Summer Reading Programs For Kids – 2015

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I love encouraging my kids to read during the summer.  What better way than FREE rewards and activities.  Let me know if you find anymore.  I’m sad that some of these only go up to 5th grade. My Middle school and High schooler love to read.

Barnes & Noble – Read any 8 books and record them in the reading journal between May 19th and September 7th, 2015 and get a free book from Barnes & Noble list. I’m sad my kids have outgrown the free book list, but it might be a great gift item or donation.

Book It Summer Break Sweepstakes – Sponsored by Pizza Hut. Starting June 22, encourage all kids to collectively read 1 million minutes by August 15! Kids who read 5 books by August 15 have a chance to win awesome BOOK IT! prizes.

Chuck E Cheese Rewards Calendar – Print out the rewards calendar and record the books your child reads. Bring the chart into a participating Chuck E Cheese and earn 10 free tokens.

Half Price Books Feed Your Brain – Download the reading log and record how many minutes a week your child reads. If your child reads 300 minutes and turns in the reading log, and earn bookworm bucks.

PBS Kids Summer Reading Challenge – This one I love! It’s a DIY 10 week reading program with worksheets, games and more to keep your child entertained over the summer. 

Book Adventure – is a FREE reading motivation program for children in grades K-8. Children create their own book lists from over 7,000 recommended titles, take multiple choice quizzes on the books they’ve read, and earn points and prizes for their literary successes.

Local Library – Check with your local library about reading programs in your area. Duval County Libraries are always offering activities for kids. Clay County Libraries also have a large list of Summer kids activities.

Scholastic Summer Challenge – Log your child’s reading minutes and earn virtual rewards.

TD Bank Summer Reading Program – Read 10 books and record them on the Summer Reading Form. Take the form into your nearest TD Bank and $10 will be deposited into a new or existing saver account.

Home Depot Memorial Day Weekend Sale 2015

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Home Depot

The Home Depot Memorial Day Sale has started.  You can buy online and pick up at your local store.  If you have any paint projects on your list, now is the time to buy it.  And Military get a 10% off discount. Sale runs through May 31st.

Here are just a few of the item but you’ll want to check out your full local ad here. 

Up to 20% OFF Appliance Special Buys

Up to 25% OFF Lighting & Fans

Outdoor Storage starting at $59

Gas Grills starting at $199 – This even includes Kingsford 18.6 lb. Charcoal Briquets (2-Bag) for $9.98 each

Up to 20% OFF Outdoor Power

Up to 20% OFF Patio Furniture

4 for $10 Earthgro Mulch

$5 OFF 1 Gal. Cans & $20 OFF 5 Gal. Buckets of Paint 

Homemade Candy Bouquet for gifts, prizes or holiday surprises!

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Homemade Candy Bouquet

By Contributing writer Laura.
This idea started with a need to be creative but thrifty!  My daughters middle school was having our 1st “Color Run” and our PTO was on a tight budget.  At $10 an entry including a shirt we needed to execute the event for as little money as possible.  We needed prizes to give to the runners who came in 1st, 2nd and 3rd and also for the student who had the winning design for the t-shirt.  The prizes needed to be something every kid would want.  Gift cards aren’t allowed as gifts in our school district so that limited us.  Anyway, I decided that a candy bouquet would not only fit into our budget but would be a WOW part of the event and as a bonus it could be used for decoration.  Since making these for the first time, I have made a few of these for friends birthdays and they are not only fun to make but loved by all.  For adult friends, you can substitute small liquor bottles and maybe even folded dollar bills.  This is PERFECT for the person who has everything.

Supplies: Candy, Wood Skewers, Hot Glue, Foam Block from the floral department of your favorite craft store and a vase or container of some kind. Tissue paper and Ribbon for decorating (if you choose) I have seen these at a flower shop with hershey kisses as the vase filler and it is super cute!

Step 1: Purchase the candy (or whatever you choose to put in your bouquet).  I suggest that you buy your candy at a store that only wants $.50 or so for a full size bar, sometimes grocery stores get a little pricey!  Walmart would be a great place, I purchased mine at Walgreens due to a big sale they were having! If you make more than one bouquet, buying them at Sam’s or Costco in bulk would be a money saver. Purchase the other supplies.  Think outside the box for the container~ there are so many options.  A flower pot would be cute!

Step 2: Using your hot glue gun, place a strip of hot glue down the center of each piece of candy/candy bar.  This glue dries quickly so don’t try and do too many at once.  Place the skewer in the glue and make sure it is secure~ burned finger tip alert…be careful!  TIP: I found that if I knew which items I wanted higher and lower its easier to break them off from the “non pointy” end so you save the “pointy end” for the foam block.


Step 3: Cut the foam block to fit tightly in the container.  If you have a glass or see through container you may want to put the tissue paper in first before adding foam.  Place the foam in the bottom of container.  Gluing the foam in helps keep the bouquet sturdy but hot glue doesn’t work too well for this.  I would use a craft glue if you choose to glue the foam down. For the really deep container I chose to put a wood block in the bottom and built it up a bit.



Step 4: Begin placing the candy skewers into the foam.  They should easily stick through the tissue paper if you left the end “pointy”.  I suggest placing the large items first and then anything you want in the back.  I used small snack size candy bars for filler and lollipops for variety.

Step 5: Finish your bouquet off with a ribbon or bow or anything else that will dress it up!  Your imagination can go wild with this craft.

I hope you are able to make this craft for many occasions in your life.  I can’t imagine any person not LOVING getting this gift and for the actual cost, it is quite the WOW without breaking the bank!IMG_0565



Staycation Ideas For Over 50 Other Cities

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A staycation is vacation you spend in your home town, visiting  local attractions or taking day trips.

I’ve updated the Jacksonville Florida Staycation page and you can also view over 50 other cities at the bottom of the page.

If you have a Jacksonville favorite activity or location, leave a comment on the Jacksonville Staycation page and I’ll add it!
A – D

Phoenix, Arizona — Saving For Someday
Fresno, California — Living A Frugal Life
Orange County, California — More With Less Today
San Diego, California — Southern Cali Saver
Denver, Colorado — Bargain Blessings
Washington, District of Columbia — Kidventurous

F – I

Disney World, Florida — The Happy Housewife
Jacksonville, Florida — Saving The Family Money
Orlando, Florida — Coupon Mamacita
St Augustine, Florida — Simply St. Augustine
Tallahasse, Florida — SwagGrabber
Tampa Bay, Florida —
Atlanta, Georgia — Pretty Frugal Diva
Dahlonega, Georgia — Kathys Cluttered Mind
Savannah, Georgia — This Mommy Saves Money
Aurora/Chicago, Illinois — A Savings WOW!
Chicago, Illinois — Entertaining Chicago
Indianapolis, Indiana — Chaos Is Bliss

K – P

Lexington, Kentucky — Homeschool Village
Louisville, Kentucky — The Kennedy Adventures
Northern Kentucky, Kentucky — Simply Sherryl
Carroll County, Maryland — Looking at life CreativLEI
Boston, Massachusetts — Maven of Savin
Battle Creek, Michigan — Pichea Place
Grand Rapids, Michigan — Give Me Neither
Metro Detroit, Michigan — Saving Dollars and Sense
Kansas City Area, Missouri/Kansas — Redefined Mom
Omaha, Nebraska — Family Fun in Omaha
Central, New Jersey — Our Good Life
Cincinnati, Ohio — Adventure Mom
Cleveland, Ohio — Kosher on a Budget
Columbus, Ohio — Cleverly Simple
Dayton, Ohio — Savings Lifestyle
Mansfield & Richland County, Ohio — The Traveling Praters
Miami County, Ohio — Something 2 Offer
Northeast, Ohio — Sisters Shopping on a Shoestring
Portland, Oregon — Frugal Living NW
Harrisburg/Central, PA — Family Balance Sheet
Erie, Pennsylvania — Growing Kids Ministry
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — Moms Need To Know
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania — The Coupon High

R – W

Arlington, Texas — Grocery Shop For FREE
Fort Worth, Texas — Coupons and Freebies Mom
Houston, Texas — Melissa’s Bargains
Katy, Texas — Moms Confession
San Antonio, Texas — How to Homeschool My Child
Tyler, Texas — iLoveMy5Kids
Charlottesville, Virgina — How to Have it All
Norfolk, Virgina — The Talking Suitcase
Richmond, Virgina — Vacation Maybe
Seattle, Washington — Thrifty NW Mom
Tacoma/South Puget Sound, Washington — Queen Bee Coupons
Oshkosh, Wisconsin — A Little Bit of This and That

Winn-Dixie Great Grocery Giveaway Sweepstakes

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Winn-Dixie Great-Grocery-Giveaway

When I posted about the new My Winn-Dixie app last week, I mentioned they also have a grocery sweepstakes going on.  Winn-Dixie is giving away $150,000 worth of free groceries to customers in the Southeast, including the Jacksonville area. Thirty (30) Winn-Dixie customers in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Louisiana will win free groceries for a year, valued at $5,000 each, by entering the Great Grocery Giveaway. Additionally, every person who enters the giveaway will automatically receive a $10 off $100 purchase coupon so everybody wins!

Customers can visit the Great Grocery Giveaway now through June 16 for official rules and to enter-to-win the Great Grocery Giveaway.  You’ll need to enter your Winn-Dixie rewards card number to enter.  Once you’ve entered you’ll get a $10 off $100 purchase coupon loaded onto your Winn-Dixie rewards card within 3 business days of entering.  You will be notified via email when the $10 off $100 purchase coupon has been loaded to your reward card.

If you don’t already have a Winn-Dixie customer reward card, you can sign up online here, or get one from your local Winn-Dixie customer service desk.

Head over to the Winn-Dixie Great Grocery Giveaway here to enter. 

Disclosure: I was given a Winn-Dixie gift card in exchange for sharing this information. All opinions are my own. 

Summer Movie Programs For Kids ~ Regal, Cinemark and Carmike

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Summer Movie Express | Regal Cinemas

Incase you missed this, summer movie programs for kids is a great way to entertain the kids in the air conditioning!

One of my favorite ways to keep the kids entertained is the kids movies for a great price.  They may have seen these movies before, but don’t mind going to the theater  in the air conditioning, and having popcorn! Here are the details to the theaters that are participating.

Cinemark Summer Movie Club House.  (Yay, the Jacksonville location is participating this year!) 10 shows for $5 if paid in advance or $1 per show when you pay at the box office. Here is the Cinemark Summer Movie Schedule for the Jacksonville location as well as a concession stand coupon.

Carmike Cinemas Summer Kids Series –Thursday movies at 10am for the family for only $4 per person and price includes kids tray with popcorn and drink. Choose your State and city to see playing times.

Regal Summer Movie Express – Tuesdays & Wednesdays 10am at select theaters, watch a G or PG movie for only $1 per ticket!  Check the start dates and locations here. 

AMC theaters have not participated for a few years.  If they update any, I’ll post it.


Jacksonville Beach – Moonlight movies at the Seawalk pavilion. Friday nights at 9pm.  Bring a blanket or lawn chairs and get there early to get a good seat.

Ripley’s St. Augustine – Movies by the Bay Wednesdays starting at 8:30 pm.  Schedule on their Facebook page.

Be sure to check out the Jacksonville Staycation page for more local summer fun.

New Winn-Dixie Mobile App Offers Customized Savings

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Winn Dixie mobile appI LOVE mobile apps and if they make my life easier AND save me money it’s a bonus!  Winn-Dixie shared information with me about their new My Winn-Dixie app that does both!  Right now you can download the My Winn-Dixie mobile app free via iPhone and Android app stores.

Now through May 27th, 2015, if you download the app you’ll get a coupon for a FREE one dozen large Winn-Dixie eggs.  Click the check mark next to coupons you want saved to your account.

my winn dixe app

Now available in the App Store My Winn-Dixie will personalize the shopping experience by providing:

  • Customized coupons based on individual shopping habits
  • Fuelperks! and savings/rewards trackers
  • Shopping lists
  • Store locator maps

Here’s what Winn-Dixie says about the app:

The coupons on our new app and site are delivered to each customer based on his or her shopping behaviors and geographic interests and then prioritized so those that most closely match their preferences appear first. No other grocer in the Southeast offers this kind of personalization. Customers can easily click and save offers and redeem them using either their physical reward card, phone number look-up, or the app’s digital reward card at the register. My Winn-Dixie offers customers the same functionality on both the mobile app and website, so customers can use the features at home or while in the store.

Here’s how to get started:

Winn Dixie app

  • Check your email to confirm your registration.
  • The personalized coupons will be delivered online or via the mobile app.
  • Save them to your account and then when your card is scanned at checkout your coupons will be redeemed.

I LOVE that I can now use the app instead of digging for my Winn-Dixie card.  I have a bad habit of forgetting to bring it in with me and my phone number had not been updated yet.  Now you have 3 ways to use your card. Scan the reward card, give the cashier the phone number attached to your account or use the mobile app.

The app keeps track of your fuelperks and will tell you how much you need to spend to reach your next fuelperk reward.

Clipping these coupons and redeeming them digitally, will help you save on printer paper and ink! You can view your local stores weekly ad from the app as well.

Winn Dixie is also having a sweepstakes right now, to win free groceries for a YEAR! You can enter the Winn-Dixie sweepstakes here and once you do, you’ll also get a $10 off $100 purchase coupon!  Coupon will be automatically uploaded to your card within 3 business days.  Check your email for when it’s ready. 

*Disclosure: I was given a Winn-Dixie gift card in exchange for sharing this information. All opinions are my own. 

Repurposing home decor into focal points ~ It’s all about that base

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repurposing home decor

By Contributing writer Laura.

We’ve all seen the trend~ from frames to clocks to clipboards to just about any home decor, everything is being raised on a pedestal.  The benefit of this in decorating is to allow you height that you normally would not have and also making the item more of a statement on a shelf, desk, mantle or wherever else you choose to display your home decor.  For this project I wanted to show you just how easy it is to create this same trend with items you have laying around the house with inexpensive frames or even the cute wood signs that are in every store now (and quite often 50% off). Repurposing Home Decor you already have is easy.  These are a few retail items I saw when shopping for this project~most were $29.99:IMG_1358For my project I decided on a frame.  This is super simple, very inexpensive and fun to do. This really does look like I bought it this way and it enables me to get the type of frame I want instead of being forced to buy what the stores sell.  There is ALWAYS satisfaction in knowing that you made something, even if it is semi-homemade!


A frame OR clock, wood sign, jar, etc.

Wood Base~they sell these square, rectangle, round, oval, and just about every shape.  Choose the one that looks best with you topper.

Candlestick or base item~they sell so many of these at craft stores and I have also found them at Lowes.  For the glass project included at the end of this post I used a standard candlestick I purchased at Hobby Lobby.  For this project I wanted it to be shorter so I purchase a bag of candlesticks from Hobby Lobby 6 for $3.99 and of course I used a coupon!!

E6000 GLUE~ I have found this to be the best for durability.

Craft Paint~ I took the frame to the acrylic paint aisle and matched it as closely as I could.  It really isn’t as close as it looks but after distressing you cannot tell there is a difference. For this project I used Folk Art/Raw Umber.

Paint brush~ I buy the cheap foam brushes in bulk.  Sometimes Michaels sells these individually for $.05 each~ This past week Michaels had 20 prepackaged for $1.99 so I stocked up!

Sandpaper(optional)~for distressing


Step 1:  Glue the candlestick bases together.  You can make these as tall as you want.  I chose to only use 2 for this project.

Step 2:  Glue the combined candlestick bases to the bottom base.  Again, this is a personal preference.  Since I had a rectangle frame, I wanted an oval base.  Let the glue dry for Step 1 &2.


Step 3:  Paint the entire base.  If you will be able to see the top of the candlestick (if the top item is not as thick as the base) make sure you paint the part that will be showing.  Let this dry! I know the base looks darker and not the same color but just wait until you see the finished product and see how dry paint and distressing changes things! If your project does NOT match, you can always mix a few paint colors.  Wax can also disguise differences in color if needed.  For this project, I used the ONE color and distressed it and it was perfect.


Step 4:  Glue the top item to the base.  Make sure it is centered!

If you choose to distress the base, you may choose to sand it before gluing the top part on.  I got a little excited and glued it first!


As you can see, this really does look like I bought it this way!  Imagine the possibilities.  In all honesty, I hoped to turn this frame the opposite way, remove the back and put my Aunt Earleens prized Strawberry Heaven recipe in it for my kitchen window sill.  The back was not removable so I adjusted my plans.  Sometimes projects don’t turn out the way you had hoped but make adjustments accordingly and most projects turn out great, even if not the way you intended.  Don’t let your fear of a FLOP stop you from getting your craft on!!!

While shopping my creativity was FLOWING and I took a few pictures of other options.   A small wood sign becomes a focal point on a base!!



A few years ago I made the glass cylinder below. I love it on my mantle.  I keep coastal type items in it most of the year but it is super easy to take the top off and fill it with seasonal items.  For instance, I fill it with hearts for Valentines Day and tie a red ribbon around the base.  A simple decor change that really brings a little bit of the holiday in!


(3) round bases, two just a little smaller than the other. The smaller round needs to fit on top of the jar so you can attach the finial which usually has a screw attachment.

Glass cylinder jar with lid (Hobby Lobby)


Paint and Paintbrush


I simply painted all of the wood black and painted the silver jar lid black.  I glued everything together and screwed the finial into the top.  As you can see, it looks great next to my collection of over 1800 sharks teeth which is another hobby of mine!


I hope your creative wheels are turning with this project.  Just think of all the cute ideas that are possible by simply adding a base and some height to items.  Use your imagination!  I would love to see what you come up with!