Author Archives: femmefrugality

How to Make Sign Language Valentines

Pinning so I can help my kids make these sign language Valentines in February!

Studying other languages shows us the similarities and differences between the ways we all communicate as human beings, opening up such great beauty.

For example, German and Welsh among other languages seem to have an endless supply of compound words for complex concepts. As I study Japanese, I’m recognizing loan words not just from English, but also Russian. My previous studies also help in the noun declension–a practice that is foreign to American English grammar.

As you get the kids ready for Valentines Day, I wanted to share a project I worked on some years back that brought together the beauty of love and foreign language. It was way more frugal than buying boxed Valentines. I used American Sign Language’s visual modality to create cards in the language’s one, singular sign that takes three English words to express:

“I love you.”


When I made these, I completely lucked out.  I found these foam heart cut-outs at the store that just happened to be the exact right size to fit into the palm of a hand. They also came with a little stand.

The teachers loved this because they could stick them on top of their computers, desks, you name it.  You were supposed to put a photo in them, but I just used the hole to address mine. They were $1 and I think I got 25.

No need to fear, though.  You can simply use hearts cut out of construction paper.  That’s what I had the students I worked with do the next year when we made these.

You’ll need:

  • skin tone colored construction paper or cardstock (you can gets packs of this at somewhere like Staples or Office Max for a ton cheaper than  at crafting or scrapbook stores.)
  • pink/red construction paper or card stock (or purple.  Or really whatever colors you want to make your hearts.)
  • scissors
  • a pen or pencil for tracing
  • a pen or sharpie for addressing

How to Make Your Valentines

  1. Trace your or your child’s hand onto one of the pieces of paper.  Do it as many times as you can fit without overlapping.  When I did this, I traced my hand every….single….time.  In a day of 3-in-1 printers, that probably isn’t necessary.  Just do one, and use the copy feature on your printer to copy the hands onto the skin toned paper.
  2. Cut out the hands.
  3. Cut out hearts. Mess around with the first one  until you get it the right size to fit in the hands. Then use it as a pattern to cut out all the rest of them.
  4. Glue the hearts onto the palms of the hands.
  5. Bend the ring and the middle fingers down so they are holding the heart, but not covering it. Glue the two fingers down.
  6. Write your “To/From” info in the middle of your heart and you’re done!

Affordable Fun: Monster Jam Triple Threat in #Pittsburgh

My kids are going to flip for this Pittsburgh event. Feb 8-10, 2019.
I’ve never been huge into race cars or monster trucks or anything along those lines. Though, if you watch the Pittsburgh episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown, you’ll see a local race track I once visited with friends in an attempt to expand my horizons.

Fourteenish years later, though, I’ve found a new affinity for these sports. We’re not a NASCAR family or anything, but my kiddos love the movie Cars, the idea of racing, and all things monster trucks. In fact, they even visited Grave Digger’s garage when we were down in the Outer Banks.

And so I love these things, too.

Which is why I’m super excited to take them to see Monster Jam Triple Threat when it’s here in Pittsburgh on February 8-10, 2019. Tickets start at just $15, though I’m lucky enough to have been offered media passes so we will go for free.

That same weekend, you’ll be able to catch the show in:

  • Denver, CO
  • Greenville, SC
  • Tupelo, MS
  • Houston, TX
  • Indianapolis, IN
  • Anaheim, CA

There are lots of other shows on other dates in different locations, too. Check out the full schedule to see if Monster Jam Triple Threat is coming to a city near you.

Monster Jam Triple Threat in Pittsburgh

Like I said, tickets start at just $15. I’m always amazed at how affordable these kids’ events are locally. Either they were way more expensive when I was growing up, or I had some weird assumptions about pricing until I was a parent myself.

The show will be at PPG Paints Arena. Here are the show times–there are quite a few so odds are there’s one that fits your schedule!

  • 2/8: 7p
  • 2/9: 1p
  • 2/9: 7p
  • 2/10: 1p

The trucks will include Blue Thunder driven by Matt Cody, El Toro Loco driven by Mark List, Grave Digger driven by Brandon Vinson, Monster Energy driven by Coty Saucier, Monster Mutt Rottweiler driven by Cory Snyder, Pirate’s Curse driven by Justin Hicks, Soldier Fortune driven by Kayla Blood and Zombie driven by Ami Houde.

See you there, friends?



Get Cash Money for Not Giving Up on Your Resolutions

This is awesome. $60 for saving in my savings account like I'm already doing, and an additional potential $1,500 in prizes? Yes, please!

Dedicated readers with elephant memories will remember last year when we talked about SaverLife, nonprofit EARN’s program that pays you to stash money in your savings account.

If you don’t have an elephant memory, check out the post. It’s one of the easiest ways to make $60 you’ll ever come across.

The reason I’m bringing this up–aside from getting you an easy sixty bucs–is that EARN is currently running two stellar contests that will help you keep your financial resolve this year, and possibly earn a cash prize.

Pledge to Save Part of Your Tax Refund

Ahhh, I remember the days when I got a tax refund. Back in the days before my business was my primary means of income and my W-2 employer withheld money from each paycheck.

Getting a tax refund is a great feeling. It’s an instantaneously injection of cash into your life, which can help you get caught up on bills, actually be able to afford that family vacation or pay down some debt. One year I even used the majority of my tax refund to get a much needed mattress after years of horrific sleep.

It’s really tempting to spend your tax refund all at once. For a lot of people, the lump sum is more money than you’ll see deposited into your bank account all year. I know it was for me.

But when you get that much cash at once, spending it all in one place isn’t a great idea. That money can offer you some much needed financial security, and one of the best ways to assure that financial security is by saving it.

That’s why SaverLife is asking you to pledge to save at least a portion of your tax return this year. It’s an initiative I can totally get behind. To top it all off, the nonprofit is giving away $15,000 in prizes to people who pledge. Each individual can potentially win $500.

In the unlikely event I do get a refund (I’m not sure how my health insurance subsidies are going to work out this year,) I’ve taken the pledge. And I invite you to do the same here.

#SavingsResolution Photo Contest

It’s the end of January, which is a time when a lot of people give up on their New Year’s Resolutions.

But not you. You know that even if you haven’t reached your January goals, giving up in February is a sure recipe for failure. You know that you’ll get much further if you don’t give up and keep putting effort in for the remaining eleven months of the year.

SaveLife is supporting people in the pursuit of their savings goals with a separate contest. The #SavingsResolution contest is easy to enter. You just snap a picture or video representing something meaningful that you’re saving for. Then you upload it for your chance to win $1,000 to apply towards your savings goals.

How are you handling savings this year?

What are you saving for? Are you saving a portion of your tax refund? Are you pushing through in February even if you didn’t hit your goals in January?

I want to hear all about it in the comments, along with if you took the pledge or entered the photo contest!


Flight School Ticket #Giveaway for #Pittsburgh Families

Flight School the Musical, a stage adaptation of Lita Judge's children's book. Coming to Pittsburgh February 17-24, 2019 brought to you by Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

I’ve written in the past about how I tend to get defiant in the face of obstacles. If you tell me I can’t do something, I’m more prone to work twenty times harder to prove you wrong.

In that, me and a children’s book character have something in common. Penguin, the hero of Lita Judge’s Flight School, wants to fly. Yeah, his body wasn’t built for it. Everyone tells him it is impossible. But that’s not going to stop him.

Penguin ropes his doubtful friends into helping him, and after adding some some auxiliary tools, he achieve his dreams of flying with the assistance of those who told him it was impossible.

It’s a really uplifting story, and a really good base moral lesson for young kids.

Citizen’s Bank Children’s Theater Series Brings You Flight School

If you’re in the Pittsburgh region, I’ve got exciting news for you! Citizen’s Bank teamed up with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust this year to bring you the Children’s Theater Series, which just so happens to include a performance of Flight School.

Here are the deets:

When: February 17-24, 2019
Where: Byham Theater, Greensburg-Salem Middle School, Marshall Middle, Hopewell High School, Mt. Lebanon High School or Seneca Valley Senior High depending on the date of performance.
Cost: Tickets start at $12, though you could score yours for free. Keep reading for more info!
More details: Can be found here.

Win Free Tickets to Flight School

As a part of this year’s partnership with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, I’m excited to announce the giveaway of four free tickets to this inspiring kids’ show! This giveaway will last two weeks, with the last day of entry being February 11, 2019.

You can use the widget below to enter. Remember that there are several ways to earn entries everyday, upping your odds of winning.

Best of luck, friends! And be sure to check back for more free tickets further on into the season!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

adapation of lita judge's book ft penguin

Your Engagement Photoshoot Guide While Keeping a Budget in Mind

Great tips to get your wedding engagement photo session on a budget but still beautiful.

An engagement photoshoot is the perfect way for you and your fiancé to highlight the love you have for each other. Posing in front of the camera, looking into each others’ eyes and smiling an hour away can be just what you need to begin a positive wedding planning process. Thinking about the amount of time, effort and money it takes to prepare for a wedding could lead to you and your partner placing your engagement celebration on the back burner. Remember, this moment is worth cherishing and should be more than just the actual proposal– and an intimate photo session is just the perfect way to honor it. Here are some valuable tips to consider when planning an engagement photoshoot on a budget.

Do Some Research

Searching for the perfect engagement photographer can be difficult and time-consuming if you aren’t prepared with a list of questions to ask about their service. If you have a specific theme, moment or detail you want to incorporate into the photo session, it is important to run those by them. The more requests you share, the better the feedback you’ll receive about their ability to accommodate your needs and wants. Once you’ve scheduled a time to meet up, ask them about their pricing list. Do they charge per hour? How many pictures will you recieve for the given price? Knowing the specifics will give you a clear understanding of how greatly you’re sticking to your budget.

Evaluate Your Current Expenses

Along with the additional costs that will come with a wedding, it is important to divide your current expenses to determine how much you should spend on engagement photos. In order to save as much as you can for your actual wedding, create a budget that includes your engagement session so you see how much money you have left over. Worst case scenario, you can use a personal loan to afford the cost of your engagement pictures to avoid a stressful situation. There is nothing worse than having a pre-wedding financial disaster, especially on something that is supposed to bring you happiness. Though, remember, that loan will have to be paid off, and you don’t want financial stress after the big day, either.

Look for Inexpensive Locations

The great news is that an engagement photoshoot does not have to be as over the top as you think. A great photographer can adapt to any scenery and make it work. To save money, explore local parks, or research inexpensive studios online. Depending on where you live, the location opportunities could be endless.

Look for Photographers with Discounts or Coupons

Before scheduling your session, it is important to look for discount codes or coupons that can decrease the price even more. Groupon is a great resource for finding local photographers in your area that offer a discount. If you find a photographer that you really connect with, see if they can give you a deal for booking them for both the engagement and wedding. This entails that the photographer will have steady work, so it is possible they will combine two discounts to drop the total price even more.

Consider Hiring a Talented Friend

If you’re having trouble finding an inexpensive photographer with years of expertise, consider asking a family member or close family friend to take your engagement photos. Many times, photographers charge by the amount of time they’ve been in the business and their experience with a certain type of photoshoot. Someone in your family may be just as talented and will except a small gift or cash as a way to compensate.