Friday, September 30, 2016

`Staving Off the Impulse to Eat Out at Restaurants

We never buy meat at the meat counter because I steer myself over to prepackaged sale meats, but the other day I happened to glance at the specialty meat area and noticed that they have marinated and seasoned steaks. The price was less than a restaurant, and it was relatively convenient. I think we'll be saving quite a bit now. Tonight we popped over to the store and had a steak meal after a short baking session with a dollar seasoned frozen vegetable pack. Finally, I found another solution that's workable for us. This was fast and easy.

The next time we have the impulse to eat out, I'll set a nice table with candles, music, and wine. Going old school again.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Free Chemistry Video and Text Course for High School and Up

Thirteen units with video and online text, and three labs. Provided by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. See here.

Free U.S. History Video Series for High School and Up

See here.

A video instructional series on American history for college and high school classrooms and adult learners; 26 half-hour video programs, coordinated books, and Web site. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

CLEP Success and 90 Day College Plan

My son passed his Algebra CLEP today. He's gotten his feet wet and feels more confident now. We have a 90-day plan for college at home - study and test for the Introduction to Psychology and Pre-calculus CLEP tests. If this works out, he'll test for 2 CLEPs every 90 days and take a class at the community college every semester. It may take less than 90 days; this a journey of discovery.

Anyone thinking of taking a CLEP test this month can get $10 off registration bringing the cost down to $70.00. Use this code: CLEPSEPT at check-out.

Primary resources we will use: and Khan Academy (free)$25 a month, may have gone up, but this is our rate)
Peterson Testing($19.95 a test)
CLEP prep for Introduction to Psychology
Pre-calculus Demystified

1/27/17 update: was not necessary, so we dropped it.

So far he's taken 3 CLEP tests(algebra 3 credits, psychology 3 credits, and pre-calculus 6 credits per community college) and passed them all with CLEP prep books, Khan Academy, and free resources online. At the official CLEP site, there are numerous recommendations for free study resources. It's worth checking out. Testing is running slower than expected because the math has been challenging, and he was taking some other classes. His next CLEP will be calculus.

Primary resource for calculus:

Calculus Made Easy
Khan Academy
Calculus Problem Solver (Problem Solvers Solution Guides)


Ran into some problems with the above resources, so purchased Calculus for Dummies with problems.
He may need some review and/or detailed explanations. So far, he's less frustrated.

Also trying an EdX class for Calculus.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Free College Literature Course: Literature and Mental Health

The University of Warwick has teamed up with some famous faces, and a team of doctors to tackle these questions and others like them, in a free online course on FutureLearn.

The course is offered through FutureLearn which means it’s broken into chunks – so you can do it step by step. FutureLearn also features lots of discussions so you can share your ideas with other learners, which often can be as beneficial as the course material (as one previous student put it “a really wonderful experience and I’ve loved the feedback and comments from fellow course members”).
Here’s a run-through of what’s on the syllabus. The course focuses on six themes:
  1. Stress: In poetry, the word “stress” refers to the emphasis of certain syllables in a poem’s metre. How might the metrical “stresses” of poetry help us to cope with the mental and emotional stresses of modern life?
  2. Heartbreak: Is heartbreak a medical condition? What can Sidney’s sonnets and Austen’s Sense and Sensibility teach us about suffering and recovering from a broken heart?
  3. Bereavement: The psychologist Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross famously proposed that there are five stages of grief. How might Shakespeare’s Hamlet and poems by Wordsworth and Hardy help us to think differently about the process of grieving?
  4. Trauma: PTSD or “shellshock” has long been associated with the traumatic experiences of soldiers in World War 1. How is the condition depicted in war poetry of the era? Can poems and plays offer us an insight into other sources of trauma, including miscarriage and assault?
  5. Depression and Bipolar: The writer Rachel Kelly subtitles her memoirBlack Rainbow “how words healed me – my journey through depression”. Which texts have people turned to during periods of depression, and why? What can we learn from literature about the links between bipolar disorder and creativity?
  6. Ageing and Dementia: One of the greatest studies of ageing in English Literature is Shakespeare’s King Lear. Is it helpful to think about this play in the context of dementia? Why are sufferers of age-related memory loss often still able to recall the poems they have learned “by heart”?

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Weekly Savings and Deals: One Fail and Two Wins

Dollar General Online Fail:

Through Ebates: 4% off(get later) and $5.00 off and free shipping.

Description: Maxwell House Coffee 
Quantity: 3 @ 5.02
Description: Bausch & Lomb Multi-Purpose 4 ounce(for trips)
Quantity: 3 @ 3.97

Description: Clorox Disinfecting Wipes Citrus 35 count (for pets)
Quantity: 6 @ 1.83

Description: Comet Cleaner Orig w/Bleach 
Quantity: 6 @ 0.91

Description: Stationery Tissue Paper White(15 sheets)
Quantity: 10 @ 0.46

Description: DG Health Ibuprofen soft gel 40
Quantity: 1 @ 4.43
Sub-Total: $52.40
Shipping: $0.00
Sales Tax: $2.35
Order Total: $54.75
Minus my Ebates rebate of $2.60
The only good deals that I got was the coffee and the Comet. The other deals could be found for the same or slightly less elsewhere. I needed a smaller size of contact lens solution for travel, so I ended up paying more per ounce for the smaller size. Around $4.00 is probably about right for 4 ounces at a discount store. A 12-ounce bottle can be found for about $8.00. The wipes ended up being .05 cents per count, a little more than Amazon with Subscribe and Save at 15%,  or Sam's Club which  prices them at .04 cents a count. The tissue is about the same per sheet at the Dollar Tree. The Ibuprofen is less expensive in pill form and in bottles of 75 to 100, but I don't think I'd use that before it expires, so I'd end up paying more after throwing half of it out. The gel form is easier on the stomach.

You think you're getting a real deal until you look at the numbers closely. I ended up paying a little over $2.00 more for the Clorox wipes. The ibuprofen gelcaps are 10 for $1.00 at the Dolar Tree, so I lost around .30 cents.

I saved a trip to two stores, so that's something. Big Lots sometimes has powder cleanser for less than a dollar. I think I've seen Old Dutch cleanser there for .75 cents or less, but that was a few years ago. I should take a trip there again to see the prices. I had stopped going because the prices were no longer competitive. It's over 6 miles away, another reason I don't go often.

Discounted Gift Card Sucess:

A much better deal was had after I visited Gift Card Granny where I saved $86.00 purchasing discounted gift cards to places where I shop for food and medicine, and restaurants that we frequent as a treat once every few months. Gift Card Granny compares savings across a good number of card discounters. Two of the card discounters are under Swagbucks, so you can get an additional discount by clicking through a Swagbucks link.

Search and Earn Sucess:

Earned a $5.00 gift card from regular searches via Swagbucks when I added them as a browser extension. Today I watched a few videos for Swagbucks points and signed up for something free, and I'm half way to another gift card! Easy.

Clip art source here.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Inexpensive Travel Lodging

Airbnb provides a reliable marketplace for people to advertise their short-term, or sometimes long-term,  home or room rentals. Airbnb maintains certain standards and funds are exchanged through them.  I've seen camping places with just a tent advertised as well. You can sign up to rent your extra space and/or use Airbnb to find places to stay. 

We've been using Airbnb for the last three trips, and so far they have been pleasant frugal experiences. The first time we used Airbnb was for a trip to Philadelphia. We found a private room and bath in the art museum district within walking distance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Franklin Institute, Museum of Natural History, Fairmount Park, and the Eastern State Penitentiary Museum. The room was only $65 a night which was a great rate for the area.

The second Airbnb rental was a short trip to West Virginia  where we stayed in a newly remodeled vintage camp house for $35 a night. It was within walking distance of a river park and the old logging town of Cass where they have steam engine trains that travel up the mountain.

This last trip was to New York City. We usually stay at clean bargain hotel in the Chinatown area of Manhattan, but they were booked, so I found an inexpensive tiny apartment in the Lower East Side. It was a comparatively good deal at $150 a night. I would have liked to have found a lower rate, but there was nothing for a family of four (other than hostels) that I could find in Manhattan in September for less. This place was very basic and while clean, a little run down on the inside. Still, the location was excellent for inexpensive food and fun. We were able to walk as far as the Hudson River and up to Greenwich. We ate at all the places marked with one $ on Our rental car was only $17 a day through! If you use it to travel to New York City from your home and back, you can drop it off and pick it up at the airport and hire a shuttle to get to your rental. I found a shuttle online.

We plan to use Airbnb for future trips as long as the price is right. 

Read the reviews carefully at Airbnb and check the pictures. Ask questions of the host before you book a place. I'd also check the area on Google to make sure it is well situated and safe. Some places have minimal contact with the host, and others have more interaction and extra services.

Check it out here. If you sign up with my link, you get $35 off your first rental. I also get some travel credit. This is not an affiliate link. Anyone who signs up can refer friends for travel credit.

Friday, September 02, 2016

Free Federal Park Pass for Children

Mentions fourth graders specifically, but pass rules indicate that this is good for children 16 and under.

See here.

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I'm a homeschooling mom of two, a teen and a little. I hope this collection of mine helps you as much as it has helped us. I have an Etsy shop here: And a blog: