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10 Best Family Cars


Parents magazine and car shopping site have teamed up to choose the 10 best family cars for 2013.

Cars were chosen for safety, fuel efficiency, affordability and the ability to customize dashboard settings.

Here's what they decided: 

Best hybrid, Toyota Prius C, starting at $19,080.

Best budget vehicles, Subaru Impreza, starting at $17,895 and Honda Civic starting at $18,165.

Best sedans, Ford Fusion, starting at $21,900 and Honda Accord, starting at $21,680.

Best crossovers, Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, starting at $24,700 and Honda CR-V starting at $22,795.

Best SUVs, Chevrolet Traverse, starting at $30,510 and Nissan Pathfinder, starting at $28,650.

Best minivan, Toyota Sienna, starting at $26,585.

---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Huge East Amherst Garage Sale



Room To Spare, a storage unit company on Transit Road in East Amherst, will hold a huge community garage sale next month.


Last year, 114 families set up shop at the facility. This year's sale is expected to draw even more sellers and shoppers alike.


The sale will take place June 15 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Room To Spare Storage, 7545 Transit Road. 


Sellers can rent a 10-foot-by-10-foot space for $20, complete with a banquet table (while they last).


To reserve your spot, call 636-4620.


The first 50 shoppers will receive a free $30 gift bag. Free parking and shuttle service are available next door to the facility at Bitterman's Automotive.


---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

NT library book sale begins today

The Friends of the North Tonawanda Public Library used book sale will kick off today on Meadow Drive in North Tonawanda.

Hardcover books are $2, paperbacks $1, Harlequin romance paperbacks are 50 cents. Magazines are 25 cents apiece or five for $1. Records and audio casettes are 25 cents, videotapes are 50 cents, CDs and DVDs are $1.

Friends of the Library members get the first crack at shopping tonight from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Annual memberships are available at the library at a rate of $5 per individual, $8 per family or $50 for a lifetime membership.

The sale opens to the public Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and continues Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The library's bag sale will be held Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Bring a paper bag and pay $5 for everything that will fit inside.

Proceeds of the sale will benefit the Friends of the North Tonawanda Public Library, a non-profit civic group that supports the library financially and through volunteering.

For more information, call the library at 693-4132.

---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Earth Day plants seeds...of fear

In today's Discount Diva column, I reference an episode of "Sesame Street" that really freaked me out as a kid.


In the song "Garbage Man's Blues," I found out for the first time that we were "running out of resources/running out of space" and that we "don't have room for all that waste."


That was enough to transform me into a devout reducer, re-user and recycler on the spot. All I could picture were candy wrappers and banana peels pouring into my bedroom window, burying me and--worse--separating me from my Monchichi and Get Along Gang plushies.


Thanks to the magic of YouTube, here it is again. It doesn't seem nearly as bad to my older, jaded self, but feel free to torture your kids with it:


---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

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

Free fries at Arby's today


In honor of Tax Day, Arby's will offer free Curly Fries or Potato Cakes today.

To take advantage of the deal, print out the coupon at and bring it to an Arby's store.

The coupon is good for one free value-sized Curly Fries or small Potato Cakes, while supplies last. Coupons are limited to one per customer. No purchase is necessary.


---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)

One man's free piano saga


Today's MoneySmart story brings to mind something I saw on Craigslist a few years ago.


It was a (very funny, creative) ad for a free piano. It included very detailed instructions and rules for the person picking it up:


Here's how it will work. You and as many of your strong friends that you can Tom Sawyer into this job will come by and move the piano off my second floor (1 set of straight stairs) into a vehicle of yours. I'm not lifting it, or providing a vehicle for it. I will help you gently guide it through my house so that I still have walls after you leave.

Now here's the part that I know will be hard for people to understand:

I'm not holding it for anyone without a $100 deposit for every week you want me to hold it. Not even if you ask really nicely.

The first person to show up and take it gets it. This piano was listed once before, and you wouldn't believe the number of homeless dying one-legged Mongolian orphans that just needed a piano to make life better. I heard some great sob stories (probably all true!) about why I should hold this piano for this person or that person. Well, I ended up holding it for the first caller, who never got it. Then I held it for someone else, and they never got it. Then everyone was gone, and I still had a piano.

"But wait!" you're saying. "Why should I put down a deposit on something that's free?" Well, if you want me to hold it, you can give me a $100 bill. I'll tape it to the piano. When you get the piano, you get the $100 with it! It's like getting paid $100 to take the piano! You won't find a better way to get your money back - *and* you get a free piano! If you forget, or get run over by a busload of orphans on their way to get a free harpsichord, I'm going to keep the $100. Want me to hold it 2 weeks? That's $200.

"But I don't trust you to keep my $100..." Well, I don't trust you to come back and get this oversized paperweight. I tried that before and it didn't work.

"But I don't have $100 and I really want the free piano!" OK, just come get it! It's really that simple.

"But I don't have $100 and I can't come by with a truck for two weeks..." No piano for you! Life sucks; get a helmet.

I don't really want the piano. It came with the house when I bought it. I play the flute, which I can carry in one hand. I've tried picking up the piano with 1 hand, and I can't quite get a good grip. Please, take my piano.

So, if you want it, show up and take it! Simple, huh?


---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

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

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