Guest post

Thanks to Disney on the Cheap for today’s guest post.

Hiya’ fellow thrifties! I am so happy to be here with you today.

My family loves Disney! I was so excited when I became a mom to start taking my little guy to Disneyland. However, if you are cheap thrifty like me, you might know that after heading to Disney’s site, I about had a heart attack at the price of the cheapest packages. We are a single income family, and both my husband and I are in school, so those prices were completely out of our budget. I thought I would never be able to take my son to Disneyland. And then, it struck me, if I can spend a little extra time on my groceries with couponing and deal hunting and save 85%, maybe I could apply the same time and strategies to my Disney Trip Planning and have a similar result.

While this will focus mostly on Disneyland, these tips can be used for any vacation.

The key to doing Disney for cheap is putting in the work. I don’t want to overwhelm you, so I will give you the simplified version. If you want to know more, head over to Love Our Disney to check out a more detailed series of Disney on the Cheap.

There are 7 things I like to share with everyone to help them do Disney on the cheap.

1) Dates- pick a date that is in the off season. Off season tends to be January 5 – March 5, April 15 – May 20, and after Labor Day – Thanksgiving. The first 2 weeks in December are less busy than later in the month. Picking to go in the off season will lower prices on hotels, lower the crowds so you can do everything in fewer days, and more. If you are able to travel at the beginning of the year, Disney usually offers discounted tickets.

2)Throw out the notion that packages are a good deal. Just like couponing, you will save a lot of money if you do a little work yourself. Book your hotel using Hotwire Hot Deals or Name Your Own Price. I prefer Hotwire, as they list some of the amenities you will be getting, and there is no bidding involved. If the idea of not knowing your hotel before you buy scares you, you can use betterbidding.com to help you narrow down what hotel it could be. Using Hotwire, I often score 3-4 star hotels at 1-2 star prices. We stay at places like the Radisson for cheaper than a Super 8.

3)Choose your transportation to your destination carefully. I live in Boise, ID. I have found, that the majority of the time, it is much cheaper to drive down to Disneyland then to fly. I know, with kids, it can be a hassle to drive, but it can save you a ton of money to do so. We usually leave in the evening and drive overnight. We rotate driving and sleeping. Then the kid(s) are only awake the last 4-5 hours of the drive. We have found driving often saves us close to $750 a trip.

4) Tickets- Understand that there is no magical way to get cheap tickets. This will most likely be your big ticket item. Some ways to save on tickets are to go at the beginning of the year, check clubs like Costco for discounts or deals, and if you are going a lot of days, check with Entertainment Book. With entertainment, be careful, they have what looks like a great deal, but then add taxes and fees, so you need to be going 4-5 days before you see any real savings. We saved $60 on tickets buying 4 day tickets for 4 people. Finally, if you are military, check with your base. Disney often offers Military Discounts of 50% for 3 day parkhopper tickets to Disneyland. You must buy them at your base though. Lastly- DO NOT BUY USED TICKETS! Disney tickets are non-transferable. Disneyland prints your name on your tickets and may ask for ID, Disney World requires a thumb print with your ticket. Don’t waste your money and then find out you can’t get in.

5) Food- Food and Hotel are the 2 biggest ways to save on your Disneyland vacation. Disneyland’s food is spendy, not very filling, and in my opinion, not very good. A hot dog, chips and medium soda runs close to $8. If you have 2 people, that is $16 for a meal that leaves you still hungry. What we do is spend $12 (less than that meal) and rent a locker in the Disneyland picnic area. We put a cooler in it and go to the picnic area and make our lunch and dinner. We get a much healthier meal for a fraction of the cost. Plus, it is a good break from the park. The picnic area is pretty enclosed and quite empty, so it gives the kids a chance to be a little more free as well. You can learn more about using the picnic area HERE. Also, you can take some snacks into the park. I have talked about our how we do our snacks HERE.

6) The final savings tip that I have for your today is about Souvenirs. Disney has been brilliant with the layout of their parks. Almost every ride, you exit into or right next to a gift shop. Those little souvenirs add up quickly and can become quite costly. The best way to save on souvenirs, don’t buy any! At least not IN the park. Scout out stores like Target, JC Penny, and more for clothing on clearance prior to your trip. Watch for deals online at the Disney Store to purchase actual park items at a fraction of the cost. We do allow each child (we often bring our niece and nephew along with us as well as our toddler) to pick out one item with a limit of $10. We also always buy them their first set of Mouse Ears. Other than that, we only buy things for special occasions. In October, our son hit his first height requirement and was able to ride Autopia! So we spent the $5 to buy him the hard/laminated Driver’s License as a souvenir. Something special to remember that event by.

7) Photos- This goes along with the previous tip. Photos are the cheapest souvenirs, and sometimes the best. The parks offer photopasses so that you can get photos taken by cast members and then buy them. My cheap thrifty self finds that I can’t stand the idea of paying so much, especially when cast members will often agree to use your camera to take a picture. BUT- there is no obligation to buy the photos, and you get a free online preview. So I say, use the service, preview the photos, and if you do want to buy them, purchase the CD with copyright release rather than the individual prints (much cheaper). At the same time, be sure to use your own camera a lot so that you are not relying on buying those photos. If you are worried about how your photos will turn out, check out THESE photography tips for your vacation.

I hope these tips help you in planning a Disney vacation the thrifty way! I have done several comparisons, and found I often save 25-40% off of Disney’s Good Neighbor Hotel package prices. In fact, we save so much, we are often able to go twice a year! So don’t let the price tag on Disney’s site scare you away. Just remember, investing a few hours of work can save you a ton!

Thanks for letting me share these tips with you! Have a Magical Day! Feel free to follow us on Facebook too.

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Hello Everyone! I am so excited to be posting here at A Thrifty Mom! I am Adrienne and I blog over at Free Time Frolics!  I blog about crafts, recipes, DIY and printable’s. Today I am going to share how to make a pillow cover with a Dishtowel.  This project was super easy and makes an adorable throw pillow for a bed or chair. Making the pillow took me about 30 minutes, with minimal sewing.

Let’s get started.  First I found this dishtowel at TJ Maxx for $4.  I fell on love with the little appliqued birds and ruffle.  I knew immediately this little beauty was going to be a pillow for my daughters bed. My towel measured 20×30.

Next I picked out 3 buttons and 2 1/2 yards of ribbon to match.  I had a pillow for from a previous couch pillow I didn’t need anymore.  If you are looking for a pillow form, Home Fabrics and Rugs is a great place to get them.

Next I wrapped my dishtowel around my pillow form to get a general idea of how far the dishtowel would wrap. Mine wrapped around once with a a 5 inch overlap.  With that in mind, I folded the bottom edge of my dishtowel about 8 inches. I pinned the edges into place.

Next cut you ribbon into 8 equal pieces.  Burn the edges with a match.  This will keep the ends from unraveling.  Pin your ribbon into position. I pinned mine at the top of the folded edge and 3 1/2 inches from the bottom folded edge, in between the 2 pieces of fabric..

Stitch into place. Making a pocket for the pillow.

Place your pillow in the sewn pocket.  I did this to check for placement of the other ribbons. My ribbons were placed 3 and 7  inches from the top of the ruffle. Just make sure they sit directly even with each other. Stitch them into place.

For the last step I placed my buttons.  I measured for center and pinned.  For the other buttons I measured from the middle to each end and found that center and pinned on both sides.  This is where I made my button holes.

Hand stitch your buttons on and you are all done!! Now you have an adorable decorative throw pillow for a bed or chair for spring or a little girls bedroom.  My little girl loves her new decorative pillow on her bed.  I need to keep my eyes open for a few more just like them.

Thanks so much Thrifty Mom for having me! If you like what you saw here please come on over to my blog Free Time Frolics and take a look around.

 

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We planted a bunch of pie pumpkins in our back field this year.  I love knowing that my pumpkins were grown without chemicals. We love pumpkins in bars, muffins, and pies.  I’m sure we’ll come up with some more creative uses. Here’s the process that we used to make our pumpkins into puree.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

PumpkinsCut the pumpkins in half

Cut pumpkinsScoop out stringy pulp and seeds.  Remove the stem.

Scoop out insidePlace face down in a shallow pan.

Place in shallow panCover with foil.

Bake in oven for about 1.5 hours or until tender.

Allow pumpkins to cool.  Scoop pumpkin flesh and puree or mash it.

I used a food processor.  You could also use a blender or a mash it with a potato masher.  It really depends on what you have available and what consistency you like.

Pumpkin pieMake a yummy pumpkin pie.

I use the recipe on the Libby’s Pumpkin Puree can and substitute 15 oz. of our pumpkin puree.  I also make my pie crust from scratch from a recipe that Matt taught me when we were 1st dating.  Nothing beats homemade:)

With the puree that I didn’t use, I measured it into amounts that I use in recipes and froze it.

What do you make with pumpkin puree?

 Update*** I decided to re-post this… originally posted over 3 years ago.  But I have had a few emails asking me how to cook pumpkins so I thought it was worth sharing again!

Thanks to Give me Neither For this great post.

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Football Food on a Budget: Tomato and Bacon Quesadillas

The beginning of fall means one thing: football season is officially back in full swing.  With football games come football tailgates and parties, which come with the best part of all: football food.  From pizza to spicy hot wings and hot dogs on the grill to home-cooked chili recipes, football foods are known for being easy to eat, hearty and definitely crave-worthy.

The only problem with football food is that if you’re feeding a crowd, ordering dozens of pizzas and hot wings can get expensive, which is why keeping a collection of easy tailgate recipes on hand is the most budget-friendly approach to football-watching.  There’s no need to spend lots of money on food to get the complete football experience; instead, use what you already have in your cupboard to make your own tasty appetizers.

Try this easy recipe for tomato and bacon quesadillas; they can be made in just 20 minutes so you won’t miss a minute of the game and they are perfect for feeding a crowd.  These quesadillas are cheesy, crispy, full of bacon and tomato goodness, and best of all, they are made to be grabbed and dipped.  It’s easy to double or triple the recipe, too, depending on how many people you’ll be feeding.  Try them out next Sunday—you’ll never feel the need to spend an arm and a leg on tailgating snacks again!

 Tomato and Bacon Quesadillas

Prep Time: 20 min – Total Time: 20 min – Servings: 8

Ingredients

  • 2 cups shredded Mexican-style cheese blend (2 cups = 8 oz)
  • 8 8-inch flour tortillas
  • 1 14.5 oz can Hunt’s® Petite Diced Tomatoes, drained
  • 8 slices fully cooked bacon, heated and chopped
  • 1/2 cup loosely-packed fresh basil leaves, optional
  • PAM® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray
  • Sour Cream and salsa, optional

Directions

Place the following on one half of each tortilla: 1/4 cup cheese, 2 tablespoons tomatoes, 1 tablespoon bacon and 1 tablespoon basil, if desired.  Fold each tortilla in half to form a half circle.

Coat a large skillet with cooking spray.  Cook each quesadilla over medium-low heat until cheese is melted and tortilla is lightly browned, about 1 ½ minutes on each side.

Cut each quesadilla into 4 wedges.   Pile them on a serving dish alongside bowls of sour cream and salsa for dipping; you’ll be guaranteed to have a house full of extremely happy football fans.

Guest Post ~ Author Bio: Meredith K. writes on behalf of Hunt’s®.  For other easy football appetizers, as well as easy chili recipes and slow-cooker recipes that are perfect for fall, visit www.Hunts.com.

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