Saturday, March 31, 2012

Planning a Beach Vacation on a Budget

So its been almost 2 years since we took a beach vacation.  We went to the Outer Banks, NC in July, 2010.  By far the best beach vacation ever!  Last May we headed to Disney World, which was wonderful, but the boys wanted to go back to the beach this year and so did I!  So for spring break we are heading to the Florida Gulf Coast!  Here are some tips we use to keep the costs down:

1.  We drive instead of flying.  For a family of 4 it would cost us about $2,000 to fly.  With driving we estimate about $500 in gas and $200 for hotel rooms.  A lot cheaper.  Plus we have the extra time to drive and enjoy the scenery!

2.  Think Condo instead of hotel.  We always rent houses or condos when we go on vacations.  There are some great deals to be had and you have so much more space!  I am not a fan of cramming 4 people in a hotel room for a week, not my idea of a vacation.  My husband and I like our own bedroom so we can enjoy our vacation too!  Two great resources we have used in the past are Homeaway and VRBO.

3.  Pack non-perishable items from home.  We always pack everything we can from home.  It is a lot cheaper since you probably got some deals on those items anyways.  Plus you do not have to pay the inflated food costs at the grocery stores in tourist towns!  Typical items we pack include:  cereal, peanut butter, chips, dip, condiments, snacks, spaghetti, coffee, canned fruit, juice boxes, bottled water, pop, pancake mix, syrup, etc.

4.  Eat Breakfast & Lunch in your condo.  It is so nice to wake up and make breakfast and not have to worry about where to take everyone for breakfast!  Everyone can eat at their own pace and when you are ready head out to the beach!  It is also nice, to just come back to your condo and make a quick lunch and get back to enjoying the beach.  Save your eating out for dinner!

5.  Eat some dinners in your condo.  We usually find a condo that has a grill.  Who wants to take cranky kids out dinner after a long day?  If we find we have a day where we just want to eat at "home", we grill up some burgers, hot dogs, or steaks.  Eat it on your balcony and enjoy the sunset!  We also normally buy a frozen pizza or two for a really "quick" dinner!

6.  Pack all of your toiletries that you will need.  Again, no need to go shopping for items such as toilet paper, paper towels, dish soap, hand soap, napkins, etc.  Pack these items from home and bring them along.  Another perk of driving, you can put all of these items in the car!

7.  Make sure you enjoy your vacation!  You are after all on vacation.  Have your money set aside on what you will spend and enjoy yourself!  These are the times to make memories with your kids!  Make sure you enjoy it yourself!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Let Your Kids Take the Pictures!

I just read this great article on Life as Mom on How to Improve Your Family Photos.  The first guideline that is presented is to teach your kids how to take photos! I know as a Mom (and a bit of a control freak) I often think my kids are too young or can’t handle this task. But we do not need perfection! My 6 year old loves to take pictures and we have a great camera that is easy for him to use! He was able to get some great shots of my husband and I at Disney with some of the characters. Now we have some great memories too! I am sure to hand over the camera to him when we head to the beach. He will capture some great shots for us!

See what my 6 year old took of us at Disney, pretty good uh?  Note:  Ignore my bad hair day, we had spent 12 hours the previous day at The Magic Kingdom and we had to be at breakfast the next morning at Chef Mickey's at 9:30, so no time to shower before leaving!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Change is Coming…

I apologize for being MIA. Life has been crazy busy for us lately. I’ve been busy at work, my husband has taken on a new part-time job, my oldest is active in Karate, and my youngest (now 3) has become a very energetic, independent child! Something had to give to continue to focus on our family first, which is what is most important in life anyways! 

Another event that has left me with less energy than normal is the exciting news that we are expecting our 3rd child! We are so excited and cannot wait for this new arrival this summer. It has been awhile since we have had a baby in our house and I cannot wait to hold and snuggle with a newborn! We’ve been out of diapers for a while now, thanks to the easy, early potty training of #2. So it will be strange to get back into the diaper mode of life, but I am ready and well stocked on diapers thanks to all the recent diaper deals!

We are also taking a family “Spring Break Beach Vacation on a Budget”, which I hope to share with all of you once we return. My 6 year old says I get to rest by the pool, while they play. I hope that comes true!

I hope life is treating you fairly lately and you are enjoying your time with your family. No matter what life throws at you, know your priorities and stick to them. Don’t ever sway from your values and stay strong in your faith. This will be you’re rock in life!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Baked Smothered Pork Chops

Ingredients: 4-6 thick cut boneless pork chops
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp seasoning salt
2 eggs, beaten
¼ cup flour
2 cups Italian bread crumbs
1 can of cream of chicken soup
½ cup milk

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Rinse pork chops and pat dry. Season both sides with garlic powder and seasoning salt.
3. Place flour, eggs, and bread crumbs in 3 separate bowls.
4. Heat oil in large skillet on medium-high heat.
5. Coat pork chops in flour, then eggs, and finally bread crumbs. Fry on both sides until brown (about 5 minutes per side)
6. Transfer pork chops to a 9x13 baking dish and cover with foil.
7. Cook in oven for 60 minutes.
8. Combine soup and milk.
9. Pour soup mixture over pork chops and re-cover with foil. Cook an additional 30 minutes.

Enjoy! My family loved these pork chops. The taste is very similar to my City Chicken Recipe, but takes less time!  Sorry no picture, we ate them up!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Freschetta - Rally for Real Pizza

Are you ready to Boycott Blah, Fight for Flavor, and pledge to serve only the freshest frozen pizza - FRESCHETTA® pizza?! "Rally for Real Pizza" launched on February 27th!,                         
Event Details:           

Date - February 27, 2012 - March 30, 2012

What - Rally for Real Pizza

Where - From the comfort of your own home

Details -

The makers of FRESCHETTA® products are asking fans to take a stand for FRESCH® pizza! Fans are able to submit a photo to a Rally Mosaic on their Facebook Fan Page for a chance to win FRESCHETTA® pizza. Each week, 100 winners will receive 5 FRESCHETTA® pizzas. On March 30, 10 winners who will receive a year supply of FRESCHETTA® pizza.