Favorite Free Thing: Outdoor Trek 2014

Spock & Peg, Summer 2013If you read my post last summer on Outdoor Trek, then you know how much I love their free, live Star Trek TV show reenactments in the park!

If you live in or near Seattle, you’re in luck. They’re doing it again.

In 2014, the Star Trek episode performed will be Mirror, Mirror. Performances are July 19, 20, 26 & 27; as well as August 2 and 3.

I’m not sure which show I’ll be at but I’ll definitely be at one of them. Come early and bring a picnic dinner or snacks. Also, bring some bucks to donate at the end of the show. (Technically, this is one of my “favorite free things,” but I do believe in rewarding artists for their performances.)

For more info about Outdoor Trek and their performances, read my post from last summer and follow their production company Hello Earth on Twitter @hello_earth.

If you go, please stop by my row and say, “Hi.” I’d love to see you!

Photo of me and Spock by Marcus Donner.

How to read magazines for free

Samsung TabletThis is our Samsung Galaxy Note Tablet. Marcus got it for free last year as part of a freelance photo gig for Samsung.

I haven’t been that interested in using the tablet until recently.

You see, I love magazines.

You’re probably thinking, and how is that related to the tablet, Peg? Keep reading…we’re gettin’ there.

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been devouring magazines. I love reading articles, looking at pretty pictures, and learning new ways for doing things.

But even though I love them so, when I was in my 20s, I swore off subscribing to magazines because I was sick of all the advertising (ugh) and all the paper (such a waste of trees). And the fact is, even though I love them, I found that I could live pretty happily without them.

Now I know you can read magazines for free at the library but you can’t check them out. You have to read them there. And most of the time, II don’t want to read magazines in the library. I want to read them at the dentist’s waiting room, at home or on a plane.

Speaking of which, when I fly, I usually treat myself and buy one magazine at the airport. It’s my guilty pleasure. But this week, as I was getting ready for my trip to Philadelphia, I was browsing online at the Seattle Public Library and discovered that I could “check out” magazines for free.

That’s right, folks, you can read magazines for free!

If you live in Seattle, go to this library page and click on Zinio magazines at the bottom.

Once you create your login, you can then choose from 150 magazines to check out. If you don’t live in Seattle, check out your local library’s web site. I am sure you will find a link that takes you a database of magazines that you can check out for free.

150 free magazines?

Music to a former magazine maven’s ears!

Zinio allows you to read these magazines on your computer, tablet or smart phone.

So, here’s why I now love our tablet. Look how awesome this Saveur magazine looks on it!

Saveur on tabletCheck out the crystal clear photos and easy-to-read text.

Saveur page on tabletLooks just like a magazine, doesn’t it?

Tablet in handWell, close enough.

Now I can read magazines without spending a dime or wasting a single tree. I am one happy Super Frug reader.

Fab and Frugal Valentine’s Day

Sweethears Candy BoxI love holidays.

One of my favorite holidays of the year is Valentine’s Day.

One of my favorite memories of this special day is back in grade school when my classmates and I would deliver valentines and candy to each others’ “mailboxes” (cardboard boxes or large, manila envelopes decorated with hearts and labeled with our names) and then during the last hour or so of class, we’d have a big party and open up our valentines.

The party almost always involved Hawaiian punch, heart-shaped cookies with sprinkles, little tubs of vanilla ice cream eaten with small wooden paddles (remember those?), and lots and lots of candy.

Ice_Cream_tubAfter about 20 minutes of blissful gorging, the party would usually devolve into pandemonium as we got high on sugar and started running around like madmen.

Good times.

Now, as an adult, I try to hold onto that giddy feeling that I had as a child on Valentine’s Day.

The day should be graced with things and activities that make you happy.

Most of the time, these are simple pleasures that don’t cost a lot of money.

flowers for V-dayLike a bouquet of cheery flowers…

Theo Chocolate BarsOr your favorite candy bar…why not have two?

Iced Animal CookiesOr your favorite cookies from childhood…

Valentine's MessageOr leaving a loving note for someone special…or discovering a loving note left for you!

Marcus and I spent Valentine’s Day appreciating each other and doing things that we both love: eating excellent barbeque, viewing awesome art, and seeing a movie at the theater.

It was a beautiful day. And it didn’t cost an arm and a leg.

Hope your Valentine’s Day was wonderful too!

Super frugal gifts for under $10

Creamsicle Bath SaltsI used to love shopping for Christmas gifts.

I think part of it was the thrill of the hunt. I loved trying to find the “perfect” gift for each of my friends and family members. The other part was I enjoyed seeing the look on people’s faces when they opened my gift.

As years went by though, I got less and less high on the adrenaline and challenge of hunting down holiday gifts. I also realized with some sadness and irony that most of the time my so-called “perfect” gift wasn’t something that the person was going to use regularly or in some cases, ever use at all.

Now, I spend a lot less time and money on buying gifts. The gifts that I give out now are ones that can be consumed and/or experienced. I don’t want to give out another thing that someone has to take care of, maintain, dust or eventually donate to the Goodwill!

Here are some gifts that Marcus and I are giving out this year.

1. Homemade Bath Salts
Super easy and inexpensive! I make these bath salts for birthdays, hostess gifts, thank you gifts and holiday gifts. I think people appreciate receiving them because it encourages them to take time out to soak and relax. I adapted this recipe from Homemade Simple.

What you need:

  • 1 cup Epsom salts
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1 quart or gallon-sized resealable freezer bag
  • Essential oils
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Baking sheet
  • Wax paper
  • Funnel
  • Glass jar


  1. Dump both salts into the bag. Seal the bag and shake until well mixed.
  2. Add 1 drop of food coloring. Seal and shake to distribute evenly. WARNING: Food coloring is potent so use 1 drop at a time until you reach the color you want. For my Creamsicle Bath Salts, I used about 2 drops of red and 3-4 drops of yellow.
  3. Add 2-3 drops of essential oil. Seal and shake. Repeat until you reach your desired amount of scent. I used what I had in the house: vanilla extract and sweet orange essential oil. When I mixed it, I realized that it smelled just like Creamsicles!
  4. Spread salt out evenly on a wax paper-lined baking sheet. Let dry for 1-2 hours.
  5. Pour salts through a funnel into a clean, dry jar. I prefer using Ball canning jars but you can use any jar with a tight-fitting lid.
  6. Label the lid of the jar with the name of your salts. Get creative and have fun!

To use, sprinkle half the contents of one batch into hot, running water in your bathtub. Swirl the salt with your hands to help them dissolve. Soak and relax!

Creamsicle Bath Salt Label2. Fancy Chocolate Bars
The holidays are a great time of year to give people tasty treats that they might not ordinarily buy for themselves. There are many chocolatiers to choose from, but I like to give Theo Chocolate bars because they’re yummy, organic and fair trade, made in Seattle, and they come in all sorts of interesting flavors. My favorites are the Raspberry Dark Chocolate, Salted Almond Dark Chocolate; Hazelnut Crunch Milk or Dark Chocolate; and the Chai Milk Chocolate. My nephew Logan’s favorite is the Gingerbread Spice Milk Chocolate. I usually buy them from Bartell Drugs (my favorite store!) or Fred Meyer when they go on sale. On sale, can get them for as low as $1.79 to $2.50 per bar.

3. Fancy Popcorn
Another tasty, edible treat that people may not ordinarily buy for themselves because it seems too decadent is fancy-flavored popcorn. Marcus and I love Uncle Woody’s Popcorn which is made in Seattle and uses 100% pure ingredients–no artificial coloring or flavoring. Again, we buy the packs when they go on sale for around $3 at Bartell Drugs in December. You have to try the Cinnamon Butterscotch Caramel Corn!

 4. Homemade Jam
Every summer, we harvest the tiny, golden plums from our one fruit tree and make them into jam to give as gifts. We use the traditional water-bath canning jam recipe that comes in the SURE-JELL Pectin package. If you don’t have a fruit tree, consider buying fruit when it’s in season and is at a good price. If you can’t make the jam right away, wash, chop and freeze the fruit for later use. People love getting homemade jam!

I hope these gifts give you some great ideas for your own gift list.

Hope you have a very happy and Super Frug holiday season!

Make Your Own Toys on Black Friday

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJust say NO to shopping on Black Friday!

Instead, spend the day relaxing (for God’s sake, don’t you deserve a day off every once in a while?), enjoying time with your friends and family, and/or making your own toys!

That’s what Marcus and I did with our 7-year-old nephew Logan. We did not buy a single thing at a single store. We spent the day after Thanksgiving making toys out of supplies we already had in the house: toilet paper rolls, old business cards, paper, tape, markers, crayons and straws.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere is a game that Logan came up with on his own. It is an obstacle course made out of construction paper, straws, tape and markers. The wheel is made out of the sawed off end of a paper towel roll. According to Logan, you start at either “X” on the right side and you flick the wheel with your finger. The goal is to have the wheel roll through without touching the straws and have it land on the star on the far left end. It’s harder than it looks, but with practice, you can do it!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMarcus and Logan came up with these two sleds to slide down our stairway bannister. The one on top is what they came up with yesterday. It slid down the full length of the bannister only three times out of many tries. Turned out it was too heavy. We recommended that Logan sleep on it. He did and this morning, he woke up and came up with another idea. The model on the bottom is the new aerodynamic design.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs you can see, it really goes!

These are just a few of the things you can come up with using your imagination and some everyday supplies.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThink you can’t come up with any homemade toys on your own? Just ask your favorite 7-year-old to help you out!

It’s so much more fun and way more frugal than shopping amongst the hordes on Black Friday.