How to Go Out and Have Fun without Going Broke

Posted by Frederick Parker on

Going to five bars in one night and buying drinks at each one can create a deficit in your wallet faster than people move from dancing to making out to sex in Berghain. Remember, every act done in order to save money is justifiable by the excuse, “Whatever- I’m a student, or, “Whatever – I have to work for my money,” or, “Whatever- my boyfriend/girlfriend/parents works hard for the money I spend.”

If money grew on trees perhaps humans would be more environmentally cautious and preservational about forests, which are all too rapidly dwindling. As the second contingency is dependent on a faulty first suggestion, it is really not going to help anyone. However, these tips about saving money when you go to party at night just might help you out a little bit.

The best resource for creating inebriation without causing irreparable monetary damage is home purchased alcohol. What better way to prepare for a night out then gathering all of your friends, each equipped with a nice bottle of wine, and playing drinking games for an hour before heading out for the night? This can be continued walking towards your destination or riding the S-Bahn, in fact right up until you reach the point of entry to your destination. Another option is to share a bottle and shots of Jaeger or some other drink of choice beforehand. Not only will you have such a buzz that you will not want to drink much more (hopefully,) but if you try that might just make you sick, which would also probably save some cash. Proceed to buy a drink in whatever place you visit, unless you already pay an entry fee in which case drinks are not necessitated, and you will have done your bank account a favor.

If you are bar or club hopping and need a pick-me-up between locations, stop at a local all-night Imbiss or train station kiosk for a little refreshment. More than you would pay in a grocery store for your drink, but far less than you would at a bar or club. Small enough bottles are sold that you should be able to find the right amount of liquid which you desire to imbibe. If you budget yourself, then you will force yourself into wiser money spending habits.

If this does not pan out, you can always resort to asking your bartender to go heavy on the alcohol. There is also the classic flirt-with-the-bartender-for-free-drinks ploy but that is never a guarantee, and indeed in busy places is scarcely possible, but is a classic nevertheless. This should be saved as a last resort, and can be substituted with flirting with another person in attendance at said soiree in order to lure them into buying you a drink. Your level of shamelessness is commensurate with your chances of receiving free drinks.

One of life’s pleasures is going out, but one of them is not going broke.



Five Fun Shamrock Crafts for Kids

Posted by Frederick Parker on

I recently bought a big tube of green finger-paint. It's a good thing I did because St. Patrick's Day is just around the corner. A shamrock, or trifoliate plant, is the national emblem of Ireland. Shamrocks are easy and fun to create. These five shamrock crafts for kids are perfect for St. Patrick's Day.

Sponge Painting

For this craft, you will need green paint, scissors, sponges, paper and paper plates. Even toddlers can create some shamrocks with sponge painting. First, you can cut some sponges into the shape of a shamrock. Then, place washable green paint onto paper plates. For some contrast, use different shades of green. Before placing their sponge shamrock onto the paper, teach kids to blot excess paint onto an empty paper plate or napkin.

Thumbprint Shamrocks

Little thumbs, paper and a green stamp pad are all you need for this delightful craft. Since shamrocks have compound leaves, you need two thumbprints for each leaf. For each leaf, take the child's inked thumb and turn it slightly to the left. Then, turn the thumb to the right and make another thumb print. Repeat this process for all three leaves. After making the thumbprints, use a marker or some green glitter glue to make the stems. Afterwards, you can back the shamrocks with black construction paper.

Shimmering Shamrocks

This craft requires green sequins, glue, glitter glue and light blue paper. For each shamrock, you need to glue three sequins down (in a shamrock shape) so that the edges touch. Then, draw a stem for each shamrock. Repeat this process until you have sea of sequin shamrocks. If you don't have sequins, you could also use buttons. Your child could draw a rainbow and a pot of gold or a leprechaun to complete the picture.

Heart Shamrocks

I love crafts that only require paper, glue and scissors. For this project, have your child cut out three hearts. In order for the hearts to be congruent, layer three pieces of paper together and then cut out the hearts. Next, place the points of the hearts together to form a shamrock. Finally, cut out a stem and glue everything onto a piece of paper.

Glitter Shamrocks

In my experience, kids love shaking glitter over glue, pouring off the excess and then seeing a glittery masterpiece. The same goes for these glitter shamrocks. First, "draw" the shamrocks with some white school glue. Then, kids can shake glitter onto the drawing. Then, take it outside to shake off the excess. You can use green or gold glitter. Another idea to make five shamrocks and use glitter in a rainbow of colors.

These art projects were a success with my five-year-old daughter. I hope your kids will enjoy making these shamrocks crafts too!



5 Fun Ways to Get Kids Interested in Gardening

Posted by Frederick Parker on

When I was a kid, I loved to head outside get dirty. I would dig holes, stomp in the mud, look for critters, and have a great time playing out in the garden. Kids and the outdoors are a natural fit, and it is going to be very easy to get your child excited about the fun of gardening. Listed below are five tips that get kids thrilled about heading outside for a garden adventure.

Tip #1: Pint Sized Tools

Digging holes and raking dirt are way more fun for kids when they have their own set of garden tools. Small shovels and rakes offer loads of fun for kids who may be too small to use adult sized garden implements, and the smaller tools can be found in just about any hardware store, or online at Plus, when your child has his or her own set of tools, the gardening becomes less of a chore, and more of a fun opportunity to use the new “garden toys.”

Tip #2: Bring in the Critters

If you have kids who love bugs and other critters then gardening is the perfect place for them to explore the butterflies, ladybugs, frogs, birds, and creepy crawlies that live in the garden. Include a bird bath and frog habitats to attract entertaining critters. Want to take it a step further? Plants like dill and dandelion draw in ladybugs, while wild rose and marigold bring in butterflies. Check out Farmer Fred’s website and for a complete list of plants that will attract desirable bugs into your garden.

Tip #3: Garden Arts and Crafts

If you have a kid who loves arts and crafts, have him or her color some cute garden tags for each of the plants in the garden, keep a vibrant garden journal, or make some colorful pouches for storing seeds. Kids can also help make stick tepees for climbing vines, or help design the layout of the garden – I used to love to help draw the plan for my dad’s garden!

Tip #4: Instant Gratification

Nothing gets a child more excited about gardening that being able to enjoy the bounty that a garden can provide. Have your child help harvest vegetables, cut flowers, or plant blooming annuals so that he or she can enjoy the immediate benefits of the garden rather than just the “work” that goes into planting seeds. Meanwhile, get your child excited about planting and sprouting with the classic Lima bean experiment as detailed on the Utah Education Network website.

Tip #5: Choose Your Plants Wisely

My kids love being able to help grow something that eventually winds up on the dinner table. The look of enthusiasm and pride in their eyes as they set the veggies out is priceless! Children also like the unusual, so anytime you have the opportunity to plant strange looking plants, kids will almost always gravitate towards them. Last, but not least, one of my favorite things to do in the garden when I was a kid was to hide under the huge tomato and bush bean plants – It was like having my own, organic fort! So, if you can, try to put in a few “fort” plantings for your kids. Just make sure, with any of the plants that you put in your garden, that they are non-toxic.



The Philadelphia Zoo: Fun for the Whole Family

Posted by Frederick Parker on

The Philadelphia zoo was the first ever zoo in America, and what better way to spend a summer day then to walk around and see the great animals it has to offer. With over 1,300 hundred animals, 15 habitats and 45 acres the Philadelphia Zoo has something for everyone. The zoo is two miles from downtown and there is parking on site. You can also take the bus or trolley there.

At the zoo you can see lions, tigers, and cheetahs. An animal you don't want to miss is the snow leopard, perhaps the most beautiful cat in existence. The zoo also has giraffes, rhinos and hippos, as well as the very rare white rhino. The hippos, Unna and Cindy, are always fun to watch.

The zoo has some great primates like lemurs, spider monkeys and gibbons. But there are two you must see. The orangutan and Western lowland gorilla. Orangutans are absolutely amazing to watch swing from tree to tree, and with the addition of the baby Batu they are a must see.

However the most special animal in the zoo are the Western lowland gorillas. The Philadelphia Zoo has an area where the gorillas can sit right on the other side of a large plexi-glass window. When the gorillas are there you are literally 2 inches away from one of the most powerful and imposing animals in the world. You can look them right in the eyes and hear them breathing.

The zoo also is home to reptiles such as alligators, crocodiles, and Galapagos turtles. There are also snakes including king cobras, pythons, and anacondas. The king cobras are amazing, see here for a videos of the zoo's pair.

Besides animals the zoo has all kinds of activities. You can ride camels and ponies, rent swan boats, ride a carousal and take up a hot air balloon to get a bird's eye view of the city, don't worry its tethered. There is also a train for the kids and face painting.

Admission to the zoo is $18 for adults, $15 for children, and free for kids under 2. They can be purchased here and printed on line. A trip to the zoo zoo is certainly one that should not be missed, and one that you will not soon forget.



Five Ways to Have Fun with Five Dollars

Posted by Frederick Parker on

In today's economy, entertainment is often one of the first budget-cutting casualties. Unfortunately, when your finances have you stressed, you probably need the stress-relief of fun and relaxation more than ever. Despite what the media seems to imply, you don't have to spend a lot of money to have a good time. Just five dollars can pay for two people to have a fun hour or more together.

Go to the Dollar Theater

Most metropolitan areas have at least one second-run movie house, and in most cases, seeing a movie there only costs one or two dollars. Go see that movie you didn't feel like you could afford when it was seven bucks. You can forget the world and have fun for two hours and still have change left from your five dollar bill.

Have Ice Cream at the Park

Go through a drive-through and get two double dip cones in your favorite flavors. Take them to the local park or nature area and enjoy a lazy hour wandering in nature while you eat your ice cream and have some great conversation. There's no reason to leave when the ice cream's gone.

Have a Skee-Ball Tournament

Find your local Chuck E. Cheese or other arcade that has Skee-Ball lanes. Five dollars should buy you twenty tokens. Take ten tokens a piece, choose side-by-side lanes and have a ten-game tournament. Choose ahead of time how to decide the winner–highest points in a single game, most tickets won or most games won are all good options. Afterward, you'll probably have accumulated enough tickets to get some candy to share at the reward redemption window.

Go (Silly) Shopping

Go to your local mall and have fun finding the strangest or most unique item you can buy for five dollars. Look in stores you'd ordinarily never go in. Even if you find something right off the bat, no fair buying it right away. The point is to have fun looking. At the end of your trip, you can decide which was the best thing you saw and go back for it.

Get Puzzled

A jigsaw puzzle can provide many hours of entertainment and can have a calming, de-stress effect. Go together and choose a puzzle with a picture you both like–you might even decide to glue it together and hang it when you're done. If you haven't done many jigsaw puzzles before, go for one with bold colors and a mid-range number of pieces. You don't want your stress relief to turn into frustration.