Saturday, July 30, 2011

12 Fun Things to Do In Summer Without Breaking the Bank

What's in and what's out this summer? The Cheapskate has your answer.

By Jeff Yeager

Fun Things to Do in Summer
You don't have to take out a second mortgage to have a blast this summer. Here's what's hot and what's not when it comes to having summer fun in the New Economy:
Photo Credit: SuperStock/Getty and Istock Photo Illustration
Out: Country Clubs
Initiation fees and annual dues will easily set you back a hefty five figures, according to the Club Manager's Association of America.
Photo Credit: SuperStock / Getty Images
In: Local Sports Leagues
For kids and adults, summer softball, volleyball, soccer and a host of other amateur sports leagues are the new, cool clubs to join. Most charge some type of dues or fees, but unlike country clubs, it's rarely an amount that's going to be a tradeoff between bankrupting your kid's college fund and being able to say "I belong to a club." See for a league near you.
Related: The Surprising Origins of 4 Popular Lawn Games
Photo Credit: Vicky Kasala/ Getty Images
Out: Amusement Parks
Entry fees and add-ons at even local amusement parks can easily cost a family a four well over $100, with major parks costing nearly that much per person per day.
Photo Credit: Burazin / Getty Images
In: County Fairs
County fairs can be an affordable alternative to pricey amusement parks. Find fairs in your area, and ask about special discount days for families, kids, seniors, etc. Some fairs even allow you to carry food into the fairgrounds to have a picnic with the family, saving you even more.
Related: 12 of the Best U.S. Farmers' Markets
Photo Credit: Nicole Hill / Getty Images
Out: Expensive Dinner Parties and Restaurant Meals
Tired of always being stuck with the check when you go out to eat with friends? Try these money-saving alternatives.
Photo Credit: Sasha / Getty Images
In: Pot-lucks, Backyard BBQ's and Progressive Dinner Parties
Eating in is the new eating out. Try setting a theme (e.g. Mexican night, all-crock-pot feast, etc.) for potlucks to make them more festive and fun. You can also share the cooking – and the costs – by having a moveable feast, with each of your friends hosting the group in their home for one course of a progressive dinner party.
Related: 28 Delicious Summer Recipes
Photo Credit: Hill Street Studios / Getty Images
Out: Water Parks
Sure they're fun and refreshing on a hot summer day, but they can really soak you financially.
Photo Credit: SuperStock / Getty Images
In: Squirt Guns, Water Balloons and Kiddie Pools
For less than the cost of a single one-day ticket to an expensive water park, you can probably equip yourself for a whole summer's worth of wet-n-wild fun. Save your empty squeeze bottles from dish soap and repurpose them as high-caliber squirt guns, or make your own "super soaker" out of common household items using the directions found
Related: 6 Facts and Myths about Swimming Safety
Photo Credit: Darryl Leniuk / Getty Images
Out: Green Fees
A round of golf will cost you about $40 at a public course, according to the National Golf Foundation, and usually a lot more at private courses.
Photo Credit: Stockbyte / Getty Images
In: Living Green
Of course living green is always in, but in the summer it can be extra fun and save you even more money by planting a backyard vegetable garden. If you don't have space for a garden, many vegetables can be grown in pots and other containers, including most herbs, tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, and even radishes and beets. Or consider planting some perennial vegetables, which will deliver a fresh crop every year once they're established.
Related: Organic Gardening Tips
Photo Credit: Mike Harrington / Getty Images
Out: Luxury Cruises
A cruise can easily cost hundreds of dollars per day, and that's before all the add-ons the industry is notorious for pushing.
Photo Credit: Tim Bradley / Getty Images
In: Canoe, Kayak and Tube Rentals
Be the captain of your own boat! There are thousands of local canoe liveries and outfitters around the country where you can rent a canoe, kayak, inner tube or raft for less than the cost of a round of piƱa coladas onboard the Love Boat. Find an outfitter near you at — and be sure to always wear your life jacket.
Related: America's 11 Most Endangered Rivers
Photo Credit: Chris Cole / Getty Images
Out: Fancy Resorts and Hotels
Lodging is often the single largest expense on a summer vacation, but what it cost you nothing?
Photo Credit: Constance Bannister Corp / Getty Images
In: Camping and Couch Surfing
There are plenty of places where you can camp for free(or cheap), including many National Forests where "primitive camping" is usually allowed for free. And when you're on the road, many Wal-Marts will let you camp overnight in your RV in their parking lots. If you're looking for indoor accommodations, check out, a nonprofit organization with half a million hosts all around the world who will let travelers crash on their couches for free.
Related: Why I Stay at the Cheapest Sleazy Hotels
Photo Credit: Bigshots / Getty Images
Out: Sailing Yachts
Can't spare $103 million for a yacht like this one? Then...
Photo Credit: George Marks / Getty Images
In: Sailing Kites
... go fly a kite! Making your own kites is almost as much fun as flying them. You can even recycle materials like newspaper and paper bags in the process. And cloth rags or old neckties make perfect kite tails.
Related: How to Reuse and Recycle Almost Anything
Photo Credit: Ariel Skelley / Getty Images
Out: Spas and Massages
I've never understood how a $100 an hour massage can be relaxing. The very thought of spending that much makes me tense.
Photo Credit: Topical Press Agency
In: Napping in the Hammock
The simple things in life are often times the best. Relaxing in a backyard hammock is hard to beat, but if you hang one between two trees, make sure you don't hurt or kill the trees by driving nails or screws into them or leaving ropes or cords wrapped around them permanently. Another fun summer project is to make your own hammock.
Related: Summer Cocktail Recipes with Garden Ingredients
Photo Credit: Christa Renee / Getty Images
Out: Summer Camps for the Kids
According to the National Camp Association, the typical sleep-away summer camp charges about $1,000 per week (homesickness counseling included).
Photo Credit: Grundy / Getty Images
In: Sleepovers
Set up a rotating schedule of summer sleepovers with your kids' network of friends, so that they can still tell ghost stories 'til the wee hours and every set of parents get some kid-free time. And for inexpensive, fun programs during the day, check out the schedule of summer activities at your local parks and rec department.
Related: 30 Ways to Get Your Kid to Play Outside
Photo Credit: Yellow Dog Productions / Getty Images
Out: The Latest Summer Fashions
Fashionistas tell me that the must-have shoe for men this summer is the Car Shoe. At $480 a pair, that's nearly as much as I paid for my last car.
Photo Credit: Popperfoto / Getty Images
In: Last Summer's Fashions
Can't we just agree that the last summer's colors and styles are still in vogue and save ourselves a bunch of money? And, looking ahead to next summer, don't forget to shop for end-of-season bargains come August — if you buy that swim suit on sale at the end of this summer, it might just inspire you to fit into it come next summer. Now that's fashionable.
Related: 5 End-of-Season Sales to Watch For
Photo Credit: IMAGE 13 / Getty Images

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Bane of my Existence - Fruit Flies!

We eat organic fruits and veggies…well, as much as we can.

There are times that we buy non-organic on the fruits that are not part of the Dirty Dozen.

Whatever the case, the fruit comes home from the grocery store and into our fruit basket.

If we don’t eat the fruit fast enough, or get it into the fridge at the first signs of over-ripeness, one of the banes of my existence comes to fruition.


Well, flies in general are just so awful and terrible, especially here in Texas, but at least flies can be killed easily…’s those incessantly irritating fruit flies that I can’t stand.

What, then, is the solution? It would be so nice and easy just to grab a can of Raid and spray out the area, but then I’d be exposing all of us…and our produce….to extremely harmful and poisonous chemicals that would penetrate our body. Yuk!  Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of organic?

Before we talk about solutions, please know that after my research, I have learned that fruit flies have a life cycle of 10 days.  Therefore, although you may kill many, there are those few vigilant ones that can beat the tricks and survive the length of their cycle.  If given the opportunity, they will lay about 500 eggs – and they lay their eggs near the surface of the food that you still intend to consume!

Did you know that one rotten veggie – lost and forgotten in the back of your pantry – such as an old potato….can potentially breed thousands of fruit flies? So can a recycling bin or trash can stored in the basement or garage which is never emptied or cleaned!!! (

So, for those of you that know and understand my pain, here are some non-chemical ways to eliminate those pesky fruit flies.

Find the source.
            Once you have fruit flies, the war begins! Find out where they are breeding
and eliminate the source – think about places like fruit baskets, pantries,
disposals, trash cans, etc.  Potential breeding sites which are incaccessible can be inspected by taping a clear plastic food storage bag over the opening overnight.  If flies are breeding in these areas, such as your sink disposal, then the adults will emerge and be caught in the bag.

Eliminate the source.
            Fruits and veggies that are ripe should be immediately eaten, refrigerated
or thrown away!

To repel these annoying pests, just put a few sprigs of mint around your fruit bowl.
Or, if you have fruit flies hovering around the garbage can or your bunch of bananas, set out a small plastic container filled with a mixture of 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, 6 drops of liquid dish detergent and ½ cup of water. The bugs will fly in, but they won’t fly out.

Our solution:

Take a small container, such as a coffee cup and put something sweet in it, such as a piece of fruit that has been sliced (oranges, strawberries, etc.).  Cover the cup with a piece of seran wrap and seal it with a rubberband or ponytail holder. Pierce a couple of holes in the top of the seran wrap – what this does is entice the flies and allows them to enter the cup….unfortunately, they have no idea how to get out.

I usually, at this point carefully fill the cup with water to drown them and the swish them down the sink.

A better approach, however, is to construct a trap by placing a paper funnel (rolled from a sheet of notebook paper) into a jar which is then baited with a few ounces of cider vinegar. Place the jar trap(s) wherever fruit flies are seen. This simple but effective trap will soon catch any remaining adult flies which can then be killed or released outdoors.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

$12.50 for Bottle Openers Made from Disarmed & Recycled Nuclear Missile Systems

Sugar Cookie Cupcakes Accidentally Delicious #Recipe

By: Three Kids and Us

Here I am in my kitchen with this gorgeous hot pink mixer prepped and ready to stir the heck out of my cake batter masterpiece. I’ve got my bag of flour, sugar, eggs, butter and miscellaneous ingredients ready to go. In my mind I’m envisioning this fluffy cupcake richly flavored with white chocolate and topped with a mound of white chocolate buttercream.

The reality is, there’s not a drop of white chocolate in the cupcakes I made. Why? Because I burned the dang chocolate that’s why! It really irks me because I’m always very careful about melting chocolate. I have a no fail routine that involves my microwave, low heat and lots of stirring. But in less than 30 seconds my white chocolate chips went from morsel to glob to concrete. I was so mad at myself I threw the dang bowl in the garbage can along with the burned chocolate … which I’ll probably go fish back out before I go to bed. What kind of dummy throws away a bowl?

Anyways, so I burned the chocolate but I didn’t give up. At the very least I wanted to salvage my cake batter so I pulled out my bottle of vanilla bean paste. If you don’t know what it is or don’t have it, buy it! This stuff is like vanilla beans on steroids. The thick vanilla syrup dazzles you with little vanilla bean speckles and makes everything it touch taste like heaven.
Maybe it was the vanilla bean paste or perhaps the crapload of sugar I poured in the batter, whatever the magical ingredient was, it made cupcakes that taste just like sugar cookies. The tops are slightly crispy (like a cookie) but the inside is soft like cake. I ate 3 of them before I took this picture and might have had another after I inserted it into this blog post.
Oh and aside from totally messing up the white chocolate, it dawned on me after I finished baking the cupcakes that the reason my batter was so thick was because I forgot the milk. This is what happens when you have a toddler on your leg and a husband asking where he’s suppose to put the baking powder back at. You forget things. And burn things. Regardless, these cupcakes are good!
These are so good no icing, frosting, or whatever you typically cover cupcakes with is necessary. They’re that good.
4.7 from 3 reviews
Recipe Type: Dessert
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 tsps baking powder
  • 1 stick salted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 TBS vanilla bean paste
  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees F
  2. In an electric mixer, stir together butter, sugar eggs and vanilla until combined.
  3. Add baking powder and flour until combined.
  4. Fill cupcake cups 3/4 full with batter and bake for 15 – 20 mins until done.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

And the Winners are ....

Out of 194 valid entries, the winner of the Thermos Foogo is:

NW Homesteader - Lis

She won by Liking Going Green with Noah on Facebook!

Out of 61 entries, the winner of the Tropical Traditions All Purpose Cleaner is 

Sabrina @ecobabymamadram

She won by Following Tropical Traditions on Twitter!


Both winners will have 48 hours to confirm their wins!

Congratulations and good luck on future giveaways!

Sprout Blog Hop: Keeping Cool

I was asked to help co-host the Green Blog Hop with Sprout's Green Family this week!  Yeah!

The theme this week is Keeping Cool - Naturally.  I know that everyone seems to have had a hot summer, but I don't think that anyone can parallel with the heat bubble we've endured in Dallas this year.  We are currently experiencing day 23 of 100+ temperatures, with no relief in sight!

Really! Look at these temperatures...and these don't account for the Heat Indexes! Geez.  I guess it's probably a good thing that I'm on bedrest!

1) Wear lightweight clothing - preferably organic.

Wearing lightweight clothing allows your body to stay cool through circulation.  Why organic?  Cotton is one of the most pesticide filled crops out there.  With our body absorbing 70% of what it touches, why would you not choose a better cotton?

2) Use a deodorant and not an anti-perspirant.

I actually used to scoff at this concept.  Why would I want to sweat?'s God's way of allowing our body to stay cool.  Not sweating is like telling a dog not to pant.

I use Tom's All-Natural deodorant to stay fresh while not restricting a normal function of the body by lathering it with Zinc Oxide.

3) Place cool cloths on your body.  

Do you remember when you were sick as a little kid?  Do you remember when your parents used to put a cold rag on your forehead to keep you cool while feverish?  This is the same concept!

4) Run fans rather than knocking down the A/C

Not only does this actually help circulate indoor air, but uses less power than your A/C, therefore reducing your electric bill AND reducing the strain on the overloaded power grids.

So, what are some ways that you cool down naturally?

Leave a comment below and then HOP HOP HOP!


Monday, July 25, 2011

36 Weeks Along....

The day before that mark (Saturday), I was BACK in the hospital, as I was having contractions every 6-8 minutes.
They gave me more Terbutaline and fluids and discharged me, even though my contractions hadn’t completely ceased.
Now, I’ve been dealing with some severe nerve pain in my lower back that radiates up my spine! Ugh.
I have also moved from looseto strict bedrest for the duration.  So now we wonder if they will take her early or continue to postpone until her due date.
Jonathan is still being a wonderful stronghold for me and a trooper in having to be the married single dad.
I love being pregnant, but with the constant contractions and now the pain in my back, I’m ready for Amelia to be here!

Beat the Heat: Natural Home Remedies for Sunburns

In hot weather, it can be easy to accidentally get overheated or sunburned, even if we’re careful. Soothe sensitive skin with these spa-like treatments you can make with grocery-store ingredients.

Yogurt Mask  
To relieve the heat and redness of a sunburned face, apply a thick paste of cold yogurt and chamomile essential oil. Because yogurt is a good source of lactic acid (a natural alpha-hydroxy acid), it gently smoothes rough skin. Yogurt also has mild bleaching action, and if applied often (three or more times a week) can help lighten discoloration caused by excessive sun exposure. Greek yogurts are thicker than other varieties. If your yogurt is runny, strain it through cheesecloth to remove excess moisture.

2 tablespoons thick, plain yogurt, strained if necessary
2 drops chamomile essential oil

1. Mix yogurt and chamomile essential oil.
2. Smooth the mixture over your face and neck.
3. Leave mask on for 15 minutes, then gently rinse skin with tepid water.

Lavender-Baking Soda Bath 
The quickest way to relieve the heat of a sunburn is to take a cool bath. Cool water helps lower skin’s surface temperature, and baking soda and lavender essential oil soothe tender skin.

1 cup baking soda
10 drops lavender essential oil

1. Add baking soda and lavender essential oil to a tub of comfortably cool water and stir well to dissolve the baking soda.
2. Soak for 15 minutes or more.

Aloe-Green Tea-Lavender Mist 
To cool skin and encourage rejuvenation, mist on a mix of green tea, aloe vera juice and lavender essential oil. (Refrigeration aids its cooling power.)

1/4 cup brewed green tea, cooled
1/4 cup aloe vera juice (available at grocery and natural food stores)
1/4 teaspoon lavender essential oil

1. Mix together green tea, aloe and lavender oil in a spray bottle. Shake well.
2. Spray liberally onto skin as often as desired.
3. Refrigerate and use within 2 weeks.

Sip ’n Sigh  
Green tea contains high levels of skin-rejuvenating antioxidants. If you’re sunburned, drink three cups of green tea daily (try it iced!) for an extra boost of healing power.

Burn Out 
It’s best to avoid sunburns, but many commercial sunscreens contain potentially harmful chemicals. Opt for all-natural versions to keep burns at bay.

Read more: 
Natural Home and Garden

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

And the Winners Are.....

Congratulations to ......

Cara from Dallas for winning the EcoMaids Initial Cleaning Service

AND to

Chelsei for winning the $60 gift certificate out of nearly 5,000 entries!!!

The New Milk Ad does a body good!

One of the classic advertising campaigns that we all grew up with.

Now, the Milk council has designed a new ad campaign targeted at men, in order to help their wives and girlfriends drink more milk.

We've all seen the "got milk" ads. Well, the milk people are taking things to a new level with a controversial ad campaign.
Why? Because a 1999 study found a link between milk and post menstrual syndrome, Fox 29's Kerry Barrett reported.
The ad campaign suggests that PMS symptoms can be subsided with a glass of milk.
The print advertisements feature so-called apologies for men to use when they feel like women are going through their time of the month.
And there's a website mocking a code-red global PMS emergency.
But the campaign is rubbing people the wrong way, with many women calling it sexist and insulting.

I think they are hilarious.  Why not, right?
If it can help us with PMS AND the lack of calcium that women intake on a daily basis, why not make fun of men also in the process - in their silly remarks and awkwardness toward "that time in the month"