Monday, May 27, 2013

Woolzies: The Trial

I was asked to used Woolzies dryer balls and blog about it. First, Woolzies is a wool ball composed of New Zealand wool. It is safe for people with allergies and wool sensitivities. The point of the balls is to replace fabric sheets or fabric softeners. The six balls I received for the trial last for 1000 loads. A quick math calculation revealed it would take me close to a year to do that much laundry.
Let’s do the math on pricing. A box of six balls runs from $23-$32 on Amazon. runs sales on Woolzies too.  In a year, I go through about 11 boxes of fabric sheets. Depending on where I buy them, the price varies. I found Meijers is the highest on their sheets.
Fabric Sheets
 Meijers/name brand $77
Krogers/their brand   $29.70

Soften naturally
Reduces drying time 25%
Reduces static
Eliminates wrinkles
Does a great job softening towels, diapers and jeans
No smell (pleasant or otherwise)
A little pricey

There is the sound of the balls bouncing in the dryer, but I close the laundry room door and just ignore it. I plan to continue using Woolzies since our Homeowners Association doesn’t allow us to have clotheslines.  Pair your Woolzies with a high efficiency washer and save big on your laundry bill.
Find out more at.

Sunday, May 19, 2013


A vacation may not be your financial plans. What can you do in your area? You might be surprised how many things are free.
*Check your newspaper community pages, which often highlights parades, free concerts, even Shakespeare in the park.
* Take advantage of the ordinary. Pack a picnic lunch and go to the park.
* Play tourist. Google what is free in your town. In my town, several museums, botanical gardens are free on certain days.
*Plan to go to a theme park. Check for special deals. Many offer two for one during the week, and early in the season.
*Have school age children, take advantage of all the library has to offer with book clubs and events.
*Try bowling or putt-putt golf. There are often Groupon or Living Special for your area.
*Does your area have a water park or a hotel with a waterpark? It’s better than the beach.
*Find a Drive-in. Many public pools are offering movies at night called Dive-in movies where people can float while watching the movie.
*Many theatres often matinees for children in the summer for a low price or sometimes free.
*Try something new. Go to the Farmer’s Market. Take a dance lesson. Many studios offer the first lesson free.
*Have a Christmas in July party at your house. Watch Christmas movies in the dark. Serve cookies and hot chocolate.
*Camping can often be a cheap way to get away too.
*Check out state parks for a low entry fee, you can visit  pioneer villages, hike, climb, canoe, and even go caving.
*The whole point of a vacation is to relax. Put off the chores, read a book, sleep late.
*Visit an exotic restaurant. Remember lunch is always cheaper.
*Spend the day at the zoo
*Have a cookout with your friends.
*Go to a flea market
*See if there is a Ghost or history walk in your town.
*Take advantage of street festivals and local fairs.
You’ll be surprised there is so much to do in your town.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Saving on Your Smoky Mountains Getaway

We recently returned from a trip to Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area and saved big. Your primary expenses will be food, lodging and entertainment. There are plenty of places in a resort area competing for your dollar. A few will go the extra mile. We found such a place in Little Valley Mountain Resort in Sevierville/Pigeon Forge. It is a cabin rental business, which includes creatively named cabins nestled high in the mountains with breath-taking views.
 Each cabin is more than 100 meters from the next to insure optimal privacy and quiet.  Our cabin, The Dancing Bear, which was one of the smallest, had a long back porch overlooking the mountains with a swing, rockers, grill, and a hot tub. Inside in our bedroom loft was a Jacuzzi for two. Each unit includes a living room, dining area, and full bathroom. Many of the cabins are pet friendly too.

Besides being a real log cabin with an actual wood burning fireplace, these cabins are for modern families. Yes, there are land phones that you might want to use because cell service is terrible. Our cabin had two televisions with cable. We also had Wi-Fi Internet.  The cabins have anything a family or couple could need from dishes, a washer and dryer and board games.

The kitchen guarantees you’ll save money cooking at least two meals at the cabin. There is a Krogers grocery nearby where you can stock up on supplies or bring your own. We did both. There is plenty to do without even leaving the resort.
Little Valley features an outdoor pool, playground, four fishing ponds, basketball court and a sand volleyball area. There is a miniature golf course and three hole golf course. Each cabin has a DVD player and movies are available at the registration desk. The beauty of this is you can save money on entertainment and food. The place is huge so you can enjoy plenty of scenic vistas by just walking around the resort.

It also is the perfect place for a small wedding. They have a charming chapel on site and offer a wedding package for only $135. If you decide to leave the resort, head out to Smoky Mountain National Park.  It is free and there is plenty to see. Two cautions make sure you fill up on gas because the grades will eat into your mileage and have rain gear. The mountains are beautiful and misty. Pack a picnic lunch because you will be hungry and the park doesn’t have any fast food restaurants.

Want to eat with some down home charm, then, try Applewood Farmhouse Grill on Apple Valley Road at light one in Pigeon Forge. Each meal comes with apple fritters and apple butter, an apple julep, soup, entree and two sides for $15. This is the best deal you’ll get and it’s delicious. Mosey on down to the winery on the premises to sample local wines. The nearby Apple Barn allows the children to watch cider press in action and enjoy their own samples.
There are plenty of buffets and shows to entertain, but most are vastly overpriced. Coupons books are available almost everywhere will offer some price cuts. Many such as the Titanic exhibit offer better prices if you attend after six pm.

 There are opportunities to see Gatlinburg from air via the ski lift or Ober Gatlinburg, which is an enclosed aerial cable car. Plentiful candy kitchens offer a large variety of fudge and taffy. Shopping venues abound from Tangiers Outlet to locally owned shops.
Off-season will net you even better prices on accommodations, but you need to decide how off you want to be. Some outside attractions do close in winter months. We went in May and found this to be the perfect time because it wasn’t too crowded and everything was so green. If possible, go during the week I am glad we did.