Entertaining the Kids with Kool-Aid Play Dough

DisclosureEntertaining the Kids with Kool-Aid Play Dough

It’s just the first part of July and already it’s too hot to keep the kids outside all day so I’m always looking for ways to keep them busy and entertained inside. One of their favorite things to do it make homemade play dough and we really enjoy coloring it with Kool-Aid packages because it’s more fun than food coloring and makes the dough smell so good, so I went shopping at WalMart and picked out some Kool-Aid and other necessary ingredients.

Entertaining the Kids with Kool-Aid Play Dough

We start out by making a big batch of dough, since I have five kids I make five times the single recipe below, then divide it into plastic bags for each kid and let them pour in the Kool-Aid in their favorite flavor or color and knead it together. Once they’re done with the kneading they have a blast making designs with it or using cookie cutters to cut the dough into shapes.

Kool-Aid Play Dough
Homemade play dough using Kool-Aid for scent and color.
Cuisine: Craft
  • 1 package Kool-Aid
  • 1 cup white flour
  • ¼ cup salt
  • 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  1. Mix flour, salt, cream of tartar and Kool-Aid together in a pan.
  2. Stir in the water and vegetable oil then put the pan on the stove on medium heat.
  3. Stir constantly until the mixture begins to clump together in the pan.
  4. Remove from heat and let cool before kneading with your hands until lumps are gone.
  5. When done playing with the clay store in the refrigerator in a zip style bag or airtight container.

The kids are also huge fans of Big Time Rush and they got super excited when they heard that there is a current promotion where you can buy $6 worth of Kool-Aid and upload your receipt through the Shoparoo app then get a family four pack of Big Time Rush concert tickets for just $50.

Entertaining the Kids with Kool-Aid Play Dough

There is even a cool contest going on right now where you can upload a photo of your family’s Kool-Aid creations for a chance to win meet and greet passes and tickets to a Big Time Rush concert near you. Hurry over and check it out, you can enter once per day per concert! This picture of my daughter’s Kool-Aid play dough heart creation was our entry for today.


Find a Music Teacher With TakeLessons.com

Guitar Lessons

My eight year old son had asked repeatedly for a guitar so I finally got him one for his birthday last year. He loves to get it out and play it but no one else in the family plays so we’re not able to help him learn how. For that reason I was super excited to learn about TakeLessons.com where you can find local in-home or in-studio music and singing lessons, and some lessons are even available online via Skype.

In addition to private music teachers, you’ll also find art instructors and academic tutors from across the country. They can hook you up with all sorts of lessons, not just guitar and singing, they also have piano, drums, violin, dance and acting lessons. The best part, in my opinion, is that there are no long term commitments and you can even change your instrument, schedule or teacher at any time. Plus there is a 100% money back guarantee – if you’re not happy after your first lesson they’ll find you another teacher or give you all of your money back, including the fee for the first lesson.


The prices of lessons vary depending on the length and the location, but you can take 20% off all lesson packages through April 1st with promo code SPRINGMUSIC. You can book your lessons online or give them a call at 855-334-1831 to discuss pricing and options with a student counselor.

Disclosure – This is a sponsored post, however all thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own. Please read my disclosure policy for more information.


5 Favorite Free Sanity Breaks

Favorite free sanity breaks!

Life takes its toll on all of us, and it’s tempting to give ourselves an expensive treat because we “deserve” one. We definitely deserve to treat ourselves, but we don’t need to give ourselves a financial hangover in the process. Sometimes we need a “pause” in our lives to truly reward ourselves. Here are a few ideas that will keep you in the black when you’re feeling blue.

1) Sunrise, Sunset

Few things in this world are as beautiful as the sun rising or setting. When we need to decompress, watching the sun rise or set can be the perfect way to let the stress melt away. Find a spot outside in a comfy setting, maybe bring along a cup of coffee or cocoa, take in the colors and just BE.

2) Enjoy the Seasons

Life passes by so quickly that we sometimes literally forget to stop and smell the roses. Each season offers beautiful sights and sounds that we can miss when we are racing through life. Set aside a half hour to commune with nature. Go outside and truly experience it. Whether it’s a moonlit walk in the snow or simply sitting in your flower garden, disconnect your mind from the “rush” of everyday life and experience the season. Breathe in the musky scent of fall leaves, feel the crunch of snow beneath your feet, really SEE the blue of a summer sky.

3) Make a Date with Fido

Spending time with your pet is one of the fastest ways to feel your blood pressure come down. Throw the ball for your dog, sit with your cat in your lap and listen to that magical purr, talk to your bird, or watch the serenity of your aquarium—all of these are nice ways to spend some quality time with your pet and save your sanity.

4) Act Like a Kid

What did you enjoy doing as a child? Did you enjoy flying a kite? Was roller skating (or blading) your thing? Maybe you enjoyed sitting on the riverbank with a fishing pole. Do those things again and re-connect with where you came from. If you have children, you can involve them too, so you both win. If you don’t have children of your own, borrow a niece or nephew, or maybe a friend’s son or daughter. Few things bring us joy like spreading joy!

5) Savor a Meal

What is your favorite meal? And when was the last time you really TASTED that meal? Whatever your fave is, make it and sit down and really enjoy it. Shut off the TV, switch your phone to silent, put candles and the “good” china on the table, and savor every bite. Eat slowly, and actually experience the flavors and textures.

As tempting as “things” can be to treat ourselves with, sometimes it’s the simple experiences in life that bring us peace and are the best rewards.

Photo Credit: iClipart


Inexpensive Party Games for Kids

Inexpensive Party Games for Kids

It seems these days that the expense of throwing a child’s birthday party can get really out of hand. Theme and location parties are all the rage, but they also take a heavy hit on the wallet. Although kids certainly can enjoy these events, how about a shout out to some old fashioned inexpensive (or even free!) party fun? With a little planning, you can hold games for the kids that keep them engaged and leave your budget balanced.

1) Who Am I?

This is so simple, and yet can be such a riot. Think up names of famous people or characters that kids would recognize. I like to use cartoon characters, but any names they would recognize will do. Write these names on sheets of paper in large letters. Without letting the kids see the names, tape a sheet to the back of each child. The children are allowed to ask the other partygoers yes and no questions to figure out who they are. The first person who guesses their identity wins.

2) A Variation on Pin the Tail on the Donkey

It’s a fun game, but even store purchased pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey games are pricey. Instead, draw a figure of your choice on a large sheet of paper. Then, draw and cut out something you can use to “pin” on your figure. For example, you could draw a princess and cut out crowns to pin on her, or a train and cut out cabooses to pin to the end of the train. The possibilities are as endless as your imagination!

3) The Cotton Ball Game

This game requires two bowls, lots of cotton balls, a big spoon and a blindfold. Put all of the cotton balls in one bowl, with an empty bowl sitting next to the full bowl. Blindfold the first player and hand them a spoon. Have them try to move as many cotton balls from the first bowl to the second. Whoever can move the most cotton balls during their turn wins. Trust me, this one is much more challenging than it sounds!

4) Stuff the Union Suit

If someone you know has an old fashioned adult size union suit, or if you can purchase one inexpensively, this game is crazy fun! It works best if the union suit is much larger than your players. You’ll need to blow up multiple balloons—20 or so should work. Divide your group into two teams. The team will choose one person to wear the suit. You start a timer for 30 seconds or a minute, depending on the skill level of the children, and the children stuff as many balloons as they can into that suit until the buzzer goes off. Have the player wearing the suit remove the balloons as everyone counts them. Record the number of balloons and let the next team have a turn. Compare numbers of balloons to determine the winning team. The kids will want to play this one over and over!

Photo Credit: iClipart


6 Money Saving Ways to Throw a Birthday Party For Your Child

Frugal Birthday Party Tips

As you plan your child’s birthday party, you are probably all too familiar with the increasing levels of enthusiasm and excitement that can easily cause you to go overboard and over budget. With some careful planning and a bit of frugality, you’ll be able to throw a celebration to remember without going broke. Here are some things you can try:

1) Plan ahead.

Start thinking about your child’s birthday party about three months ahead of time. This is plenty of time for you to keep an eye out for relevant coupons, sales, and other great bargains for party-related items.

2) Join forces.

One way to cut costs is by sharing the expenses with someone else from the start. See if any of your child’s friends or cousins celebrate their birthday within days or weeks of each other, and consider throwing a joint celebration for them. It’s best to choose a friend within the same circle of friends so you can keep the guests to a minimum.

3) Time it right.

The best time to throw a party on a budget is between the main meals of lunch and dinner. By having your child’s party in the afternoon, you will only need to provide snacks and dessert items instead of heavier dishes.

4) Do it yourself.

A little creativity can go a long way. See what party-related tasks you can do on your own. Maybe you and your child can create the invitations instead of having them printed elsewhere. Get crafty and make your decorations. You could also forego those expensive store bought birthday cakes and bake your own!

5) Shop at discount stores.

Don’t underestimate the great party items you can get at discount stores. You can find decorations, favors, and even serving dishes at amazing prices. Try to search for things you can reuse for future parties and occasions.

6) Go generic.

Remember that products with licensed characters on them are often more expensive compared to the more generic characters. If your child has her heart set on a Barbie-themed party, compromise by purchasing one item with Barbie on it (such as the plates or the piñata), and purchase plain pink napkins, cups, and other party-related items.

Remember that throwing a birthday party for your child should be fun and not a burden. Always keep things in perspective and keep within budget!

Photo Credit: iClipart


Pizza and Ice Cream Party with the Family!

My younger brother and his family live in Korea where he works on a US military base and they get to come back to the states to visit once a year.  Usually they get to stay for two to three weeks but this year they can only stay for 10 days so we’re going to have to cram a lot of stuff into a short period of time.

My kids absolutely love getting to visit with their cousins so we’ll plan a few fun things for them plus some family get togethers like yesterday’s Father’s Day celebration and a backyard barbecue we have planned next weekend for my dad’s birthday.

Since we’re running so hard this week I’m thrilled to have simple solutions at hand like Tombstone frozen pizzas and Nestle Drumsticks!  We had a houseful of kids and adults at my parents’ place yesterday and everybody was happy with the assortment of pizzas and ice cream cones that were served.

A few days before they arrived I shopped at Walmart for the Nestle ice cream treats and the Tombstone pizzas and we made some salads and other side dishes that turned our quick meal into a feast.  There is a wide variety of choices in the Tombstone pizza line from plain cheese to 4-meat double top so there’s always something to please everyone.  Same with the Nestle Drumsticks, a bunch of different flavor choices and you can even choose smaller portion sizes that are great for kids or dieters looking for a sweet treat without the calories.

Keep track of all the fun at the Nestle Drumstick Facebook page, including their current Raise a Cone to Summer sweepstakes, and on the Tombstone pizza Facebook page.  Don’t forget, you can enter to win a year’s worth of Tombstone pizzas in their #GrabSummerFun Pinterest party!

Disclosure – I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This content has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™. and Nestle #CBias #SocialFabric #GrabSummerFun


Visiting the Battleship USS Alabama

We recently took the kids over to the Battleship Memorial Park in Mobile, Alabama and spent the day exploring the USS Alabama, their large aircraft museum, and the USS Drum submarine.  They had a blast getting to climb all over the Battleship, sit in the gun turrets, and take a “nap” in the bunk beds.  The kids are already asking when they can go back and I’m sure after the Battleship movie comes out this weekend they’ll be really anxious to get back over there again.  Check out my guest post at the HotelCoupons.com blog today to get all the details and see more pictures!


How to Make Your Own Hula Hoop

Okay, it’s confession time guys!  I’ve really been looking forward to the Brandcation blogging conference next weekend at Portofino Island and all the planned activities including the Blogger Olympics and an exciting day at Adventures Unlimited.  Well I just recently found out that there will be a hula hoop competition and while I’m not averse to making a fool of myself in public, especially with a group of other participants, I’m not really willing to put the evidence on YouTube so I bought a hula hoop and started to practice.

I figured that I’d have plenty of time to master the hoop and this way I wouldn’t let my team down or risk making it onto the Today Show for a completely different reason than I had imagined!  I’m actually pretty embarrassed to admit that I tried for three days (not ALL day people!) and couldn’t get the hoop to go around more than three times in a row.

Refusing to give up (or miss the conference!) I went online in search of tips and found out that my $5 hoop was really “child sized” and would be the most difficult thing for an adult to learn with or use.  To determine the proper size you stand the hula hoop up on the ground and the top should reach somewhere between your waist and your chest.  The standard size for an adult is 42″ diameter, 36″ diameter for a small adult, and 32″ diameter for a child.

When I searched Amazon for fitness hoops (that’s what they call the adult version) they were $30 to $40 so I thought I’d make my own instead!  At Home Depot I bought a 25′ coil of 3/4″ 160 PSI PVC tubing, two 3/4″ nylon couplings (see connector pic below), and a roll of red duct tape for $26 – this was enough to make two hula hoops so they were $13 each.  I was so excited to try out my new hoop and I’m thrilled to report that the difference is amazing! (on a side note, my abs really hurt today!)

I watched this video to learn some hoop techniques and the two sisters who do the videos are incredibly fit and the hoop is so much fun that I believe I’ve found my new workout!  It’s definitely not easy which makes it an exciting workout, and it’s good for all your parts since you’re moving your hips and legs and holding your arms up at the same time.

How to Make Your Own Hula Hoop

Materials Needed:

  • 3/4″ irrigation tubing (120 to 160 PSI for adults, 100 PSI for kids)
    • 42″ Adult – 11′ length tube
    • 36″ Adult – 10′ length tube
    • 32″ Child – 8′ 4 1/2″ length tube
  • 3/4″ nylon coupling
  • Duct tape or electrical tape in color of choice

Use a PVC cutter or handsaw to cut the tubing to the desired length and insert the coupling into both ends.  If it is a tight fit then run the ends of the tube under hot water to soften before inserting the coupling.

Place a 3″ to 4″ length of duct tape around the coupled area to hold securely in place.  To finish the hoop, decorate it and give it a good weight wrap tape all the way around the hoop on the diagonal.


6 Cheap Entertainment Ideas at Practically No Cost

Are you on a limited budget and out of entertainment ideas? Sure, many forms of entertainment are expensive—but there’s no rule that says you can’t have fun on a limited budget.

1)  Rent movies.

Why not rent a movie instead of watch one at the theater? The RedBox kiosks allow you to rent a movie for just $1 a day. Get hold of a rental code and you’ll get an even better deal on your movie rental. Don’t have a RedBox kiosk in your area? Then keep an eye out for a Blockbuster Express kiosk. You can also try websites such as Hulu and Netflix, which are jam-packed with TV shows and movies or you can check out movies from the library for free.

2) Play board games.

When was the last time you and your friends (or family) brought out the board games? Dust off the old Monopoly set or borrow your cousin’s Cranium set. Board games are guaranteed to provide hours of fun!

3)  Take a peek at the community calendar.

Check out your community center or city hall and take a look at the schedule of activities lined up for the month. Your community center will likely have a wide selection of free or inexpensive classes and ongoing programs you can take part in.

4)  Check out the museums.

Are you up for a little culture? Surf the net and see if there are any exhibits that interest you. Many museums offer free admission on certain days of the week, while other museums are free all year long.

5)  Get your friends together.

Why not call up your friends and get a game of frisbee, basketball or football going? If sports aren’t your thing, then why not hold a potluck picnic in a nearby park or play some video games at home? It doesn’t really matter what you do—hanging out with friends is always fun and it doesn’t have to cost a thing.

6)  Take advantage of your surroundings.

Take your location into consideration. Do you live near the beach? Why not spend the day working on your tan or going fishing? If you’re near the mountains, go skiing or sledding! It’s easy to forget about what’s easily accessible.

These are just some of the many, many things you can do that are either free or inexpensive. You don’t always have to spend cash in order to enjoy yourself. These activities may not be the obvious choice for entertainment, but they’re just as fun!

Photo Credit: iClipart


5 Tips to Reduce Your Vacation Expenses

Vacationing with the family doesn’t need to cost a fortune. It may seem hard to believe, but you can definitely go on an unforgettable trip with a very limited budget.  All you need is to make a number of wise choices:

1) Travel off-season.

If possible, vacation during the off-season. You’ll get a better rate on accommodations, plane tickets, train tickets and even theme park passes this way!

2)  Choose your accommodations wisely.

There’s no rule that says you have to stay in a hotel. Stay at a vacation rental or even a condominium unit for the duration of your trip. Vacation rentals are especially great for large groups. You’ll save a lot of money and will enjoy all the conveniences of home.

3)  Skip the attractions for a day.

You don’t need to go to a key attraction every day. Give your wallet a break and spend a day doing free or low-cost activities such as hiking or swimming in the pool. Have a picnic in the park, fly a kite or play a few board games in your vacation rental.

4)  Make smart dining choices.

Dining is a major traveling expense if you eat every meal at an expensive restaurant. Make a trip to the grocery store and get necessary food supplies. Take advantage of your rental’s kitchen and prepare breakfast for the family. Pack sandwiches and various snack items in your bag before heading out for the day. Be sure to pack refillable water bottles for the family in order to avoid buying overpriced bottled water!

5)  Let your children do the budgeting.

If your kids are on the older side, give them an allocated amount of cash for the duration of the trip. Giving them a budget to work with will make them put more thought into their purchases, as well as teach them a sense of responsibility.

Keep in mind that even the smallest of expenses can add up. Practice these five travel tips and tricks and cut down your travel expenses significantly.

Photo Credit: iClipart