Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Inexpensive Snacks for Growing Children
As soon as I heard it was a Backwards Edition, I knew exactly what I wanted to ask you.
Our grocery bill has been steadily rising lately. My son is almost 13, and as those of you with pre-teen or teen boys know, boys this age cannot get enough to eat. I hear their appetites get even more insatiable when they are in their mid-teens.
So, here are my questions for you:
- If you have/ had a pre-teen or teen boy, please share with me your experience with their appetite and food requirements. He is my oldest and this is uncharted territory, so I'm feeling clueless.
- What ideas do you have for healthy, but frugal snack ideas to hold him over to the next meal? I'm talking VERY filling here...certain snacks, like cereal bars, don't even make a dent in his bottomless pit of a stomach.
I'm looking forward to reading your experiences and ideas. For the sake of our grocery budget and my son's belly, I hope you have lots of ideas for me. Thanks!!
You can read other blogger's dilemmas and their reader's solutions at Works for Me Wednesday, hosted by We Are THAT Family.
Quick and Easy Vegetable Dip
Timesavers in the Kitchen for a Stress-Free Morning
First, I always ensure that I start the week with the basics: bread, milk, veggies, lunch meat, peanut butter, and of course, coffee and creamer. There's nothing worse for a sleepy morning than realizing you don't have an essential part of a meal.
Each week, usually a Sunday night, I wash and slice all the veggies for the coming week. I recently wrote a post about how prepping veggies ahead is a great time-saver. While I am working on the veggies, I put some eggs on to boil. The boiled eggs are great for extra snacks or on salads through the week. If we want tuna or egg salad, the eggs are ready and waiting.
When all the veggies are prepped, I divvy some of them into bags for lunches, leaving the rest for extra snacks and meal ingredients. I also divvy up the chips or pretzels and cookies into smaller bags for lunches. Not buying the prepackaged individual sizes of veggies, chips, and cookies saves us money and I am still enjoying convenience-size bags by spending just a few extra minutes in the kitchen once a week. When the bags are finished, the only thing left for lunch assembly is sandwiches and any extras a growing boy might need to supplement his lunch.
Each night, I fix the sandwiches for the next day and plan breakfast. Then, I set out the children's vitamins and allergy meds in little sauce-size cups. These are set on the table with the napkin and fork or spoon depending on what will be served for breakfast. Most critical to my morning, I prepare the coffee pot and set the automatic timer.
Ideally, the only thing left each morning is to assemble the lunches that I have already prepared and fix the pre-planned breakfast. This gives me the time to deal with any issues the children forgot to tell me about (because it always happens despite our best efforts) and to chat with them before they leave.
How do you make your mornings in the kitchen stress-free?
This post is linked to:
Kitchen Tip Tuesdays at Tammy's Recipes
Talk about Tuesday at The Lazy Organizer
I am Blissfully Domestic at Blissfully Domestic
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Disney's Branching Out
You can see the trailers at Disney Nature. If this interests you, check out the Disney site and come back here and click to subscribe to the newsletter and for a chance to win tickets to the World Premiere of DisneyNature Earth.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Labels: Sunday's Spotlight
Friday, March 27, 2009
Thanks to the Canned Food Alliance and TheMotherhood.com
I'd love to hear what item you found in your pantry that must be used, and how you prepared it.
Questions to Consider Before the Lay-Off, Part 2
Amazon Gift Card Winner
The winner of Just Doing My Best's first giveaway, which is a $15 gift card to Amazon.com is.....
#12 Angela at Mommy Bytes!
number pulled from a randomizer at Random.org
Thanks to all who entered the contest and left comments with their challenges in the home. Check back here often because I will have a special guest and specific posts geared toward conquering your challenges.
Homemade Freezer-Ready Pizza Sauce
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Frugal Family Fun - Holding Down the Fort
I'm going to offer an old but favorite stand-by for kid fun, including ideas on how to make it even more memorable.
When we are cooped up inside, my children love to build a fort. It does not happen often, so when it does, it's a no-holds barred, all-consuming construction zone.
We have dining room that we do not use daily, so one day last winter, I cleared off the top of the table, and let the kids rule the room. They enclosed all four sides of the table with blankets and used blanket-covered chairs to create rooms and tunnels reaching clear to the perimeter of the room. They had a mansion complete with bedrooms and dual entrances.
When lunch time came, they understandably did not want to leave their mansion, so they opened a couple of "windows" and ate in their new abode. As the day wound down, and after a full day of building and tweaking their hide-out, they were excited to hear that they could leave it up for the next day...and the next day. They have also been known to have a sleep-over in their fort, with the obligatory movies, snacks, and flashlights.
While the children will enjoy the memories, I heard a friendship forming as they worked together as a team. Priceless lessons and memories for free.
Here's a Mommy Secret: If your children are old enough to not need constant supervision and enjoy this type of play, chances are they will be so consumed with this activity that you can tackle that unread book or home improvement project that has gone undone because little ones are underfoot.
This post is linked to:
Frugal Friday by Life as Mom
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Report Card Freebies
We do not pay per grade earned, but I did want them to enjoy some benefits of their hard work so I did some research hoping to find companies who are willing to reward hard-working students.
I found these offers and they were verified online:
Chuck E. Cheese - free tokens based on grades earned
IBC Bakery Outlets - a snack cake for the child and loaf of bread for the parents.
These could not be verified at corporate websites, so you will want to check your local store:
Krispy Kreme - free donut
Graeters - free ice cream
Are you familiar with any report card incentives?
Find Free Clipart at School Clip Art
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Prize Winning Texas Chili
Last weekend, our church had a chili cook-off and of 20+ pots of other chili, his recipe won! I am so excited because I make this for my family several times a year, every year and we love it.
- 2 cans jalapeno pinto beans
- 2 cans diced tomatoes
- 3 lbs ground beef
- 1/2 cup parsley
- 1 Tablespoon salt
- 1 Tablespoon black pepper
- 1/3 cup chili powder
- 2 Tablespoons cumin
- 2 large onions
- 2 large bell peppers
- 2 Tablespoons shortening or oil
- 1 stick of butter
As you can see from the pic, sometimes I use a little less meat, onions, and green pepper for weeknight meals, just to keep the cost down. For the cook-off though, the recipe was followed precisely. We like it served with Fritos under the chili. OK, my mouth is watering just typing this out.
Hope you like it!
You can find this recipe linked to:
Kitchen Tip Tuesday at Tammy's Recipes
Tasty Tuesday at Forever Wherever
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed With Grace
Talk about Tuesday at The Lazy Organizer
Monday, March 23, 2009
I usually do not list freebies, but I wanted to try to give back to my readers. I've found a few freebies you can sign up for and hopefully you will remember the party and Just Doing My Best for the next few weeks as the goodies arrive at your home. Enjoy!
Dove Hair Therapy sample
Caress Evenly Gorgeous body wash sample
Cream of Wheat sample
Arm and Hammer Toothpaste sample
Miscellaneous samples from Walmart, options will change often
- $2 off deodorant
- $5 off children's games, such as Gator Golf, Elefun, Twister Hopscotch, Sorry Sliders
- $10 off the Leapfrog Tag Reading system
Coupons are updated regularly, so check it out before they are gone.
I hope you enjoy your goodie bag! I'm offering a giveaway too, so scroll down to read about the Amazon gift card give-away and my Ultimate Blog Party party post.
Is Your Family Ready for a Financial Emergency?
Sunday, March 22, 2009
What's More Important?
One night at 1:30 AM when he was up crying, rather than just sending him back to his bed, I went to his room and just rocked him and held him. As I looked in his sweet little face, I realized that I was putting my desire for a full night of sleep ahead of my precious son. I looked him in the face and told that little baby, “I will stay here and rock you all night if it helps you feel better. I love you more than I love a full night of sleep.” I rocked him for over an hour. As I sat and prayed about this child and my own selfish behavior, I was reminded of another home school family who just lost their own precious son (18) to cancer. I know his mother would gladly give up her nights of sleep for every night if she had the chance to hold her son again. I had to repent to my son and to the Lord.
The next day, when I called his name he ran the other way. Instead of being frustrated, I did the right thing. I got up and went to him and reminded him that when I call his name, he was to come to mommy right away. As I did it, I said in my mind, “I love you more than I love sitting in my chair,” and I prayed for the Lord to make it so. He did.
That week I was visiting at another mom’s house, he ran from me in the opposite direction, and headed around the house. I had to stop my conversation to go fetch and correct him, but the whole way, I could hear the Lord saying: “You love him more than what these other mom’s think, more than you love standing here and chatting, and more than having your dream of a perfectly well behaved child. ”
Throughout my days I have been examining my own heart and all the little annoyances have faded as I look at each one and remind myself that I love these four children more than I love the dream of perfectly behaved children who never interrupt adults, make messes, argue with siblings, or embarrass me from time to time. Praise God, I really do love them more.
I also realized I love the LORD more than I love a perfect house, a perfect car, all the laundry folded, the perfect hot meal on glass dishes on a table set with starched white linens. I can put those things aside temporarily to pursue my Savior in prayer and Bible reading. While all the normal tasks of homemaking must be done, and done to the best of my ability, I was sometimes forgetting that my loving Savior was there to walk me through it all, if only I took the time to seek Him.
I know some of you struggle with some of the daily tasks of motherhood and home schooling. I know children can be frustrating and tiring, but I pray that my struggle will help you look at your precious children and husband, and instead of comparing them to your ideal vision, the Lord will give you a heart to say….”I love you more than this.”
From her site: Malia Russell is the blessed wife to Duncan, thankful mother to four children, ages 3-18 and an author, conference speaker and director of www.homemaking911.com. Visit her site for inspiration, encouragement and practical help in your roles as a godly wife, mother, homemaker or home educator.
Copied and used with permission.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Amazon Giftcard Giveaway!
It's time for the first Giveaway at Just Doing My Best! I had planned to wait until next Friday, but I decided to add an extra one. I guess it's the party atmosphere created by the Ultimate Blog Party and that I won a gift card yesterday, so I wanted spread some extra fun.
You will receive one entry for each of the following:
- Leave a comment telling me your biggest challenge in the home.
- Blog about the giveaway and link back to this site in your post. Leave a comment that you blogged and leave your URL so I can visit you too.
- Subscribe to the RSS Feed or click to follow me in the sidebar. Leave a comment letting me know.
Comments will close at Noon (EST) on March 27 with the winner being chosen by a random number generator. Please be sure to leave your email address so I can contact you if you win.
I Won a Prize!
A huge THANK YOU to 5 Minutes for Mom for a generous Macy's giftcard that I won at the Sitewarming Party for the Ultimate Blog Party. I love shopping at Macy's and need to pick up a few Spring items so this is perfect!
If you have not checked out the Ultimate Blog Party yet, scroll down and read my post about it. When you follow the links in that post, you will find hundreds and hundreds of other blogger's links to their sites. This party is particularly great if you are looking for new blogs to read or blogs in a specific niche, not to mention the hundreds of giveaways.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Frugal Family Fun - A New Twist on Playgrounds
My children and I had a fantastic evening at the town's playground a few nights ago. (Stay with me here, it gets better than just a plain ole playground.) They enjoyed it and we stayed about 20 minutes or so. When I asked if they were ready to leave, of course they shouted an emphatic "no," but when I told them we were going to another playground, their eyes lit up and they raced for the vehicle. That night, we covered 4 playgrounds (though some were attempts due to construction) all within 20 minutes of our home.
This completely free idea will be used again this summer when we venture into our closest city to find more playgrounds. We will pack a lunch and make a day of seeing how many playgrounds we can fit into a day. If you try this, don't forget about church and school playgrounds in addition to the city playgrounds.
If you liked this post, be sure to check out Just Doing My Best's homepage for more tips, goodies and a give-away.
This post has been linked to:
- Frugal Fridays at Life as Mom
- Finer Things Friday at The Finer Things in Life, because isn't playing with our children just about as good as it gets?
- Finding Freedom at Cents to Get Debt-Free
- Works for Me Wednesday at We are THAT Family
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Ultimate Blog Party
Parties just went high tech! Actually, it is me who is new to the Ultimate Blog Party. (UBP) The party is hosted by the hardworking and generous ladies at 5 Minutes for Mom, who want to promote our blogs. How great is that!?
The party will last from March 20 - 27 and if it's anything like last year's party, it will involve over a thousand bloggers and hundreds of prizes. Visit 5 minutes for Mom to see who linked up and what they are doing on their site.
As any party goer, I want to briefly introduce myself. My name is Heather and I'm from the suburbs of one of the larger cities in Kentucky. I'm a wife and stay at home mom to the best boy and best girl in the world, at least in this mom's opinion. I enjoy cooking, saving money, having fun with the family, and tweaking the decor in my home. Those are some of the topics you will see here at Just Doing My Best.
Just Doing My Best is named with the understanding that all we have is our personal best. We cannot do any more than that, but we can keep learning and trying. The purpose of this blog is to give you ideas and inspiration to do your best in your own home, whether you work at home, outside the home, or not for pay at all and regardless of whether or not you have children.
I hope this site will help make your job at home easier and I'm looking forward to learning from you as well. I already have some fabulous readers who have taught me so much but there is always room for more ideas. If this sounds good to you, I hope you will consider subscribing to my feed (upper right corner) or checking back often.
On to the party....
Here at Just Doing My Best, the week of March 20-27 will include:
- On the 20th, I will kick-off a series on Frugal Family Fun.
- On the 22nd, you will meet a writer who will help us see past the small emergencies that can consume our day and help us focus on what really matters in our homes. I have personally met her and can tell you she is the real deal and lives what she writes.
- On the 24th, watch for my all-time, favorite prize-winning recipe. I am so excited about a cook-off that I won over the weekend using my grandpa's recipe. It is so delicious that the world just must experience the greatness of this dish!
- On the 27th, the week will end with the start of my first giveaway and more frugal ideas just for mom.
- Each day will include something new, so check back frequently or subscribe to the Reader (upper right corner) to have the updates delivered to you.
This will be an exciting time! A party isn't a party unless you meet new people and have fun, so take a look around and check out the sidebar for past posts to get an idea of what this site is about. Feel free to leave me a comment and when you are finished, be sure to check out the other bloggers. Have fun!
I finally finished wading through the massive list of prizes and these are my top three picks:
- Lifetime Membership to Mom Masterminds
- $50 gift bundle offered by YouCanMakeThis.com
- $100 gift card to HomeGoods
and if those are taken, these look fantastic too:
- Mom/daughter flip flops by TopItOffAccessories.com
- Case of product by Dei Fratelli
- or any of the Target, Kohls or Amazon gift cards
Labels: Ultimate Blog Party
Bartering is Back
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Storing cheese correctly
For more kitchen tips and recipes, visit Kitchen Tip Tuesdays at Tammy's Recipes.
Monday, March 16, 2009
New Season at the Consignment Shops
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Fast and Free Homemade Cleaner
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Money Management for Teens
Easiest Ever Avocado Salad
I recently learned that Spring is avocado season, so you will soon start to see lower prices. When you find these green gems on sale, pick up a few extra. This week Blossoming Skillet had a great post that taught me that you can freeze avocados. Who knew? I didn't and I'm certainly going to try it.
This embarrassingly easy recipe came from my grandpa in Texas, whom I think is one of the best cooks ever.
It's THAT easy. My kids like to eat avocado salad with tortilla chips, as they would guacamole, but it's also great served by itself. The salad is extremely versatile so you can vary the quantity of fruits used based on the size of your family and personal preferences.
If you want to check out more recipes, be sure to visit Kitchen Tip Tuesday hosted this week at The Finer Things and Share My Recipe Sunday at Organize with Sandy, and Favorite Ingredients Friday at Overwhelmed With Joy!
If you like what you have read, be sure to check out my main page.
Tales from Bloggeritaville - an eclectic site that seems like a lot of fun
Life as Mom - the new home for Frugal Friday
Labels: Sunday's Spotlight
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Check out your local churches and community buildings. In our town, the government building where the fire department is housed, offers its basketball court at no cost to its residents. Several local churches have walking tracks and fitness centers, outfitted with free-weights and machines. Often these fitness centers (sometimes referred to as Christian Life Centers or CLC's) are free for members and extremely inexpensive for members of the community. Our church is offering non-members a special of $25 per person for a year, reduced from the regular price of approximately $50 per year.
The YMCA is known for their low prices, but many branches will offer a free membership if you volunteer to work a certain amount of hours in their facility. From what I have heard, this includes working in child care.
Do your children have a Nintendo Wii? If you already have one in the home, you have a fun and inexpensive option. Even if you do not have the Wii Fit, the sports games are a great start. There are groups of moms who have lost a lot of weight with the Wii Fit, including a Wii Mommies blog devoted to the endeavour. Just use what you have and have fun!
If you like to workout with videos or DVDs, consider stopping by places like Half Price Used Books. Exercise DVDs are always at yard sales and you might even be able to trade your old ones with a friend.
If you choose to exercise at home and need equipment, there are several websites that show you how to exercise with household items and there are consignment stores specializing in second-hand sports and fitness equipment.
If you prefer the traditional gym memberships, ask about any specials or programs they might offer to reduce your price. You could also consider asking about volunteer or part time jobs at the facility that might help offset the cost.
Motivation is free, but sometimes hard to find. How do you stay motivated in your fitness routine?
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Have you seen any great coupons that should be listed here?
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
The Necessary Items for an Unexpected Sick Child Day
- A good thermometer - In my opinion, this is not the item to chance to generic brands found at the $1 type stores. An investment in a quality thermometer will last years.
- Chicken soup - I like to watch for the sales that usually run in the Fall and I will then combine the sale with coupons. I can stock up for the winter/ flu season very inexpensively.
- Applesauce - I do not see many coupons for applesauce, so we usually buy the Wal-Mart brand. My family likes it and it seems to be a fair price.
- Cans of ginger ale or Sierra Mist - We generally keep cans on hand because the cans allow us to only open what we need, rather than an entire 2-liter, thereby keeping a supply on hand for the next illness .
- Saltines or oyster crackers - I love the idea of oyster crackers because when my children are too sick to do much moving around, I can bring a bowl of oyster crackers to them on the couch and there will be alot less crumbs than with saltines.
- Medicine for stuffy nose - Several times throughout the year, stores will run a Buy One Get One Free (BOGO) Sale on the store brand medicines and this is when I stock up on the ones I'm certain we will use.
- Pain reliever/fever reducer medicine - see above
If you have these items on hand, you will not have major problems from children waking up sick unexpectedly. Being prepared and purchasing the items with frugality in mind, works for me.
Do you do anything differently to prepare for sick children? I'd love to hear what works for your family.
Why "Just Doing My Best?"
As a semi-overachieving child, (don't jokes or bad stories start this way?) I was constantly concerned with grades, especially A's, and having the highest scores and fastest times in competitive events. I worked hard to attain the overall feeling that I had done well. Being an imperfect person, I often did not achieve my goals. Time after time, as persistently as a mantra, my dad would ask if I had done my best. Each time the question forced me to ask myself if there was anything else I could have done. Though I did not like the end result of not excelling, I had to admit that, "Yes, it was my best." This happened time and again.
When it came time for me to name my blog, the answer was obvious. In fact, I had the name before I created the blog. Just Doing My Best places a heavy emphasis on frugal homemaking but also includes tips and ideas to make our jobs easier and more enjoyable. Homemaking has it's own set of unique challenges and even within that small community, each family has a different set of circumstances. It is not uncommon for homemakers, or wives and moms in general, to feel "not good enough" because we can unintentionally compare ourselves to others who seem to have it all together. None of us are perfect but ideally, we are just doing our best and our best is all we have to offer.
If you would like to know the meaning of the name behind one of your favorites sites, perhaps you could invite them to participate at Ramblings by Reba. Be sure to check out her Blog Name carnival for some stories that are sure to be entertaining.
Monday, March 2, 2009
Tiring of Winter?
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