The Broke Life

The Broke Life

living on creativity

5 Ways to get Free Museum Admission!

museum 3

Guys….Museums are awesome!  The arts!  The culture!  The education!  The super high admission price? Not quite as awesome.

We want to be out there strolling through art museums, pretending to be fancy.  We want to run around the science museum, messing with all of the cool experiments.  And we want to do it for free!  Here are some ways my family has been able to get free museum admission:



Tons of libraries allow patrons to borrow passes to local museums.  We live in the Napa County, and we’ve already used our library’s program to visit The Academy of Sciences,  Aquarium of the Pacific, and The Discovery Museum.  My kids loved them all!



Bank of America offers account holders free admission to 150 museums on the first full weekend of every month.  We’ve only managed to visit one of the 150 museums, so far, but we’re ready for more!

I don’t know of any other banks that offer free museum admission, but check with your bank, just in case!


Free Days

Many museums have free or discounted admission on certain days of the week, month or year.  Check your museum’s website to what they offer. Smithsonian Magazine also offers “Free Museum Day” at hundreds of museums around the country, once a year.  Check website for details.


Student Discounts

If you, or a family member are in college, check with Student Services Office to see if they offer discounted tickets, or free admission days for students.  While I attended college in Baltimore, my family got to visit The National Aquarium and the Maryland Science Center for free.  With their pricey admission, we wouldn’t have been able to see these museums any other way.


Mystery Shopping

Although it does require some work, mystery shopping is a great way to visit expensive attractions for free.  I’ve taken my family to amusement parks, the Ripley’s museum, movies, bowling, and on countless other adventures for free by mystery shopping the employees’ performance while I’m there.  Email me for recommendations, if you’re interested.

Home Sweet Home


We’ve been cramped up in an apartment for years.  Two adults, two kids, two cats, and a dog.  Some of those years were spent in a total dump with more problems than I can fit on the entire internet.  The other years were spent in a nicer, second floor apartment, nagging my kids to keep quiet, so as not to disturb the downstairs neighbor.  Both complexes have featured loud parties, loud music, loud neighbors, and far too many incidents requiring police assistance.  Good times.

So, when we got our hands on a rental home in a quiet neighborhood last month, we jumped at the chance.  No more tiptoeing around on the second floor!  The kids can run around in the backyard, my husband can build things in the shed, and I can have a garden!  
So what if the house was dirty, outdated, and the lawn was completely dead?  It was a HOUSE and we loved it!

The night we moved in we found a mouse living under the sink, and discovered so many things that were broken.  But, who cares….it was a HOUSE and we loved it!  We cleaned everything, replaced what we could, and figured out how to live with what we couldn’t fix. Then we caught the mouse with some peanut butter and went right back to loving the house.   And then it rained.  Inside.

Fortunately the roof didn’t leak on anything valuable, which is great because we’ve lost so much in the past, (apartment floods, roof leaks, etc…).  And fortunately we live in California, where it hardly ever rains.  Now we get to play the landlord lottery again, and see if he’ll fix it.

But guys, it’s a HOUSE!  And we still love it.


My husband is a fugitive


I got an interesting call from the airport the other day, after my husband was detained by TSA for several hours.

They found a metal baton in his backpack, which is apparently a no-no. Who knew you weren’t allowed to bring weapons in your carry-on? Oh, that’s right……EVERYONE! He forgot it was in his backpack because, you know, who keeps track of their weapons all the time?

Not only are weapons at the airport a no-no, but this particular weapon is illegal in the state of California, WHERE WE LIVE.  So, he flashed his Maryland ID, and suddenly the baton was no big deal. In fact, they offered to mail it to him in Baltimore, where such things are necessary legal. As they were wrapping this whole ordeal up, (you know- writing down an address to mail my husband his illegal weapon), they discovered that there is a warrant out for his arrest.

Yes, my husband is a fugitive. The heinous crime he committed? Are you ready for this? …….he failed to appear in court on a traffic ticket 12 YEARS AGO!

Guys, this changes everything I thought I knew about this man. Should I continue to allow him to see our children? What if his disorganization and poor planning rubs off on them? It could ruin their lives. Plus, I’m not cut out to be the wife of a wanted man. Evading the law seems like a lot of work and wigs make my head itch.

After the police discovered my husband’s status as a fugitive they held on to him for almost two hours while they decided whether or not to extradite him to Orange County to answer for his crimes. Eventually they decided that wasn’t necessary and let him board his flight to Maryland. Because that’s what you do with a fugitive, who’s been on the run for 12 years, you let them leave the state.

Dehydrated Apples



Preserving food does not come easily to me.  I don’t have canning equipment or a dehydrator, so I work with what I have.

Dehydrating apples in the oven is super easy, but it takes a looooong time.  Fortunately most of the time involved is “hands off” so you won’t have to work too hard.

Here’s what I do:

1. Core the apples. (I don’t have one of those fancy coring tools, so I use a knife to stab out the center of my apples)
2. Slice apples as thinly as possible, and lay out in a single layer on a baking sheet
3. Sprinkle with cinnamon if you’d like, and pop them in the oven at it’s lowest setting.  I use my oven’s “warm” setting.
4. Bake for around 6-7 hours, checking them and flipping them every few hours or so.
5.  When they feel as dry as you’d like them, pull them out, let them cool on the counter, and then store in an airtight container.
See!  That was easy, right?  I core and slice apples while watching TV, so it doesn’t even feel like work!
Dehydrated apples AKA apple chips are fantastic on their own, and they also make a great addition to homemade trail mix.  Yum!

Lazy applesauce recipe

applesauce recipe
 Whenever I visit my mom this time of year, I come home with a ton of apples.  Unless we eat apples for breakfast, lunch, and dinner we can’t eat them all before they go bad.

My favorite way to preserve them is to make lots and lots of applesauce, and then freeze it for later use. When apple season is over we get to enjoy a jar of free applesauce each week.

I actually don’t follow a recipe.  That’s too much work for applesauce!  I peel and chop as many apples as I can cram into my slow cooker, add a little water and let them cook until they break down.

I don’t have a food processor, so I just let them turn to mush and break up large chunks with a spoon. After it’s all mushy I stir in some cinnamon and sometimes a sprinkle of brown sugar, and TADA!

Delicious homemade applesauce.

There are plenty of fancier applesauce recipes out there, but here is my super easy, non-recipe:


However many apples you can fit in your slow cooker
Cinnamon, to taste
Brown sugar, to taste


  • Peel, core, and roughly chop apples.
  • Add about an inch of water in the bottom of your slow cooker and add apples.
  • Cook on low, covered, stirring occasionally, for about 4 hours, or until mushy. Break up any large chunks with a spoon.
  • If desired, add cinnamon and brown sugar, to suit your taste.
Store leftover in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.


*WARNING- This will make your house smell so amazing that you’ll want to make it every day!

My clothes smell like sunshine!


I love our clothesline!

According to some sort of super technical report, running an electric dryer costs roughly 49 cents per load. So, line drying doesn’t save a ton of money, but guys….. OUR CLOTHES SMELL LIKE SUNSHINE!

Hanging a load of laundry and bringing it in takes me about three minutes total.  And that’s three minutes spent outside IN THE SUNSHINE, so I don’t mind.

If the prospect of sunshine scented clothing isn’t enough to convince you to use a clothesline consider these other awesome perks:

Longer lasting clothing!  Have you ever wondered what all that junk is in your lint trap?  It’s your clothes!  Each time your favorite sweatshirt goes for a  tumble in the dryer some of it’s fibers rub off.  Unless your going to knit a sweater out of dryer lint, there is no point to letting your clothing waste away.

No more saggy undies!   Dryer heat wreaks havoc on clothing’s elastic, eventually wearing it out.  The only thing worse than spandex is saggy spandex. Ew!

Whiter Whites!  The magical powers of SUNSHINE keep your whites super white.

Less Smelly Armpits!  Boys are smelly!  Sometimes clothes get smelly, I’m not pointing any fingers.  Hang them inside out and the SUNSHINE will help kill any bacteria that survived the washing machine.

Clotheslines are awesome! September 24, 2014 1 Comment Permalink

Oven dried apple peels: An easy apple recipe to make the most of your harvest!

‘Tis the season for apple everything!  My mom has  some apple trees that produce really well, so we’ve been swimming in apples for over a month.


I’ve made apple pies, apple muffins, apple cake, applesauce, and dried apple slices.  All this apple processing leaves me with heaps of apple peels, which I can’t bear to throw away.


A few years ago I stumbled across the greatest way to use up all of those apple peels!  Sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar, and bake them!  They’re AMAZING!  My family’s actually enjoys these delicious little snacks more than anything else I make during apple season!


Give them a try!

Apple peels, (duh!)

Cinnamon sugar mixture, (Roughly 1/8 cup sugar, 1/4 tsp cinnamon for every 6 apples)



Preheat oven to 250 degrees

Toss apple peels with cinnamon sugar mixture and spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet, (parchment or baking mats makes clean up easier).

Bake for 2 hours, or until the peels feel crisp.


This is one easy apple recipe!

Watch TV for free


Free broadcast TV with a digital antenna- Great channels, like ABC and NBC, CBS, and more can be had for free, as well as sports games, etc…  See which channels you can get for free in your area!  For more information on how to use an antenna, check out

Watch TV shows for free on network websites- ABC, NBC, Starz, and many other networks have full length episodes available on their websites.  Don’t want to watch on your computer’s small screen?  Use an HDMI cable to send the show from your computer to your tv screen.  Don’t have a computer?  Go to the library and watch shows on their computers!

Check out DVDs from your local library-   Most libraries have a great selection of movies and TV shows on DVD that can be borrowed for free!

Watch TV at a friend’s house-  Do your cable subscribing friends enjoy the same shows you do?  Make a weekly date to watch TV together.

Cheap healthy food! What to buy when you’re broke

"Boston Baked Beans in Concord, Mass 2012-0193" by Victorgrigas - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -,_Mass_2012-0193.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Boston_Baked_Beans_in_Concord,_Mass_2012-0193.jpg
Eating well on a budget doesn’t have to be a challenge!  Check out these super cheap healthy foods!  No coupons required!


A serving of homemade oatmeal makes a filling breakfast for less than 10 cents.  It’s an easy way to get some whole grains, too!


Eggs are a much cheaper source of protein than meat.  They’re fantastic at breakfast lunch and dinner!


Canned beans are affordable at around 28 cents per serving.  But, dried beans are a steal at 7 cents per serving!  Dried beans don’t require as much work as it seems, so don’t be afraid!  Soak overnight, then put them in a crock pot with some spices, and let them cook all day while you’re at work. You’ll come home to perfectly cooked beans.


A serving of potato chips costs around 40 cents, while a serving of popcorn costs around 11 cents.  I always serve popcorn when my kids have their friends over!


Brown rice is a great source of fiber for around 18 cents per serving.  White rice is even cheaper, but doesn’t have much nutritional value.


Kale, spinach, and other greens can often be had for less than $1 per bunch.  They’re super healthy, and surprisingly filling!


Potatoes can be found for less than $1 per pound, which is around 33 cents a serving.  They’re super filling, and can be served as a side to almost anything!


Corn tortillas- Are a low cost, easy way to sneak in some grains.  Use them to make tacos or quesadillas for a cheap, easy meal.


Bone-in meats
Bone-in cuts of meat are much cheaper than boneless.    Cook the whole piece of meat the first night, and use left over meat for sandwiches all week, instead of pricey lunch meat, ($1/lb chicken instead of $8/lb lunch meat=winning!).  Or use the leftover meat to make tacos, top a salad, top some noodles, etc…..When you’ve used up all the meat, use the bones to make soup!


A box of noodles can be had for around $1.  Top noodles with leftover a $2 jar of pasta sauce, and you’ve got a cheap dinner.  Ramen is even cheaper, and can be topped with leftover protein for a yummy dinner.


Iced tea
Home brewed iced tea is a refreshing alternative to soda, at just 2 cents per glass. Soda costs around 25 cents a glass, so switching to tea is a huge savings.  It’s healthier, too!

Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe Round-up!

By Takeaway (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Starbucks’ pumpkin spice latte is ridiculously expensive, and contains no actual pumpkin.  What it does contain is artificial coloring, pesticide residue, and heaps of sugar. If you’re looking for an alternative to Starbucks’ $4 cup of chemicals, check out these recipes and make your own Pumpkin Spice Latte!

Only 40 cents per cup!

Only 40 cents per cup!

Almost the real deal!

Almost the real deal!

A healthier version!

A healthier version!

No need for an espresso machine!

No need for an espresso machine!

Spiked Pumpkin Spice Latte!

Spiked Pumpkin Spice Latte!