Monday, January 31, 2011

eXtreme Science Magic FREE family show

Don O' Brien is coming to Fresno! Come to see his FREE show at the Fresno County Library Politi Branch on Wednesday February 16, 2011. He has two shows 3-4pm, 5:30-6:30pm. Please pick up your free tickets in advance starting February 7th. Only 80 people can attend per show.

You'll see fire tornados, bouncing bubbles, flying objects and more! So bring your little future scientists and get them excited about learning!

To see what else is going on at your local library click HERE to see the calendar. There are always infant/toddler lap sits, preschool crafts, reading dogs, you can even get help with genealogy, taxes and more!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

SAT Prep: Huntington Learning Center

So it's that time again. The time where I get to be the town crier and warn all the parents of juniors in high school need to start their SAT prep. If you are planning for BYU then ACT prep (for some reason they are the only major colleges that expect the ACT).
I happened to work at Huntington Learning Center (so I'm obviously biased, just a heads up). Huntington provides SAT/ACT prep and in my experience when the students apply themselves, we generally see a 200 point increase or more. We work hard to teach all the fundamentals of math, grammar, and critical reading that are necessary for the SAT and will help the students the rest of their lives. Believe it or not but vocabulary is the secret weapon in assaulting the SAT. We do teach them a few tricks too to help with timing and other challenges that timed tests pose.
Huntington provides individualized instruction so your child will not get lost in the crowd including practice tests that are actually retired SAT tests. Additionally an individualized program is created to target your child's needs so we can focus on improving areas of weakness. If you would like to bring in your junior for a SAT diagnostic test and consultation, cut the $50 off coupon out of the Central California Parents Magazine (you can grab one in the office located at Champlain and Perrin) and come on in. You can also contact the Fresno Huntington at 434-2028.
Even if you do not choose Huntington Learning Center, now is the time to prepare, because if your child does not get the score you expect, you need time to prepare and retake. It seems the best timing is to take the test in June of their junior year and then October of their senior year otherwise any later and they could be missing application deadlines.

Central California Parent Magazine FREE

Central California Parent Magazine is a free publication that gives excellent information regarding family activities in the central valley. They also provide a giveaway drawing every month and it is usually pretty good, I won ballet tickets just over a year ago. If you are looking for infant/toddler lap sits, information about dance, karate, private schools, daycare, etc. this magazine is great. Click HERE to view the online publication/website. You can also check the side of my blog for websites listed that are good resources to parents in the Fresno area. Break the Barriers and Huntington Learning Center in Fresno are where I pick up a copy every month.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Shutterfly Cards and Sharing Site

Triple Love Valentine's Day Card
Unique party invitations and announcements by Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.
Shutterfly offered me 10 free cards via email. I chose to make these Valentine cards. Photo websites are a way to archive pictures to a degree, although we do regular cd back-ups as well. Shutterfly is now offering 30 free 4x6 prints if you create a photo sharing website. The main thing I was impressed by was the speed! I entered 60 photos to be uploaded and was shocked that it took about 5 seconds. You can also share these photos via facebook, blogger, and myspace. Shutterfly often has promotions and has quality products.

I will receive a gift certificate from shutterfly for sharing my project as part of this blog post, but all my opinions are personal.

Senior Flight Deals: American Airlines

From my online research, I have found American Airlines to be the most constant for excellent Senior flights deals for those 65 and older. Recently, my mother was unable to take her return flight from across the states. My sister and I worried that they would charge her extensively to switch flights so we were glad we had purchased the traveler's insurance (something I've always done since I got the flu the night the same night we rented a car for the next day and had to cancel; that was $90 down the drain) but the insurance required a doctor's note. To our pleasant surprise, American Airlines said all she had to do was pay the difference between her current flight and the one she was switching to (in her case $5 difference). They have excellent customer service and said they would allow a refund or change of flights even if she had changed her mind. In order to get a Senior flights in the drop down menu where it is asking the number of Adults traveling, click the highlighted area below that says "Seniors, children and infants." Fill out the more detailed form and select 1 passenger in the "seniors" drop down menu, then just make sure that is the setting you are using when you search. Click HERE to view their Customer Service Plan.

American Airlines no longer is participating with many online flight search companies like Orbitz, Expedia, and Hotwire so search directly on their site and you will get there best deals. They have a lowest fare guarantee HERE and no online booking fees.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Old Navy 40% off Clearance! Best Deal of the Year!

The end of January is the best time to hit up the Old Navy Clearance in stores because it is 40% off the clearance prices. If you want to add to your savings, buy one item and do the online or telephone survey and go back for an additional 10% off your entire purchase. 50% off total. There are children's mittens on clearance for 97 cents, so about 40 cents at the register, I prefer the Old Navy on Shaw in Clovis because they have a good supply of men's, women's, some maternity,children's and baby clothing. Today I bought dresses, shirts, mittens, and a hat; not one of the items was over $5! Girls shirts are $2.50. So head out to Old Navy and stock up for next year if you don't need the clothes right now. I'm going back to get Taylor a coat.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Fresh Citrus, Pick Your Own

Now that the citrus season is well under way in the valley, it's time to hit up your neighbors for fresh fruit. Lemons, tangerines, navel oranges, yummy. I love making Lemon Cranberry Scones this time of year. Many farmers will also offer a pay by the box/bag system where you can go pick for yourself year round. What a fun and educational activity for the kids, it is a great way to teach them about where they live and where we get our food. Click HERE to see where you can pick your own in the Fresno area. The Fresno Bee classifieds let people post under Farmer's Marketplace fresh produce for sale/free.

A friend of mine checked the farms listed and found out they are no longer participating. I'll see what I can do to find some local farms that will allow pick your own.

UPDATE: It seems that liability is a concern for local farmers. One gentleman mentioned that people see a latter and a tree and see a paycheck, but then he did offer for me to come pick a box for free if I wanted. From this conversation I gathered that if you are interested in pick your own, contact the farmers directly, explain your interest in supporting local farmers and they might be willing to help you out.  It seems like it's all about asking in the right way.

The Fresno State Organic Farm allows U-Pick as they call it. I will post when the picking is allowed. They give wholesale prices and I was told that generally they pick on Saturday mornings (10am-12pm) twice a semester and three or four times in the summer (8am-10am). They also provide worm composting workshops about 3 times a year. Their website is currently under production.

Fresno Monsters Hockey Deal

Fresno Monsters Hockey Team is offering $3 balcony tickets for the rest of the season! Woot. The next time the team plays in the Selland Area is January 21st and 22nd with double headers. You can purchase tickets at the Selland Area Box Office (Monday through Friday 10am to 6pm),, and all Ticketmaster outlets. This would be a great date on a budget if the Clovis $3 Movie Theater is getting old. Games start at 3:30pm and you can get stay for two games for the price of one!
Call Fresno Monsters Hockey at 559-375-7684 or visit it on the web at

Thanks to the newly formed Fresno Convention and Visitors Bureau for this information.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Rent your Textbooks!

I wish I would have known about this earlier. Last semester we had no idea how we were going to pay for Sammy's books  until one of his classmates mentioned that there are websites where you can rent textbooks. Some sites provide free shipping both ways! For the total one of Sammy's books would've cost, we rented 2 books and bought 1. Check out which is like a airfare comparison site except for textbooks etc. It compares prices to rent, buy used, and buy new. We had luck with, and purchased a book on also gives you the option to sell your books as well. Don't forget you can always check and Craigslist.

Hot Deal on Living Social! $10 for $20 Gift Card! Ends in 8 Hours!

Living Social like Groupon offers deep discounts. Today's national deal offers a $20 gift card to for only $10!!! Hurry, ends in 8 hours. January 20th 2011, 4am PST. Click HERE to get the deal! I'm going to be super practical and get diapers most likely with my Amazon mom account. Boring but hey, it's like getting $10 free!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Agoo Leggings $3 a pair!

Agoo clothing company is having a warehouse sale and it is selling select leggings for $3 a pair which is 70% off the regular prices. Taylor has an Agoo jacket we won in a giveaway and the clothing is great quality, has spf protection, and can easily be layered. The clothing is specially designed for active kids. So these are play clothes. Check out the sale HERE. Agoo makes leggings for both boys and girls.

Rich Dad, Poor Dad Convention FREE

Have you heard of the Rich Dad, Poor Dad book? I flipped through it a few years ago at a friend's house. I still need to read it. It covers topics regarding investing your time and money wisely.  This convention is focused on the stock success. The writer is not attending the convention in Fresno, but Rich Dad Education is putting on FREE two hour sessions on February 1st in Fresno. They are twice a day one at The Four Points by Sheraton Hotel in Fresno. On February 2nd they will be at The Visalia Convention Center, and on the 3rd at The Four Points Sheraton Hotel in Bakersfield.
Click HERE to register and view details. I have never been to one of these conventions so hopefully there aren't any strings attached. I'm sure it works well to promote his book and whatever other products he sells.

Starfall FREE Phonics and Reading

Starfall is a free phonics and reading website designed for 2-6 year-olds. It runs a flash program so even people with slower internet connections should be able to access it with ease (unlike Disney or Nick Jr. ugh those sites run so slowly...they always eventually freeze on my computer). I use Starfall as a learning tool for my kids. I work at Huntington Learning Center and see on a daily basis how important early literacy is for kids.
Starfall is great to pull up when you have a half hour or so and you can review the alphabet, read books word by word, or have them read to you. They have songs and sign language. Taylor loves the All About Me section under It's Fun to Read! where she can pick her hair color, age, favorite color, etc. She has learned to navigate the website on her own and that helps me not feel guilty when she needs to occupy herself. They also provide printable sheets, so if you wanted to use them for preschoolers, they are a great resource. Check out Starfall and bookmark it today!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Easy Pinto Bean Recipe

Pot o' Beans! The best solution for budget meals. I'm not much of a cook, but I can cook a pot of pinto beans and they are great for multiple meals. I like beans alone with cheddar and saltines or tortillas, but they are also a good start to chili and you can refry them or use them in tacos as substitutes for meat. I personally prefer black beans as meat substitutes in Mexican dishes.

Easy Pinto Beans
1 lb dry pinto beans
2  1/2 centimeter thick slices salt pork (can be found at Food Maxx or Winco in Fresno)
3 whole cloves garlic
1 tbsp salt
4 quarts water, minimum

We do not soak our beans. Boil water in a large pot. Add all the ingredients at once. Cook on high for three hours covered. This will mean a lot of steam and some attention. You have to be careful not to run out of water or they'll burn. You can always add water. You can cook them at a simmer, it will just take longer. When the beans are soft they are done. If they are splitting open they are over done, but they will still taste good. Keep the salt pork frozen.
Now if someone can teach me how to make Mexican/Spanish rice, let me know.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Woodward, Roeding, and Jensen Sports Complex Annual Park Pass

ACE Parking manages Woodward Park, Roeding Park, and the Jensen Sports Complex regarding parking. Now the best deal you can get if you are a family with little ones, is to purchase an annual park pass which goes by calendar year. This works best if you have a pass to the Fresno Chaffee Zoo, because then every time you go you don't have to worrying about coming up with cash for the parking (and like any season pass, it pays for itself and you save money too). So now it the time to get your pass to get the most of your money. The cost for parking at Woodward has increased to $5 a car, even if you are a Fresno resident. My pass renewal is $30 this year so hopefully it remains the same for everyone else. So after 6 visits in the year, you are going to the park for free and all you have to do is scan your card when you drive up. You can use your pass with any car, so if you ride with a friend, that's okay. I love hopping on 41 and taking the kids to Woodward if I'm not up for the zoo, that way we get some sunshine and exercise and I feel frugal for using my parking pass. Happy kids, happy mom.

To contact ACE Parking call (559) 264-6422. 
There office is located downtown at 2125 Kern St. Fresno 93721
South of Tulare between Van Ness and M Street. Take the phone number with you, it was hard for me to find.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


I like, an online parenting resources. It sends you weekly emails about your child's growth and development from prepregnancy planning on.  BabyCenter has forums so you can related with other mother's who have children the same age as yours. They also share offers from sponsors etc. I have a 4 month old so when I received this comic in an email from them, I thought I'd share. :)

Monday, January 10, 2011

10 Dollar Store Buys that ARE Worth it.

1. Pregnancy Test
(Yes, they do work. SO much better than spending $20)
2.Kids toothbrushes and toothpaste (both are normally name brand). 
3. Baking Sheets
(Just can't wash them in the dishwasher(they'll rust) and they discolor over time, but bake great cookies.)
4. Rubbing Alcohol
5. Hydrogen Peroxide
6. Foil Balloons (When you can't buy a bouquet, why not buy one to brighten someone's day?)
7. Gift bags, Wrapping paper, Invitations, Thank you cards.
8. Dora, Diego, Princess, Winnie the Pooh, small (disposable/party favors) children's toys
(card games and bubbles are best). 
9. Preschool Supplies: stickers, wall decor, etc.
10. Party supplies: paper cups, paper plates, napkins, streamer paper, tablecloths.

I'm sure most of you have stumbled upon these great finds on your own, I just wanted to share the items I mostly buy at the Dollar Store. Let me know what consistent finds you have found at The Dollar Store.
Many items might seem worth it, but aren't, and not just because of quality reasons. For example you have to measure things by the ounce, so that 12 oz of soap for a dollar is really more expensive per ounce than you would by in a larger size at almost any other store.