Friday, April 29, 2011

Saving for Seattle - April 29

Another week down in my countdown for our trip to Seattle! Only a few more weeks to go! This week I had the daunting task of booking a hotel.

Oy. Hotels are expensive. Especially hotels near tourist destinations. And the fact that it will be early summer doesn't help.

But, with the help of our Seattle Visitor's Guide, AAA, and Yelp, I think I found a good deal on a nice place.

I found some pretty decent deals on, but most of them require advance purchase, which freaks me out a bit. I ended up using our AAA membership to get us a discount at a 3-star hotel. The total cost should be $650 for 4 nights, which includes tax. The hotel offers free breakfast, which will help curb dining out costs and provides a free 24-hour shuttle anywhere within a 1 mile radius of the hotel. That will be helpful because aren't planning on renting a car. There are restaurants and grocery stores within walking distance. We're big on stocking up on cheap snacks and drinks to avoid having to pay $4 for a bottle of water when venturing through touristy areas.

I'm happy to have finally found a place that will suit us well. I spent way too much time researching and going back and forth and it feels good to have it off my plate! Next week I'll discuss how we plan to save money on food and attractions!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Happy Easter!

We had a wonderful, relaxing Easter. The kids had fun searching for eggs, although Z is still a bit to young to really get the hang of it. Both of them REALLY enjoyed the chocolate though. :)

Grandpa & Grandma B sent them each 3 HUGE cookies with their names on them. It's going to take Z awhile to finish his...:)

Check out more Wordless Wednesday fun at 5 Minutes for Mom!

Tasty Tuesday - Individual Meatloaves

So yesterday I said I would share my Sweet & Sour Meatballs recipe with you today. Well, plans changed! I did something very rare yesterday -- I let my daughter choose what we would have for dinner. I let her choose between meatballs and meatloaf, and she chose meatloaf...and I invented a new recipe! Check it out:

Individual Meatloaves

1 egg
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 pkg. onion soup mix
1 tsp. salt
1 lb. lean ground beef

3/4 cup chili sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. prepared mustard

Combine egg, milk, oats, onion soup mix and salt in a medium bowl. Add ground beef and mix well with your hands.

Form into 7 (or so) individual loaves and place in a lightly greased 9x13 baking pan. Evenly distribute sauce over top of the loaves.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

(They aren't the most appetizing looking things in the world, are they?) Oh well...if my 4 year old will eat them, then they must be good! :)

The great thing about meatloaf is that it is SO easy and forgiving. If you don't have old fashioned oats, you can use quick onion soup mix, use regular onions...don't want to use ground beef, use ground turkey...the possibilities are endless! Usually I use ketchup to make the sauce for the top, but I opened my fridge and saw a half used bottle of chili sauce and wondered if that would work...and it did, quite well! I would encourage you to let loose once in awhile when you are cooking...sometimes following a recipe can be so boring. :)

Check out Balancing Beauty & Bedlam for more tasty recipes!

Also be sure to check out a complete list of my Tasty Tuesday recipes here.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - April 25

It is unbelievable how fast these April weeks have flown by...can't believe it's almost May! Looking forward to some warmer's been terribly rainy and dreary around here lately!

Monday - Sweet & Sour Meatballs (I'll post the recipe tomorrow!), Green Beans

Tuesday - Tuna Cakes, Rice (Bumped from last week)

Wednesday - Pancakes & Sausage (My kids LOVE breakfast food and this is one meal I can guarantee I won't have to fight with them to eat!)

Thursday - Meatloaf, Macaroni & Cheese

Friday - Grilled Hot Dogs, Chips

Saturday - Something takeout

Sunday - Couple's Group here again...I have some mini phyllo shells in my freezer that I need to use. This recipe looks quick and tasty!

Check out more meal plan ideas at I'm an Organizing Junkie!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Saving for Seattle - April 21

I'm starting a new weekly feature today...Saving for Seattle! It will chronicle the ways I am attempting to save my family money when my husband and I head to Seattle at the beginning of June.

We are SO excited!

We have been talking about this trip for months, but didn't think it was going to happen because we didn't have anyone to watch our kids. Imagine the delight when my mother-in-law called last week to say that their plans have changed, so they are available to watch the kiddos.


We will be gone for 4 nights, and it will be the first time I am away from Z, and the longest I've been away from L. I'm sure they will do's me I'm worried about. We haven't flown without kids in about 5 years, so I'm looking forward to the treat of only having to take care of myself, not two monsters!

The first way I managed to save us some money is in regards to our plane tickets. We had originally planned to fly from Chicago, but upon research, discovered that it is cheaper to fly from Omaha, which is close to where my in-laws are. I comparison shopped at the various airline's homepages, as well as at several travel sites and ended up going with United and purchasing on We have been United Mileage Plus members since 2000, and try to fly with them whenever possible to help accrue miles towards free flights.

In the end, we paid $840 for two tickets from Omaha to Seattle. Saved around $100 by choosing to fly from Omaha.

Next week: Finding a Deal on a Hotel!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Coloring Eggs

This year I decided to introduce my daughter to one of my fondest Easter memories...coloring eggs. I have great memories of doing it at home with my siblings, and then heading over to my grandma's house to color more eggs with my cousins.

L had SO much fun.

Z wanted desperately to be involved in the fun, but I'm afraid the idea of eggs and dye in the hands of a 20-month-old terrifies me.

We were happy with the final product and it made for a fun Sunday project!

To see more Wordless Wednesday fun, be sure to check out 5 Minutes for Mom!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Lime Coconut Squares

A cloudy dreary day like today calls for a yummy spring remind us that these 37 degree days are almost over with for awhile!!

I apologize for the lack of pictures...seems I accidentally deleted it! :(

Lime Coconut Squares

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
3/4 cup cold butter or margarine

4 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup lime juice (you could also use lemon)
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 cup flaked coconut

In a bowl, combine flour and confectioner's sugar; cut in the butter until crumbly. Press onto the bottom of a lightly greasted 9x13" baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, lime juice and baking powder until well mixed. Pour over crust; sprinkle coconut evenly over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into bars. Yields 48 servings.

Check out Balancing Beauty and Bedlam for more Tasty Tuesday recipes!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - April 18

After a few weeks off, my menu plan is back! We have eaten out A LOT in the last few weeks, but now it's time to get back into eat-at-home mode.

Monday - Chili & Baked Potatoes

Tuesday - Corn Dog Muffins, Green Peppers

Wednesday - Tuna Cakes, Rice

Thursday - Spaghetti & Meat Sauce, Green Beans

Friday - Chicken Strips, Mac & Cheese

Saturday - Something easy, undecided

Sunday - Going out for Easter dinner...undecided on where!

Be sure to check out more menu plans over at I'm an Organizing Junkie!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Busy, Busy, Busy!!

The last few weeks have been insanely busy and my blogging has suffered. I'm learning that I am not very good at balancing too many things at one time. Something to work on, I guess.

My in-laws visited from Iowa the last weekend in March, and then my parents came from Canada the first weekend in April. Two weekends in a row of having house guests is intense. We had a really great time with everyone though. I went to my first Cubs game with my dad, my brother Daniel and my was SO much fun!

(That's me and my "baby" brother who is now taller than me...hee, hee!"

The kids had fun spending time with both sets of their grandparents and two of their uncles.
Last weekend we hosted our couple's group on Sunday night, so it was yet another event that I had to clean and prepare for. It was a lot of fun to host everyone and we always have great food and conversation!

Things are mostly back to normal now, finally. Looking forward to a quiet weekend with no plans! I plan to get back to regularly scheduled blogging next week!