Free e-book downloads at your local library

January 18, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Education, Entertainment 

I know a lot of people have gotten some form of e-reader for Christmas.    So I thought I’d re-post this article I did for Green Bay Consumer last year since many of you have entered the Kindle or Nook world.

The sky’s the limit when it comes to downloading books. I frequently download the Kindle Daily Deal because of the excellent prices.

But let’s face it, the choices are overwhelming.  If you’re looking to save money on downloads, many libraries across the nation are using Overdrive which allows patrons to “borrow” e-books through their local library.

Since I am not an expert on the subject, I thought I’d bring you someone who is. So I called upon my good friend Terra, who has been a librarian for the past 13 years.


Do you already have an e-book reader? Did  you get a Kindle , nook or iPad for Christmas? Do you think you can’t afford to buy books to read on an e-book reader or portable device?

When I first bought my iPad I was thrilled with all the free e-books I found out there on Amazon.comBarnes and Noble, and the Gutenberg Project, but then I started to want more selection. Sure I liked the classics and the oddball freebies, but I wanted more. That’s when I started using Overdrive.

What is Overdrive and how can it save you money?

Overdrive is an e-book lending service you can access through your local library.  All you need to borrow e-books for free is your library card and an internet connection.

Overdrive offers a multitude of choices, Fiction and nonfiction for adults, teens and children in both e-book and audio formats. Authors include James Patterson and Stuart Woods, Erin Hunter and Dr. Seuss, Laura Hillenbrand and Carol Burnett.

You can browse the collection by genre, or make more specific searches, even limiting your search to those things that are available right THIS MINUTE! (I have a hard time waiting; just call me Instant Gratification Girl.)

You can borrow digital audio books or e-books. You can now checkout up to 10 items and place up to 10 holds. You can also choose to checkout ebooks (not audio) for up to 21 days and you can create a really long wish list. A huge plus, and money saver, of using this free service is that you can’t possibly accrue overdue fines. When your item’s lending period is up the item is automatically ‘checked in’.

How do you access it?

Access Overdrive through your local library’s website. In this case,

To get started, check the list of compatible devices. The biggies, Apple products, Kindles and nooks are all compatible, but many other devices are as well. Once you have determined whether your device is compatible you’ll need to download software, just once, to your computer.

Now you’re ready to login using your library card and PIN. Once you are logged in you can start checking things out.

Now the catch is, Overdrive is so awesome that everyone is using it…which means popular items are checked out. BUT you can place holds on books you’d like to read or listen to just like you would for a book in print only you don’t have to leave the house, or even your bed.

Now grab a latte, sit back, relax and start reading!

Children’s Museum Free Admission – Twilight Wednesdays

December 4, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Education, Event 

Madison Children's MuseumAdmission to the Madison Children’s Museum is free the first Wednesday of every month from 5-8 p.m.

The museum is located at 100 N. Hamilton Street on Madison’s Capitol Square.  It features three floors of exhibits designed for children up to age 12 and the their families.

For more information on Twilight Wednesdays, click here.

Freezer Inventory made easy

November 8, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Education 

How do you keep track of your frozen  food?  How much do you throw away because it goes bad before you can use it?  Ever found something embarrassingly old in your freezer or pantry?  I’ve got my hand raised.  But it’s a very rare occurrence these days because of something I came up with a few years ago.

One of my money saving bibles, The Complete Tightwad Gazette, was the inspiration.  The author suggested taking a piece of paper and inventory the freezer, making an X for every item in each category. Then, as you consumed the items, you circled the X to indicate the item was taken out of the freezer.

UGH!  My paper was wrinkled and a mess just a few months after using it with all those circles and cross marks on it.  It looked like a giant tic-tac-toe game!

I soon came up with an idea of my own.

This is how I do it for my chest freezer but can easily be adapted for smaller freezer or even your pantry stockpile:

  • Get a dry erase board, 1 permanent marker and 1 dry erase marker of a different color.
  • On a piece of paper, figure out how many categories you need and how many items in each category (example: Vegetables, Fruit, Dairy, Ready-Made Meals,etc)
  • Draw grid lines with permanent marker on the board using a straight edge
  • Write your Categories on the grid with permanent marker, making sure to leave enough room in each for different items
  • Write down items in each category.  For items I regularly buy, I use permanent marker.  For items that I stumble upon, I use Dry erase marker
  • Take inventory!
  • Use the dry erase marker to make a hash mark for each item you have
  • Hang on or near the freezer
  • The hardest part: remembering to wipe off a hash mark when you pull something out!

Clothing Inventory made easy

October 30, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Education 

I changed out my youngest’s clothing this weekend because she seemed to have grown a foot!  I thought I’d show you my clothing organization system for all the kids’ clothes I buy second-hand or dirt cheap on clearance racks.

Years before I had children, I fell in love with The Complete Tightwad Gazette, a wonderful resource of thrifty ideas and the precursor to the hundreds of money-saving blogs and websites out there.

One of my favorite posts was on clothing organization and I took my personal organization tip from the book.

As you can see,  I have 18-gallon see-through totes and have each size in a bin.  With little kids, I try not to exceed one bin of clothing.  Once they get up to about size 4, I have two bins, one for winter and one for summer.

With the see-through bins I can tell if I have enough clothing for my kids’ next size.  When I’m rummaging or thrifting, I have a little note in my wallet telling me which sizes to keep an eye out for so I don’t overbuy one size and shortchange the next.  (Before I developed this system, I bought or was handed down FIVE red turtlenecks in the same size!)

One of the other things I gleaned from The Tightwad Gazette was to pay less for a future item if it’s several sizes away.  Right now my oldest daughter is in 9s.  If I find a really nice size 10 pant for $5.00 at Target on clearance (real-life example) and her bins don’t have enough, I might pick it up.  If it’s size 14, I won’t pay more than their rock-bottom clearance price of $3.24.  Why?  Because I have less time to find the necessary items for 10 than I do 14s. And I do buy several sizes ahead.  I’ve completed a full wardrobe for size 10 and 12 and even have found a few things in 14 and 16.

The hardest part for me is when my oldest two girls outgrow their stuff and I have to put it away for the next girl’s use.  Because they don’t grow out of every item at once and some things fit differently than their actual size.  At least twice a year I pretty up the bins.  This coming week I’ll work on my son’s which is a lot easier because I don’t have to save clothing for a little brother.

No, my clothing storage is not always this organized.  Which is why I decided to take pictures now!

Madison Public Library Hosts Community Celebrations

September 5, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Education, Event 

Madison Public LibraryThe Madison Public Library is hosting nine week-long community celebrations running now through early November. These celebrations will showcase a different Madison library each week.

You will get the opportunity to learn more about the featured library: history, special collections, and other fun facts. You can also meet Greg Mickells, the new library director, at each library’s reception.

The celebrations will take place at the following branches:

  • September 4-8, Monroe Street
  • September 10-15, Goodman South Madison
  • September 17-22, Lakeview
  • September 24-29, Hawthorne
  • October 1-6, Alicia Ashman
  • October 7-13, Sequoya
  • October 15-20, Central
  • October 22-27, Meadowridge
  • October 28-November 4, Pinney

To learn more about the activities at each location, check out the complete schedule here.

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