Issue 1, Number 4
Sorry this is arriving in your e-mail box a little later than usual. It’s been a busy month but I’m slowly catching up.
The warmer weather is here and sometimes relaxing in your backyard is about as good as it gets…and it’s free. Maybe it’s catching up on some reading or even watching birds or other wildlife. Here’s an article by Stephen Kress who’s the author of many birding books, including the Audubon Backyard Birdwatch Pocket Guide about ways you can make your yard critter friendly. It not only provides food and shelter for them, but can even add value to your property. And did you know you can even get your yard certified by the National Wildlife Association? Visit www.nwf.org/gardenforwildlife/ for more details.
Budget Smart Girl(BSG)-What are some easy (and if possible low cost) ways to attract birds to the backyard?
Stephen Kress (KS)-The best way to attract more birds is to mimic natural habitats. This can be done by:
1. Reducing the amount of close-cropped lawn- let some lawn grow into taller meadow which provides seed for birds.
2. Planting native, bird-friendly trees and shrubs.
3. Creating natural leaf composting piles under trees and shrubs.
4. Creating a brush pile from fallen branches.
5. Creating a bird bath in a shallow container such as the lid of a garbage can.
6. Making a bird house or drill 1 and ¼” holes in dead trees.
7. Planting garden flowers that attract birds like sunflowers, cosmos, zinnias, purple coneflower and leave the heads on past flowering to provide seed.
8. Purchase a bag of bird seed and plant it to grow milo, millet and sunflowers.
9. Document your success in bird attracting with a BirdCam.
BSG-Once you start feeding birds, should you continue to do so even during summer?
KS-It’s not necessary to keep feeding birds once you start, as bird seed is only a supplement to the diet of most wild birds and birds move between neighboring feeders, rarely becoming dependent on one feeder.
BSG-Sometimes people want to feed wildlife but can’t afford to buy seed all the time. Any suggestions for pantry staples that are also suitable for birdfeeders?
SK-Birds will eat peanut butter which can be mixed with corn meal.
BSG-Is there anything you should definitely not feed to birds?
KS-No, but scrap breads, etc. will attract mostly House Sparrows and Starlings which compete with native birds. Avoid feeding suet (beef fat) in hot weather.
BSG-Any suggestions in where to buy inexpensive bird feeders, birdhouses and birdbaths?
KS-There are many plans for home-made bird feeders, bird houses and bird baths in my book the Audubon Society Guide to Attracting Birds. 2006 Cornell University Press. I enjoy documenting the success of my bird attracting projects with the BirdCam by Wingscapes www.wingscapes.com
BSG-How about other backyard visitors like butterflies. Any tips for attracting them?
KS-Butterflies are best attracted by garden flowers that are appealing. My favorite native butterfly attracting flower is Purple Coneflower. Help the butterflies and birds by avoiding the use of toxic pesticides and herbicides on backyards and gardens.
It’s Party Time
When you’re watching the pennies, the last thing you want to do is skimp on your child’s birthday party. Here’s an article written by Penny Warner with Balloon Time Helium Balloon Kits with some great ideas that are very budget friendly. For more information visit www.balloontime.com
Birthday Parties on a Budget
In these challenging economic times, we’re all looking for ways to give our kids memorable birthday parties without breaking the bank. Here are two unique ways to celebrate this special day, with quick and easy tips for money-minded hosts.
Turn your child’s favorite book into a birthday fantasy world and watch the “characters” come to life!
Photocopy the cover of your child’s favorite book, such as Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire or Harriet the Spy. Replace the title with the name of your party, such as “Luke Melvin and the Goblet of Fire Party” or “Stephanie the Spy Party.” Add party details in the empty spaces or around the edges. Ask the kids to come dressed as a favorite character from the selected book.
Check out a bunch of similar books from the library and set them around the room. Reproduce items or scenes from the story using construction paper, posterboard and markers. Inflate helium balloons, download and photocopy the faces of the characters, and tape them to the balloons so they float around the room. Hang pictures or phrases from the book on the wall or use them as placemats.
Games and Activities
What’s My Line?
Read first lines from a variety of favorite stories and have kids guess the titles. Or, read lines of dialogue from the book and have the kids guess who’s talking.
Ask trivia questions about the featured book and have teams race to answer.
Write It Yourself:
Have the kids brainstorm a new plot for the featured book or turn it into a comic book.
Act out a favorite scene from the book, with lines and parts for everyone.
Choose foods from the book or make your child’s favorite foods and give them names inspired by the book, such as “Potter’s Pot Pies” or “Spy Soup.”
Make a rectangular cake and decorate it to look like the book cover (you can have a photo cake made at the bakery if you prefer).
Send the kids home with a copy of the featured book, or a goody from the book, such as a Harry Potter wand or Harriet the Spy magnifying glass.
Bazillions of Balloons Party
Balloons are a fun and festive way to celebrate a birthday. Kids love helium balloons – and parents love how easy and inexpensive a balloon party can be!
Inflate balloons with helium, write the party details on balloon in permanent marker, put balloons in individual boxes, and hand deliver them to guests for a surprise inside.
Greet the guests and set the stage by first decorating the front of your home with bazillions of helium balloons. Tie them to the mailbox, float them from the trees, line the driveway or walkway, and surround the door with balloons.
Next, decorate the party room with even more helium balloons—tied to furniture, attached to door handles, around doorways and tied to lighting fixtures. Don’t forget to fill the entire ceiling with balloons for a dramatic look! (Tip: Buy a Balloon Time Helium Balloon Kit as they typically help save both time and money.)
Games and Activities
Tie a helium balloon to one ankle on each player. At the word “Go!” have the kids try to step on and pop each other’s balloons – while keeping their own balloons safe!
Pick, Pop, and Perform:
Write fun challenges on small pieces of paper for each of the players, such as “Do a silly dance,” “Hug a friend,” “Sing a pop song” and so one. Insert them into individual balloons, inflate the balloons with helium, tie them off and let them float around the room. Have players pick a balloon, pop it and perform the challenge inside.
Stuff a Superhero:
Blow up a bunch of balloons. Divide into teams and have teams choose one superhero from their group. Have the superhero put on a large set of sweatpants and a sweatshirt. On the word “Go!” have the kids stuff as many helium balloons as they can into the superhero’s outfit within a two-minute time limit. Count how many balloons were stuffed to find the winner.
Buy a balloon animal kit, give the kids some long, thin balloons, and let them make their own balloon monsters. Provide stickers, markers and other decorations and let the kids embellish their balloons.
Make balloon-shaped snacks, such as cheese and round crackers, round sandwiches, spaghetti-os or veggie rounds. Then serve a “round” of drinks.
Make a balloon cake using round pans, frost it with your child’s favorite color and insert the end of a licorice whip on the side for the string. Decorate the balloon with mini-balloons (available at party stores.)
Send the kids home with a bag of balloons, a balloon animal kit or their own balloon bouquet.
Looking for More Party Favors?
One catalog that’s chock full of party favors and at budget smart prices is Oriental Trading www.orientaltrading.com. And don’t forget the local dollar store. They have just about everything you need from favors to paper cups at prices that can’t be beat.
Can’t decide what to read next? Check out www.dearreader.com You can sign up to receive the first chapter in the genre of your choice…yes, for free.
I seem to be on the mailing list for anything related to books and writing and I was sent a catalog from discount bookseller Edward R. Hamilton, www.hamiltonbook.com. Lots of good books and prices to match.
Anyone read Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki? Even if you didn’t you might want to check out Kiyosaki’s new book, Conspiracy of the Rich, The 8 New Rules of Money. He’s offering it for free one chapter at a time. www.conspiracyoftherich.com
Freebies and Coupons
You know you’re supposed to eat at least five fruits and vegetables a day, but sometimes it’s not that easy. How about drinking some of those fruits and veggies instead by sampling the V8 Fruit Fusion? Not sure you’ll like it, visit www.tryv8.com for a $2 coupon.
Someone told me about this site www.eatbetteramerica.com and I’m glad they did. It not only has some yummy good for you recipes but when you sign up you’ll also receive a coupon book with $1 coupons for items like cereal and frozen veggies.
And here’s a site I stumbled upon and oh, so glad I did. www.frugalfreebiesanddeals.com Sign up to receive their newsletter and you get a daily list of freebies, links to coupons and other stuff that makes a Budget Smart Girl smile.
Here’s a site that also came to my attention last week www.favecrafts.com Sign up to receive more free patterns that you’ve probably got time to make.
Winners and Losers
Since starting Budget Smart Girl, my mailbox is now the recipient of anything related to money, finance and trends connected to those two things. I received this one just last week. A recent report regarding foods that are winners and losers during the current economic slump. Seems sandwich materials like jams, jellies and PB are hot. So are canned goods and frozen entrees. The losers… restaurants and organic food. So why did I decide to pass along this information to you? Well, what’s bad for them is good for us. I expect that restaurants will either lower their prices or find other incentives to lure us back. And watch for organic foods to come down in price too.
Ever read a copy of the Consumer Information Catalog? Okay, it doesn’t make for the most exciting of reading but it’s full of great info you can send for. Some are free while others are reasonably priced on topics like cars, education, federal programs. www.pueblo.gsa.gov
Perking Up Cheap Meals
A couple of weeks ago I saw the flavored tubs of Philly Cream Cheese were on sale for $1. I love cream cheese and think it’s one of the best bargain foods around. I bought the chive and onion, and their new spinach and artichoke flavors. It’s a gourmet treat on crackers but this week I found another use for it. Next time you’re cooking something like sausages or hamburgers try serving them with mashed potatoes made with one of these flavored cream cheeses instead of butter and milk. It really gives them a different and yes, a gourmet taste.
Okay, the trend toward growing your own food seems to have really taken off. Have a Home Depot near you and want to learn how to grown your own vegetables? You’re in luck because on May 14th, Home Depot is offering a free clinic on how to do just that. Visit www.homeimproverclub.com and click on Do It Herself Workshops to register and also check out some of the other free workshops. The skills you pick up from these clinics could save you a ton of money.
In the May Newsletter
Recipes, book review, reader tips will be back along with how to dress for less this spring and summer and expert tips on getting the perfect haircut for less. And be sure to send me more of your tips about how you’ve saved money. Take care.