Friday, June 26, 2009

Frugal Friday: Saving Money on Weekend Trips

Last week we took a trip to The Creation Museum. The museum is about 5 hours from our home. We had a slim budget and in order to do the extra attractions like the planetarium we had to cut corners somewhere.

After researching our destination, this is what I did:

1. Plan out Snacks for In-the-Car snacks. I purchased peanuts, teddy grahams, pretzels, grapes and drinks. Not stopping at the gas stations or rest stops for snacks saved us lots of money.

2. Pack the snacks in individualized servings and into brown paper bags with each child's name. You can include small toys and stickers to make the bags more interesting. Just make sure that the children know to eat in increments, or they very well could eat everything at once.

3. Allow children to take their own book bag with things to do on the trip. Focus on items that your trip may inspire a new interest. Since we were going to the Creation Museum I packed books about Noah's Ark and Dinosaurs. I packed a few little toy dinosaurs that we already had. I also printed out coloring pages and activity sheets from the internet featuring Bible characters and dinosaurs. This can easily be adapted to your destination.

4. See if you can find a hotel at your destination that sells their rooms as a package that includes the room, breakfast, and your tickets. We were able to find an extremely nice hotel that provided a hot "Welcome Home Dinner," a swimming pool, a hot breakfast in the morning, and all four of our tickets for right around $150. That saved us quite a bit of money since dinner and breakfast was included.

5. Take water to drink in a reusable container to the actual destination.

6. Pack a picnic lunch and have a picnic there.

7. If you opt to, give your children the amount that they can spend on "stuff" and let them work out how they are going to budget their spending.

8. Make a meal to come home to that can easily be popped into the oven as you unpack from your trip.

9. Remember to have fun and not stress out. Focus on making memories with your kids, it's not likely that they will remember that they didn't eat a restaurant meal.

Find more Frugal Solutions at Frugal Fridays!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Budget Stretcher: Eating from your Freezer

We planned a trip last week to The Creation Museum, and at the last moment our free room and board fell through.

After a quick regrouping, a check on our budget, and a google search for affordable hotels in the area we managed to make the trip.

As a consequence, our food budget is slim this week.

I decided to challenge myself to only get a few basics and see if I could feed us from our freezer pantry for the next ten days.

Surprisingly, I think it's doable.

Here's what I did:

1. Make a list of everything in your freezer and pantry. You can't cook it, if you don't know you have it.

2. Break this list down into categories like: Proteins (meats), sides, basics, breads, and pantry. You should start to see possible meal combinations come together.

3. If you have an ingredient and not sure how to use it check for recipes online. My favorite is Recipezaar.

4. Make up a menu, and note ingredients that you don't have on another sheet of paper (this becomes your shopping trip).

5. Plug your meals into your calendar. For example, Wednesday is very busy for us so I am not going to try to make something complicated or too time consuming that day.

6. See what you can make from scratch without buying. This week, I saw that I would need tortillas. I could purchase some, but I also found a recipe to make homemade ones. I'm going to try that.

7. Plan to repurpose leftovers, even if it's just for lunch the next day. If you make a roast chicken one evening, try making chicken enchiladas later in the week with the leftover meat.

These are the meals that I came up with to get us by until payday:


*Fantastic Beef and Broccoli Lo Mein
*Ground Pork Tacos, Corn and Spanish Rice
*Carribean Chicken Breast, Quinoa, Normandy Blend Veggies
*Greek Style Roasted Chicken Legs, Potatoes and Capers, Crusty Bread, and Brussel Sprouts
*Sloppy Lentils, Homemade Hamburger Buns, Corn Coblets
*Chicken Pot Pie and Salad
*Brown Beans, Corn Bread, and Fried Potatoes
*Creole Kidney Beans, Rice
*Chicken Stir Fry, Rice
*Tuna Salad on Homemade Bread
This was my first time participating in I'm an Organizing Junkie Menu Plan Monday, peek into other menus on her site every Monday.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Funny Food

We just love these little potato face smiles from McCain Foods.

Who can help but smile when these little faces appear on your plate? With all natural ingredients they meet our food standards.

What a cute way to add some fun to a Tuesday evening meal.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Recipe: Brownies from Scratch

Did I really mention a brownie recipe and forget to share it? Forgive me dear readers!

The following recipe is so simple you will never have to use a box for brownies again:

Pantry Brownies

1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla (try not to use imitation)
1/2 cup flour (I use whole wheat with great success)
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease an 8 inch square pan.
2. In a bowl combine melted butter and cocoa and stir until cocoa is dissolved.
3. Add sugar and mix well.
4. Add eggs one at a time and stir until well combined (Great for your little kitchen helpers to do).
5. Stir in vanilla, flour and salt until you no longer see any flour **do not overmix**.
6. Spread in pan and bake for approximately 25 minutes. **DO NOT OVER-BAKE**
7. Test with a toothpick (or whatever you use). If it comes out moist with crumbs, that's okay, you don't want it to be clean. Try to refrain yourself from digging in and let them cool completely before cutting into squares.

** For double recipe, bake in 9x12 pan and add 5 minutes to baking time.**

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Old Fashioned Family Fun

Tonight we are going to go see Night at the Museum 2 at the Drive-In. Do these still exist in your area?

It's $12 per car load, which is about $2.50 for the 5 of us. I'm going to count Princess Pea even though she'll probably sleep.

To keep our costs down and to insure we are eating good-for-us ingredients, I'm going to be making Moist Fudgey Brownies from Scratch (super easy) and we will pop our own popcorn to take with us.

We have a blanket we keep with us in the van for us to sit on, and some citronella candles to keep away the bugs.

Cheap, good, classic American family fun on a budget!

What does your family do for family fun on a budget?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Home Management: Your Week-at-a-Glance

The basic structure of good household management begins with a good plan.

There is no better way to plan than with a calendar.

Yesterday, I told you what I look for in a functional calendar. Some of you shared with me what you look for in a calendar and how you plan. Thank you for the great input!

Let's discuss using the month-at-a-glance feature in our calendars. We want this section of our calendars to be just that, an at-a-glance, or an overview. This is the area that you are going to write down appointments, birthdays, when to return library books, and anything else you need to keep track of.

The trick is to keep it abbreviated! For example today was Gym and Swim at the YMCA, so on my monthly calendar it looks like this:

January 26 G&S 11-12:30

If anyone had asked me two weeks ago what I was doing on the 26th, I could flip to my monthly page and see Gym and Swim 11-12:30. I didn't need to flip page after page.

Also, I know that lunch needs to be made quickly that day to feed my boys after exercising. When I make my menu for the week, I'm going to think along the lines of Peanut Butter and Honey sandwiches, or make something ahead that can be reheated in the microwave.

Any additional information can be written on the daily page, which I will look at later.

Home Management: Finding a Functional Calendar

What makes the structure of home management? How do you get it? Well, my friend it’s just like with any project you have to be able to plan.

The most essential tool for any planning session is a good quality calendar. Notice, I didn’t say calendars. I said one, singular good calendar.

I’ve tried several types of calendars out, but I find I return to the same type over and over. It’s nothing fancy.

Here are my tips for finding a great calendar:

*Find one that runs July to June. Normally these are student calendars, or even student planners. Most of us are moms and have children in school. What happens in the beginning of a school year when notes are sent home outlining the fund raiser that occurs in April and our calendar runs out in December? We have to hang onto that note until we get a new calendar to write down the information, or try to keep that information in our heads. Can we even find that note when we get a new calendar? Can we trust our brains to remember?
Why have a calendar run out in the middle of the school year? Pick up a student calendar!

*Make sure your calendar has both monthly and weekly calendars.
Both of these features are important to how the calendar functions.
It is important that the daily section is large enough to jot down more in-depth notes and create a plan in.

*Make sure that it is well made. I like spiral bound calendars with a plastic cover that protects the calendar from being ripped.
These are features that I think are important in a calendar.

Later in this series, we are going to look at the best way to organize our calendars.
Is there a particular style or brand of calendars you like? Share with me in the comments.

Prayer for Christian Marriage


O God of love. You have established marriage for the welfare and happiness of humankind. Yours was the plan and only with You can we work it out with joy. You have said, "It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a help-mate for him." Now our joys are doubled, since the happiness of the one becomes the happiness of the other. Our burdens are now halved, since when we share then, we divide the load.

Bless this couple. Bless them as providers of food, clothing, and all the other necessities of life. Sustain them in all the exactions and pressures of their life's vocation. In their labor may they provide for each other but never let them work so hard that they forget to give each other love and attention.

Give them tenderness that will make them great, a deep sense of understanding, and a strong faith in You. Give each of them that inner beauty that never fades, that eternal youth is found in holding fast the things that never age.

Teach them both that marriage is not living merely for each other; it is two uniting and joining hands to serve You. Give them a great spiritual purpose in life. May they seek first the Kindgom of God and His righteousness, and then other things will be given to them. May they not expect that perfection in each other that belongs alone to You. May they minimize each other's weaknesses, be sensitive to magnify each other's points of strength, and see each other through a lover's kind and patient eyes.

Give them enought tears to keep them tender, enought hurts to keep them humane, enough of failure to keep them humble, and enough of success to make them sure they walk with You.

May they never take each other's love for granted but always experience that breathless wonder that exclaims, "Out of all this world you have chosen me."

When life is done and the sun is setting, may this couple be found then as now, still hand in hand, still thanking You for each other. May they serve You happily, faithfully together, until at last one shall lay the other into Your eternal arms.

This we ask in the name of Jesus Christ who loves us and gave Himself for us.


(Adapted from a prayer by Dr. Louis H. Evans)

Family Manager's Creed

The Family Manager's Creed
I oversee the most important organization in the world--

Where hundreds of decisions are made daily

Where property and resources are managed

Where health and nutritional needs are determined

Where finances and futures are discussed and debated

Where projects are planned and events are arranged

Where transportation and scheduling are critical

Where team-building is a priority

Where careers begin and end

I am a Family Manager

--Kathy Peel

Charting a Course

Our Core Doctrine:

The Scripture is complete, sufficient, and finished; therefore, it is fixed for all time.

Our Core Values:

The Scripture determines what we value as authentic disciples of Christ. It proclaims the driving force behind all that we do as a family.

Integrity is a discipline of life presented in the Scriptures, modeled by Christ, and empowered by the Holy Spirit, in order that we become blameless in all things.

Servanthood desires to meet the legitimate spiritual, emotional, and physical needs of others as presented in the Scriptures, modeled by Christ, and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Scripture is God's specific revelation of truth to mankind; authored by Himself, recorded by men as they were moved by the Holy Spirit, so that it was complete and without error in the original writings. It has been preserved through the ages so it is mankind's final authority for all faith and practice.

Discipleship is the cyclical process by which authentic disciples reproduce themselves in a third spiritual generation by co-laboring with God in His work of drawing, converting, and training of His chosen ones as they are being conformed to Christ.

Relevancy is the lifestyle of an authentic disciple who lives and communicates truth in an understandable manner which neither distracts from nor compromises the truth as presented in the Scripture.

Worship is the act by which authentic disciples gladly reflect back God's worth as presented in the Scripture for His pleasure and their greatest delight (in other words, worship is why we were created to begin with).

Core Purpose Statement as a family:

We exist to bring God pleasure by stating His worth, by living out His supremacy in our lives, and by making authentic disciples of Christ through evangelizing the lost, nurturing and edifying the chosen wherever the Holy Spirit directs; so they can find their greatest satisfaction in Him (Of course we have three built in disciples to teach).

Proverbs 16:3

Commit your works to the Lord

And your plans will be established.

This Sort of Fairy Tale

Hello and welcome to This Sort of Fairy Tale.

I am the Queen of my Castle, except that I do all of the laundry, cleaning, cooking, and homeschooling of my children. That's why it's a sort of fairy tale.

That's primarily what this 'blog is going to be about, my daily family life and other topics that interest me such as: Health and Nutrition, Organizing and Cleaning, Being a Good Wife and Mother, Recipes and Household Tips, Herbs and Natural Healing, Theology and Serving God, and also Ways to Save Money.

I'd like to introduce you to my Husband Dear. We have been married for 10 years and together we have three children. Our oldest child is 8 and he will be entering the third grade. Our middle child is 6 and he will be entering the first grade. Our daughter, Princess Pea, is the youngest at almost 20-months. I homeschool the children and I absolutely love it!!

Thank you for joining me and please feel free to comment!