Festival of Lights Opening Night + Free Pyramid

moody gardens festival of lightsIt’s hard to believe, but Festival of Lights at Moody Gardens opens this weekend.

Thanks to KPRC Channel2’s Family Night, you can get a discount opening night, November 15. Get admission to Festival of Lights for $8.95 and see Aquarium Pyramid free (11/15 only).

Festival of Lights definitely gets you in the holiday spirit. The setting features more than 100 lighted scenes with 1 million lights, an outdoor ice rink, live entertainment, photos with Santa, and more. Don’t miss Tom Kenny and the Hi-Seas kicking off the grand opening of ICE LAND Ice Sculptures at noon. Tom Kenny is the voice of SpongeBob SquarePants!

Free holiday entertainment from 4 pm – 6 pm includes Curt Miller and Friends (master illusionist) and Galveston Ballet. Watch Santa parachute in at 5 pm on opening night from the North Pole. Mrs. Claus will flip the lights at 6 pm to kick off the Festival of Lights season.

Get your coupon online at KPRC’s site here, which is valid for up to six people. Moody Gardens is located on Galveston Island at One Hope Blvd.

photo: Moody Gardens

Free Haircut & More for Remington Food Drive

remingtonCuts for Cause returns to Remington College locations in Houston for the month of November. It’s a simple concept with huge blessings. Houstonians who donate canned food or non-perishable food item to Remington College will receive a free haircut, manicure or pedicure in return. This is valid through November 26.

Here are the Houston-area campus locations:

  • Westchase — Call 281-597-1000 to schedule an appointment. Hours: M-F (9:30 am – 11:30 am and 12:30 pm – 2:30 pm), plus every other Sat (9 am to noon)
  • Greenspoint — Call 281-885-4490 to schedule an appointment. Hours: M-S (9:30 am – 1:30 pm) and every other Sat (8 am – 1:30pm)
  • Webster -- Call 281-554-1790 to schedule an appointment. Hours: T, Th, F, S (9:30 am – 11 am, 1 pm – 2 pm) and Wed (1 pm – 2 pm). Closed Mondays.
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Free Weekend Fun in Houston November 14-16

It’s another weekend in Houston with plenty of free fun! Check out these 14 Free Things to Do in Houston November 14-16:

Houston skyline

 FRIDAY

Watch a movie under the moonCANCELLED due to weather. Watch for new date. Watch a free flick outside Friday night: 1) Discovery Green presents Silent Films: The Boat & The Rink at 8 pm. 2) Market Square Park is showing Spaceballs at 8 pm.

Love some magic —  CANCELLED due to weather. New date is March 28, 2015. Don’t miss this amazing evening at Katy’s Central Green Park featuring the Curt Miller Magic and Comedy Show.

michael jacksonJam to the beat — Catch the Ultimate Michael Jackson Experience at Miller Outdoor Theatre Friday, 7:30 pm. This tribute to Jackson’s music and dance features Joby Rogers, who looks very similar to Jackson. Free tickets for reserved covered seats are available on Friday, 10:30 am – 1 pm. Photo courtesy Miller Outdoor Theatre

Enjoy concert in the parkConcert in the Park returns to Kingwood Friday, 7 pm, with Satisfaction, a Rolling Stones Experience! In addition to live music, there will be lots of kid-friendly fun including craft table, bounce house, slide, game center, and face painting station. Located at Kingwood Town Center Park, 4300 Town Center Place.

SATURDAY

Love a music marathon — Imagine 12 hours of music at Rice University! Catch some — or all — of the Chamber Music Festival “Spotlight on Music with a German Accent,” Saturday from 10 am – 10 pm. A new portion of the concert kicks off every two hours: 10 am, noon, 2 pm, 4 pm, 6 pm and 8 pm. Located in the Duncan Recital Hall at Rice University.

Love creativity — Encourage your teens to attend Light Up the CAMH, hosted by the Teen Council at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. From 5 pm – 8 pm, the event spotlights local teens playing their own music or sharing their written poetry. Located at 5216 Montrose.

Enjoy a holiday market — Check out Holidays in the Hall at Baytown Community Center Auditorium Saturday, 10 am – 3 pm. The day features live Christmas performances, Little Miss Holiday Pageant, and shopping booths.  (–shopping is not free!)

Watch a movie under the moon — More free outdoor movies to enjoy in the cool weather: 1) Sugar Land Town Square features Free Birds beginning at 6 pm. 2) Central Green Park presents Saving Mr. Banks at dusk. Located at 23501 Cinco Ranch Blvd in Katy.

Galleria tree lightingGet in the holiday mood — The 26th annual Ice Spectacular and tree-lighting at the Galleria returns Saturday, November 15, at 6 pm. Imagine 450,000 twinkling lights! Don’t miss the skating and musical performances featuring American Idol runner up Kree Harrison. Skating Santa will light the tree himself, which will be followed by fireworks. Beginning at noon, families can enjoy family-friendly activities, live entertainment, and in-store events. Located at 5085 Westheimer.

Light the night — Don’t miss Memorial City Lights, a special event at Memorial City Mall Saturday, November 15, 6 pm. Watch Santa make his grand entrance and turn on the 3.2 million Memorial City Lights for the first time this season. Enjoy musical performances throughout the mall, the Memorial City Mall Dancing Reindeer, and characters from The Nutcracker. Help the less fortunate and bring an unwrapped toy for Children’s Memorial Hermann Memorial City.

Chill in the winter wonderland — Make holiday crafts, get a free photo with Santa, and enjoy all the free games and activities at Bass Pro Shops’ Santa’s Wonderland. Preview Night kicks off Saturday at 5 pm with Santa’s arrival! The fun continues seven days a week through Christmas with games such as slot car racing, laser arcade, remote control trucks and activity tables. Craft making is 5 pm – 7 pm weekends and noon to 5 pm weekends. Check out the full event calendar online here. Two locations at 5000 Katy Mills Circle and 1000 Basspro Drive in Pearland.

SUNDAY

Celebrate community — The 3rd Sunday of the month means it’s a special free Family Day at Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens and Rienzi (as a bonus). This month’s focus is all about Celebrating Community and helps kids learn about the early U.S. settlers and their contributions to American llife. Park at Bayou Bend for all the normal Family Day activities and then take a free shuttle over to Rienzi. Hours are 1 pm to 5 pm. Bayou Bend is located at 6003 Memorial.

Enjoy a documentary on Houston Ballet — Houston Cinema Arts Festival presents a documentary on Houston Ballet, Sounds of the Soul (Sons de L’ame) Sunday, 6:30 pm, at Miller Outdoor Theatre. This film was taped in Paris last year and broadcast on TV in several European countries. Free reserved seats are available performance day, 10:30 am – 1 pm at Miller Box Office.

Chill in the winter wonderland — Make holiday crafts, get a free photo with Santa, and enjoy all the free games and activities at Bass Pro Shops’ Santa’s Wonderland. The fun continues seven days a week through Christmas with games such as slot car racing, laser arcade, remote control trucks and activity tables. Craft making is 5 pm – 7 pm weekends and noon to 5 pm weekends. Check out the full event calendar online here. Two locations at 5000 Katy Mills Circle and 1000 Basspro Drive in Pearland.

Starbucks: Buy 1, Get 1 Free, November 12-16

Starbucks: Buy One Share One November 12-16, 2014Starbucks kicks off its holiday season with this favorite freebie! Indulge and save with Buy One, Share One freebie November 12-16: Buy one holiday beverage from 2 pm – 5 pm and get another beverage free. Choose from several holiday-inspired drinks including Gingerbread Latte, Caramel Brulee Latte, and Peppermint Mocha. Plus Starbucks debuts its new beverage Chestnut Praline Latte on November 12! Valid at participating locations only.

As a bonus, My Starbucks Rewards members get an extra hour of the deal through 6 pm each day!

The coffee retailer also will be offering Holiday Season Sampler Cards throughout the holiday season: purchase five Holiday beverages and get any Grande beverage for free.

Thanks, Redefined Mom!

Veterans Day Freebies in Houston 2014 {Updated}

Veterans Day freebies in HoustonHouston-area veterans and active military personnel can enjoy free meals and services on Veterans Day, as a special thank you for their service. Here are a few Houston-area restaurants and organizations offering veterans and/or active military free food, haircuts, and more.

FREE FOOD

**Applebee’s: Free meal November 11 for veterans and active military personnel. Choose from one of seven entrèes. Proof of military service required.

{new} ** Baker St Pub: Veterans and active military can get free Fish & Chips November 11 at Baker St. Pub. Must be in uniform or present proof of service. Six locations in Houston.

{new} Black-Eyed Pea: Veterans and active military get a free dessert at Black-Eyed Pea November 11.

**Bullrito’s: Veterans get a free meal November 11 at Bullrito’s.

**California Pizza Kitchen: Active or retired military can get a free entree from a special Veteran’s Day menu at California Pizza Kitchen November 11. The menu includes pizza, salad, and pasta. Dine-in only. Must show military ID, proof of service, or be in uniform.

**Champps Americana: Veterans and active military personnel can get an all-American burger and waffle fries for free November 11. Valid military ID or proof of military service required.

**Cracker Barrel: Veterans get a complimentary Double Chocolate Fudge Coca-Cola® Cake dessert November 11 during lunch and dinner as a thank you for their service. 10% of sales of this cake November 11 go to USO.

{new} ** D’Amico’s Italian Market Café: Veterans can get a free Spaghetti & Meatball entrée November 11. Located in Katy.

**Denny’s: Active, inactive, and retired military personnel can enjoy Build Your Own Grand Slam® November 11 from 5 am – noon at Denny’s. Valid military ID is required.

{new} ** DoubleTree by Hilton: Veterans and active military can stop in any DoubleTree Hotel in Houston Tuesday for a free chocolate chip cookie. A reservation is not required to get the free cookie.

{new} ** eT Craft Burgers & Beer: Active military and veterans can get a free burger at eT Craft Burgers & Beer November 11. Both Houston locations: downtown tunnel and Hwy 290/1960.

{new} ** Fox & Hound Sports Tavern: Active military and veterans get a free classic cheeseburger and fries November 11. Two Houston-area locations: 11470 Westheimer and 12802 Gulf Freeway.

**Golden Corral: Golden Corral will provide a free dinner buffet and beverage Monday, November 17, from 5 pm – 9 pm for Military Appreciation Monday. This is for military heroes, past and present. Golden Corral has served more than 4 million free meals to military since it started Military Appreciation Monday 13 years ago.

**Hooter’s: Veterans and active military personnel get a free meal up to $10.99, November 11. Drink purchase required. Must present military ID or proof of military service.

**Lasagna House III: Free meals for veterans November 11 with proof of service. Available at 1960 & I-45 location.

{new} ** LongHorn Steakhouse: Veterans and active military members will receive a complimentary Texas Tonion appetizer and non-alcoholic beverage with proof of service.

**McCormick & Schmick’s: Veterans can enjoy a free meal at McCormick & Schmick’s Sunday, November 9. Veterans will choose from a special menu with 10 entrée options.

**Menchie’s: Veterans and military personnel can receive a free 6 oz. cup of frozen yogurt at Menchie’s November 11 with military ID or dressed in uniform.

**Mytiburger: Veterans get a free Mytiburger November 11. Located at 2211 W. 43rd.

{new} ** Olive Garden: Olive Garden will provide a free entrée from a special menu to active duty military and military veterans, which features seven of the restaurant’s most popular items. Plus, guests get unlimited homemade soup or salad and breadsticks.

**Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt: Active and retired military personnel get a free cup of frozen yogurt at Orange Leaf November 11, up to 11 oz.

**Outback Steakhouse: Free Bloomin’ Onion appetizer and beverage at Outback Steakhouse for military, November 11. The restaurant also is giving a military discount worth 15% off the total bill November 12 – December 31, 2014 to Military Mates, active or retired military and their family.

{new} ** Sherlock’s Baker St Pub: Veterans and active military can get free Fish & Chips November 11 at Sherlock’s Baker St. Pub in Clear Lake. Must be in uniform or present proof of service.

**Spaghetti Warehouse: The Italian eatery is encouraging folks to take a veteran to lunch or dinner for free with its Buy-One-Get-One-Free coupon. Order one of its 11 Spaghetti entrees or Incredible 15-Layer Lasagna and receive a second one for free. Download the coupon from the Spaghetti Warehouse Facebook page or show mobile version on phone. Coupon posted November 4. Valid November 11.

**Starbucks: Veterans, active duty service members and spouses can enjoy a free tall brewed coffee on November 11.

{new} ** Stadia Sports Grill: Active military and veterans get a free dessert Tuesday, November 11. No purchase necessary. Valid military ID or proof of military service required. Four Houston-area locations: Sugar Land, Pearland, Westgreen, and The Woodlands.

**Texas Roadhouse: This Texas favorite is opening for lunch Tuesday, November 11, just to provide free meals to veterans, retired, and active military. These folks will get a free meal, including drink. ID is required.

{new} ** TGI Friday’s: Veterans and active duty military can get a free lunch 11 am – 2 pm November 11 at TGI Friday’s.  This is valid on select items. Must show ID.

{new} ** Zoës Kitchen: Veterans and active duty military can get a free entree at Zoës Kitchen November 11 with proof of ID. Family members can get 10% off.

FREE SERVICES & EVENTS

{new} ** Houston Museum of Natural Science: Veterans and active military can get a free ticket to D-Day 3D: Normandy 1944 through November 11. Pick up your ticket at the HMNS box office or Gallery Furniture locations. Must show military ID, one per person. Military can bring guests at the discounted $8 rate. Special thanks to Gallery Furniture for underwriting this military freebie.

**City of Houston: The City of Houston is hosting its annual Veteran’s Day Salute November 11. The 10 am event at Houston City Hall (901 Bagby) features a Veteran’s Job Fair, Health Fair, ceremony and parade. The parade kicks off at 11:30 pm. Free parking is available in the Theatre District parking, Tranquility Garage, entrances 2 and 5 only from 9 am – 12:30 pm.

**Great Clips: Active and retired military can get a free haircut November 11, or pick up a card to use anytime before 12/31/14. Folks who get a haircut can pick up a free haircut card to share with a veteran or active military personnel.

{new} ** Hermann Park Railroad: Veterans and active duty military personnel can take a free ride on the Hermann Park Railroad November 11, as a “thank you” for serving our country. Train rides are open 10 am – 5 pm, weather permitting. Check in at the Kinder Train Station podium with military ID.

**Houston Humane Society: Pets for Vets allows active and retired military to adopt a pet for free at Houston Humane Society November 8-11. Located at 14700 Almeda.

Houston Cirque du Soleil “Amaluna” Discounts Feb 2015

cirque du soleil amalunaJust two more days to grab these discount tickets! Sales end November 13, 10:55 pm.

I’m so thrilled to share that Cirque du Soleil is returning to Houston in February under the Big Top Tent — and I have discount tickets available!

Cirque du Soleil’s Amaluna hits Houston February 13-February 26 at Grand Chapiteau at Sam Houston Race Park. My favorite Cirque du Soleil performance is the one I saw under the tent. Every seat is fantastic and intimate-feeling with performers all around the air and aisles.   photo: Cirque du Soleil

Cirque du Soleil’s Amaluna
February 13-February 26
$50 – $90 ($76.50 – $116.50 reg)
Grand Chapiteau at Sam Houston Race Park

The magical romance in Amaluna is inspired by Shakespeare’s Tempest. The night features incredible imagery, high-flying feats, aerial performers, dancers and more. As a bonus, this ticket includes a concessions package complete with popcorn and drink. And there is no service fee with this purchase!

Save 25% – 35% on ticket prices, thanks to Goldstar. Go online here to purchase your tickets to this epic love story.

Affiliate link included. Thanks for supporting my site when you check out Goldstar’s amazing deals.

Houston Nutcracker Market: $1 Off Admission

Houston Ballet's NutcrackerIt’s Houston’s annual holiday shopping bonanza — and it benefits the Houston Ballet! We’re just two days away from Houston Ballet’s Nutcracker Market, held at NRG Center November 13-16.

Don’t get overwhelmed if it’s your first time! Explore more than 325 national and international merchants featuring home décor, apparel, toys, holiday decor, gourmet food, garden items and more! Find that original gift for your special someone.

Thursday, November 13 – 10 am – 8 pm
Friday, November 14 – 10 am – 8 pm
Saturday, November 15 — 10 am – 6 pm
Sunday, November 16 — 10 am – 6 pm

Discounts tickets are available in advance at Randall’s for $15. Or use this $1 off admission coupon. Tickets are $16 at the door. Children under 2 are free. Take advantage of half-price admission for the last three hours of each day. Parking onsite is $10.

Keep in mind that strollers, rolling carts and wagons are not permitted in Nutcracker Market. You can bring your kids, but you will probably end up carrying them! All proceeds from the market benefit the academy and scholarship programs for the Houston Ballet Foundation.

photo credit

Discovering Houston on the Cheap: Johnny Mandola, Damian’s Cucina Italiana

Welcome to Discovering Houston on the Cheap, a weekly series highlighting cheap dates, cheap
meals, Houston’s best-kept secret and more — by local chefs, media, athletes, and folks in local business.

Johnny Mandola,
{Johnny Mandola has been in the hospitality business for more than 30 years. He took over as general manager of Damian’s Cucina Italiana in 2012. His father is Frankie Mandola, owner of Damian’s.}

Johnny Mandola1) Favorite spot for a cheap meal Loma Linda

Loma Linda’s off Telephone Road.  It’s been around for over 50 years!  It’s simple, classic Mexican food.  Homemade tortillas, fresh produce delicious.  Gotta get the puffy tacos when you go.

2) Favorite spot for a cheap dateDiscovery Green

Discovery green.  Free movie nights in the summertime.

3) Houston’s best-kept secret — Art Car Parade

 Over 200 cars, it’s free! I brought the triplet boys and they were mesmerized. Shoot, my wife and I were mesmerized also.  Some of the most amazing cars you’ll ever see.

4) Best place to save money in Houston — Museum of Fine Arts in Houston

Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.  Every Thursday night the MFAH is free until 9 pm.

5) Favorite Houston festival or annual event — Italian Festival

Even a quick visit to the grounds reminds me of all the good times I had with grandparents, cousins, and friends.  The older generation always dresses up in the traditional clothes, serving the traditional food like sfingis (Italian Donuts), faccia di vecchia which means “old ladies face” (focaccia pizza with anchovies).  Since I was a young boy, my grandmother ‘Mom Mo’ used to run the sfingi booth with her friends from Blessed Sacrament, and wear the red, white, and green outfits. Oh, she would always give me all the sfingis I wanted.

6) My perfect day in Houston would be…

My perfect day in Houston would be anything that involves my triplet boys having fun, nice Houston weather, and Loma Linda’s.

Find more on Pinterest! If you love this interview, check out the complete Discovering Houston on the Cheap interview series profiles on Pinterest.

7 Free Things to Do in Houston November 10-14

There’s never a dull moment in Houston. Here are 7 options for free fun in Houston November 10-14 before planning your free and cheap weekend!

We Love Houston sign

Monday (11/10) — Gather with other crafters at Yarn People to make cancer hats for an adult or child. Held weekly at Houston Public Library’s Central Library, noon – 1 pm. Located at 500 McKinney.

Tuesday (11/11) — Houston honors veterans at Houston Salutes American Heroes Veterans Day Celebration and Parade Tuesday. Mayor Parker kicks off a ceremony at 10 am, which follows with a parade through downtown. Veterans can take advantage of a job Fair and Health Fair from 9 am – 1 pm. Located at City Hall/Hermann Square. Find the full list of Veteran’s Day Freebies by Houston on the Cheap.

Tuesday (11/11) —  Tuesday is the last Free National Park day of 2014 celebrating Veteran’s Day, thanks to U.S. National Park Service. Texas is home to several national parks, preserves, and historic sites that are offering free admission: Big Bend National Park, Fort Davis National Historic Site, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, and Padre Island National Seashore. Find the full list of Veteran’s Day Freebies by Houston on the Cheap.

Wednesday (11/12) — Browse City Hall Farmers Market each Wednesday downtown this fall from 11 am – 1:30 pm. Live music, chef demonstration, fresh produce, healthy lunch and more! Located at 500 McKinney.

Wednesday (11/12) — Not free but cheap! It’s $2 Girls Night Out at Studio Movie Grill with Chocolat at 7:30 pm. Two Houston locations: CityCentre and Copperfield.

Thursday (11/13) — Head outdoors for a free screening of The Sandlot, Thursday, 8 pm, at CityCentre. It’s Throwback Thursday Movie Night! Located at 800 Town and Country Blvd.

Thursday (11/13) – Children’s Museum of Houston is offering free flu shots November 13, 5 pm – 7 pm, to the first 150 kids. No registration or appointment required. Families can stick around for Free Family Night till 8 pm! Shots will be administered by Texas Children’s Mobile Clinic Program. Parents need to bring immunization record. Located at 1500 Binz.

Disney on Ice Discounts in Houston

Disney on Ice HoustonA new Disney on Ice show hits Houston this week, Disney on Ice: Princesses & Heroes, featuring Disney princesses, a few princes plus Anna, Elsa, and Olaf from the mega hit Frozen.

There are still a couple of ways to save:

1) Attend November 12 and get the Opening Night discount. Tickets are $14 on opening night plus a service fee of $9.20 per ticket for $23.20 (versus $17 + fee = $27.34). No promo code needed. Go online to Ticketmaster here to get Opening Night discount.

2) Save $5 per ticket with promo code SAVE5. Enter the code on the first page (after you select your date) in the box labeled Offer Code near the top. It does not get used at the end during check out. Offer ends November 11. Buy tickets online here.

Disney on Ice discount

3) Save $5 when you purchase Disney on Ice: Princesses & Heroes tickets at Fiesta Mart. Find a location near you online.

Disney On Ice: Princesses & Heroes will be at NRG Stadium. November 12-16. Parking is $10.