Monday, May 25, 2015

Build a Menu: May Sale

Are you always looking at the clock at 4pm and saying “Ohhh, what I am going to cook for dinner??” Is mealtime at your house a little bit chaotic?? Would you like to trim the chaos and know ahead of time what is for each meal of the day??

Build a Menu is a WONDERFUL Meal planning website that will help you out of those “ruts” of figuring out dinner plans at the last moment, and helps avoid the “drive thru” meals due to convenience.

Build a Menu is simple to use and you can have a weekly Menu and Grocery List done in about 15 minutes a week.

Build a Menu has something for everyone, including Healthy Lifestyle Recipes and Menus.
  • Budget Friendly
  • Family Friendly
  • Low Carb
  • Gluten Free
  • Allergy Friendly (No Dairy, Nuts, Gluten)
  • Vegetarian
  • Clean Eating
  • Slow Cooker
  • Grill-A-Meal
  • Your Choice of Sides
  • Trim Healthy Mama Friendly

Build a Menu is having a HUGE sale right now, through May 29th. You can get a Yearly Membership for $35!! BONUS: Buy the Classic Plan and get the “Done 4 U” Plan for FREE. The “Done 4 U” plan is sent out every Friday, so you have a back up plan in case you can't plan your own.

Build A Menu Features:
  •  New recipes are always being added
  •  You select a Charitable organization for part of your membership fee to help
  •  You can add your own recipes to your menu
  •  You can create a list of Favorite Recipes

My new favorite feature is:
Mobile Apps now available in iTunes and Google Play Store.
Have access to your Menu and Grocery List on the go!!

Don't miss out on this WONDERFUL sale for an amazing Menu Planning Tool! Click the banner below to get started now! Don't delay, the sale price ends May 29th, 2015!!


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Sunday, May 24, 2015

2015 FREE and Frugal Summer Fun

My favorite time of the year is upon us, SUMMER TIME!!! I know for many parents they are left scratching their heads "What I am going to do with my kids all summer??" Well, I have complied a list of FREE and Frugal Summer Fun Ideas!!

                   National Programs for All:

Cinemark Movie Theatres will have the Summer Movie Clubhouse. Movies are shown on Wednesday at 10am. You can purchase a 10 movie Punch Card for $5 or pay $1 per show. The rates are per person.

Regal Movie Theatres have the Summer Movie Express. Movies are shown Tuesday and Wednesday at 10am. Cost is $1 per person per movie.

Classic Cinemas has Wednesday Morning Movie Series. Movies are $1 per person per movie.

Marcus Theatres has the Summer Movie Series. $2 movies on Sunday, Monday and Wednesday from June 15th until August 13th.

Check your area Movie Theatres for more Deals and Summer Movies!

FREE or Frugal Bowling:

Kids Bowl Free is a wonderful site that lists many "Independent" Bowling Alleys in all 50 states. Sign your child up and they get 2 FREE games a day. Shoe rental is not included, but usually inexpensive.

AMF Bowling and Brunswick Bowl are now a combined company, although they keep separate names. The Summer Bowling program for both can be found here. Summer Bowling Games does have a one time cost per child,the cost does include Shoe Rental for the entire summer. Sign your child(ren) up and they receive 3 games a day through Sept 7th. AMF Bowling also has an Adult Bowling Pass, cost and rules vary by area.

Free Roller Skating:
Kids Skate Free is FREE Roller Skating and is gaining in popularity, like the Summer Bowling Program. You can register at the location nearest you and each facility runs the program independently.

Barnes and Noble: The Barnes and Noble Summer Reading program: have your child(ren) read any 8 books. The child(ren) will get a FREE book from Barnes and Noble once the list is complete.

Half Price Books: Feed Your Brain is the Half Price Books Reading program Children need to read at least 15 minutes a day and 300 minutes per month during June and July, turn in form and receive Half Price Book Bucks. Each child can earn Book Bucks each month.

Check your local Library to see if they have a Reading Program going for the summer. Most libraries have a FUN program each year!

Apple Stores: Apple stores offer FREE workshops for Kids 8-12. The kids will learn how to use iMovie and how to make their own films. Sign up HERE!

Windows Stores: Microsoft offers FREE SummerCamps for kids ages 8-13. Kids are divided into 2 age groups 8-10 and 11-13. The "camps" offered include Coding. Sign up HERE!

FREE Family Fun Festival at Millennium Park begins June 22-August 23. Check out the info and Schedule HERE. We went to this a couple summers ago and it was soo much fun! My boys LOVED it!

Zoo Fun:
Lincoln Park Zoo is FREE year round, although parking can cost a "pretty penny". GREAT zoo to visit and have fun at.

Brookfield Zoo has a cost associated with it. You can visit your library in the City of Chicago and in the Suburbs and get a Pass that allows for FREE admission for a limited number of people in the family. Our family buys a yearly membership which not only allows for unlimited FREE admission but also FREE parking. We live only 5 minutes from the Zoo, so the cost is worth it because it pays for itself in 2 visits.

The Cosley Zoo is a small Zoo located in Wheaton, IL. The cost is FREE for kids 17 and under, $5 for Adults and FREE for residents of Wheaton.

Museums around the City:
Museums very rarely have FREE days in the summer. Residents of the City of Chicago can get FREE admission to most of the City Museums using the Kids Museum Passport. Each pass generally admits 4 people FREE and one must be an adult over 18. Some passes have different restrictions.

Suburban residents can visit their local library to see if they are a participant in the Museum Adventure Pass. Many different Museums are included and most passes are valid for Buy 2 get 2 FREE admissions.

The Chicago LakeFront has many Beaches and FREE swimming available. For a listing of Chicago Beaches and locations check HERE.

The Cook County Forest Preserves have 3 Aquatic Centers. There is a small FEE for these attractions, but it is very inexpensive. Adults (12 and up) are $6, and kids 4-12 are $4, 3 and under are FREE. Check out the locations and more info HERE.

I found a really nice listing of Aquatic Centers all around Chicagoland HERE. The Aquatic Centers do have an admission price and each varies by location. The listing covers many areas of Chicagoland! Many Suburban Park Districts have turned their "Pool" into AWESOME Aquatic Centers, so check the Park District websites.

Our favorite Park District Aquatic Center is The Oasis in Bloomingdale. The summer of 2015 the Oasis will have 3 “Discount Days” where admission is only $1 per person ALL DAY. The Discount Days are June 26
th, July 15th and August 5th.

Also, if you are looking for an indoor Pool fun there are a few around Chicagoland. A favorite of my family is the Oak Brook Park District Aquatic Center. Also, Splash Landings AquaticCenter in Glenview and Pelican Harbor in Bolingbrook.

The only time I went to the Forest Preserves growing up, was for Picnics. I was so excited, a few years ago, to discover there is SOO much more to the Forest Preserves then just “picnics”. I have since discovered the Nature Centers and Programs the Forest Preserves have to offer. Events that I have seen listed: Astronomy Nights, Campfire Nights, Butterflies, Family Fishing Days, and MUCH more!

NEW for 2015 at Cook County Forest Preserves: Camping for Families and Individuals. The Cook County Forest Preserves have 5 campgrounds that will be open for Families and Individuals to rent for a night or 2 or however long you want to. The prices are very reasonable. Tent and RV sites and also cabins are available for rent. Check it out HERE.

Here are the websites for the different Forest Preserves in and near Chicagoland.
Check them out for FREE or Frugal Family Fun for the summer.

I also discovered a couple of Nature Centers within Park Districts in the Chicago Area. Lake View Nature Center in Oak Brook Terrace and Lake Katherine in Palos Heights.

LakeView Nature Center is bringing back Wild Wednesdays. The event is FREE and on a drop in basis, No registration required. Check out the websites for more details on the program. Summer Time Nature Fun is a wonderful thing!!

Check your local Library for FUN activities like Movie Days, Story Time, Arts and Craft time and much more. Libraries are a GREAT resource for FREE family fun, including Family Game Night a couple times a month.

Park Districts all over offer Movies in the Park at least once a month during Summer Months. Our family enjoys going to Movies in the Park. The movies are mainly from the summer before or a couple years back, but being outdoors, after dusk, watching movies with the family and neighbors is FUN. The really cool thing is that since Movie in the Parks are FREE and open to the Public, you can visit other parks, not just those from your town.

City of Chicago: Millennium Park will be hosting the Chicago Summer Film Series on Tuesday evenings from June 23- August 25th. FREE Admission and the movie begins at 6:30pm. The listing for the entire SUMMER FILM SERIES.

Surrounding Suburbs:
June 5th: Frozen Bensenville Water Park
July 10th- The Lego Movie Diorio Field
August 14th- Monsters University Veterans Park

Kriz Park, 15th & Maple
June 18th- Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
July 16th- Paddington
August 20st- Cinderella

Proska Park, 31st & Wisconsin
June 12th- Frozen
July 10th- The Lego Movie
August 14th- The Incredibles

Jaycee/Ehlert Park, 4315 Park Avenue
June 19th- The Amazing Spiderman
August 7th- The Lego Movie

Downers Grove:
Fischel Park
July 16th- The Goonies (30th Anniversary of Release)
August 20th- Toy Story (20th Anniversary of Release)
September 17th- Back to the Future (30th Anniversary of Release)

Wilder Park
June 12th- Big Hero 6
July 10th- Homeward Bound
August 14th- Monsters University

Forest Park:
Park District of Forest Park, 7501 Harrison
June 5th- Book of Life
June 19th- West Side Story
July 17th- Cars
August 7th- Captain America
August 21th- Despicable Me

Joliet Park District:
June 19th- Maleficent Hartman Rec
July 10th- Box Trolls Theodore Crossing
July 24th- Big Hero 6 Preservation Park
August 7th- Frozen Inwood Park

LaGrange Park:
June 12th- Big Hero 6 Sedgewick Park
July 10th-Box Trolls
August 7th- Annie (new version)

Lilicia Park, 150 S. Park Ave.
June 24th- Muppets Most Wanted
July 15th- Paddington
July 22rd- Box Trolls
July 29th- Big Hero 6

OakBrook Terrace:
Hertiage Park, 1S325 Ardmore Ave.
June 24th- Into the Woods
August 4th- Big Hero 6

Oak Forest:
Central Park, 15601 S. Central Ave.
June 26th- Lego Movie
July 24th- Penguins of Madagascar
August 21st- Big Hero 6

Oak Lawn: "On the Green", 9446 S. Raymond Ave.
June 19th- Lego Movie
July 17th- Big Hero 6
August 14th- Muppets Most Wanted

Palos Heights:
Memorial Park
June 18th- Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
July 23rd- Big Hero 6
August 6th- Monsters University

Ty Warner Park, Plaza Drive and Blackhawk Dr.  8:30pm
July 24th-Big Hero 6
August 7th- Wizard of Oz

July 17th Big Hero 6 Borse Park

Woodridge Park District:
June 5th-Muppets Most Wanted Westminister Park
June 12th- Frozen Ide's Grove East Park
July 17th- Planes: Fire & Rescue Windy Point Park
July 24th- The Goonies Castaldo Park

Check your local Park District, as I only searched and found a few suburbs. Park Districts are a wonderful place to have a Family Movie night and it is FREE!

More places to find ideas for Family Fun and Family Activities:

Pinterest: Ohhh, the wonderful resources you can find on Pinterest. Do a search for “summer fun _____” and you can find resources for your city or town or idea. I have found many great ideas on Pinterest. I even have a Summer Fun Board.

A GREAT resource for Chicagoland parents is Chicago Parent Magazine. The magazine comes out monthly in libraries in both the City and Suburbs. The magazine publishes a calendar in the back of each monthly edition with Family Fun activities all around Chicagoland. 4x a year(one for every season) they put a special edition called Going Places. It is a BIG listing of their monthly calendar of events. Check out the website and pick up a copy of the monthly magazine and the Summer Edition of Going Places for some GREAT listings of Family Fun. (not all events listed are FREE, but many are). I LOVE Chicago Parent magazine, it is a GREAT resource year round! Do a google search if you live in another state, near a BIG city. I know cities like Dallas, New York and others have a "Parent Magazine", like the sister magazine to Chicago Parent.

Chicago Kids is a GREAT online Resource to find fun and activities for Kids and Families.

KidWinks is another WONDERFUL resource for Family Fun Activities. KidWinks has a weekly email that they send out year round, just sign up for it.

OakLees Family Guide is yet another Family Fun Resource. OakLee Family Guides are available in Libraries and other places all over Chicagoland. Their website is also filled with VALUABLE info!

KidList is a “new to me” site that I just discovered this month. The site has lots of great ideas, links and info about events in the Western Suburbs.

Our family also loves Summer Time Fairs and Festivals. Neighborhoods, Towns, Cities and more have some fun Fairs and Festivals. We really like some of those that "take us back in time" like Old Fashioned Days, Cival War Days, etc. Make sure to check local towns, cities and neighborhoods for local Festivals and Fairs. Also, many towns and villages have "Downtown Fun" nights once a week. Check your own neighborhood for Family Fun events.

I wish EVERYONE an AMAZING, WONDERFUL, FUN FILLED Summer! The BUDGET doesn't have to go BROKE for Family FUN. Time Spent with your children and/or as a family is the important thing, Enjoy your SUMMER 2015!!

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