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Cheap, easy last-minute Halloween costumes for kids

Face it: it's too late to come up with something as adorable and creative as this baby Prince costume for your kids to wear to their school Halloween party this year. (Find Discount Diva column on this subject here.)


And even if you had started in May, you probably wouldn't have been able to pull this off:


Let's not even talk about this family that went as the cast of Labyrinth:


But don't freak out and run to the store. You've got plenty of stuff laying around the house to come up with a perfectly respectable Halloween costume.

Such as:

Static Cling


Lady Gaga


Biker Dude


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God's gift to women:


---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Free Park Tours

Take a free, guided walk at Ellicott Creek Park in Tonawanda Saturday as part of the "Be Active Erie County!" series sponsored by the Erie County Department of Health and Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo.

Register at the park's casino, 1 Ellicott Creek Drive in Tonawanda, at 9 a.m.

There will also be free blood pressure and body mass index (BMI) screenings, brochures, lessons in healthy living and help to quit smoking.

Similar walks will take place:

  • Sept. 21 at Sprague Brook Park
  • Sept. 28  at Akron Falls Park
  • Oct. 5 at  Como Lake Park
  • Oct. 19 at Chestnut Ridge Park
  • Oct. 26 at County Forestry in Sardinia

For more information, call 858-7226 or visit


---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Learn how to borrow eBooks from the library

The Digital Bookmobile is passing through town this month to teach library patrons how to borrow digital and audio books for their eReaders.

The high-tech tractor-trailer will be at the Clearfield Branch of the Amherst Public Library, 770 Hopkins Road in Williamsville on August 16 from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. It will be at the Orchard Park Public Library, 4570 South Buffalo Street, on August 17 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Learn how to borrow titles from the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library as well other libraries around the country using your computer, iPhone, iPad, Android phone or tablet, Blackberry, Windows Phone, Kindle, Sony Reader or NOOK.

Patrons of the Nioga Library System and the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library can use their library cards to borrow digital titles anytime by searching the Overdrive database.


---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Free Erie County Fair admission on opening day

The Erie County Fair kicks off Wednesday, with a plethora of deals and discounts for fairgoers.

A canned good donation gets you in free Wednesday. Canned goods will also get you $5 off an unlimited ride wristband Saturday and $5 off gate admission Sunday.


Firefighters and fire co. auxiliary members get in free Friday with proper identification. Veterans with proper ID get in free Sunday.


---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Free Home Tours Saturday


Engage in some shame-free real estate voyeurism Saturday with the Buffalo LIVING Tour.

I love checking out homes at realtor open houses but hate having to admit I'm not in the market for a new place and am there to gawk instead. So this free tour of condos, lofts and suites in adaptive re-use buildings in Buffalo is right up my alley.

From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., several high-end living spaces will be made open to the public. Folks are encouraged to walk from one location to the next, but two vintage trolleys will also be provided for transportation, originating from Horsefeathers Market & Residences, 364 Connecticut at Normal St.

The buildings will include the Frizlen Group’s Horsefeathers Market & Residences, 364 Connecticut; Ellicott Development’s The Antonio, 257 Pearl Street; Green Leaf Development & Construction’s 1040 Delaware; Buffalo Management Group’s EB Green Residences, 230 North Street and Ellicott Development’s 10 Symphony Circle.

Free parking is available at D'Youville College's lot C on Connecticut Street, two blocks north of Normal Street.

Pick up a tour pamphlet at any stop or download it here.

Wegmans celebrates Earth Day with freebies

Stop by any Wegmans this Earth Day and you'll be showered with freebies and coupons. Wegmans


Departments throughout the grocery store will offer samples of organic produce and organic Wegmans brand products, as well as money-saving coupons.


While you're noshing an organic roast beef on ciabatta sandwich, some cedar-plank E.U. Certified Organic salmon from Ireland and chasing both with a freshly-made organic strawberry-orange-banana smoothie, the kids can pick up farm-themed tattoos, try an organic peanut butter and jelly sandwich and get a free organic juice box.


Parents can also grab up to $10 in coupons for things such as eco-friendly cooking pans, and bring in plastic bags for recycling to receive a free Wegmans reusable bag.


Some stores will have additional activities, such as story times and seedling plantings.


The Earth Day Organic Festival will take place Saturday April 20 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.


---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Cruise fare cheaper than Motel 6

ByChristopher Palmeri
April 10 (Bloomberg) -- Carnival Corp. is offering a Caribbean cruise for as little as $38 a night, less than a stay at Motel 6, after an engine fire on the Triumph stranded passengers at sea for several days.


A four-night trip on Carnival’s Imagination, leaving Miami on April 22, costs $149 a person, including meals and some beverages, according to the cruise company’s website yesterday. The lowest nightly rate at the budget-priced Motel 6 chain was $39.99, according to an online ad.

Carnival, based in Miami, generated headlines worldwide in February after the engine fire on the Triumph left 3,100 passengers at sea for several days with limited food and toilet service. The ship broke loose from its moorings in high winds last week in Mobile, Alabama, where it is being repaired.

“The prices did go down,” said Manny Lubian, president of Futura Travel Inc. in Miami. “An empty ship doesn’t make as much money. They’d rather have bodies in them, buying drinks and spending money.”

Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer Howard Frank said on a March 15 conference call that fares were running slightly ahead of last year. Bookings in the three-week period after the Triumph incident were lower for the company’s Carnival-brand ships, he said. Volume recovered after the company offered “new marketing promotions,” he said.Cruise pricing also took a hit last year after Carnival’s Costa Concordia ran aground off the Italian coast, killing 32 passengers.


Vance Gulliksen, a spokesman for the world’s largest cruise operator, declined to comment on pricing. The Imagination’s four-night itinerary includes stops in Key West, Florida, and Cozumel, Mexico, according to the website.

The week was expected to be slow, following spring break in the U.S. and tax season, Lubian said.
Immediately after the fire, cruises on the Triumph were offered as low as $319 a person for four nights, or $80 a night, after its return to service later this year. Today, the lowest advertised price for a five-night trip on the Triumph out of Galveston, Texas, with stops in Cozumel and the Yucatan, was $289, or $58 a night, for an Oct. 7 departure.

The $149 fare on the Imagination is nonrefundable and based on two travelers, according to the website. Government fees and taxes bring the total to $454 for two.

Free library events planned

The Buffalo and Erie County Public Library is pulling out all the stops next week.


To celebrate National Library Week April 14 through April 20, the library will offer free activities at each branch. Activities include crafts, story times, speakers, author meet and greets and more.


Here's a brief listing of events provided by the library:


Alden Ewell Free Library – Make and Take Bookmark (Thurs., April 18)

Angola Public Library – Preschool Story Time (Wed., April 17)

Main Library at Audubon – Harry Potter w/ Matt James (Wed., April 17); Creating a Japanese Rock Garden (Sat., April 20) 

Aurora Town Library – Intro to Twitter (Fri., April 19), Prepare for College (Sat., April 20)

Boston Free Library- Various programs during the week 

Central downtown Library – Imagine Buffalo Series & Social Justice Series speakers,

(Tues., Wed., April 16 & 17),

Primate Sanctuary (Sat., April 20), 

Library Tours (Mon., Tues., Fri., & Sat., April 15, 16, 19, 20),

Rare Book Room Display – all month

Clarence Public Library – Editing Digital Photos (Mon. April 15), World of Beatrix Potter (Fri., April 19)

Clearfield Branch Library – Super Heroes (Mon, April 15), Family Movie (Fri., April 19)

Town of Collins Public Library – Quilting with Florence (Wed., April 17) 

Concord Public Library- Corduroy at the Zoo: Young Child Week - story & crafts (Thurs., April 18)

Crane Branch Library – Book Club (Thurs., April 18)

Dudley Branch Library – Trace Family Roots w/Ancestry Library Edition Training (Thurs., April 18) 

East Clinton Branch Library– Homework Help (Mon. Wed., Fri., April 15, 17, 19)

East Delavan Branch Library- Jazzy Dancers (Mon, April 15), Science Firsthand (Wed., & Thurs. April 17 & 18)

Eden Library - Used Book Sale (Wed., - Sat., April 17 – 20), Author talks (Mon., April 15 & Sat., April 20)

Eggertsville–Snyder Branch Library - Gardening with Perennials (Wed., April 17)

Elma Public Library – Sing & Read w/Nan Hoffman (Mon., April 15), Movie (Fri., April 19)

Grand Island Library – Movie & Crafts (Sat., April 13)

Hamburg Public Library – Book Club & Cook Book Club (Fri., April 19), Soil Test Clinic (Sat., April 20) 

Kenilworth Branch Library- Local Author Visit Jane Marinsky (Mon., April 15)

Kenmore Branch Library – Tax Assistance (Mon., April 15), Kids Book Club (Sat., April 20)

Lackawanna Public Library –Teen Book Club (Mon., April 15), Movies Based on Books (Thurs., April 18)

Lakeshore Public Library – Chess Club (Mon., April 15), eBooks & eReaders Workshop (Sat., April 20)

Lancaster Public Library –Book & Bake Sale (Thurs. – Sun., April 18 - 21), Teen gaming (Fri., April 19)

Marilla Free Library – 100 year Celebration Open House (Wed., April 17), programs all week

Frank E. Merriweather, Jr., Branch Library – Letter from Birmingham Jail Readings (Tues., April 16), Tell Me A Story (Sat., April 20) 

Newstead Public Library – Gravitational Bull Juggling (Wed., April 17),

American Girl Club (Sat., April 20)

Niagara Branch Library – Open House: Meet the Library (Fri., April 19)

North Collins Public Library – Sunday Café (Sun. April 14 & 21), Editing Digital Photos (Wed., April 17) 

North Park Branch Library –Wii Fridays & Lunch Bunch (Fri. April 19), Crazy Crafts (Sat., April 20)

Orchard Park Public Library – Froggy Program (Tues., April 16), In Jest (Sat., April 20)

Riverside Branch Library – The Wondermakers performance & Library Open House (Sat., April 20)

Anna Reinstein Memorial Library – Zoo Fun, Preschool Story Hour (Mon., & Tues. April 15 & 16)

Julia Boyer Reinstein Library – Computer Training Classes (Mon., Thurs., & Fri. April 14, 18, 19)

City of Tonawanda Public Library –Toddler & Preschool Stories (Mon., & Thurs., April 15 & 18)

West Seneca Public Library – National Library Week Game Night for Teens (Wed., April 17)

Williamsville Branch Library – Lunch Bunch (Mon., April 15), Reminisce Saturdays (Sat., April 20)

Huge book sale continues downtown

LibraryThe downtown Buffalo central library is in the middle of its annual book sale.

The magazine is liquidating a large inventory of used books, magazines, VHS tapes and audio books on cassette and CD. All items will sell for 25 cents.

The sale goes until 2 p.m. today and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Enter the public library, 1 Lafayette Square, from the Ellicott Street door between Broadway and Clinton.

---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Meet Nik Wallenda Sunday

WallendaLooking for something fun and free to do this weekend? Watch the wire walk on ABC tonight, then bring the kids to the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls Sunday for a chance to meet daredevil Nik Wallenda. Here's more from the mall:

Two days after daredevil Nik Wallenda makes his historic high-wire walk from the United States to Canada over the Falls, visitors to the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls will have an opportunity to meet him in person.

Wallenda will be conducting a free meet and greet at the outlet from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 17. The event will be located in Fashion Avenue inside the mall and is first-come, first served during this limited time-- so get in line early.

KidsThe 33-year-old aerialist from Florida, part of the Flying Wallendas, will walk 1,800 feet across Niagara Falls at 200 feet above the gorge bottom on Friday evening. He will be the first to cross over the brink of the falls. More than 100,000 spectators are anticipated to attend the high-wire walk on both the American and Canadian sides.

The walk, which is scheduled to begin about 10:15 p.m. Friday and take between 30 to 40 minutes to complete, will be televised nationally by ABC. Tickets to attend the event and get a glimpse of the historic walk are no longer available.

However, on Sunday, members of the public will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet Wallenda in person at the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls, 1900 Military Road.

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