My kids love anything related to outside and water.  That’s why I couldn’t believe my eyes when I found a Disney Princess pool at Walgreens for $4.99 one night.  I was actually perusing the store, looking for Easter clearance (of which they had none) and I stumbled upon this kiddie pool gold mine!  It was a nice day on Memorial Day so we decided to fill that sucker up and have a soak.  It fits everyone in the family too.

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We decided to add the slide for even more fun.  The baby was happy just dipping his feet in the pool and playing with the toys.  The whole family had a very fun day.  My daughter didn’t want to get out!  My point being that you don’t need to have the latest toys for your kids to have fun.  Just buy a cheap pool from Kmart or something.  They just like being with you and playing in the cool water on a hot day.

Try filling plastic bins with water and putting bath toys in them.  Or even put some play kitchen stuff in them.  Kids love that stuff.  I found a sprinkler in the clearance bin at Kmart last fall that only cost $1! I can’t wait to break out that little guy too!

What are your plans for summer?  Do you do any low cost, fun stuff with your kids outside?

I remember a time when Cinco de Mayo meant that my friends and I would get dressed up and go out for a night on the town.  Needless to say, my priorities changed when I had two kids in less than two years.  Now my idea of fun is having some free time between cleaning up my son’s poop-slosion  (explosive crap) and getting my daughter to leave the poor dog alone for two seconds.    I’m not complaining since I love being a mom and there is little difference between cleaning up a sorority sister’s puke or my kids’.

This year, I heard that Moe’s Southwest Grill was giving out free t-shirts to the first 100 customers and samples of their new spicy guac!  The radio station was also broadcasting live, so my entourage and I would definitively be there.  I was so excited that I had been telling my husband about it for days.  He just humors me when I do stuff like this.  I can’t resist something free, especially when there is an event involved too!  So, the kids and I packed it up and headed down to the beach for Cinco de Moes.  Clever name, right?  We are lucky to live 20 minutes from the beach so we arrived a little early in order to save our spot.

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We were second in line.  They were so awesome too and actually opened early for all of us. It was really windy this morning.  I think they felt bad for us!  haha!

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I love their burritos since you can add whatever you want to them.   They have a ton of fresh toppings like cucumber, corn, jalapenos, tomatoes, etc.   Not to mention that they are humongous!  On Mondays, they have a special where you get a burrito or burrito bowl, chips and drink for $7.  Not too shabby since I can make two meals out of that bad boy.  Plus, I had a coupon for a free kids meal from their online club.  We even got one for my husband.  All of us ate for $14.  Plus we got t-shirts, which I will wear proudly.

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The radio station was broadcasting live so we rolled out to the parking lot and met the hosts of the morning show, Petch and Amy.  My daughter was excited.  🙂

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They had this game where you could win prizes if you stuck your hand in a giant jug of mayo and found a little card.  I couldn’t resist a prize and I was the first one to try it.  I won a bunch of reward points for their loyalty program so I was a happy camper!  My hand still smells like mayo too.  All in all, we had a great time and we really enjoyed our Cinco de Mayo lunch.  We will make sure to participate again next year!  What are your plans for today?  Any Cinco de Mayo fiestas?

Find a Moes near you:  www.moes.com

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.  We just enjoyed our lunch and wanted to share with you.  All comments and opinions are my own.

 

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I already make a lot of ‘earth-conscious’ decisions naturally since I am such a cheapskate.  It’s pretty awesome that I am reducing my carbon footprint by doing things that save me money too!  Some of these things are pretty easy to do, while some require more time, but in the long run it’s worth it to my family and to me.  Everyone always wants to know your plans for Earth Day.  Well, I want to know your plans for the rest of your life?  You shouldn’t aim to be earth-conscious for one day.  You need to plan to change your habits and your lifestyle!  An added bonus is that you will lengthen your own life but doing a lot of these things too.  But where to start?  Here are some ideas that we already do in my family:

  1. We make our own laundry soap and other cleaning products.
  2. We rent books and DVDS from the library.
  3. We use a GPS instead of writing or printing directions to a new place.
  4. We reuse printed paper for scrap paper, then recycle it.
  5. We switched our trash plan to a bi-weekly plan & got an extra recycling can.
  6. We are planting a vegetable garden.
  7. We make a meal plan every two weeks. (a LOT less waste)
  8. We cook dinner at home 6 days a week.
  9. We eat leftovers. (I add one day in the meal plan for a leftover ‘buffet”)
  10. We carpool as much as possible.
  11. We make a lot of our food from scratch.
  12. We buy a lot of food in bulk and use or share it.
  13. We open our windows and use fans instead of AC as often as we can.
  14. We wear warm clothes when it’s cold and keep our heat very low.
  15. We use reusable gift bags or we reuse wrapping paper for gifts.
  16. We use my parents’ water filter instead of buying bottled water.
  17. We buy reduced produce at the store or produce stand, then incorporate it into that day’s meals.
  18. We buy local goods.
  19. We use reusable bags at the supermarket and other stores (some even give you a discount!)
  20. We have a box of reusable items for crafts.
  21. We donate or sell items that we can no longer use.
  22. We use and/or wear items from yard sales and thrift shops.
  23. Our ripped, old clothes become rags for odd jobs around the house.
  24. We put a brick in our toilet tanks in order to use less water.
  25. We like to park the car and walk to various places.
  26. We take snacks and drinks with us when we go on trips.
  27. We plan our trips for certain days & group them together to save gas.
  28. We use one particular car for work since it gets better gas mileage.
  29. We keep the trunk as empty as possible to help with gas mileage.
  30. We do routine maintenance on our cars to keep them running as long as possible.

See?  Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.  I love finding new ways to save money.  The weirder, the better too!  My husband laughs at me because I am usually up for anything if it saves a buck. I am currently planning on using family cloth soon.  Look it up.  So, Happy Earth Lifetime, instead of Earth Day.

What are you doing that saves money and reduces the strain on our resources?

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Yes!  Spring is here and you know what that means: the start of yard sale season!  I have been looking forward to this since yard sale season was over last year.  Today started a beautiful weekend and I was actually feeling better (I am getting over a REALLY bad cold.  yuck!)  so I decided to make it a ‘Girls Morning’ and take my daughter out to a few yard sales.  I buy and have bought a ton of stuff from flea markets and the like.  It’s a great way to get some great stuff at a fraction of the cost or sometimes even free.  Plus, the clothes don’t shrink when you wash them!  The only downside is that it’s luck of the draw.

Here’s a list of things I look for at yard sales flea markets:

  • Kids clothes
  • Books
  • Adult clothes
  • Shoes (This really depends.  They have to be in good condition)
  • Craft supplies
  • Flags
  • Stuffed animals (ALWAYS wash these first!)
  • Board games (make sure no pieces are missing)
  • Electronics (inexpensive ones)
  • Furniture
  • Home goods
  • Dishes and kitchen stuff
  • Tablecloths
  • Holiday decor
  • Cookie tins
  • Toys
  • and lots more!

Of course, I always wash clothes, sterilize toys and clean things as best I can before I use them.  I love a good bargain and I will always try to negotiate prices too!  Now, while I look for certain things, I also stay away from certain things too.

Here’s a list of things you might want to skip at yard sales and flea markets:

  • Bathing suits
  • Lingerie
  • Baby bedding (like crib liners and soft bedding.  They are known to cause SIDS)
  • Carseats (these get recalled all the time and they expire too. Plus, they are only made for ONE accident.  You never know. Just be careful or stay away altogether)
  • Old cribs (see above)
  • Cosmetics (they could be old and you might be asking for an infection if you buy them)
  • Baked goods and/or food (a lot of this stuff has been baking in the sun for hours.  No thanks!)
  • Water bottles and baby bottles (BPA is the culprit here)
  • Always check battery compartments before buying.  They could have battery corrosion in them.

These are just suggestions. You should always use your best judgement before making any purchase.  I always check stuff out very thoroughly just for my own benefit, but also because the seller might give you a better deal too!  I can still recall some of my best deals:

  • A dual tuner Tivo for $10 (pricing varies since the Tivo Roamio came out)
  • Two Winnie The Pooh walkers for $3 (originally $70 for one!)
  • A ThirtyOne insulated lunchbox with my initial monogrammed on it for $8 (originally $18 w/o monogramming)
  • A Little People A to Z Learning Zoo for $5 (originally $70)
  • A vintage baby boy snowsuit for $2.50
  • Set of Retro cafeteria style plates for FREE!
  • Vintage black heels for $3

So get out there and enjoy yourself.  I start out with a predetermined amount of cash.  Then once it’s gone, it’s gone.  That way, I can control my spending and it really makes me think before I buy.  I also keep a running list of items that I am always hunting for.  It makes it more fun!  Timing matters too.  Early gets you the best selections, whereas late gets you the best deals.  Happy hunting!

Do you go to yard sales and flea markets?  What are some good deals that you’ve gotten before?

 

 

My family will be the first to admit it: We’re dorks. We like doing things that some people might deem ‘weird’ or ‘unorthodox.’  But we’re fun.  At least, that’s what we tell ourselves.  So every season, we all make a list of things we want to go before that season is over.  I used to do this with my mom and sister when we were kids and now I do it with my own family.  I actually look forward to doing this because it’s fun to work towards goals and try to get the list completed.  It can be as long or as short as you want.  It can also be as detailed or as vague as it takes.  It’s all up to you!  That’s the beauty of it!

Spring is finally in full force so it’s time to make the Lane Family’s Spring 2014 List.  I usually type it up and then save it so I can look back on it and get ideas or remember the fun stuff we did!  I try to make the list as free or low cost as possible too.  That adds to the fun.  Plus, if something turns out to be horrible, it will make a great story.  Here is the beginning of our list.  Remember, you have three months and then you make a summer list!  Get moving!

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Life In The Fast Lane Spring 2014

  • Go to a baseball game
  • Plant a vegetable garden
  • Donate Blood
  • Participate in a 5k
  • Make pine cone birdfeeders
  • Dye Easter eggs
  • Make deviled eggs
  • Make egg salad
  • Bake cookies for the firefighters/emts
  • Try a new recipe
  • Go to a party
  • Try something new
  • Pick flowers
  • Buy a bouquet of flowers
  • Get new books from the library
  • Make a spring-related craft
  • Watch how something is made
  • Call an old friend
  • Coupon & get my order completely free
  • Visit the State parks
  • Hike a trail
  • Watch the sunrise (or set) on the beach
  • Take the dog on the boardwalk
  • Try a new exercise
  • Ride on a motorcycle
  • Visit a new state
  • Clean out the clutter
  • Spring clean our house

I hope this gets you motivated to make your own list.  It’s so much fun when you get to check something off of it too.  It’s about taking the time to enjoy the simple things in life, while still having a plan or goal in mind.  We’ll be busy this spring but it will be a good busy. It will be the kind of busy that’s fun and worthwhile.  If you think about it, isn’t EVERYTHING in life worth celebrating?  It is to me!  I want to enjoy it!  How about you?  What are some things on your spring list?

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Ever have one of those days where you want to just throw up your hands and say, “Forget it!  Let’s order pizza?’  I call those ‘weekdays!’  But seriously, I have a super easy recipe for Chicken Pot Pie that I make all the time.  Now, I originally found this recipe from Hungry Girl.  She has a new book come out today, The Hungry Girl Diet, and I pre-ordered my copy!  In fact, we like her so much that I have five of her eleven books (two of which are signed).  Tomorrow, she is doing a book signing in Woodbridge, New Jersey and I’m packing up the family for a road trip.

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She is a Jill of all trades, with a newsletter, books, recipe cards, television show and more.  She specializes in turning not-so-healthy recipes into healthier ones.  My sister and I have tried dozens of her recipes and we love them.  This recipe is so easy because I just use whatever I have on hand.  I ALWAYS make it when we have leftover rotisserie chicken or after Thanksgiving (as a turkey pot pie).  The original recipe can be found here.

My version takes the basics and then just adds whatever I have in my kitchen.  You’ll see:

Chicken Pot Pie

2 cups diced, cooked chicken

1.5 cups mixed frozen vegetables, cooked (the peas, corn and carrots mix, ideally)

1 can condensed Cream of Celery soup (I use the low fat, low sodium version)

1 ready made pie crust (I got six for $2 the other day!)

1 diced, cooked potato (If you have it.  I only use it if I have leftovers needing to eaten)

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Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Grease your pie plate with cooking spray.

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Mix all your ingredients besides the pie crust and season that bad boy with some salt and pepper, even some parsley if you’re feeling fancy.  Spread into the pie crust.  If it’s too thick, add a little water.  You want it to be gravy-like.  Put the pie crust on top and pinch the edges.  Put a slit in the top and pop it in the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until browned.

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That’s it!  It’s one of our favorites and it’s insanely easy to make. I only use one pie crust in order to save calories but you could use two if you like. Try it when you’re pressed for time or you have stuff in the fridge that you want to use.  You’ll save money (by not ordering takeout), calories (by using the low fat version of the soup & one crust) and you won’t waste your leftover food! Everyone wins!  So, what’s your go-to meal when you’re in a hurry?

 

Disclaimer:  This post was not sponsored.  I just really like Hungry Girl and I wanted to include her in here and give her credit for her version of the recipe.  🙂  All comments and opinions are my own.