Wednesday Steals: From Tees To Textbooks

ShopNBC: If you are petite or size XS check the clearance for designer Henry McGuire cropped jackets and sweaters. 75%-87% off. Retail prices up to $149.99, steal priced at $19.99.

Newport News: Last Chance Summer Sale takes an extra 25% off clearance price for savings up to 70%+. Many items below cost, shop early for larger selection. There’s a lot of summer still left, so pick-up a new swimsuit or cover-up at steal prices of 50% and more off retail.

Shopko: Still has summer clearance in-store selection worthy of spending the time and going through the racks. 40%-60% off in almost all departments.

Alibris™: Shop for your textbooks and other reading material and save $2-$15 off your purchases. Use the following Promo Codes to save from now until September 15, 2008:

Offer Expiration
JAVA $2 off $20 + 09/15/08
STUDY $4 off $40 + 09/15/08
SCHOOL $6 off $60 + 09/15/08
HONORS $8 off $80 + 09/15/08
BIOLOGY $10 off $100 + 09/15/08
ALLNIGHTER $15 off $150 +

Upgrade Your Culinary Skills & Selections For No Money

MDM has found that taking culinary classes is a great way to bring an international flare into your life while expanding your family’s palate, and eating gourmet at diy prices. One recent evening’s class at Lunds and Byerly’s supermarket provided food, fun, and a couple of surprises for $10. One of the many classes offered was a Dim Sum class taught by Ms. Cynthia Chauwan Crinklaw.

Dim Sum is basically stuffed Chinese dumplings. There is a whole genre that falls into this category including Sui Mai, potstickers, wontons,and sticky rice fried dumplings . At Lunds and Byerly’s Ms. Crinklaw presented a delectable trio of entrees including a dessert item of cantonese sweet tarts. While we were enjoying the samples her beautiful operatic voice entertained us with arias from Puccini and others.

Another surprise, we were given a $10 gift certificate to be applied to an item from their Culinary Shop or Gift Basket Shop. MDM found a signature retro bowl from Zak! retailing for $19.99, with $10 dollar coupon it was a steal, larger and more solid than Rachel Ray’s trash bowl, it comes in MDM’s favorite color of green and other contemporary colors of turquoise, orange, yellow confetti . Plus it is eco-friendly since it is made of recyclable plastic. How great is that?

Plus MDM made some new friends–you can’t expect a better night at school. Food, Friends, Fun, Entertainment and $10 coupon–Priceless!

Looking for a good Dim Sum Restaurant in the Twin Cities. Try these:

  • Mandarin Village, Bloomington, Minnesota.
  • Yanzee, Golden Valley, Minnesota
  • Jung Eo, Richfield, Minnesota
  • Mai Village, St. Paul, Minnesota.

To check on other class offerings go to Lunds and Byerly’s.

Click Here To See Lunds & Byerly’s→uSlideshow of Dim Sum Class

School Rummage Sales

With budget constraints placed upon our school districts by an archaic funding system based upon property taxes, the resulting disparity between schools make it a necessity for some to raise funds for athletic, music and art programs and extracurricular activities. Private schools have a advantage of having been in the business of raising monies for programs oftentimes prior to their inception.
One such local school is Marshall High School, initially religious-based, it is now a nondenominational private school that creates diversity through strong academic and athletic programs and by offering partial and full scholarships to disadvantaged but talented students. One of the ways that they fund especially their athletic program is an annual Spring rummage sale. This was held today, Saturday, March 29th. MDM feels that this particular event is a first rate example of how to get a school or church rummage sale right, and, in fact, anyone thinking about holding a rummage sale can gain from studying their organization of the sale.

From the parking lot with numerous students and parents directing traffic including handicapped parking and drop-off near the entrance of the school to the stands and table and chairs to buy food and drink prior, during, after finding your bargains. The sale is held in the gym with the wooden floors are covered and all access is blocked but save one large entrance where greeters meet each customer with a plastic bag and a merchandise price list. Items are priced as follows:

  1. Men’s Clothes. From 25¢ for sox & underwear to $5.00 for suits, jackets & coats.
  2. Women’s Clothes. From 25¢ for sox & underwear to %5.00 for jackets & coats.
  3. Children’s Clothes. From 50¢ for t-shirts to 4.00 for jackets & snowsuits.
  4. Misc. Clothing. 25¢belts to $1.00 purses & backpacks.
  5. Toys. From 50¢ puzzles to $1.00 for large stuffed animals.
  6. Books & Music. From 50¢ tapes& records to $1.50 DVD’s and videos.

And furniture, electronics, linens, and rugs individually priced. Plenty of floaters were available to answer questions, check prices, and to assist with removal of large pieces.

There was one exit open and the hallway was cordoned off directing the customer to several checkout lines and an express line for limited items. Shopping carts were available to carry numerous purchases to individual cars.

Within one hour tables were cleared of merchandise. Later on that afternoon, the sale will turn into a bag sale where everything that you stuff into a bag is sold for $5 or $10 rather than by the piece. This will clear the remaining merchandise, and some bargain hunters stick around solely for this part of the sale. Any remaining merchandise can be donated.

What is S.O.S. for a successful sale? Staff, Organization, and Stuff!

School Drop-Ins

"School days, school days, good ole golden rules days."  Well, more than reading, writing, and arithmetic these days for the DIYer, the schools have abundant opportunities to widen your world and to enjoy the finer things of life.  You can learn to be a gourmet chef, a jeweler, or learn to dance with the stars.  Community Education is the best bargain around since it is low cost, and ultimately adds to the knowledge, experience, or lifestyle of the recipient.

Recently Markdown Mom attended a cooking class on making pita bread at her local middle school.  This was a great class that not only had us make our own pan pita bread, but included making hummus, cucumber dip, roasted creamy eggplant dip, at the same time providing information on nutrition and the benefits of eating healthier. Our instructors were Ilone Hamilton and Jeanie Pekkala. 

Breaking up in groups of 4, they  took us step-by-step through the process of making pita bread using a caste iron frying pan. 

From scratch, the yeast was prepared, the dough was mixed, allowed to rise, kneaded, rolled into a ball, divided into 8 equal pieces, allow to rise, rolled into a 6" circle, and placed into an ungreased pan to fry/bake.  That was the exciting period when the pita bread would actually rise and form bubbles in the pan. 

During the breaks when the dough was rising, Ilone and Jeannie would instruct us on the delicious fillings for the pita bread.

At the end of which we were able to sit back and break bread with the other students.  We not only enjoyed the feast that we had prepared that night, but felt empowered to continue our culinary exploration with other classes.

Classes through your local community schools or continuing education programs offer an opportunity to explore your talents, pursue your interest, and enlarge your world while providing an opportunity to meet other members of your community. 

The costs are nominal, the pita class was $5 registration fee + supplies.  Other costs follow a similar fee structure depending on the number of times the class meets.  Classes include general interests that contain a potpourri of activities from crafts, finances, hobbies, to cooking classes, sports, languages, interior decorating, and computer training to name a few.

With Ilone and Jeannie’s permission, Markdown Mom will take you through the steps of this recipe, pan pita bread, in addition to the oven baked recipe at a later date.  Right now, MDM is anticipating the new Spring Schedule for Community Schools–who knows what new adventure awaits!

Remember you are never too young or too old to learn something new and once learned the enjoyment and knowledge is with you forever, plus the friends you make on the journey–and that’s a real bargain!

Top 10 Markdown Mom’s Holiday Gifts: #2

In 2002, MIT Professor Nicholas Negroponte had an epiphany of sorts.  He saw first-hand how a laptop computer transformed the lives of children and their families in a Cambodian village.  The addition of a computer into their lives gave a poor community access to education and the outside world. His goal was to place in each child’s hands a computer that was virtually indestructible.  He conferred with experts and developed an XO computer that in many ways is the cutting edge of computer technology.  Waterproof,  wireless, dustproof and dropproof, energy-efficient , at 3.2 lbs this computer is lightweight, but a heavy weight in its’ design and applications.  Built-in video camera, microphone, graphics tablet, memory card slot, and game pad controllers are just a few of its’ features. 

This month you can purchase the XO Computer in their Give One,Get One campaign at Laptop  For $399, you get one XO computer valued at $200, and another one will be donated to a child and you will receive a $200 tax donation.  Great computer, great buy, and great incentive, but you must hurry as offer is good only until December 31st.

Help change the world one computer at a time!

Rascals or Royalty?

It is reported that to some degree, United States citizens, can trace their lineage to a royal person–if you search long and hard.   Along this journey, one may find some savory skeletons in the ancestry closet that can even prove more fun than our proper ancestors and could explain why your favorite aunt has that wonderful wild side.  Maybe it is because as citizens of a rather young nation, finding our past not only is worthwhile, but intriguing as well. How come your sister looks so different than you, or why do you have a bump on your nose and no one in your immediate family does?  Not all questions have to be monumental in nature, but every little piece of the puzzle gives us a better understanding of ourselves and those around us.

Genealogy is not only an enlightening avocation, but has given rise to the recent craft phenomena, scrapbooking.  Now you can add volumes of information to your family tree, by researching online through such sites as Ancestor Hunt©  perhaps the largest, free database with additional aids sponsored by the Church of Latter Day Saints and free marriage records at GeneaLinks© , and through Google Search of U.S. government public records,at© , plus others. 

New on the scene is©, that is a monthly subscription site currently being marketed  by the major home shopping network  QVC ®for $33.26, one month subscription plus a 12" x 12" family  scrapbook kit is included in this price.  Or, you can try this new site by taking advantage of a free two-week trial offer with an initial membership for a month of $19.95, which can be canceled at any time.  This site offers both U.S. and Worldwide searches. 

History tells us that in order to understand the present or the future, first look to the past.  Here is a family history preservation and pastime that can be enjoyed by all for free or for a minimal investment, depending upon your time allocation.

*tintype courtesy of base10, flickr™

Wednesday Steal: Back To School Bargains

IKEA is having a College Night today from 6 pm-9pm at all of its’ locations except Houston, San Diego, and Seattle. 

Bring in your high school senior or college ID for a chance to win free furnishings, IKEA gift cards, meals, or to get your entire purchase FREE! 

Some of the steals include a swivel task chair in grey or  pink/lilac reg.$17.99 steal $9.99.  Big blue IKEA bag steal 59¢ just right for cutting down on those plastic bags when shopping.  A ringum rug made out of 100% wool, 2’4" in pink adds a decorative item to any room and is soil-repellant, steal at $9.99!  These are just a few of the bargains. 

Now is the time to outfit your dorm or apartment. 

Bookworm Bargains & Beyond

Mark Twain once said that " The man who doesn’t read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them."   

At the Half-Price Books store located in St. Paul, Minnesota  you can buy great books, magazines, and records at more than half-price, and take a tour of their rare book collection which includes a volume sporting Mark Twain’s signature; however only serious buyers of the $10,000 book are allowed to view it.  This is a chain of 85 bookstores in 14 states and for Minnesota, reviews have been particularly favorable for the Half-Price Books store located at 2041 Ford Parkway as having the largest inventory of clearance books.   Celebrating their 35th Year in business on July 27th, Half-Price Books is a great place to look  for that special coffee table book at half the price of national chains or vintage LP’s.  Periodically these low prices are further reduced by sales and coupons obtained by registering at their online location. Wander to the lower level and you will find those bargain basement deals  where prices for books and vintage magazines and journals are as low as $1. Not only sellers of books and mixed media, additionally this store is a buyer where you can trade in your old favorites for some new ones.   Take your children and spend an afternoon perusing these treasures–you’re bound to come away with a sack of special finds that will provide hours and hours of enjoyment–MDM did!

Institutions of Higher Education Can Spell Big Bargain$ at Government Surplus Sales

Checking the classifieds can bring home some local finds especially when governmental institutions advertise surplus sales.  Of course, state highway departments will deal solely in cars. Educational institutions will from time to time sell utility vehicles and vans and not only deal in electronics such as computers, overhead projectors and the like, but are a resource of many items, some that may surprise you. 

Tomorrow, July 9th, a local university-the University of Wisconsin, Superior— will be selling a potpourri of items ranging from a  1000 gallon propane gas tank, air compressors,  a diesel generator, sports & exercise equipment, files, office furniture including a sofa, microwaves, televisions, popcorn machines–even wooden snowshoes.  Really there is something for everyone from the small business owner to the rural homeowner.  Some educational facilities that update labs will often have wonderful cabinets that can be recycled into any modern kitchen giving a unique look mirroring expensive designer kitchens. 


1.  To get the best bargains, it’s important to get there early.  This sale starts at 9 a.m., but you can be sure that people will be lining up much earlier than that. 

2.  If possible, preview merchandise.  As with any sale, if you can get a preview either online, as in this case, or by getting a list of items up for sale for the governmental body–do so, this will allow you to focus on those items you are interested in and skip others. 

3.  Be sure to bring a vehicle to haul home purchases.  Usually these sales are cash and carry.  It’s always good to have a tape measure handy.

4.  Although most electronics at educational facilities are in good shape since these institutions usually have maintenance agreements with the vendors of the equipment, it is always good to bring someone along with a rudimentary knowledge of how the item works.  However, as in the case of a laptop computer since they are so popular, first grab then check it out.  You can always put it back, but it really is bad form to wrestle it from another bargain hunter. 

These events are worth the extra effort of changing the time of your coffee break to check it out, or coming in late if need be, and who knows you might see Markdown Mom there, too!  If you do, say "Hi!"

Remembering Graduation–A Rite Of Passage For All?

MDM’s eldest daughter received her Masters of Public Health today.  All three of MDM’s daughters are in college.  The youngest is an undergraduate, the second one is in a PhD. program at the same university as the eldest; in fact, they have been roommates this past year–much to MDM’s relief. 

It seems that each year funding sources keep getting scarcer.  MDM, after years of fighting in elementary school for smaller classrooms, textbooks, supplies, transportation among other issues, thought that higher education would be more accessible especially after attaining graduate level status.  However, that has not been the case.  Funding for postgraduate research is spotty depending on what political winds are blowing at the time. Collective preparedness is funded only to the extent that  it involves hot button issues with research worthy of a sound bite.   However, despite the instant gratification of today’s technology, real research involves years of study, observation, and tenacity.  To those ends, decision makers have an obligation to make longterm commitments in order to find longterm solutions.  Education and  access to education are longterm issues of public safety, welfare, and national security . 

Graduates this year have gone through one of life’s rites of passage–it is up to us collectively to insure that that passage is not prematurely stopped because of a lack of foresight and commitment.

Congratulations To All Graduates and Their Families

Go Forward And ContinueTo Fight The Good Fight !