Repurpose Egg Cartons to Start Seedlings and Our 2014 Garden Update

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Cassie on April 14, 2014


Just like last year, we are going to share our personal garden updates so you can see “how our garden grows!”

So after sharing our garden planning downloads with you, we are now going to share step #1 update and an idea for your seedlings.

We used recycled cardboard egg cartons to start our seedlings!  We also broke popsicle sticks in half to write the plant.  You have to mark them as you will not be able to tell what you have! They all look so similar at this baby stage! :)


Just fill with your potting soil, plant your seeds, keep them moist and cover with a cover that acts like a greenhouse.  As you can see, plastic wrap is all we used.


Once they sprout, you will want to move them under a grow light for the next several weeks until it is time to plant in the ground.

Three of our five trays have sprouted and so they are now under the lights!


By the way, the big tray on top is home to 72 marigold seedlings that we hope to use as natural pest control!

Last year, we made newspaper pots (see how to make these here), but this year, we recycled cardboard egg cartons to start our seedlings this time.  

We are going to have quite the garden this year and you can see our full planting plan here, but this was all that we needed to start inside. 

So for what we have growing right now inside:

  • Tomatoes (2 types)
  • Bell Peppers
  • Onions
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Kale


Here’s some pictures of the cute babies that sprouted as of today! Aren’t they just so cute?


What do you use to start seedlings?

See more Gardening Tips

See our Gardening Pinterest Board

Alex & Cassie

8 Cute Easter Treats Ideas and Recipes

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Cassie on April 14, 2014


Easter is around the corner and so we thought we would share some final Easter treat ideas with you that are pretty simple and fun to make and eat!


Sleeping Peeps idea – simply dip the bottoms of these bunnies in white chocolate and use candy circles for the dots for the “blanket” look! More details at the Wilton site HERE.



Rice Krispies treat idea by making them round and topping with Easter themed edible treats on top! More details at the Wilton site HERE.


Easter egg huntin’ in grass cupcakes.  Quite simple.  Just make cupcakes and then using a piping tool or ziploc bag with a corner cut, pipe the green colored frosting in grass shapes and hide the eggs on top! More details at the Wilton site HERE.


This one is so cute! Carrot looking chocolate dipped strawberries. Dip strawberries in white chocolate dyed orange and let it dry. Then pipe more chocolate in strips and while it is still wet, sprinkle with orange sprinkles! More details at the Wilton site HERE.


Pearlized Easter Egg Pops – cake pops shaped like eggs, dipped in white chocolate dyed in pastels. Then pipe white chocolate and spray with pearlized food spray. More details at the Wilton site HERE.


Chocolate Dipped Peeps! Dip the bottoms of Peeps in chocolate and then in sprinkles! More details at the Wilton site HERE.


Easily make candy Easter grass cup to hold all kinds of treats or cupcakes! See the basic steps below!


More details at the Wilton site HERE.


Finally, we threw this last one in here because if you have a bit of skill, you can pull this one off! It isn’t the easiest, but it is certainly cool! Find out how to do this step by step on the Wilton site HERE.

See more Recipes 

See our Holiday Ideas Pinterest Board

(c)2014 Wilton Industries, Inc. Used with permission.

Alex & Cassie

25 Ideas to Get Discounts To Amusement and Theme Parks

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Cassie on April 14, 2014


As we continue to share ways to save on travel and fun while on travel, we wanted to share ways to save on one of our favorite vacation activities – AMUSEMENT PARKS!

We are a roller coastin’, bumper car ridin’, seat droppin’ kind of family! Yes, we do love to visit amusement parks of all kinds, sizes and places.

Yes, we have been Disneyland as a couple in our “unthrifty days” and as a family in our “thrifty days.”   But this post isn’t going to address just Disney, in fact it’s actually not going to address Disney much as this is a totally different ball game!

Along with visit Disney on both sides of our lives (the thrifty vs. unthrifty), we have, do and will continue to visit amusement parks of all kinds! So we have a few different experiences on both sides of the budget spectrum, which means we can offer even more tips for you.

In fact, in our previous “unthrifty days” (read our deep in debt to debt-free story HERE) we would go on a whim, drop a load of money at the gate paying full price and not think twice about the person standing in line next to us on a ride in the park bragging about their discount into the park while rolling our eyes as if we didn’t care. Well, we didn’t care – until one day when we recognized the reality of our debt-load and how stupid it was to not get a discount (not to mention the foolishness of being there when we couldn’t even afford it). We used to think it would be too much work to try and scope out a discount. Arguably, some discounts will be more work than others, but some are hardly any effort and certainly worth seeking out!

So today, as a family of 7, before we head out to the theme parks, we plan, budget and seek out those discounts. Honestly, discounts to any theme park are a dime a dozen. We can pretty much guarantee you a discount to any theme park if you just look in the right places. So we’ve rounded up a list of ways to save money on those tickets so that you have “no excuses” to save a buck before you go!

25 Ways to Find an Amusement Park or Theme Park Discount

  1. Check directly on the theme park’s websites. In this day and age, if a company is offering a discount, it will most likely be found somewhere on their website! This can be quite honestly the easiest way to get a discount and at least save something off the gate entrance price. Rarely do we NOT find a discount on their website.  But even though you may find a discount on the site, you may find bigger discounts else where…. so keep reading!
  2. Quickly find out about discounts by calling the customer service or the management desk. Most representatives will be clueless and confused as to why you are asking if there is a discount somewhere, but simply calling and asking directly may save you time if you get a helpful employee! Ask to talk to a supervisor or manager if the person you are speaking with doesn’t know of any discounts. Always be very thankful and kind – this is the best way to get information from anyone.  They don’t have to tell you, but being nice will almost always guarantee that they will!
  3. Check for discounts for memberships you may have. If you are a part of any of these groups, then check on a AAA, AARP, Sam’s Club or Costco. We have found that you can get a discount to most theme parks through one (or all) of these outlets!
  4. Check with your local banks and credit unions, even if the theme park is not local. What I mean is that we have a lot of credit unions in our area and the area we grew up in. None of them are close to Disneyland, but almost all of them offer discounts and discount packages to Disney and other Theme parks nationwide.
  5. Get a multi-day/multi-attraction discount pass. If you are planning to stay multiple days and hit multiple attractions, then consider a multi-day pass or a multi-attraction pass. Theme parks like Universal Studios or SeaWorld have offered “Buy One day, Get One free.” Disney’s park hopper passes are cheaper per day the more days you purchase. Also, the CityPass is a popular way to go (for visiting multiple attractions) as you save 30% right off the top going through CityPass directly. You can actually get discounts on the CityPass itself through AAA, Costco and more! These multi-day passes can also apply to the smaller and local theme parks too! Even our local metropolis offers a multi-attraction pass that is a superior discount to the local zoos, museums, aquariums and more!
  6. Search online or call hotels local to the theme park and see if they have a package deal. In our area, several of the surrounding hotels offer discount packages with a room to the local Lagoon theme park. They are not widely advertised, but they are common. If you call one of the local hotels and they do not have a discount package deal, ask them if another hotel in the area does – you can usually find one within a phone call or two. We did this a couple of years ago when we visited the Creation Museum in Kentucky. We called a couple of hotels and one gave us a list of hotels that offers discount packages. As it turned out, we were able to stay at a Comfort Inn for $99 a night (for our whole family of 7) and this included the room and 2 adult tickets to the museum. Since the adult tickets were $25 each, we received $50 in tickets and a room for $49. The regular room rate was around $85 and discounted room rate of $70, so we were happy with the savings. We actually stayed two nights and received 4 adult tickets. Although we only needed 2 adult and 3 kids tickets (2 of our 5 kids were free :)) it was still cheaper to use the adult tickets for two of the kids than pay the discounted room rate and buy 2 additional kids tickets. So be creative in the process too! *As a side note, if the Creation Museum is on your list this year, doing a package deal like the one mentioned is even better for 2014 because kids 12 and under get free admission this year!
  7. Have a travel agent work up a deal! Contact your local travel agents and tell them that you are looking for discounts galore and see what they quote you for a price! You never know, but they might actually be able to grab bigger discounts with their insider information than you can find! If not, it gives you the basis to try and beat that price you are quoted! We will be sharing details on this specifically for Disney, which is the only vacation that we have booked through an agent due to the discounts.  Watch for that special article in a couple of days!
  8. Check on the discount prices using your Entertainment Book. This little (BIG) book is not only filled with coupons to your local businesses, but both in the book and then access your online account as there will be many more offers online, including many theme parks!
  9. Check with local (to the theme park) restaurants/businesses, Coke Cans/Convenience Store Cups, etc. We live near Lagoon Amusement Park and many local fast food restaurants, locally distributed soda cans (e.g., the Coke cans distributed in our area) and convenience store cups will have a coupon for a discount into this local park. Even when we were down in CA, we ate at Wendy’s (using our free fries coupons) and noticed that the drink cups down there had an $8 discount to SeaWorld or San Diego Zoo. So you could potentially find these all over the local area of the theme park. 
  10. Check the local physical phone book. Whether you live locally or are staying at one of the local hotels, we always see coupons in the local phone books for some discount off of the attraction tickets!
  11. Check the hotel displays. This is one of the oldest and most common ways to easily find a discount and we typically find these discounts to be the lowest offered as they are so common, but they are a discount none the less! Those displays house dozens of flyers to attractions in the area and many of them will have an attached discount or coupon. 
  12. Reserve/purchase your tickets in advance online. We saw this recently on LegoLand. They were offering weekday tickets for 40% off when ordered online and in advance for a short time! We don’t see this discount often, but you might be able to find it.  Again, it goes along with checking the companies, website. 
  13. If you are local to the theme park, consider season/annual passes. In our area, we mentioned the Lagoon Theme Park. They sell season passes which make up the cost in just over 2 visits to the park all season! In addition, some season passes are cheaper if you buy in groups, so if you know others looking for season passes, then you can make one big group purchase and split the costs and get your additional discount!
  14. If you are a large family, consider a family season/annual pass, even if it is for a one-time visit! This one may sound quite strange – but we saw this in action when we went to the Creation Museum a couple of years ago. We went with another family that had 8 kids. The Creation Museum offered a family annual pass no matter how many family members there were. They literally saved a bunch of money by purchasing this pass than individual tickets. Even if they hadn’t planned a road trip back there within the year, this one visit made it worth the money! Obviously this only works if they do offer a “family” annual/season pass and your family is large to justify it! 
  15. Consider going with a large group for a group discount. This would even work if you are not local to the park and going on a road trip with a large group too! Many theme parks offer discounts with a group. A group is sometimes considered 8, 10 or 12 or more! Even if you don’t intend to “hang out together at the park” consider teaming up with others for this group discount!
  16. Check with your employer for a discount! One of Alex’s previous employers corporate offices are based out of San Diego. They offered discount tickets to the San Diego attractions, even for their employees in other offices across the country.
  17. Look for the Buy One Get One days. We have seen so many theme parks offer “buy one day get the second day free” deals for certain times or seasons. Consider attending the park during one of these times.
  18. Find out if they offer discounts for students or military. If you are a student somewhere, many theme parks will offer special discounted rates for students when you show your student id. Just like the students, if you are either retired or active duty military, almost all theme parks offer some sort of discount for you and your family when you show your military id.
  19. Check with your insurance. This one may be interesting, but we have noted that many insurance companies offer discounts for their clients just by being a member of a certain insurance group. We would recommend calling your insurance agent to find out if they offer discounts for their members!
  20. Check to see if they offer discounted days with canned food donations. Another popular discount we have seen has been with the donation of food items that they will turn around and donate to a food bank. This is such a great idea and not only do you get your discount, but the community is helped too!
  21. Avoid Peak Season or days. You will find it more difficult to find discount tickets especially during the peak times as they know they can jack up the prices. If you avoid a peak season or day, you will get more for your money as you will be able to do more. :)
  22. Is there a bundle package offered that will include tickets, parking and maybe food? Many theme parks also offer an all-in-one package and they will bundle options that will ultimately give you a discount. We did this at Sea World a couple of years ago.  They had tickets that weren’t a lot more than gate admission that was “all-inclusive” of attractions, foods, parking and refreshments. This was a good deal at the time, but if you will not be using all of those options, this wouldn’t be a way to go. 
  23. Is there a discount option if you enter the park after a certain time of day? Some theme parks will also offer a discount if you enter after 1pm or 4pm, etc. We have seen these tickets discounted as much as 50%. So if that extra 2 or 3 hours in the park is not worth double the expense, then consider this option!
  24. Ask a local or an employee. If you know locals or employees, they will have insider information or even possibly free entrance for friends because they work there – you just never know what you might find out!
  25. Finally, follow the theme or amusement parks on social media! Following their Facebook page and Twitter (and more) can be especially beneficial! Often times, they will share or show a discount for their social followers.  There was a big one recently where a large theme park emailed a good discount code to it’s Facebook followers for a short time window.  This was not advertised on their site and it was a very good discount if you claimed it during the time they ran the promotion on their Facebook page.

A few extra notes: 

One big thing to consider when seeking out a discount is: “What are the restrictions on your discount tickets?” and consider the “nickel and dime” expenses. Answering this question can save you from regret later as some discount tickets might not be all that they are cracked up to be!

  • Is there certain times only that you can enter (time of day, season, blackout dates, etc.)?
  • How much will parking cost?
  • Are there rides/attractions that are not available with this ticket?
  • Any other restrictions or considerations that you need to weigh?
  • With all of that in mind, we recommend taking a quick look at all 25 ideas above and select your best and biggest discount option from the list!

Are there any discounts that we may have missed? Please leave a comment below for all to take advantage of!

Watch for Disney specific related articles coming up soon!

See our Travel Section HERE for more budget travel related articles 

See our Travel Pinterest Board

Alex & Cassie

Our 2014 Garden Planning and Free Garden Planning Downloads for You

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Cassie on April 11, 2014


We are going to share our step-by-step garden plan with you again this year as we know many of you loved to see what we were up to with our gardens last year, pictures from our garden growing indoors and out! It helps to see other’s gardens and plans to help you plan your own.

But this year, it is even better! Alex – the awesome other half of The Thrifty Couple, created downloads for me to use to help me have an even more efficient and effective garden plan.

So….. I am sharing these downloads he created for me with you too as you prepare and plant gardens this year! Isn’t that awesome?

So I am going to show you my garden plan this year, and share the downloads below in case you would like to use any of them!

Well, let me start off by saying that last year we switched to square foot gardening after a few years of rough gardening and rough results from “row” gardens. We struggled with using the actual ground as our soil. In our area, the soil is terrible, filled with clay and very high maintenance.  Weeds, tough ground, terrible soil, etc.  So we finally made that switch and last year was finally awesome!

We followed Mel Bartholomew’s Square Foot Gardening Book. This is the EXACT one that we use!


You can see the details and information on this book on Amazon HERE.

So of course we are doing square foot gardening again.  Not only is it low maintenance, but has very little weeds and nutrient rich soil for our food!

We also use Heirloom Seeds - I hope to harvest my own seeds to use again from these same plants!

The boxes were very easy to build and we will share very soon how to build your own boxes.

Here’s the steps I follow to plan and plant a produce garden!


Step#1 – Figure out what varieties I want to plant!

  • I use the Planting Schedule download and fill in the first line with the plant.
  • Then using planting guides or on the seed packs themselves, decide which ones need to be started indoors and which ones are planted directly in the ground.
  • I wait on the number of plants until another step. So I skip to the last section and write the start date based on when I want to harvest that food!  Often, I will be starting seedlings and different intervals to have food coming in at different times and not all at once!


Step #2 – Complete the Companion Guide

  • It is important to figure out which foods are friends and which ones are enemies – to put it in simple terms! This is called companion gardening and it is a simple, but very beneficial step to take to have a healthy, flourishing, bountiful garden!
  • I use the Companion Guide download. In the first box, write the plant name.  Then there are two sections – one for the “Friends” and one for the “Not’s.”
  • To find the friends and not’s of planting together, I use or sites.


Step #3 – Write out your plan

  • Whether you are planting square foot gardens, rows or something else, it’s best to write it out so you don’t over or under plan.
  • For square foot gardening, it’s easy to write it out! I just use the Square Foot Garden Planner download to write what food will be planted in each “foot” and then the number of seeds or plants to be planted in each square foot.  You can research online how many of each type of plant can fit in a square foot, or use the official square foot gardening book which lays all of this out!

Step #4 – Finish the Planting Schedule

  • Go back to the first download and now fill-in how many seeds you need to plant.  It is best to add 10-20% more to plant as you will often lose some.  Worst case, if they all sprout and grow, then give some of your seedlings to others and bless others! But this excess will hopefully make up for seeds the don’t sprout or plants that don’t turn out very healthy.  So if I want 4 of something, I will plant 5 or 6, etc.

Finally, once you are all planned out…. get growing! Follow your “start dates” and start your seedlings!

So here’s what we are growing this year.  We have 6 square foot garden boxes this year (last year we had 4) and a potato tower that we are building for potatoes.

But here’s what’s going in the boxes:

  • 32 peas
  • 4 Tomatoes
  • 4 Cabbage
  • 4 Kale
  • 8 Cucumber
  • 6 Broccoli
  • 6 Cauliflower
  • 4 Pepper
  • 128 Carrots
  • 32 Beans
  • 32 Corn
  • 4 Spaghetti Squash
  • 36 Onion
  • 4 Zucchini
  • 4 Mixed Lettuce (this is one where you cut and it keeps regrowing)
  • 4 Spinach
  • 64 Radish
  • 8 Watermelon
  • 8 Cantaloupe

We already have a bunch of fruit all over our yard….. details on this on a later garden update!

So all I needed to start in the house was:

  • Tomatoes
  • Cabbage
  • Kale
  • Cauliflower
  • Pepper
  • Onions

So that is what is on our light table now, along with a tray of 72 Marigold plants that we hope to use as a natural pest control.  I will be writing later what we are using for a handful of natural pest control ideas!

What are you growing this year?

Here’s those downloads for you to use if you would like!
Please note, if you are reading this email in our rss feed or our email newsletter, you may have to click to the post HERE to print this download. 


<== Download your Planting Schedule page HERE


<== Download your Companion Gardening Planner page HERE 


<== Download your Square Foot Garden Planning page HERE

See more Gardening Tips

See our Gardening Pinterest Board

Alex & Cassie

Maximize Amazon Subscribe and Save to Receive Even Better Discounts

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Alex on April 11, 2014


Note from The Thrifty Couple: This is written by our friend Theresa (mom to a family of 11) who has been using the Amazon Subscribe and Save program for a while now and is sharing how it all works and the benefits of it! We also use Amazon Subscribe and Save monthly as it is like shopping Walmart’s prices, but online, plus even more discounts to make the prices better.  But we will let her tell you all about it! 

The UPS delivery woman knocks briskly on my door a lot around the beginning of the month, leaving my porch filled with awkwardly stacked boxes. That’s because my Amazon Subscribe and Save order arrives between the 1st and 7th every month. I love Subscribe and Save.

Getting Started with Subscribe and Save

The Amazon Subscribe and Save program can be a convenient and easy way to save money. Here are some basics if you are ready to try it out!

Not all grocery items are part of the Subscribe and Save program. If they are available for subscription, you will see an option to subscribe to the item under the “Add to Cart” button. To subscribe, just select the quantity and frequency of delivery, and click subscribe now.


If that seems like a lot of commitment, don’t worry! You aren’t marrying it, you can change any of the details about your subscription at any time. It is easy to access your Subscribe and Save subscription page from the options under the “Your Account” tab. You can even cancel an item before the first shipment is sent if you change your mind, just as long as you do it before your order is prepared.

If you end up running out too soon, or not needing the next shipment, you have the option to change the schedule to make the delivery frequency anywhere from 1 month to 6 months apart. Or, if you end up getting a great deal somewhere else on a usually delivered item, you can skip a delivery with one click.

Amazon will send you an email every month before they get your Subscribe and Save order ready, reminding you that your order is shipping soon. This is your chance to make any changes. I check mine over carefully to make sure that I want to get all the items this month that are scheduled to come.

Subscribe and Save Discounts

Getting the best deal on Subscribe and Save takes some savvy shopping and knowledge of how the program works. Let’s talk discounts.


Every subscribe and save order gets a 5% discount off the regular “Add-to-Cart-and-Ship-Now” price . For veteran coupon shoppers, this doesn’t sound like much. Don’t worry, it gets lots better! If you subscribe to 5 or more items to be delivered on your monthly delivery day, you will get 15% off your entire Subscribe and Save shipment. For Amazon Mom’s members, that 15% gets bumped up to 20%. So make sure you are signed up for Amazon Mom, which also gets you 20% off of diapers and wipes subscriptions, regardless of how big your monthly shipment is.

If you haven’t already done it, you should sign up for a free 3 month trial to Amazon Mom which includes Prime benefits. That’s a great way to get the best available discounts and see if Subscribe and Save works well for your family’s needs.

Stacking Discounts with Coupons

Alright, so 15% or 20% off is more like honest to goodness savings, isn’t it? The real fun starts though, when you realize that you can stack Amazon coupons with a Subscribe and Save discount. The coupon applies only to the first month’s delivery of the item. However, since it is so easy to cancel, signing up for a Subscribe and Save shipment with every intention of only getting that first, deeply discounted order is no problem. Just make sure you are checking over your order thoroughly every month when you get that reminder email to make deletions and any other needed changes to any previous orders.

There are two basic types of coupons at Amazon: the fixed dollar off amount, and the percentage off.

The best strategy for the dollar off type is usually to look for the smallest unit available. A $1.50 off coupon might not make much of a dent in the price of a 6 pack of deodorant for instance, but can make a single deodorant a screaming deal after discounts. These dollar off coupons for small items can be a great way to build up to the 5 items a month needed to get your 15% (or 20% for Amazon Mom’s members) off for the whole order.

For the percentage off coupons, the percentage is figured from the original price. So a 25% off coupon stacked with a 15% discount makes for a true 40% off. These coupons are often a great way to stock up, if you have the margin in your budget to buy a case. Of course, I do find with my 9 children (4 of whom are teenagers), there is no such thing as stocking up, there is only more to eat!

Sometimes coupons stick around for a month or more, sometimes they only last a very short time. Check out the Amazon coupon page HERE to find out what deals are currently offered.

Recurring Shipments

There are several items that I just find very convenient to be shipped to me. I get a case of high quality toilet paper and paper towels at a great price, shipped every other month without having to wait for sales or coupons, wrestle it into a cart, then in and out of the car. I appreciate that a lot. Coconut oil, Larabars, and tea are other items I have in my recurring shipments. Just check the prices on items you normally get locally or through a co-op and see if Subscribe and Save is cheaper.

When shopping for items for recurring delivery, make sure you check all sizes, flavors, and quantities available. There is often a significant difference in per unit price between these variations. Like box and mortar stores, Amazon does provide a per ounce or per item price to make comparison easier. Look for it right after the price on the product description page. Just like regular stores though, sometimes the unit being used isn’t consistent, so you have to figure it out yourself!

If you happen to see a coupon for an item that is already part of your regular shipment (as has happened to me a couple times), the only way to take advantage of that deal is to start a new delivery order for that item. Then just make sure you go and cancel the other standing delivery if you don’t want to be receiving two of the same. Your most recent Subscribe and Save orders will be closest to the top on your Subscribe and Save account page, scroll down to find the one you need to cancel. Sometimes a coupon you used to subscribe the previous month will still be valid, and you can just rinse and repeat.

Here’s hoping you find some great Subscribe and Save deals, and your UPS deliveries are exciting every month!

See more details about:

Amazon’s Subscribe and Save home shopping delivery service HERE

Amazon Mom’s Discount Baby products program HERE

Amazon’s available monthly coupons HERE

Alex & Cassie