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Inside the Economy Museum at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

We went for an overnight visit to St. Louis when LEGO KidsFest was there. We had been to St. Louis for our family vacation over the Summer, but hadn’t gone downtown. This was the perfect time to explore a bit between our arrival and the start of the LEGO KidsFest.

Before going anywhere I like to look at maps and see what is near our venue, hotel, or attractions we are visiting. I saw the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis was close to the America’s Center where our event was being held.

I thought federal reserves offered some kind of tours, so I checked the site. It took a little bit to find it, but they have a museum called, Inside the Economy Museum, located in the reserve. The museum is free and open to the public Monday – Friday 10 am to 3 pm.

Museum Rules (full rules can be read here)
All people have to go through metal detector.
Your belongings will go through an x-ray.
Anyone over 18 will need a valid government-issued photo ID.
Children under 16 must be with an adult.
No food, drinks, weapons, or smoking.
Photos are allowed in the museum only.
Allow at least an hour for the visit.

Once we went through the check point, got scanned, and received our badges we went upstairs to the museum. Gotta say the building is gorgeous. I kept looking at the chandeliers and the decorative painted ceilings.FederalReserveBankStLouis

The lady, Laura, who was running the museum was very friendly and told us to take pictures, asked how we found the museum, and at the end offered us free materials from their shop.

First we had to get a picture in front of this cube. This is what a 1 million dollars in $1 bills would look like.MillionDollars

When it was time to go in the museum there was a short welcome video. Next you enter a room that has pictures from different financial moments in history, and are displayed in old time Teller windows. You don’t see a lot at first, because the room goes dark, lights start moving and another video starts.FederalReserveBankStLouisMuseum1 It was so modern looking compared to the “old time museum” vibe. FederalReserveMuseumWe didn’t stay as long as we should in this room. The daughter was drawn to the next room that was dark, but had lots of lights glowing on the walls and spilling out into the room we were in .

This is adjoining room is full of hands-on displays. I can’t remember all the exhibits we saw. I know I am missing some in my list below. There was also a seating area with a video playing on loop, that we didn’t watch. There is so much to do, and with two kids they are everywhere.

We looked at demographics for our state based on people having college degrees, our county’s unemployment, etc.
Another display taught you about interest and what things would cost you over time when buying on credit.FederalReserveMuseumExhibit1
There was a hands-on exhibit about inflation and household expenses.
There was another about products that countries export and to whom with a globe so you could see where everything went.
My daughter’s favorite was the stock market game where you can be a Buyer or a Seller. She won both times as a Seller.FederalReserveBankExhibit2

There was also a display showing how much of each denomination was circulating. I love how they “showed” you instead of just listing numbers.

They say you need to allow an hour here, and they are right! We were still exploring and they were closing up. We could’ve spent another 15-30 minutes there at least. On the way out they have an area with bags of shredded money, postcards, and reading materials. All of these were free for

I have to say I was very surprised by this museum. I never expected it to be so interactive, and to be able to keep all of our attentions for so long. We highly enjoyed our visit.

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LEGO KidsFest 2015 St. Louis #review

Posted March 21, 2015 By dealinanddishin

LEGO KidsFest 2015 St. Louis

I had the opportunity as a US Family Guide blogger to receive tickets for Friday 4:00-8:30 pm session of LEGO KidsFest in St. Louis, MO plus a couple tickets to giveaway in exchange for a review of the event.

We live about 3 hours away so this became an overnight trip for us, but it was worth that added expense to: 1. Go to our very first LEGO KidsFest and 2. To not get home at midnight.

The kids (ages 11 and 6) were starting Spring Break the day after, so like a lot of families we started the break a day early. Don’t  worry all the teachers had a week’s notice and moved their tests up a day. The hubs took off work and we were off.

We got to St. Louis early and explored downtown while we waited for the event to begin.

LEGO KidsFest was at the America’s Center, which was a great central location and close to the Metro Link Station. Most of the exhibits were in the Edward Jones Dome. Once you got in there were stations to buy food and drink (needed when you are there 4 hours!), two store locations, and lots of exhibits to visit!


1. Entering the Event.  Check in to the event was fast and efficient.
2. Space. We loved that the exhibits were all  spread out. You weren’t crowded while trying to go from exhibit to exhibit.  If anything seemed busy you could easily find something else to do.
3. Activities.  The kids got to build…A LOT! There was a lot of creative expression between Creation Nation, LEGO Friends, LEGO Bionicle, etc.
4. Free Stuff. The kids got prizes for participating at some exhibits like the Creation Nation, LEGO Friends, Challenge Zone, and Brick Battle Zone.
5. Displays. The huge LEGO statues of characters from Toy Story, Marvel, LEGO Movie, Guardians of the Galaxy, DC, and more!


1. Time. There is  a lot to go through. We couldn’t do every single thing. It is a con, but not a major one. It is better to have too much to see and stuff to pick and chose than too little.
2. Event Merchandise. I really wanted a LEGO Kids Fest magnet (it is my collecting obsession for vacations), but there weren’t any. I had hoped they would have special LEGO Kids Fest minifigures like I have seen on ebay for previous years, but the sales people said they didn’t make any.

Suggestions for LEGO KidsFest:

My only suggestion is on the high traffic areas like Battle Zone Nation, and Master Builder Lab that they had a way to sign up for times every 20-30 minutes. A simple pull a number thing like at the craft store so you could wander around and come back.

Tips for Visitors:

1. Camera and Back up Camera. My iPhone filled up so I had to use a back up camera for pictures. The event does have a phone charging station. I am not sure, but it looked like they had cables.
2. No Flash. It is a tough area to photograph, and the flash LOVES to reflect off the LEGO bricks. My iPhone does best, but like I said I ran out of space. I have some flash points in photos I don’t care for.
3. Costs. Food was $6-9 range from what I saw. A soft pretzel was $4 but the cheese dip was $1.50, pizza slice (large one) $6, drinks were in the $4 -$6 each. Food seemed to be sold by the location itself and other local vendors. LEGO shops there seemed to be basically the price as the LEGO online store, but damaged boxes were in a special section for 20% off.
4. Time. Try to get there as soon as it opens and stay as late as you can to do as much as possible. This is not an “in and out” kind of event.

Would we go again??

Oh yeah! If comes near again I would love to go! I think each year would be fun with all the new sets that are always coming out. Plus it is one of those activities that boy, girl, young, or old can enjoy and that is rare!

Now, of course what everyone likes to see…the pictures from the show!
Smaug from The Hobbit
Darth Vader
Groot and Rocket
View from the back of the dome
Making additions to the LEGO Art Wall


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Girl Scouts Three Cheers for Animals Postcard Printable

Posted March 7, 2015 By dealinanddishin

We are in our second year of Daisy scouts, and working on
the Three Cheers for Animals journey.

When you get to Zinni’s Story  Gloria talks about picture postcards.  The Leader’s Guide suggests having the girls make their own postcards, but instead of being about a trip they are about animal care.

On one side they can draw a picture of how to care for animal, and then on the other write a sentence describing the picture.

I used PicMonkey to create a postcard for our Troop. For this project I was able to use all the free enhancements: Postal, Dashed and Lined, Text, and a small border. I do pay for the Royale membership ($33 a year) for all the fonts, enhancements, etc. It is so worth it. I have used it for Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, craft booth signs, and both of my websites.

Copy the postcard into Word to print two to a sheet. You will probably want to resize it to 4×6. This one is just a touch bigger. Then print onto whatever paper you like. I like to use colored cardstock.Postcard

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40 Days Challenge 2015 #40Days

Posted February 17, 2015 By dealinanddishin

40DaysChallengeLast year my #40Days Challenge was to exercise every day of Lent. I did with the exception of a day (I think just one) I stomach flu.

We had a talk with the kids the other night about Lent, and why we give up things, or try to do things to be better people(like not arguing, fighting, etc.) It can be tough to explain all of it to 11 and 6 year olds.

Anyway, last year I tried to do something that would be difficult (that is the don’t give up something you don’t like). I think this year I will go more traditional and give up something.

I could go extreme and give up coffee, but truthfully that would be bad for everyone here! I decided I would give up chocolate. I love chocolate, but then thought maybe that was too easy. I can find ways around that. So with having just got our Girl Scout Cookies in that was my inspiration.

I will give up Chocolate and Cookies! That takes out a good majority of treats I like, and that’s why I am doing it.

To show my kids you can give up something you like and survive (they are dramatic)! Also, it will be good for me as well.

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and the official beginning of Lent, and it will end on Easter, which happens to be my birthday this year!

Even if you aren’t Catholic like me you can join me on a #40 Days Challenge of your own choosing.

What do you want to do? Give up something or strive for a change?

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LEGO Valentines From My Kids

Posted February 15, 2015 By dealinanddishin

HappyValentinesDayWe don’t go overboard for Valentine’s Day at all around here. I would smack the Hubs if he spent $50 on flowers and candy. I’m happy with a $5 or $10 bouquet on a crappy week than something extravagant like that.

He said he and the kids were working on something, and I wasn’t allowed in the Office when he was on the computer and they had the door closed on my son’s room for a while. That was fine with me! Quiet TV time ;)

Valentine’s Day they come plug in a flash drive to show me what they did. We cut out the parts on each of the kids’ saying Happy Valentine’s Day. They came up with these ideas on their own, which impressed me.

The boy posted his on his blog as well. He is 11 years old, and it has been a good way to keep him creative and work on typing and writing skills. You can visit him, here.

His video is of us picking flowers. An alien monster shows up and we  beat him up!

The girl, who is 6 years old, is obsessed with Minecraft. Her video is of an Enderman and a Creeper getting married with Steve officiating.

These mean more to me than a card, flowers, or jewelry!

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LEGO Fest Ticket Winner #Giveaway #SP #LEGOKidsFest

Posted February 13, 2015 By dealinanddishin

US Family Guide just emailed me the winner of the two LEGO Fest Tickets for opening night, March 20, 2105 in St. Louis, MO. Read more here!leaderboard_legokidsfest-STL-leaderboard

Congratulations to Rick P.!! I sent an email to you, and the tickets will be emailed as well!tile_legokidsfest-STL-tile

There are still tickets available for Friday, March 20!! Saturday is completely SOLD OUT! Sunday has limited availability!

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Cutting Household Expenses

Posted February 10, 2015 By dealinanddishin

CuttingExpensesI have been cutting our  household expenses. I am a stay at home mom, so it is a priority to me to make our one income go as far as possible. I’m sharing some of what I have been doing, and what we have just started.

Coupons and Sales

I am a coupon fan, but haven’t been doing as well as I used to with that. I do love my sales and clearance deals. It is very hard for me to buy full price.
I reorganized the pantry so now I shop for what is needed and stock up on extra good deals.

Home Services

This is where we are making changes. We are dropping our cable. I am writing a whole Breaking Up With Cable series over at Tales of a  TV Addict. This is going to save us about $56 a month. That leads into the next part.


Dave Ramsey has preached the debt snowball payoff plan for so long. I understand it, but always had a hard time doing it. List your debts smallest to highest. Pay only minimum on all except the smallest. Pay the most to it you can. Get it paid off then you can apply that minimum payment and any extra to the next one. I always want to do chunks to multiple ones, but I am going to give this a shot!

Odds and Ends

Make your own cleaners (Water and Vinegar are great for windows and laminate). Use reusable cleaning cloths. Turning off lights and electrical items when not in use. Hanging clothes outside to dry. Turn up thermostat in Summer or down in Winter.

There are many ways to cut costs, but not cut out your enjoyment of life.

What cost cutting tips do you have?

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Valentine Collection Box

Posted February 9, 2015 By dealinanddishin

ValentineCollectionBox1The Boy is in 5th grade now, and it was optional to do a valentine exchange. We opted to take a treat for the whole class instead.

The Girl is in 1st grade so they do the valentine exchange. I got a note on Friday that they had to make their own Valentine Collection Box. The teacher suggested a shoe box…something with a lid.

Ok, I don’t have a big supply of shoe boxes. We used one of the last ones for the son’s diorama of the Plains Indians.

First thing was to cut a hole. I got out my fabric cutting board, an xacto knife, and found something to trace (her Christmas ornament box worked great). Trace and cut on back side of lid.CuttTop

These boxes are a little flimsy as you can see. FlimsyI took the leftover cardboard from the hole and cut it into 4 pieces. Then taped those in each corner (white side down to blend in).ReinforcedBox

The lid is big, and when I put it on.  It was hard to put the full sized lid on for me, so I could just imagine what a time she would have.

I decided to make the lid smaller. I simply opened up the lid (very little glue hold the corners).OpenUpLid Then cut off two inches on each side, and taped back together inside and out.

I really wanted the lid to go on like a shoe box one, but it make the box collapse in on the sides. It just looked unattractive, and was a little tough to put on. So instead we put our lid on the inside (basically an upside down box).ValentineCollectionBox

Now it is time to decorate!
Suprisingly she didn’t put a lot of stickers. We used some wrapping paper on bottom, and scrapbook paper on top. Then some stickers (trying to cover tape we needed for the scrapbook paper.)


I’m linking up to the Something to Talk About Link Party today.  Go on over and see all the fabulous diy, crafts, furniture makeovers and more.

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Easy to Make Onion Straws

Posted February 8, 2015 By dealinanddishin

OnionStraws1We had this great BBQ place called Shyler’s. I loved their BBQ, but even more was the onion straw appetizers they had. It was a big basket of super thin sliced, lightly battered, salty onions.

Sadly, Shyler’s closed some years ago, and I am giving up hope that it will reopen. I had tried before to make the onion straws and have figured out a very easy and delicious way to make them.

Onion Straws

Yellow Onion
Vegetable Oil

I used yellow onions for my straws. I like yellow for those, and white for soups and baked beans. The onions need to be sliced very thin and uniform. A mandolin cutter worked great for this.  I cut half of my onion.MandolinOnionSlices

In a bowl mix a cup of flour (give or take depending how many you are making) and add salt and pepper to season. I don’t measure this, but I am pretty heavy handed with my pepper.FlourSeasoned

If you don’t have a fryer use a pot and vegetable oil on the stove. I used a smaller 3-4 quart pot and filled it less than halfway with oil. Be sure to leave room so you don’t have any oil go over the top of you pot. Heat oil on medium.Oil

While the oil is heating up I put some onions in the flour. With a pot you will make it bit by bit. Get your onions coated, shake off excess, then put in hot oil. CoatinFlourStir them a little with a spoon, and when they are floating and a nice golden color remove with a slotted spoon.OnionsFrying

Place cooked onion straws on a paper towel lined plate and season.OnionStraws

If you want to reuse your oil. When it is oil just strain it through a metal strainer into a plastic container and refrigerate. I am not sure how long the oil will keep refrigerated. I usually smell it before I use it to see if it smell old or spoiled.

I’m linking up to the Something to Talk About Link Party today.  Go on over and see all the fabulous diy, crafts, furniture makeovers and more.

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Tightening My Belt

Posted February 8, 2015 By dealinanddishin

I am tightening my belt here. When life becomes busy it is very easy to go for speed and convenience when it comes to eating. Running around taking care of errands, appointments, and meetings makes it very tempting to grab take-out, and that adds up (calorie and moneywise) over a week, month, and year! At the same time you are more stressed and the motivation to exercise wanes.

Where has that gotten me? I got to my heaviest weight I have been since having kids. That was the weight I was at almost 5 years ago when I started to watch what I eat and exercise a lot! Disappointing? Hell yeah! Whose fault is it? Mine! I stress that to my kids about being upset over something they have done that there is no one to blame but themselves. I have excuses out the ass, but in the end I ate TOO MUCH and did TOO LITTLE activity.

The scale I say is evil, and I am sticking with that. A bad number on an off week or PMS week will make your mood spiral.  The love-hate part of this is I NEED to see an improvement. I like facts, data, and numbers.

I am watching what I eat, but not counting calories. I still have treats, but I try to really think if I truly am hungry or not. Also, swapping snacks like nuts for chips plus more salads and less take-out. I started exercising at least 30 minutes a day/6 days a week. That is now becoming more 30 minutes a day/4-5 days a week.

Let’s share some numbers.

To satisfy my number obsession I started with measuring key areas: Waist, Thigh, Bust, and Hips. I also took a starting picture (and no that will NOT be posted here). I keep these on my phone in Notes. I wanted to get on a schedule with measuring, but not do it too often. The watched pot never boils they say, and same goes for my waist shrinking.

Measurements (in inches)

January 6, 2015

Waist 43 1/2
Hips 45
Bust 44
Thigh 24 1/2

January 16, 2015

Waist 42 1/2
Hips 44 1/2
Bust 44
Thigh 24

January 30, 2015

Waist 42
Hips 43 3/4
Bust 43
Thigh 24

Numbers are dropping in the worst area: waist, but still need to do some work.  I don’t expect fast results, but steady improvement is what I hope for.

The scale you ask? Did I throw it away? No..even though it has crossed  my mind repeatedly. I will weigh, but only ONCE a month! Weekly weigh-ins can have too many things interfere with a loss (water weight gain, lazy week, injury, sickness, etc.). I figure a month would be a good amount of time to see a clearer picture.

Starting Weight is a little hazy. I jumped on the scale when I was trying to figure out the weight of our cat carrier, but distinctly remembering seeing 189 lbs. Was this in PJ’s or jeans and sweater?  I don’t know. I saw that number and jumped off…didn’t even try a second time! I think this was near the January 12th.

Weigh Ins (in pounds)

Weigh In #1  January 12, 2015  189 lbs.

Weigh In #2 January 31, 2015  183.8 lbs.

I was pretty happy with that. I didn’t feel like I was starving myself or sacrificing too  much.

I am not quite seeing the improvement in clothing I want. I was able to squeeze into my small jeans the other day, when I was desperate (they have a touch of spandex). I have another measuring this coming week. I don’t know how it will go. The last couple weekends I have eaten much worse than at first. I hope after the Girl Scout cookie booths we have schedule this week I will be more on track for rest of month before next time I step on the scale on the 28th.



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