Newsies Ticket Giveaway (Washington DC)

As part of its North America tour, Disney’s Newsies will be playing at The National Theatre in Washington DC from June 9-21. This high-energy musical was the winner of the 2012 Tony Awards® for Best Score and Best Choreography and is filled with song and dance. The score is by one of my favorite Disney composers, Alan Menken (who did Beauty and the Beast, among others), along with Jack Feldman. It’s the story of a band of underdogs who become unlikely heroes when they stand up to the most powerful men in New York. There’s so much to talk about with your kids before and after this show–like how to speak up for what’s right and stay true to who you are. The cast includes many young actors (some as young as 9!), and my kids always enjoy seeing these amazing talents on stage.

Newsies is traveling throughout the East Coast and Canada now through November, so find your local city. We’re excited that it’s here in Washington DC at The National Theatre.

Newsies Ticket Giveaway DC | Enter by June 8 | MoneywiseMoms

We’ve seen shows in The National Theatre before, and there are a lot of family-friendly productions in store for the 2015-16 season as well. My son is taking theater in middle school next year and pays more attention to the sets and lighting than the actors sometimes. He’s excited to see this show! If you’ve never attended a theater show with your child(ren), see my tips on Taking Kids to the Theater.

Giveaway Time!

Whether you’re a DC-area local or would like to travel in for the show, one lucky MoneywiseMoms reader will win 2 tickets to see Newsies at The National Theatre on Wednesday, June 10th. If you’re reading this in an email or RSS feed, you’ll need to click over to the blog to enter on the Rafflecopter widget.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway is open to the US and ends at 12:00 midnight ET on June 8th. I’ll email the winner, who will have 24 hours to respond and accept their prize. The winner will pick up the show tickets at the Will Call window.

Disclosure: The tickets for the Newsies ticket giveaway are provided by Allied Live, and I am receiving tickets to see the show.

Free Summer Computer Camps 2015

Free Summer Computer Camps for Kids 2015 | MoneywiseMoms

Have any computer kids in the house? I have three! Mine actually prefer writing stories on the computer, playing computer games, and doing programming rather than watching TV, so that’s their “screen time.” As much as I’d like them to try a summer camp for computer coding, the cost is just too much for us. These FREE Summer Computer Camps for Kids let us scratch that itch and try something new.


Free Computer Camps for Kids #summer 2015 | MoneywiseMoms

Last summer, we tried the free camp at our local Microsoft Store. The kids met every morning for five days in a row, learned how to use Kodu to create their own games, and brought home a thumb drive with their game on it. They were served snacks and drinks and also got a free Tshirt. My kids liked it and spent a lot of time on Kodu during the rest of the summer.

Microsoft Store FREE summer #camp class | MoneywiseMoms
YouthSpark Summer Camps

At Microsoft Stores nationwide, kids can attend a FREE YouthSpark Camp to learn digital moviemaking, graphic design, digital photography, and more. Each store offers their own schedule, so find your closest location. Then look at the calendar to register. You will need a Microsoft account to register (I just used my hotmail address) and can then register multiple kids with that account. Registration has already opened, so move quickly to get your FREE spot!

Apple Store FREE summer #camp class | MoneywiseMoms

Apple Camp

At Apple Stores nationwide, kids ages 8-12 can attend FREE Apple Camps to learn how to use iMovie and iPads to create music, shoot their own movies, and more. Find your local store to register. The workshop spans three days and ends with a Film Festival where kids can debut their work. The site doesn’t have registration up yet, so get on their email list so you can do it as soon as it opens.


11 Easy Pasta Dinners {Quick Recipes}

Easy Pasta Dinner - quick and healthy meals for busy summer nights | MoneywiseMoms

Who loves an easy pasta dinner? With summer upon us, we’ve moved away from casseroles and are looking for quick meals that come together easily on the stovetop or can be prepped ahead in the slow cooker. All of these 11 Easy Pasta Dinners include vegetables and can be made with your favorite pasta (I like wheat or protein pasta for extra nutrition). Add some of these recipes to your menu plan for a little variety this summer.
Creamy Sausage and Spinach Tortellini from Everyday Reading | Easy Pasta Dinners
Creamy Sausage and Spinach Tortellini from Everyday Reading

Just seven ingredients (and two are garlic & olive oil!) make this colorful and flavorful dish that cooks up quickly in one pot with a creamy tomato sauce.

One Pot Pasta Primavera from Oh My Veggies | Easy Pasta Dinners

One Pot Pasta Primavera from Oh My Veggies

Combine broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms and peas with your favorite pasta and an easy cream sauce with this fresh primavera.


Turkey Parmesan Pasta | Easy Pasta Dinners

Turkey Parmesan Pasta from MoneywiseMoms

This stovetop version of baked ziti lets you skip the oven and long cooking time and enjoy a cheesy, meaty meal in a half hour. Everything cooks in one pot, so clean up is easy, too!


Chicken Enchilada Pasta from Spoonful of Flavor | Easy Pasta Dinners

One Pot Chicken Enchilada Pasta from Spoonful of Flavor

Make your Taco Tuesday a twist by cooking pasta in enchilada sauce and adding cooked chicken, black beans and corn. Add whatever toppings you like once it’s ready to go.


One Pot Pasta from Damn Delicious | Easy Pasta Dinners

One Pot Pasta from Damn Delicious

It sounds odd to put sausage, onions, basil and tomatoes into a pot with water to boil and then just ignore it, but it really works. The water gets absorbed into the pasta, and this one-pot meal is ready to serve.


Chicken Broccoli Lo Mein from Mom Advice | Easy Pasta Dinners

Chicken Broccoli Lo Mein from Mom Advice

This quick-and-easy version of lo mein makes feeding the family so easy. My kids love this recipe.


Rainbow Peanut Noodles from Gimme Some Oven | Easy Pasta Dinners

Rainbow Peanut Noodles from Gimme Some Oven

Whenever I can have Pad Thai, I grab the chance. My son has a peanut allergy, so this recipe won’t happen in my house, but this lightened-up version includes more vegetables and protein than the tradition. Give it a try!

Slow Cooker Pork Ragu and Fettuccine | Easy Pasta Dinners

Slow Cooker Pork Ragu and Fettuccine from MoneywiseMoms

We enjoy this meal year-round. It’s a dump-in-the-slow-cooker-and-go recipe. I just boil the water for noodles, and while they’re cooking, I shred up the pork right in the pot. It’s easy and so delicious, my family requests it at least once a month!


Chicken Fajita Pasta from Kevin and Amanda | Easy Pasta Dinners

Chicken Fajita Pasta from Kevin and Amanda

This flavorful dish is made all in one pot (love that!) and uses homemade taco seasoning along with lots of fresh bell peppers.


Spinach Artichoke Mac and Cheese from House of Yumm | Easy Pasta Dinners

One Pot Spinach & Artichoke Mac and Cheese from House of Yumm

We eat a lot of mac & cheese, so I love finding novel recipes like this one that includes another of our favorite flavor combos (spinach and artichoke dip fans!). It’s another easy one-pot meal.


Chicken Lo Mein from The Wholesome Dish | Easy Pasta Dinners

One Pot Chicken Lo Mein from The Wholesome Dish

Yes, I know I’ve shared this recipe before, but it’s because it’s THAT GOOD. It’s in our regular meal plan rotation, and everyone loves it. It only takes a few minutes to chop everything up, it all goes in one skillet, then I cover and walk away. I love easy recipes like this!


Looking for more easy weeknight meals? Check out 5 Beginner Crockpot Meals and 10 Summer Slow Cooker Meals.


Linked up to DIY Craft and Recipe Linkup at The SITS Girls, Inspire Me Wednesdays at Adventures of Mel, Tasty Tuesdays at Creative K Kids. Fluster’s Creative Muster Party at Fluster Buster and Do Tell Tuesday at Mabey She Made It.

Moneywise Menu Plan 5-31 thru to 6-13

Oh my, it’s hot here in the DC area. We’ve completely skipped spring and gone straight to ridiculousy-humid, 90-degree sunny, thunderstorm-sticky days. It makes it even harder to cook and get dinner on the table every night.

I’ve been using a two-week menu plan so that I can spend less time planning. Once a week, I take a look at the menu, check my pantry and freezer to see what’s already on hand, and make my shopping list from there. It saves so much time!

Moneywise Menu Plan 5-31 | frugal family meals

Moneywise Menu Plan – 5/31 to 6/13

Sunday: Chicken with Mushrooms & Zucchini, cauliflower
Monday: Spinach Feta Pasta Salad
Tuesday: Taco Tuesday! Slow Cooker Shredded Pork Tacos with toppings, black beans and brown rice
Wednesday: Turkey Parmesan Pasta
Thursday: Chicken Caesar Salad and breadsticks
Friday: Chicken Sausage Pesto Pizzas with salad
Saturday: Tuna, Green Bean & Potato Salad

Sunday: Spinach Turkey Burgers, broccoli slaw, corn
Monday: Summer Orzo Salad from Oh My Veggies
Tuesday: Chicken Fajitas in the Deep Covered Baker
Wednesday: Crockpot Broccoli & Beef with brown rice noodles
Thursday: Almond Tilapia and Broccoli Slaw
Friday: Mediterranean Chicken in the slow cooker, served over quinoa
Saturday: Going out to dinner (I need a break!)


Menu Plan Resources

Free Summer Movies 2015 (and $1 Movies)

Stay cool this summer by chilling with your kids in an air-conditioned theater with these FREE Summer Movies and other low-cost ($1) Programs:

Free Summer Movies 2015 and other low-cost programs | MoneywiseMoms

B&B Theatres offers a Kids Summer Series with $2 movies Tuesday-Thursday at 10:00am and 12:30pm. Click on your local theater’s link to download the schedule.

BowTie Cinemas offers FREE movies every Tuesday and Wednesday morning at 10:00am starting June 23rd.

Cinemark Theatres offers Summer Movie Clubhouse for $1.00/show or a $5.00 pass for the whole summer, purchased in advance. The start date varies depending on what part of the country you’re in (what date school gets out).

Classic Cinemas offers their Wednesday Morning Movie Series for $1.00/show at 9:00am every Wednesday, starting June 10th. You can go early and see costumed characters.

Cobb Theatres offers FREE Summer Kids Shows Tuesday-Thursday at 10:00am. To see the schedule, you need to click through to your local theater and look in the left sidebar (here’s Leesburg, VA). Most start June 16th.

Harkins Theatres has Summer Movie Fun every weekday at 9:45, and you can purchase Season Tickets for all 10 shows for just $5-7 (depends on the theater), or pay as you go for $2/person.

Malco Theatres offers $2.00 movies every Tuesday and Wednesday at 10:00am, starting June 2nd, with a portion of the proceeds going to local Children’s Hospitals.

Marquee Cinemas offers two FREE movies at 9:30am on Tuesdays and Wednesdays beginning June 23. Click on your local theater for schedule.

Paragon Theaters offers FREE movies at 10:00am every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, beginning June 23.

Phoenix Big Cinemas has FREE movies Tuesday-Thursday at 10:00am, with start dates varying per state.

Regal Theatres offers Summer Movie Express all summer on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10:00am for $1.00/person. Choose from a G or PG movie each morning, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Will Rogers Institute.

Showcase Cinemas will offer their Bookworm Wednesdays program, starting July 8th. Kids receive FREE admission when they present a completed book report, which you can download from their site. Children under 6 do not need to complete the book report.

Ultrastar Cinemas offers their Kids Summer Series every day starting May 25th. Some theaters offer the movies FREE, others charge $5 for the 10-week pass.


Click through to your local theater chain to find the closest location. Hope you have some FREE Summer Movies and other low-cost options in your area!

Original image from allisonmseward12 on Flickr

Cake Mix Cookies {Perfect for Potlucks}

We attended our first summer potluck this weekend, and there are many more to come! With busy schedules, school still in session (four more weeks–ugh!), and too much to do, you need an easy-peasy recipe like these Cake Mix Cookies to bring and enjoy. There’s just three ingredients–unless you want to add some sprinkles to the top, then it’s four.

Cake Mix Cookies | MoneywiseMoms


Cake Mix Cookies

  • 1 package cake mix, any flavor (we love devil’s food)
  • ½ cup oil or butter, melted
  • 2 eggs

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all three ingredients in a large bowl and stir until dough forms. Either scoop onto cookie sheet or shape into 1-inch balls (it’s easier if you chill it first). Bake 8-10 minutes or until center is set. Let cool on the pan for 1-2 minutes, then transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely. Makes about 30 cookies.

This is one of those “base” recipes that you can take in any direction. Try a different flavor of cake mix, or add some mini chocolate chips, crushed Oreos, or chopped almonds to the tops.

Do you have any favorite baking supplies? I do! I love my Wilton 3-Tier Cooling Rack Set (that’s my Amazon link–thanks for supporting MoneywiseMoms at no cost to you!). For less than $10, you get three racks that stack and give you plenty of room to work.


Cake Mix Cookies is linked up to Inspire Me Wednesday at Adventures of Mel, Tasty Tuesday at Creative K Kids, Fluster’s Creative Muster Party at Fluster Buster, Totally Terrific Tuesday at Live Randomly Simple, Do Tell Tuesday at Mabey She Made It, and Too Cute Tuesday at Funky Polkadot Giraffe.

Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holidays in VA and LA

Hurricane Preparedness Tax Holidays 2015 - Florida, Louisiana & Virginia | MoneywiseMoms
Beginning next week, save some money with Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holidays in Virginia and Louisiana. Florida often holds this event as well, but it has not been announced for 2015 yet.  Even if you do not need emergency equipment like a generator, this is a good time to update your home with some basic safety items like fire extinguishers and smoke detectors. You can also use this opportunity to stock up on batteries or bottled water for the rest of the year.

Get sales tax savings on items like:

  • Batteries
  • Bottled Water, both single and multi-packs
  • Cell Phone Batteries and Chargers
  • Coolers and Ice Chests
  • Duct Tape
  • Empty Gasoline or Propane Tanks under $60
  • Fire Extinguishers
  • First Aid Kits
  • Flashlights, Lanterns and Candles
  • Plastic Storage Bags (like Ziploc)
  • Smoke Detectors

Virginia’s sales tax holiday runs all week, May 25-31st, while Louisiana’s tax holiday is next weekend, May 30th-31st.

It’s a good idea to have some emergency supplies on hand, no matter where you live, even if they’re not specifically for hurricane preparedness. FEMA’s list of basic emergency kit supplies is a great place to start. I also like this Disaster Checklist for Parents.

If you like to bulk cook like I do, it also helps to know how to prepare your freezer for a power outage.

Moneywise Menu Plan 5-17 thru 5-30

Is it crazy at your house, too? What is about the spring?! Seems like every mom I know is overextended, over-volunteering, stressed at work, tired of kids’ schoolwork and frustrated with the standardized test season. I’m getting through it by keeping my systems in place that make life easier–like meal planning. I set up another two-week menu plan, so that instead of spending brain power I can just look at the list, see which ingredients I already have on hand, and make a quick grocery trip. My kids are really enjoying all the cold salads we’ve been eating, and I like that I can prep them the night before or early in the morning (with their help chopping veggies) to keep our evenings less stressful.

Moneywise Menu Plan | frugal famly meals from MoneywiseMoms

Moneywise Menu Plan – 5/17 thru 5/30

Sunday: My son & I were at a swim banquet, everyone else had salad with chicken on top.
Monday: Greek Quinoa Salad from Back to Her Roots
Tuesday: Spinach Stuffed Shells and salad
Wednesday: Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches with leftover salad and corn
Thursday: Tortellini Chickpea Pasta Salad
Friday: Leftovers from the week–there should be plenty.
Saturday: We have company! Slow Cooker Tacos will feed the crowd.

Sunday: Ordering Chinese food with our friends visiting from Florida.
Monday: Baked Potato Bar with toppings
Tuesday: Grilled Garlic Lime Chicken, brown rice and broccoli
Wednesday: Breakfast for dinner–scrambled eggs, Rosemary Potatoes and fruit
Thursday: Leftover chicken over Ramen Broccoli Slaw from My Catholic Kitchen
Friday: We’re eating at the pool tonight, so some version of cold pasta salad I can make ahead.
Saturday: Slow Cooker Pork Ragu & Fettuccine and broccoli

Menu Plan Resources

2015 Summer Reading Programs

I’m planning ahead for our summer break: between our busy swim team activities and the extra kids I’m babysitting, we have a lot going on! I like to balance home time with outings, and one of our regular outings is to the library every week. I like to encourage all the kids to try some non-fiction books as well as the series and other chapter books they typically read. These 2015 summer reading programs are a great incentive to keep it this great habit during the summer!

2015 Summer Reading Programs | Frugal fun and FREE books for kids | MoneywiseMoms

Barnes and Noble
Kids who read 8 books and keep track on the printable Reading Journal can head to a Barnes & Noble store to pick out a FREE book from their selection (you’ll see the choices on the journal). The program runs May 19 through September 7, and the limit is one FREE book per child.


This year’s theme is Summer Quest, with author Rick Riordan as the Ambassador. When kids read four of the books on the Summer Quest list and record in the printable journal, they can visit the store and receive a FREE Camp Half-Blood tote bag (from the Percy Jackson series).


Chuck E. Cheese
Not just a summer program, Chuck E. Cheese is offering 10 FREE tokens to kids each time they read for 2 weeks in a row. Kids can earn 10 FREE tokens every time they read for 2 weeks in a row. Download a Reading Rewards Calendar (there are others if you’d like to reward another activity). Limit is one of any FREE token offer per child, per day. Food purchase is required.


Half Price Books Feed Your Brain Summer Reading Program
At Half-Price Books stores around the country, kids can earn Bookworm Bucks for each 15 minutes per day they read during the months of June and July. Bookworm Bucks can then be spent in the store. Plus, one top reader from each age group will win a $20 Half Price Books gift card.


Pizza Hut Book It!
Beginning June 1st, kids can record their summer reading and enter to win prizes. Activities and games will go up on the Book It! site on June 1st.


Random House’s Step Into Reading Summer Reading Challenge
Random House offers FREE Lunch Bags to kids who read Step Into Reading books over the summer and complete this form.


Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge
Scholastic offers a FREE online reading program from May 4 – September 4, where kids can sign up and log their reading minutes to win rewards. You can download suggested book lists for all age groups and on different themes. Learn more with their parent guide.


Showcase Cinemas
Kids receive FREE admission to Bookworm Wednesdays movies when they present a completed book report, beginning on July 8th. Children under 6 do not need to complete the book report, and accompanying adults also get FREE admission. No food purchase is necessary.


TD Bank
For kids in kindergarten through 5th grade, this summer reading program rewards readers with a $10 deposit into a new or existing Young Saver account after they read 10 books. Visit your local branch by August 31st.


Your Local Library
Be sure and check with your community library for their 2015 summer reading program. Ours has kids log their reading and turn it in for a coupon booklet filled with free ice cream, bowling, and other prizes. We do it every summer, and we also enjoy all the free programming our libraries provide in the summer months–puppet shows, magicians, Lego programs, and more. It’s such a great free resource!


Original photo from Alberto G. on Flickr