Archives for May 2010

WFMW: Connect With Other Bloggers

I’m devoting Wednesdays to Blogging Tips that work for me. Last week, I shared how I use blog memes.
Tip #2 is….Connect with other bloggers.

Connecting with others brings you so many benefits–a friend to bounce ideas off or work through struggles alongside, guest posts and content material, referrals to monetizing and PR opportunities, sharing information so you’re not reinventing the wheel, and more.

There are many ways to connect. Use whatever works for you:

  • Comments! Leave a comment on posts you read, ask a question, compliment them, or share how they’re reaching you with their writing. Sometimes I get a response back via email.
  • Twitter. When you see another blogger is online, Twitter works as IM. You can chat, ask questions, collaborate, share. By retweeting other bloggers’ posts and tweets, you’re creating rapport.
  • Meet-ups, both formal and informal. Just a few weeks ago, some of us Northern VA frugal bloggers had dinner together. It was great to meet each other after online knowing each other “virtually” for so long. Then last week, I went to MomzShare, a great meet-up of DC area mom bloggers (and there were even gluten-free cupcakes!). It was crazy with 70+ bloggers in attendance, but I met a lot of new people I’d only seen in blogland.
  • Skype and old-fashioned telephone. So far, I’m only using Skype for its IM function (can’t figure out the microphone part), but it’s useful because you can create a chat for many many people at once. Having a conversation with 10 people is interesting! But there’s lots to share and learn. I set up a night to chat with a local blogging friend, and when we couldn’t get Skype to work, I just picked up the phone. We discussed our challenges and obstacles and helped each other out.
  • Conferences. To do a lot of networking, learning, and meeting new people all at once, you can try a Blog Conference. I’m going back to Type A Mom in September. It’s just my pace, a smaller conference, and I’m excited to learn more after being another year into this crazy venture.
How do you connect with other bloggers? How has it helped you?

For more Works for Me Wednesday tips (not just blogging–all types!), head over to We Are That Family.

Photo Mug Deals

Walmart Photo is offering an 11oz. Photo Mug for just $5.00 with free shipping to store. You can also have it shipped to your home for just .97 more. This mug is on Rollback from its original price of

SeeHere also has a deal on their 11oz. Photo Mug. It’s just $6.49 with FREE shipping when you use code mug2010 by May 31st. If you’re a new customer, you’ll also get 50 FREE Prints with your first order (shipping is $3.19 for those prints).

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for supporting Moneywise Moms!

Kids Clinic at Lowe’s: Race Car

This Saturday, May 29th from 10:00-11:00am, kids can make a Race Car at Lowe’s Build & Grow Clinic. Check with your local store for participation and be sure to register ahead of time.

Lowe’s runs a great clinic. Not only do your kids get to make the project, but they also receive a free apron, pair of goggles, project-themed patch, and a merit certificate for each project. My son enjoys collecting the patches.

There are so many opportunities for FREE family fun on the weekends, which I love to share with you. If you haven’t yet, subscribe to Moneywise Moms via email or RSS Reader and get the posts delivered to you daily.

Dollar Store Hurricanes

There are still bunnies in my house. With the hectic pace of the past few months (seriously, how is May almost over already?), I’ve let the spring decorations go way too long. The pool opens this weekend, so isn’t it technically the beginning of summer? Time to spruce things up a bit!

I first fell in love with Dollar Store Hurricanes when 320 Sycamore made them in the fall, filled with candles and leaves. Then, Tidy Mom showed how to fill them for the holidays with peppermint sticks, ornaments, and candy, tied up with festive red ribbon. And then they were back on the blogs for Easter, filled with Easter candy, eggs, and pretty spring colored glass pebbles.

I’m finally getting around to making some. They couldn’t be easier, and it only takes a few minutes (my kind of project!). You need:

  • Glass candlestick for the base ($1 at Dollar Tree)
  • Vase for hurricane top (these comes in all shapes and sizes for $1)
  • E6000 glue or Gorilla Glue (you can use hot glue, but it won’t be permanent, so if you bump the hurricane at some point, the pieces may separate)
  • Filler–candy, glass pebbles, candle, shells etc.

Take the labels off your glassware. If you have trouble removing the adhesive, try vinegar–it works great! Glue the vase to the candlestick, centering it as best you can. Let this dry thoroughly, then fill with your favorite seasonal items. I shopped my house and found some dollar store moss (another $1) and a bunch of seashells the kids hadn’t stashed away. The girls helped me fill each hurricane, and then I put them way up high where no one could knock them over. (Sorry about the glare in the photo, I don’t get enough natural light in the living room).

For more DIY projects–room redos, crafts, recipes, and more–go to A Soft Place to Land. For all kinds of fun craft projects, see Skip to My Lou, Just a Girl’s Show & Share Day , Frugal Friday at The Shabby Nest and Somewhat Simple.

Free Museum Admission for Military Families

From Memorial Day (May 31st) through Labor Day (September 6), military families can get FREE admission at over 600 museums across the country, everything from children’s museums and fine art museums to history and science museums.

Blue Star Families, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts have created the Blue Star Museums program. All active duty service members and their immediate family (up to 5 family members, including spouse, child or sibling) can participate. Check the FAQ for identification requirements and a list of participating museums.

Save $10 on $25 Purchase at Office Depot

Office Depot has released this printable coupon good for $10 off a $25+ purchase. The coupon can be used on paper, select ink & toner, office supplies, technology products, furniture, Copy & Print Services, and more. Valid in-store only, and it expires June 19th. Some Staples stores will accept Office Depot coupons; call your local store to ask if they’ll accept this competitor’s coupon.

Office Depot has several FREE-after-rebate software deals running this week. Check them out at Madame Deals.

Meal Plan Monday: Adapting to Gluten-Free

It’s been one week since I went gluten-free, and so far? I’m hungry. Really hungry. Even though I’m eating way more fruits and vegetables, I don’t feel like I’m gettnig enough fiber, and I don’t feel as full. High fiber foods have been my main way of dealing with my gastro problems up till now, so I’m a little unsure about that part. A big plus that I have found so far, whether or not I turn out to have a sensitivity, is that eating FF is helping me break bad habits–for example, as I’m cleaning up the breakfast dishes, I would normally pop the kids’ extra food in my mouth, but I’m not doing that. I’m not eating brownies and cookies, or mindlessly snacking during the day. I still have a sweet tooth, but I understand that can change as I continue. I hope so, as that’s one of my worst eating habits.

Adapting my usual recipes has been pretty easy. I found GF soy sauce to use in my Pineapple Pork recipe and for this week’s fish. Last week’s Mexican Breakfast Casserole was a big hit with all of us, and I had the leftovers for lunch.

Sunday–Beef Tacos with taco shells, tomato, lettuce, black beans, rice

Monday–Asian Fish in a Packet, which is a complete meal with veggies and brown rice

Tuesday–Broccoli Pie (I bought a GF pancake mix to substitute for the Bisquick), salad

Wednesday--Garlic & Thyme Chicken in the crockpot (look for that recipe later this week), quinoa pilaf, salad

Thursday–Turkey & Parmesan Pasta (I found rice pasta at Trader Joe’s, and make sure your beef bouillon is GF), green beans

Friday–Chicken, Peppers and Potatoes, frozen peas (this was on last week’s plan but we had some sort of crazy night so we haven’t had it yet)

Saturday–BBQing with neighbors. I bought flank steak, so we’ll have it with grilled peppers, mushrooms and onions–yum!

For more meal plans, see the big linky at I’m an Organizing Junkie. For more Gluten-Free Meal Plans, there’s one hosted by Celiacs in the House this week. To join us next week, see the rules at Gluten-Free Goodness.

Today’s the last day to enter to win a $25 Grocery Gift Card to the store of your choice! I’m picking the winner tonight at 10:00pm.

Free Busch Gardens Tickets for FL and VA Residents

Busch Gardens Williamsburg is offering FREE Preschool Passes to celebrate the 1-year anniversary of their Sesame Street Forest of Fun (a mini-version of Sesame Place). It provides unlimited free admission to Busch Gardens for Virginia residents who are 5 years old or younger through September 6, 2010. Register here for your free Preschool Pass, and you can print your e-ticket right away or save the confirmation email to print it later. Kids one-day tickets are normally $51.95 for ages 3-9 (2 and under are free), so this is considerable savings. Thanks, Tammy, for the email.

For parents accompanying your little ones to the park, you can purchase a Fun Pass for $61.95 (same price as a one-day ticket) that gives you unlimited admission through September 6th. You’ll see that option after you register for the Preschool Passes, or you can buy one here.

Florida residents have the same deal at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, but the Preschool Pass runs through all of 2010 because of the better climate.

Finding Local Deals on Activities

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard of Groupon, a site that offers a daily deal in major cities on activities like spas, restaurants, tours, and more. Each day, a different offer is featured (and the deals are different for each city), at a 50% or more discount. If you choose to purchase the deal, you’ll know by midnight if the deal reached its minimum number of buyers, and it usually does. If not, the deal is canceled and your credit card is not charged. Readers reported on Facebook that they’ve purchased half-price memberships to the local science museum and got a Cheerios-encrusted minivan detailed for just $50.

Now the daily deal concept is growing, with a focus on kids! I was excited to meet Jamie, owner of Certifikid, which is a similar deals site that caters to businesses and events for kids in the DC area. The site launches this Monday, May 24th, and when you sign up, you’ll receive a daily email letting you know about the day’s deal. Expect to see deals on local birthday party entertainment, summer camps, and local photographers.

Disclosure: This posts contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Moneywise Moms!