Category: Budget/Bargains/Deals

April Target First Sunday

Treasures of Veracruz
Image from Bowersorg.

This Easter Sunday also happens to be Target’s FREE First Sunday. This fantastic program gives you and your family access to art and family festivals for FREE or at a reduced price.

Here in Orange County both Bower’s Museum and Kidseum will be open. For a list of museums near you click here.

Bower's Museum
Bower’s Museum

Bowers Museum

Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival

Schedule of Events:

Huang Sculpture Garden

  • 11:00 am – 3:30 pm Face painting, Fish Prints and Cherry Blossom Water Color painting art projects
  • 11:00 am -3:30 pm Bonsai Display by Kofu Bonsai Kai Club

John M. Lee Court

  • 12:00 pm Nihon Buyo: the classical dance of Japan performed by Hanaygi Rokufumi
  • 12:30 pm Koto: (13-string zither) Performed by Saeko Kujiraoka
  • 1:30 pm Intermission
  • 1:45 pm Shamisen: (percussive lute) performed by Mike Penny
  • 2:30 pm Taiko: (folk drumming) performed by Taiko Center of Los Angeles
  • 3:00 pm Japanese folk dance performed by Hanaygi Rokufumi

Free admission to WHERE ENDS MEET: A Retrospective of Works by Nancy Ravenhall Johnson; TREASURES OF VERA CRUZ and to permanent exhibitions including: Sacred Realms: Temple Murals by Shashi Dhoj Tulachan; Spirits and Headhunters: Art of the Pacific Islands; California Legacies: Missions and Ranchos; Vision of the Shaman, Song of the Priest; California: The Golden Years; Ancient Arts of China.

Bowers Museum is located at 2002 N. Main Street, Santa Ana, CA 92706



Kidseum features High-tech & interactive focus on Art & Archaeology. Kidseum is FREE and open from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Kids will enjoy Face Painting, Cherry Blossom Scrolls and Koi Fish Kites art projects

Join Master Storyteller, Miss Cynthia, for presentations at:

  • 10:30 AM The Rhino who Swallowed a Storm Written by LeVar Burton
  • 11:30 AM The Coyote and the Colorado River (Native American)
  • 1:30 PM Tikki Tikki Tembo (China) Written by Arlene Mosel
  • 2:30 PM How the Tortoise Got Her Shell (The Greedy Farmer)
  • 3:30 PM The Empty Pot (China)

The Kidseum is located 2 blocks south of the Bowers Museum at 1802 N. Main Street, Santa Ana (corner of 18th and Main)


Feed a Bee


A giveaway that helps the environment, I love it! This giveaway is an innovative to help bring 50 million flowers for Bees to eat from in 2015. Honey bees play an important role in pollinating many of our fruits, nuts and vegetables, 

A lack of diverse food sources is a major obstacle to improving honey bee health. Quite simply, bees do not have access to all the pollen and nectar sources that they need.

The Feed a Bee initiative will create forage areas with a diversity of bee-attractant plants for honey bees. To accomplish this goal, Feed a Bee will educate consumers about pollinator food shortage and work with them to plant 50 million flowers to increase bee forage areas. Feed a Bee will also tap into the power of collaborations by working with 50 organizations to plant thousands of acres of cover crops for bees.

Visit to request free seeds to plant on your own or ask the Feed a Bee partnership to plant seeds on your behalf. Each packet of 200 seeds will move the Feed a Bee ticker forward just that much further toward 50 million flowers for forage in 2015.

Image from
Image from

A good resource is the Pollinator Partnership’s Bee Smart app, which will guide you in selecting plants for pollinators specific to your area.  This is downloadable for the iphone or android devices.  Visit

For more information on bee health, please visit

Free seeds offer – Offer ends 12/31/15 or while supplies last.  Limit two packages of seeds per household.  Will ship 2 – 4 weeks from date of request.


Discover with Coupons

PRL-Discover_with_CouponsThis website may be compensated for linking to companies for sales of products we link to

I absolutely LOVE living in Southern California! There is so much to see, explore and discover. We live in a picturesque and culturally diverse community that is filled with learning opportunities.

We are so fortunate to be surrounded with beautiful places to explore in our beaches, mountains, nature centers, hiking & biking trails. Culturally, we have wonderful places to discover in all of our museums and aquariums. There is always some where to go and something to learn! I wrote a post about how to Explore on a Budget and I thought I should follow it up with a post on how to discover using coupons.

I found a great resource of coupons on this site also includes a list of 29 museums in Los Angeles that offer free admission to families that receive SNAP/Calworks.

I will continue to add to this list as I find more coupons. If you know of any please let me know so I can add them to the list.

Discovery Cube OC


This coupon through is good for a FREE child’s admission to Discovery Cube OC.


Aquarium of the Pacific



Battleshup Iowa


Heal the Bay






Zimmer Museum



Groupon (Affilate) has many great discounts available. If we are planning on visiting a place I don’t have a coupon for I always browse Groupon. It’s great for one time visits or to try a place out before committing to a membership.

Dynamic 180x150


The Cost of Being a Stay at Home Mom

Image from
Image from

I read this post from and had to share it with you. I can completely relate with everything she is saying.

While raising my sons, I worked a full time job. I did what I needed to do at the time. Now, while raising our two girls, I am at home and I must say “I do not regret our decision of me being home with our girls”. Yes, financially, we are making certain sacrifices but the cost of being at home with them is worth all of the the sacrifices we make.

Even on a tight budget, we have a great time together as a family. The reason I started posting the events I post here is because of the quality & cost involved. The events I blog about are mostly free and/or they offer great educational or community/social value. Refined events that focus on life, purpose and place.

Looking for these types of events is nothing new for me. Remember, my oldest is now 30 years old and I’ve been doing this for a long time. With love and loss, you come to realize the importance of time. I can manage money and be creative with meals but time has a value you can never replace.

Please, do yourself the favor of reading this wonderful post “Staying at home with your kids when you can barely afford it”  by the, even two income families can benefit from some of lifestyle choices her family has made. For me, the cost of being a stay at home mom is invaluable.

Don’t think you can afford to stay at home with your kids? Check out this post on staying at home with your kids.


Target First Sunday

Image from
Image from

This Sunday is Target’s FREE First Sunday. This program gives you and your family a chance to take in some art and experience some family festivities for FREE or at a reduced price.

Target believes in community events that everyone can enjoy. Whether it’s hosting a day of reading for parents and kids, or partnering with arts organizations to help budding artists create their next masterpiece. For a list of musuems near you click here.

Here in Orange County Bower’s Museum and Children’s Museum at La Habra participate in this progam.

Bower's Museum
Bower’s Museum

Bowers Museum

This Sunday, March 1, 2015 at Bowers Museum enjoy the Celtic Family Festival from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm as well as the special exhibit “China’s Lost Civilization” before it’s departure on March 15, 2015.

Schedule of events includes:

Margaret and Cleo Key Courtyard

11 AM – 4 PM:     Face painting, art projects (foil Celtic cross, Irish water color landscape) Shamrock cookie sampling

12:00 PM:            Forrest Cormany, award winning bagpipe musician

12:30 PM:            Innisfree Irish Band, plays for your listening and dancing pleasure

1:30   PM:            Butler-Fearon-O’Connor School of Irish Dance, named the number one Irish dance school in the United States.

2:00 PM:              Innisfree Irish Band

Please note: Free admission to specially-ticketed exhibition China’s Lost Civilization is limited o the first 1,500 people on a first come, first served basis.

Each recipient must be present. Tickets can be picked up in the North Wing.

Free admission is also included to Bowers Museum permanent exhibitions including:

Sacred Realms: Temple Murals by Shashi Dhoj Tulachan;

Spirits and Headhunters: Art of the Pacific Islands;

California Legacies: Missions and Ranchos; Vision of the Shaman,

Song of the Priest; California: The Golden Years;

Ancient Arts of China.



In addition to Bower’s wonderful exhibit’s and festival, Target First Sunday at Bowers also includes the newly remodeled KIDSEUM.

Kidseum features High-tech & interactive focus on Art & Archaeology. Kidseum is FREE and OPEN  on Sunday, March 1, 2015 from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Schedule of events includes:

Art Projects:  Shamrock Headband, Rainbow Collage, and Face Painting

Join Master Storyteller, Miss Cynthia, for presentations at:

10:30 AM     The Rhino who Swallowed a Storm  Written by LeVar Burton

11:30 AM     The Coyote and the Colorado River (Native American)

1:30 PM        Tikki Tikki Tembo  (China) Written by Arlene Mosel

2:30 PM        How the Tortoise Got Her Shell (The Greedy Farmer)

3:30 PM        The Empty Pot (China)

The Kidseum is located 2 blocks south of the Bowers Museum at 1802 N. Main Street

(corner of 18th and Main) For more information, contact 714.567.3600.


Children’s Museum at La Habra

The theme for March’s Target First Sunday event here is Let’s Play!

What’s more fun than being the playing piece on a ginormous checker board, hula hoop until you can’t hula anymore, build giant outdoor structures, and run through a crazy obstacle course? We’re celebrating PLAY at the Museum and inviting you to join in the fun!

A total of 500 people are admitted on Target FREE Sundays.Hand stamps for both sessions are distributed at 1pm and are on a first come first served basis. There is no museum admittance once all 500 slots are filled. (This does not apply to CMLH Members.) Session times are 1-2:45pm and 3:15-5pm.

Children’s Museum at La Habra is located at 301 South Euclid Street La Habra, CA 90631


Every Kid in the Park


President Obama just introduced a very exciting new initiative today called “Every Kid in the Park“. This program will provide every fourth grader and their families free admission to our national parks and recreational sites for a full year!

The “Every Kid in a Park” program will begin in the fall, just in time for the start of the 2015-2016 school year. This also happens to coincide with 100th anniversary of the National Parks Service.

According to the White House 80% of American families live around cities where children spend more than 53 hours every week glued to their electronic devices. This initiative is a push to get kids and their families outdoors and active and hopefully inspire a love for nature.

The immediate goal is to provide an opportunity for each and every 4th grade student across the country to experience their public lands and waters in person throughout the 2015-2016 school year.

Every 4th grader family interested will receive a FREE annual pass! Currently an annual pass is $80.00. If you are not a family with an incoming 4th grader you can still take advantage of the annual FREE days (which I always blog about).

In addition President Obama also released that there will be 3 sites throughout the country that will be designated as new national monuments: Pullman town in Illinois, which played a role in the civil rights movement; Honolulu National Monument in Hawaii, the site of an internment camp during World War II; and Browns Canyon National Monument in Colorado, a huge area scenic area in the Arkansas River Valley.

If you want to get a head start and start planning your year, here’s a link to find a National Park near you. As a the Mom of an incoming 4th grader and a Girl Scout Leader I am extremely happy to hear this news. I look forward to discovering more of our National Parks this coming year and deepening my daughter’s love of the outdoors.


Explore on a Budget


Explore_on_budgetYes, like many other families – we are on a tight budget but even on a budget you can find ways to have fun, explore and present your children with opportunities to learn while having fun as a family.

Many of the events I blog about are held at our beautiful O.C. Parks, local museums and science centers. One of the ways we save money on parking and admission to these events is by investing in memberships and passes to our favorite places. As a member, you get discounts on food (but we always pack a lunch – one more way to save money), gift shops, special workshops and member only events.

We’ve had a pass to the Magic Kingdom (and yes, we packed our lunch to go here too) and it was great but within just 3.5 months of paying for a deluxe passport for a family of 4 to the Magic Kingdom – I can buy all of the memberships mentioned on this post.

By simply putting some money aside each month, you can easily buy your memberships one by one throughout the year. Another benefit of spacing out the purchases of your memberships is that you always have at least one you can utilize.

Another way of saving money is taking advantage of FREE events and FREE days by sponsors such as Target. If you bank with Bank of America, they have some great free day offers nationwide. We’ve had many great afternoons visiting Bowers Museum, Children’s Museum at La Habra and Orange County Museum of Art during Target’s sponsored programs.

You can visit museums like California Science Center and The Getty Center & The Getty Villa for free, you just have to cover the parking fee.

I’m always on the lookout for FREE days and events that are reasonably priced and will share whatever fits within “Project Refined Life’s” criteria.

Be sure not to miss out my posts like FREE Days at our National ParksFREE days at Autry National Center of the American West and Museums Free-For-All Day.

Here’s a list of the local membership opportunities and discounts for some of the places we love to visit.

 OC Parks Parking Passes

OC Parks offers parking passes that are good for one year from date of purchase. I broke down and bought one mid year last year and I absolutely love it. This parking pass has made it possible for me and my family to experience FREE events such as guided hiking events, Prehistoric OC, Irvine Railroad Pumpkin Patch & Christmas Events and on and on. I love this pass.

2015-01-02_00.13.11The newly revised OC Parks parking passes allow visitors to use a single card to park at all County regional and wilderness parks and/or beaches. The new “smart cards” replace last years entry cards and stickers that were previously used for annual parking. These smart cards are valid for 12 months from issue date and can be renewed annually. Moreover, for wilderness and beach locations which previously required a sticker affixed to a visitor’s windshield, these passes can be used with any vehicle. The price for the new cards remains the same as 2014.


Three types of cards are available:

  • County Regional and Wilderness Parks Parking Pass for $55 ($35 for seniors/disabled)
  • County Beach Parking Pass with Pay and Display Machines for $55 ($35 for seniors, disabled park free)
  • All County Parks and Beaches Parking Pass for $80 ($50 for seniors)

Distinguished Veterans (per California State Parks) are eligible for a no-fee pass. This applies to veterans with a 50% or higher service-connected disability, or who were held as prisoners of war, or who are recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor.

OC Parks Parking Passes are available for purchase at an OC Parks facility near you. Visit OC Parks online at our Annual Parking Pass page for more information and a list of convenient locations.

If your visiting Irvine Regional park be sure to use these coupons.

State of California Parks & Beaches

CrystalCoveTidePoolsOne of my favorite places in the O.C. is Crystal Cove State Beach but with parking at $15.00 a day – a pass is definitely the way to go. There is currently a fantastic introductory offer good for 4 days worth parking passes and all state beaches and parks for the low price of $25.00. The “sampler” pass also includes 5% off camping reservations and a one year subscription to Sunset Magazine. For a complete list of parks click here or visit to get your parking pass.

 Discovery Cube

They are currently offering a fantastic deal on their membership. You can purchase a 1 year Family membership for $99.00…..and you can purchase the second year for just $25.00 more!  This membership will get you and your family into Discovery Cube OC and Discovery Cube LA for just $124.00 for 2 years!!!

Discovery_cubeThe Family membership  is good for 1 or 2 named adults, plus up to 4 named children living in the same household (age 17 and under). Up to (2) additional named siblings living in the same household (ages 3-17) for $20 each.

They do offer movies at the Discovery Theater and hold several special exhibits each year that do require an additional fee however members get special pricing. Click here for membership options and details.

Benefits of membership include:

  • Unlimited admission* for one full year! No blackout dates!
  • Get two Cubes for the price of one – your membership works at both the OC and LA location.
  • Invitations to members-only events & previews
  • Priority registration and discounts on Camp Discovery and other fun activities
  • FREE or discounted admission to over 300 other ASTC Science Centers around the world
  • Subscription to our monthly e-newsletter and Discoveries Magazine
  • 10% off Science Store & Taco Bell purchases**
  • $10 discounted admission tickets for your guests (4 per visit)
  • Discounts on Discovery Theater tickets

Santa Ana residents receive up to 4 free admissions per address with valid ID (proof of residency) on the first Tuesday of every month. Cannot be combined with any other discount or offer. Excludes special events and ticketed exhibitions or shows.

Bank of America Free Day – Bank of America cardholders receive free admission on the first Sunday of each month. Photo ID and any valid Bank of America/Merrill Lynch credit or debit card must be presented. One free general admission limited to cardholder only. Cannot be combined with any other discount or offer. Excludes special events and ticketed exhibitions or shows.

Here’s a coupon for a free child’s admission with a paying adult.

 Santa Ana Zoo

Santa Ana Zoo is a great little zoo and if you like Monkey – you’ll love this zoo. Joseph Prentice, the founder of the Santa Ana Zoo at Prentice Park, stated that in order for the Zoo to exist, Mr. Prentice required that there be 50 monkeys on the grounds at all times.

This charming Zoo features over 80 species of animals, including the smallest monkeys in the world, the Pygmy Marmosets. The Zoo is a place to play, a place to learn and a place to spend time with your family.When visiting the Zoo, children and adults can share time together learning about animals, plants and the environment. There is also a children’s farm, train ride and carousel featuring endangered species.


Membership benefits include:

  • Unlimited FREE admission for 12 full months!
  • 10% discount on the “Treetop Toys” Gift Shop and Snack Bar, 20% discount for birthday parties.
  • Newsletter filled with animal facts, event schedules, and other interesting Zoo stories.
  • Member Appreciation Days with free train rides, and discounts for other events and programs, such as Sunset at the Zoo and Boo at the Zoo.
  • Visit over 50 Zoo’s – Los Angeles, The Living Desert Zoo, Santa Barbara, Fresno Chaffee and Sacramento Zoo, as well as over 150 zoos around the United States are FREE or discounted to our members. 

A Family Club membership is $70.00this includes unlimited admission for 2 adults (named on the card) and their children and/or grandchildren (under the age of 18) for 12 months, maximum of 4 children per visit.

On Resident Free Day, the third Sunday of each month, residents of Santa Ana may visit the Zoo for free. Proof of residency (driver’s license, utility bill) will be required upon arrival. Not valid to schools or business addresses.

Although the OC Zoo doesn’t advertise it, you can use your Santa Ana at the OC Zoo for free admission to the OC Zoo as well.

 Aquarium of the Pacific 

2014-08-20_12.07.20Membership at the Aquarium of the Pacific for a family of four can be quickly covered by your second visit. They have a great learning opportunities, family friendly festivals, member only events and discounts. Your membership also helps protect the Pacific Ocean, its inhabitants, and ecosystems.

Benefits of membership:

  • 50% of prepaid parking
  • 10% off at the Gift Shop
  • Member Appreciation events and Special Event Festivals
  • Discounts on private birthday parties, animal encounters, behind the scene tours, day camps, Junior Biologist , Aqua tots and more.

You can get a family membership for $125.00, for more details click here. if a membership here is out of the question at this time, take advantage of their FREE Shark Lagoon Nights.

For a limited time only, you can get discounts from:

  • Gelson’s Markets in Los Angeles and Orange Counties are now offering a coupon valid for $8 off adult admission—that’s just $20.95! Offer available in stores through 1/31/15 or while supplies last.
  • Southern California Smart & Final locations are now offering a coupon valid for $8 off adult admission and $2 off child admission (ages 3-11). Offer available in participating stores through 2/24/15 or while supplies last.

For annual Discounts use your AAA Discount to receive 10 percent off adult, child, and senior admission when you present your AAA member card at Aquarium ticket windows. Valid for up to four discounts. Or, save up to 25% when you purchase tickets at any Southern California Auto Club branch.

Natural History Museum, Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits & William S. Hart Museum

This is an awesome deal!!! Your interest can range from dinosaurs, nature lovers, gardens, Los Angeles history, Gems and minerals, mammals, birds, shells, art….these museums have you covered!

NHMMembership benefits include:

Family membership costs $89 – what a deal! The membership is good for two adults and up to four children (age 17 and under).

If you have a AAA membership, use that card! You can get admission discounts, wejust recently used it for discount on admission to Columbia Memorial Space Center. In addition to admission discounts, they offer discounts to at museum gift shops and restaurants. Wherever your at – ask them if they offer AAA discounts.

Bank of America has a program called Museums on Us, I’m considering a opening up an account at Bank of America for this benefit alone. They offer just FREE admission to museums throughout the county. In the Southern California area some the museums include: .

  • Discovery Cube
  • Orange County Museum of Art
  • Riverside Art Museum
  • San Diego Art Museum
  • The Living Desert Zoo
  • The Autry
  • Skirball Cultral Center



What are your families favorite places that offer some great membership options?


Museums Free-For-All


Over 20 museums— presenting art, cultural heritage, natural history, and science—will open their doors and invite visitors free of charge. This offer is for general museum admission only and does not apply to specially ticketed exhibitions. Regular parking fees apply. Consult individual museum websites for hours and other visitor information.

“Museums Free-For-All” partners with Metro, encouraging visitors to Go Metro to explore the participating museums, many of which are a short walk away from Metro Bus or Rail. Go Metro to more museum destinations at

Participating Museums:

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Annenberg Space for Photography

Armory Center for the Arts

California African American Museum

California Science Center

Craft Folk & Art Museum

Fowler Museum at UCLA

The Getty Center

The Getty Villa
(Timed tickets are required.)

Hammer Museum

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
(Offer valid for general admission only. Does not apply to specially ticketed exhibitions.)

Los Angeles Fire Department Museum and Memorial
(Hollywood and San Pedro)

The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA)

Museum of Latin American Art

Museum of Tolerance*

The Paley Center for Media

The Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits

Pasadena Museum of California Art

Santa Monica Museum of Art

Skirball Cultural Center

The Torrance Art Museum

USC Pacific Asia Museum

William S. Hart Museum

Zimmer Children’s Museum*

*Closed on Saturdays, offering free admission on Sunday, February 1, 2015 as part of Museums Free-for-All

This offer is for general museum admission only and does not apply to specially ticketed exhibitions. Regular parking fees apply. Consult individual museum websites for hours and other visitor information.


Gymboree Red Balloon Sale

This is a sponsored post that contains affiliate links from Gymboree.

I raised two boys and worked full-time while doing so. At a time when my youngest son would have reached the age of 19, my husband and I started all over again. I am now raising two beautiful girls. Although I love my new job as a “Domestic Engineer” raising our girls on one income means we really have to watch the budget.

$12.99 during the Gymboree Red Balloon Sale
$12.99 during the Gymboree Red Balloon Sale

One of the things I am so grateful for is the clothes I bought for my oldest daughter (who is now 8). When she was just a baby, we started attending Gymboree classes located in the back of a Gymboree store. After walking in and out of that store front for a couple of months, I noticed people buying clothes like crazy at a “Red Balloon Sale”. After buying a few items, I was quickly hooked on Gymboree.

People (including myself) have a deep love for Gymboree clothes and devote websites to it with people sharing their sale scores, talking about upcoming lines, selling their gently used Gymboree clothes and looking for specific pieces of clothing.

You can save a lot of money buying during sales, using coupons and “Gymbucks”.  My older daughter was always dressed in beautiful Gymboree clothes, which have now been handed down to my youngest daughter.

Gymboree is currently holding their Semi-annual “Red Balloon Sale”. This is the time to buy. You can shop online or go into the stores. You can Save up to 75% during the Gymboree Big Red Balloon Sale  and earn GymBucks! If your buying online – Today only, get free shipping with code FREESHIP at Gymboree.


I truly believe in Gymboree clothing. This is why I usually have their ads in my sidebar. Gymboree carries quality children’s clothing that can be used, reused and resold. Gymboree clothes wash and dry well, they don’t shrink or get out of shape and I absolutely love their undies, camis and socks for my girls. A majority of my youngest daughters clothes belonged to my older daughter and they still look great!

I received compensation in exchange for writing this review. Although this post is sponsored, all opinions are my own.