Cow Appreciation Day

***We all need a little humor in our lives…

At Chick-fil-a, the second Friday of July is Cow Appreciation Day.  If you dress like a cow you will get a FREE combo meal, if your child is dressed like a cow, they will also get a free kid’s meal.

Don’t have a cow costume?!  No problem!  Print out this cow mask.

NOTE:  Chick-fil-a does differentiate between full cow and partial cow costumes:

Full cow == head to toe effort     => FREE Combo meal
Partial cow == wearing the mask    => FREE Entrée

Maybe you could wear all white and be an albino cow?

Passport to Adventure!

Those of you familar with the uber-outdoors retailer, REI, knows how important being outside is.  Did you also know what an interactive website they have?!  Got kids?  Download this Passport to Adventure geared towards kids 5-12.  After they complete the journal they can send in for their free own special prize“binoculars or a whistle that turn into other cool tools including a compass, magnifying glass and more!” The website also offers numerous other printable activities, great for exploring outside.  You can also click on their interactive map to find family friendly activities, across the US.

6 kid-activities for the 6th day of the week…

Throughout the year, not just during the summer, join the following places for kid-friendly events:

  1. Lakeshore Learning – store offers a Saturday arts and craft activity.  Not only are the crafts cleverly designed but also very intricate and interesting.  We normally go for about an hour or so, doing the craft and then going around the store and playing with all the toys laid out on display.  We sometimes bring a friend or meet someone there.  On holidays they offer multiple things to do, perfect gifts for all the grandparents, aunts and uncles.
  2. Lowe’s – signup because supplies and slots go by for this bi-monthly clinic for kids…make a putting green, pirate ship, and many more fun things, again FREE!  Activities are from 10-11 and you get the Lowe’s apron on the first visit to collect pins for each craft.
  3. Home Depot – on the first Saturday of every month, visit here for another hammer and nails activity.  They’ll also get a kid-size apron and activity pin, FREE!
  4. Michael’s – Called the Knack, this Michael’s website is for kids and educators.  Check out the calendar event for different crafts scheduled…as well as joining the club!  Receive special offers, birthday specials, and event news!
  5. San Antonio Audubon Society – 2nd Saturdays have gone to the birds!  Join the society for a junior walk, everyone welcomed…binoculars available!
  6. Houston Street Fair – the last Saturday of every month, from 12pm-6pm, come down for this FREE family event with a different theme each month.  Bring a lawn chair and enjoy local crafts and foods…

Kid-approved* summer activities…

*Based on the approval of one 6 year old girl…but I think you’ll agree.

The only ones who look forward to the summertime are educational professionals…everyone else knows that for 2 and a half months, everything entertaining you can do with your children will be done within the first week.  After that, creative juices stop flowing as freely.

This summer, instead of dreading the summer schedule, use this post as a guide to family-fun, found in San Antonio (and wherever chain establishments exist.)  Use it also as suggestions for searching local places in your city!

Check here for the best valued Chuck E. Cheese coupons (click on the link with the “Best Daily Deal” sticker).  100 tokens for $10 (normally you’d pay $25 for that many…)  You’ll also get this coupon the first time you register on Chuck E. Cheese’s website, also print out reward calendars and certificates worth more FREE tokens.  During my last visit I asked about weekly programs and they didn’t know of any…

The City of San Antonio’s Park and Recreation Department offers cost-effective summer programs to keep your kids engaged and outdoors.  More information on the San Antonio Youth Sports – this website has Boys & Girls Club, YMCA, and other kid organization game schedules…also has information about golf camps and other clinics.

Weekly summer activities throughout the week:

Family Summer Film Festivals:

  1. Regal Entertainment GroupFamily Festival Film Festival at 10am on Tuesday s and Wednesdays take your kids to the movies, for FREE!
  2. AMC TheatersSummer Movie Camp $1 admission…all proceeds go to charity!  Shows start at 10am on Wednesday.  During this time you can also get the AMC KidsPack (drink, popcorn, candy) for only $3!

Peter Piper Pizza is celebrating schools out with Summer Kid’s Days, every Tuesday from 11-1pm…$3.49 gets you 2 slices of pizza, a drink, dessert, and fun activities, different themes each week.

Incredible Pizza offers a different deal every day…check out their website (sign up for their mailing list too – they’re pretty good coupons!)

*This place gets CRAZY busy…go earlier in the day or during the school year for the most enjoyable days…

Bet you wouldn’t have guess this!  Bass Pro Shop has an entire summer calendar of fun activities – every Saturday and Sunday from 12-6pm!  Different crafts every weekend, you and your child can make a lure, birdhouse and leather keychain!  Free s’mores cookout!  Free casting pond to learn fishing skills, workshops (offered Tues/Thur/Sat/Sun, free pin for each 30 minute workshop you attend…different workshops from 3-7pm, check schedule), laser shooting, photographs – everything is FREE!!  They even have a kid’s website!  While in-store don’t forget to pick up your FREE summer guide, 48 pages of everything you need to know while outdoors.

Check back for new posts – I’ll keep the activities coming!

Top 8 ways to get free stuff by just reading to your kids…

I was one of the lucky ones.  Whenever I wasn’t reading my dad asked me why not.  I read all the time now, I cannot wait to get to the library and read more.  Over the summer, while you’re trying to entertain your child who was recently release from school…without spending too much money…consider these 8 great options:

1.       Half-Price Books offers Feed Your Brain – kids 12 and under can earn $3 gift certificates a week (June 1st through July 31st) by reading (or being read to) 5 times a week, 15 minutes each time…download the English/Spanish reading logs.

2.       HEB – HEB Buddy 2009 Reading Program read 10 books over the summer and mail in the reward form by August 9th to get your FREE kids t-shirt.

3.       San Antonio Public Library –here’s another reason the public library system is so good – Deep in the Heart of Texas.  The SAPL summer reading program allows you to sign-up and keep a reading log – for every 15 books checked out and read you’ll get a FREE paperback book of your choice.

4.       Border’s – Reading Challenge asks you read 8 books to get a FREE coupon for 50% off selected awesome items your child will love!  Here’s the website with more information!

5.       Pizza Hut – Book It! website (sponsored by Pizza Hut) offers a FREE parents’ guide for summer reading fun.  Includes links to printable calendars, the top 10 books your kid should read this summer, and other games and resources to help the summer fly by.

6.       SAPL – library FREE events that your kids will love!  Performances from the Magik Theater onsite (“If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” – great time!!!), plenty of summer reading kickoff parties, and activities for all kinds of ages.

7.       Barnes & Nobles – Summer Reading with Percy Jackson & Olympians works like this…read 8 books, and keep the summer journal.  Once you’re done, bring it into any Barnes & Noble between May 26th and September 7th for a coupon for a FREE kids book!

8.       SAWS – the San Antonio Water System offers H20 Heroes a section of their website committed to educating kids up through high school about water conservation and how important water is to our society.  H20 University offers tools for parents and educators for different age levels.  Meet the heroes.  Download FREE printable activities.  Get a FREE bookmark just by asking your librarian about water. Q&A from the H20 Heroes.

Not only will these 8 reading activities get you free stuff ($24 bucks from Half-Priced Books alone!!!) but it’ll keep you and your kid(s) busy for hours and hours!

One Day, One Deal

What is woot?  Besides my favorite thing to check at midnight, woot.com is a great place to find gifts for everyone.  Like a chipmunk I stock up for the winter (last year got my sister and dad Garmin GPS for $67 bucks…)

Normally there is one product listed on the website until they sell out for the day…unless it’s a woot -off and as soon as a product sells out another is listed – this goes on for 2 days…)

Woot Terminology:

  • Bag of Crap – random assortment of goodies (a.k.a. “Random Crap”) including anything from the dollar store to a big screen tv. Consistently people have gotten MP3 players (sometimes even 2 in the same bag…) Always bid on this!
  • 2-for-Tuesday – since 2006, 2-pack items are offered every Tuesday.

Follow @woot on Twitter!

Great Discussion Boards – every item has a discussion post.  Follow the comments, get feedback, see

how much items are going for on other websites.  Something a lot of people don’t realize or take the

time to do is check back after you’ve received your package.  People will update comments with

informative reviews.  Also a good way to find out what people got in their bags of crap.

Browser Alerts – during woot offs you want to know when an item sells out to check back.  With almost

100k downloads, this Firefox add-on not only alerts you when items change but it also lets you know the

percentage of items left before it sells out.

Search “WootWatch” in iTunes to download the iPhone edition…easily follow woot-offs…

Geekette’s Top 8 Mailing Lists to Join…

DISCLAIMER: I strongly recommend separating your mailing list emails or setting up good filters (either through your e-mail or Outlook.)  They all go to my personal email account but filter into various categories, quickly looking at each – kid offers, home and garden, food, travel, etc.

Companies LOVE mailing lists and member accounts for the following:

  • Save $$$ – it doesn’t cost as much to send out an e-mail as it does to send out paper notifications of specials, etc.
  • Instant, Clear, and Searchable – online specials are often much better then those found in the mailbox or newspaper

Not everyone is web savvy so they can afford to make awesome offers available to those who take advantage.

*Look back for a post about finding savings in the daily newspaper…

Why I love mailing lists:

  • Sign-up Incentives (one time offers for joining a site – often the best offer/discounts you’ll see)
  • Birthday Presents (on your birthday look in your inbox and mailbox for great offers – they want you to spend your birthday money, dinner, etc with them.)
  • Offers/Discounts not for the Masses (Instead of getting what everyone gets, receive something a little more personalized AND special.)

This list is based on just the facts, I probably have subscribed (and sometimes un-subscribed) from 100-200 different websites for any retail service you can think of.

*In no particular order – I picked my favorite in 8 different categories…

Top 8 Mailing Lists to Join

  1. KOHLS.com – Not only do you get $5 off in-store and 10% off online, Kohls sends out notifications every couple of days with offers of free shipping and great sales.  (Word from the wise – create an account and save your shopping cart…it will time out and you’ll lose everything in your you’ve potentially purchased.)
  2. Chuck E. Cheese’s – You want your kid to be a kid…and the cheaper, the more inclined you’ll be to tolerate the loud noises and obnoxious parents.  (Did I say obnoxious?  I meant assertive and strong…)  The best part is the payout at sign up time – you pay for 40 tokens ($10) get 60 tokens, FREE!  You get a set of 4 with each coupon alert eventually the ratio reverses to pay for 60 tokens ($15) get 40 free…still a great deal.)  (Check back for my post on tips and tricks for playing the games – timing is everything if you want to be the mom (dad/uncle/friend/etc) who walks up everytime with at least a thousand tickets.)They’ll also e-mail chore charts, doctor visits, and other certificates worth 10 tokens (FREE) upon completion.
  3. VistaPrint – If I could only keep one mail subscription, it might just be VistaPrint.  Although you are frequently are e-mailed offers, the offers are incredible!  A printing website with quick turnaround a good quality – the offers are great to use at different times of the year.  My daughter and I made fridge magnets with her in red by the tree for Christmas, and included a poem she wrote on the site.  Priceless.  Literally!  Pay special attention of offers with free or discounted uploads (template and pictures included –  a majority of the bill can add up when adding pictures to cards or calendars.)  This website doesn’t just print business cards, print post cards, mousepads, key chains, stamps, car magnets, calendars, hats, and more!  With each e-mail offer select up to 10 FREE products to personalize or design from scratch, only paying for shipping at the end.
  4. RetailMeNot.com – The easiest way to find online coupon codes.  I do not make a purchase online without first googling promotional code (or whatever is requested upon checkout.)  I’ve saved incredible amounts of money with discounts or FREE shipping.
  5. Borders Perks – I’m not sure where this gem was hiding and who knew that Borders Bookstore had such an extensive, inclusive listing of incredible deals.  Sent in a weekly message, rewards include discounts for not only their own bookstore but a plethora of others as well.  Anything and everything is included in this extensive site listing but top offers are emailed every couple of days, based on preferences.
  6. 2-Way Tie for Best Picture:
    Walgreens & Shutterfly – Both regularly e-mail great discounts and promotional codes just in time for the holidays or birthdays.  New members receive free prints – I normally hold out for coupons for $.10 or less…they also offer discounts on photo products (mousepads, scrapbooks) and include updates to new functionality AND services.
  7. Ticketmaster, Broadway Across America, & NBA.com are all worth mentioned when purchasing tickets to entertaining events.  Ticketmaster and Broadway Across America both send clean, easy to read emails, on a weekly basis, about local events based on my preferences.  It’s a great reminder and they often include special codes for buying in advanced!
    NBA.com is worth mentioned because not only can you get INCREDIBLE discounts in alert e-mails, you’re also e-mailed about other promotional events by the players and discounts to hotels and travelling.  Get great seats to the next Spurs game!
  8. Overstock.com – Sign-up at the bottom of the page for Omail, Overstocks frequent flyer about over the top deals that normally only last through the weekend.  A lot are for $1 shipping (a great deal on large rug or furniture purchases)…highlights the top sellers and best deals, both the website and e-mails are very clean and manuever through.

Making my top 8 mailing lists:

  • How often are e-mails received?  Is the content worth the frequency?
  • How easy to read is it?
  • How easy is it to use the discount/promotion?
  • Can I get to the website easily from the e-mail?
  • Amount of savings (time/money)…

*Although this is my first post on mailing lists I will eventually offer more granular TOP 8 mailing lists: kids, food, offers, etc.  Let me know what you’re interested in hearing about the most?

It’s in a book, just take a look…

Remember the days of Reading Rainbow?

It’s a book, just take a look…

For a while I was going crazy at Half-Priced Books:

  • Joining their mailing list, getting e-mails for printable coupons
  • Using their FREE in-store calendar with monthly coupons (25% off entire purchase…)
  • Becoming their friend on Facebook

…but with the recession (and a general desire to save some of my hard-earned money…) I decided to go back to the library. (Not a novel concept, one reason I didn’t return earlier was a pending $50 fine…)

Housed off the City of San Antonio’s website, the San Antonio Public Library system (SAPL) is surprisingly user-friendly and functional. It lacks creative, modern interfaces (no Flash can be a good thing…) but you can do almost everything you want to do.

San Antonio Public library information SAPL@mysapl tweets!

Getting the Card:

Physically go to the SAPL nearest you with the following:

  1. Who are you? (I.e. driver’s license or photo ID)
  2. Proof of Residency (lease, utility statement, checkbook, etc.) <=free to all Bexar County residents…

Bits about Online Features

What’s missing, how long do I have?!

After you go to the library and create an account you can register online. Not only can you see what’s been checked out and when it’s due but you can also register for e-mail reminders (3 days out) to return which books/movies. You’ll also be notified when books/movies placed on hold are ready.

I’m still looking for the stupid book!! Help?!?!

Relax, just renew it. They even have a nice, “Renew All” button (although if you prefer you can put a checkmark next to individual titles too.)

Movies checked out for a week can be renewed once. Books, twice (potentially keeping a book for 9 weeks!)

Byte: If someone else wants the book, you can’t renew books that already have holds.

Browse/search the catalog, across SAPL branches, and find what I want!

Let’s say I moved, my old branch has a book my new branch does. No worries, I can place it on hold, either at the library or online, within my account. By finding what you want and placing it “on hold”, you’ll get a nice email letting you know everything is ready and waiting for you at the branch of your choice. You can waltz into the library, head straight to the holds shelf and find all the books you wanted, with your name on it, bundled with a little rubber band. And you’re done! (This is especially nice for parents with children who don’t feel like going or on the way home from work…)

You can place 20 items (movies and books) on hold at any time and once they’re received, they’ll keep it for 10 days.

Little Bits (LBs)

A SAPL branch by any other name is still as sweet…

You don’t have to return the book to the same location you got the book from! As long as it’s in the SAPL system you can drop it off!

It might not be too late…

As long as you drop it off before the library opens, the morning after it’s due, it’s NOT late! For example, I thought I was a day late (because my book was due Saturday) and was expecting a fine – I didn’t make it before the library closed that same Saturday. But because it was in the book slot before the library opened on Sunday I had a get out of jail card and no 10 cent fine. (This to me says, “We really want you to come and read!”)

Reserve books from across the country (or another country)…

The library doesn’t even have to have your book, if your book can be checked out from a library in Texas, the US, Canada (or other countries, as needed); they’ll ship your book to the SAPL branch of your choice in 2-12 weeks!

For example, I want to get into iPhone programming but SAPL only has a couple resources. However, by going to the Interlibrary Loan website and creating an account, you know have millions of books at your finger tips (more bits here).

One man’s old magazine is another man’s reading material…

Before you enter the library, there’s a plastic bin where you can swap your old magazines for someone else’s. Let someone else enjoy magazines you’ve finished while finding some new periodicals to peruse.

Better late than never…

Finally, don’t forget to return the books. When you have reached your renewal limits, bring the books (and especially movies!!) back to avoid the following fines:

Books: $.35/day (adult-aged, $10.00 maximum), $.15/day (kids, young adult, $6.00 maximum)

Movies: $2.00/day ($10.00 max)

Maps

Don’t forget to check out the maps to find the nearest library location AND to find out where the SAPL Bookmobile stops!

SAPL Locations on Google Maps

View San Antonio Public Library Locations in a larger map

SAPL Bookmobile Locations on Google Maps

View SAPL Bookmobile Locations in a larger map