4 c. margarine or butter, softened

1/2 c. sugar

1/4 c. brown sugar

2/3 c. pumpkin

1/2 c. buttermilk

2 eggs

2 c. flour

1 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Streusel Topping:

1/3 c. flour

3 Tbsp. brown sugar

2 Tbsp. cold butter or margarine

For muffins: cream together margarine and sugars. Add all remaining ingredients and mix together. In a separate bowl, cut together streusel ingredients and sprinkle over muffin batter. Bake in prepared muffin tin at 375 for 20-25 minutes. Makes one dozen muffins. Original recipe from Quick Cooking May/June 2000.

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We were able to tie the muffins into our homeschooling this week by having an ‘unbirthday’ party (we’ve been reading Ask Mr. Bear!)

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Then we toasted the seeds for a snack. Here’s the recipe we used:

Sugared Pumpkin Seeds

2 c. pumpkin seeds (from two pie pumpkins; rinsed and dried on a baking sheet for 48 hours)
1 egg white mixed with 1 Tbsp. water (save the egg yolk for your next batch of pancakes or scrambled eggs!)

1 c. sugar

3/4 tsp. cinnamon

3/4 tsp. nutmeg

1 tsp. salt

Mix seeds and egg white mixture. Add remaining spices and mix well. Spread on greased baking sheet and bake at 275 degrees for one hour stirring every 15 minutes.

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I think I’ll send some in my husband’s lunch tomorrow. After this yummy baking, we took a short walk outside and enjoyed coming into a cozy smelling home!

All that from a $2.68 pumpkin!

How do you like to stretch a pumpkin? I look forward to hearing your ideas!

Monica enjoys blogging about the simple pleasures of faith, family and home over at The Homespun Heart.