How to Use Freecycle.org to Give or Gain Goodies

Freecycle Basketball Hoop

The other day I pulled up at my parents house to pick up my kids from camp grandma and they were out front playing basketball using the recycle can as a hoop. They were having a grand old time but I was a little embarrassed that they didn’t have a real basketball goal to play with so I posted a “want” on Freecycle.org and within a couple hours I had two people offering me their used basketball hoops for free. I ended up grabbing both of them and have put one up at my house and another at mom and dad’s place.

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6 Tips for Shopping Farmers Markets

6 Tips for Shopping at the Farmer's Market

If you want to support your local economy AND get some fantastic fresh veggies, there is no place like the farmers market. When local farmers come together and offer their wares, you have the best local food selections right at your fingertips. Since this cuts out the middleman, you can often find some fantastic deals. To make your visit to the farmers market more enjoyable, here are a few tips:

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Shopping for Christmas Ornaments at Hallmark

Shopping for Christmas Ornaments at Hallmark

Every year since the kids were babies we’ve made it a tradition to pick out one special Christmas ornament or decoration each year. When the holiday season rolls around we get together as a family and decorate the tree and the house and we enjoy bringing out each of the previous years’ picks and the memories that they bring back. This year I took my two girls with me to our favorite Hallmark Gold Crown store at the mall and had a girls day out.

The girls and I found lots of beautiful ornaments and Christmas decorations at Hallmark but they were especially drawn to these Peanuts Gang Christmas Light Show figures. I didn’t realize until this super helpful salesperson explained to us that the five figures connect wirelessly to perform a synchronized light show. The girls both agreed that we should start with the Woodstock Christmas tree figure and come back for Snoopy when he’s available on November 27th.

Shopping for Christmas Ornaments at Hallmark

Both girls also insisted that we get something for each of the three brothers while we were there and they just fell in love with the Itty Bittys so they picked out Lucy, R2D2, Batman and Darth Vader.  Although I had to get my girls out the store before they decided that we needed one of everything, I’m planning to head back to Hallmark soon to pick up some Christmas cards. From November 21st through 29th they’re having the Thanksgiving Tote Event where you can get 20% off everything you can fit inside a specially priced $9.95 tote so that’s when I’ll be making my next trip.

Pink Is In For Spring Fashion!

Disclosure – I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Kohl’s. I received a Kohl’s gift card to facilitate my post and as a thank you for participating.”

Kohls Spring Fashion

Wow – after this cold winter it’s hard to believe that Spring is finally here, but I think that means it’s time for an updated wardrobe! Kohl’s Spring Fashion Hangout provides great tips on what trends to be on the lookout for right now. From the color pink to dresses and roll-cuffed denim they share it all! I tend to wear a lot of black or grey but I’’m a huge fan of pink and I love to add bold colors like pink in my accessories or with a great pair of heels. This season I’m going to take Kohl’s’ advice and wear pink in a big way, plus I have my eye on that Lauren Conrad dress! Watch the Kohl’s Spring Fashion Hangout and tell me what trends you can’t wait to wear this season!

Spring Clothes Shopping at Kohl’s

Disclosure – I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Kohl’s. I received a Kohl’s gift card to facilitate my post and as a thank you for participating.”

I consider myself to be a frugal shopper but I really love nice things and quality clothing so I like to shop for classic pieces that will last quite awhile and that I can mix and match with things I already have in my closet. Today I went to Kohl’s to pick up a few things and I ended up with a Dana Buchman knit shirt on sale for $22, a seamless Apt 9 tank for $11.99 and some Lauren Conrad taupe jeans on sale for $40.50. These three pieces were just under $75 and I can wear them with all sorts of other things that I already own. Check out the video above for some different ways that I plan to wear the three pieces I bought.

While at Kohl’s today I noticed that a lot of the new spring fashions are available in light neutral colors like taupe, peach, pink and seafoam green. A great way to get your wardrobe ready for spring without spending a fortune would be to pick out a few key pieces in the spring colors that you can wear in a lot of different ways. For example, I love that the Dana Buckman top I bought has several of the spring colors in it as well as black so I can mix it up with black pants, skirts and tanks that I already own. The neutral color Lauren Conrad jeans I bought will go with so many things and I love the cut and fit of the jeans so I imagine I’ll be wearing them a lot.

Kohl’s is one of my favorite places to shop, in fact I did most of my Christmas shopping there, because they have such great sales going on all the time and a huge variety of products, plus if you have a Kohl’s charge card you get special discounts every month in the mail.

Check Out the Kmart Layaway Dance Video!

Disclosure – This is a sponsored post. I am a Kmart blogger, though all opinions are my own.

You won’t be able to stop watching this mash-up of customers doing the Kmart Layaway Dance! Dare we say it’s the latest dance craze? If you’re wondering what it is about Kmart Layaway that makes people spontaneously breakout in catchy dance moves, you should probably keep reading this.

At Kmart, Layaway doesn’t start and end with the holidays. You can use Kmart Layaway all year round for celebrations such as birthdays, re-decorating or baby gifts. In addition, Kmart Layaway is available online and in stores. It’s simple: pick out the times you want, start with a down payment, make payments every two weeks (online or in store) and take your items home with you after your final payment (cue: Layaway dance)!

Pro tip: Remember to give yourself plenty of time before you need the item, most Layaway contracts last about 8 weeks, so planning ahead is key! Plus, Shop Your Way Members get points on every Layaway purchase and exclusive Layaway offers.

Have an item in mind you’d like to put on Layaway? You know it’s about that time to start thinking grills and patio furniture! Get ready to practice your dance moves because you’re going to want to break out in a Layaway dance too!

Get Ready for the Holidays with Free #KmartLayaway

Disclosure – This is a sponsored post. I am a Kmart blogger, though all opinions are my own.

Kmart Layaway

Wow – the countdown is already on for the holiday season! Although many of us don’t start shopping, decorating and celebrating until after Thanksgiving, there are a few holiday ‘musts’ that you need to start sooner rather than later (we’re talking right around Halloween). First, putting your big (or small) items on Layaway. Since most Layaway contracts are eight weeks long, this is the ideal time to shop now and pay over time. You don’t want your wallet to go into shock on November 29th, do you? Didn’t think so. Still need convincing? Here are a few ‘Layaway Lessons’ to keep in mind:

1.) The cat ate your Christmas tree. OK, so even if you don’t have a cat but last year’s Christmas tree was on its last limb and this is the year you need a new one. On the other hand, maybe you just got a cat and the days of having a real tree are over. Either way, you need some new decorations. Pick up a pre-lit tree (because that’s the way to go), LED lights, wreaths and village houses now and pay them off in plenty of time for decking those halls!

2.) Your gift list has grown. Maybe you’ve found a new group of friends, entered into a new family or you’re just feeling extra generous this year. Long gift lists call for Layaway. Fill your cart to the brim and roll it over to the Layaway counter. Your pals won’t know you paid their gifts off over time.

3.) Money is tight this year. It’s not just you; many of us are watching our spending. If you’re having trouble staying afloat while keeping those bills paid, Layaway is a must. Not only will you avoid ‘wallet shock,’ you’ll keep your pre-holiday peace of mind.

Whether you need one or 100 items , you can Layaway almost everything on your list without paying a service fee through 11/23. Plus, you can pay in store, online or using a mobile phone. Eight or 12 weeks later (depending on your contract) pick up your items and you’re good to go! Bonus: After you figure out how easy it is, you can Layaway all year round at Kmart.

Back to School Shoe Shopping Tips

Back to School Shoe Shopping

Back to school shoe shopping is always painful for me, not just because I have five kids to buy for, but also because they have very different personalities and when faced with so many choices at the shoe store they have problems making up their minds. Plus, two of the kiddos were cursed with their mommy’s wide feet so even if they find something they like it usually isn’t available in the wide width that they need.

Back to School Shoe Shopping

Over the years I’ve learned a few tricks to help take the pain out of shoe shopping for the kids. Instead of bringing all of them to the store with me, I trace each of their feet on a piece of paper. Then I use a shoe size chart that I downloaded from Shoes.com to determine what size they should be wearing. I like their chart the best because it also has wide width indicators.

Next I check out the newspaper and online for the best back to school shoe sales then I hit the store(s) with a list of sizes and the foot drawings for backup. I can then shop at my leisure without any begging or disappointment when they pick something that isn’t available in their size. Of course I keep in mind their favorite colors and I know who prefers Velcro to shoe strings so I can choose styles that will make them happy.

Many states have tax free shopping weekends for back to school, including Florida, so I wait until then to do the bulk of my shopping as that saves 7.5% right off the top. I also found a 20% off coupon for Shoe Station in the newspaper, plus they were having a big sale so I got everybody’s shoes with one stop today and I saved a bundle – score!

How to Use Freecycle.org to Give or Gain Goodies

Freecycle Basketball Hoop

The other day I pulled up at my parents house to pick up my kids from camp grandma and they were out front playing basketball using the recycle can as a hoop. They were having a grand old time but I was a little embarrassed that they didn’t have a real basketball goal to play with so I posted a “want” on Freecycle.org and within a couple hours I had two people offering me their used basketball hoops for free. I ended up grabbing both of them and have put one up at my house and another at mom and dad’s place.

Freecycle Basketball Hoop

There are over 5,000 local Freecycle groups around the world so you can go to the main website and find one near you. With over 9 million members you’ll see tons of great useful stuff being traded on a daily basis. It is completely free to join and members don’t buy or sell anything, everything is given away for free.

If you’re moving or spring cleaning and have some items that you don’t need anymore but that still have some life left in them, you can list them on your local Freecycle page. Other members that are interested in your stuff will email you and make arrangements to come do a pickup.

They frown on people only using the site to get free stuff so be prepared to list some of your own things from time to time if you’d like to get some free goodies. I’ve seen everything from empty wine bottles to furniture and cars being donated through the system and you never know what you’ll find. I subscribe to their daily emails and like to watch for cool stuff for the kids, plus I enjoy the convenience of having somebody come pick up things that I need to get rid of. Let me know in the comments below about any treasures you’ve found through the Freecycle website!

6 Tips for Shopping Farmers Markets

6 Tips for Shopping at the Farmer's Market

If you want to support your local economy AND get some fantastic fresh veggies, there is no place like the farmers market. When local farmers come together and offer their wares, you have the best local food selections right at your fingertips. Since this cuts out the middleman, you can often find some fantastic deals. To make your visit to the farmers market more enjoyable, here are a few tips:

1)Be Comfy

Dress for the weather and be prepared to walk. Wear comfortable shoes, and dress in layers if the day starts off cool. You can always remove a layer as the day begins to heat up. An umbrella or a jacket can come in handy if you run into a shower as well.

2) Bring Your Own Bags

Although some farmers will bring a supply of sacks, it helps them out if you bring your own bags. And you would hate to miss out on some yummy goods if you have no place to put them.

3) Know What You Want

The sights and smells of a farmers market can be so enticing that you overbuy. You may want to visit the market once before you actually do any buying to get an idea of what they sell. The next time you visit you can come prepared. Keep in mind, however, that the offerings do change based on the season. Make a list of what you would like, but be flexible based on what’s for sale.

4) Come Early

If you want the best selection, get to the market early. Once a vendor is out of a certain item, that’s all they have until next week, so don’t miss out!

5) Get to Know the Farmers

It really is nice to get to know more about where your food is coming from. There are often friendly folks who are more than happy to tell you about what they have for sale, what’s particularly good and what they may have in the future. In addition, the more you visit a given vendor, the more likely they are to throw a freebie you way once in a while. They are also usually good for some wonderful tips on how to prepare the food they sell.

6) Use Your Finds Quickly

One of the greatest parts of the farmers market is how fresh the food is. Use or preserve what you buy quickly so that it offers you the most nutrients AND you don’t waste anything by having to throw it away.

Photo Credit: iClipart