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Just Doing My Best: March 2009

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Inexpensive Snacks for Growing Children

This week's Works For Me Wednesday is a Backwards Edition, meaning I ask my readers for solutions to my dilemma.

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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

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Quick and Easy Vegetable Dip

This is easily one of the simplest Veggie Dip recipes I have ever seen. Though it is quick to assemble, you do need to allow a few hours for it to chill.

Quick and Easy Veggie Dip

You will need:
1 package Knorrs Vegetable recipe mix, found with dry soup mixes
16 oz. sour cream

Simply mix the two ingredients together and refrigerate for a few hours so the mix can rehydrate and flavors meld together.

This recipe is linked to:
Tasty Tuesday at Forever Wherever
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed With Grace
Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap at Grocery Cart Challenge



Timesavers in the Kitchen for a Stress-Free Morning

Do your mornings flow as well as you wish they would? I think the responsibilities in the kitchen can be the greatest stressor in trying to get everyone out the door on time and without chaos. I am not a morning person, so I work ahead to ensure my mornings require as little mental function and physical activity as possible.

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

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Sunday, March 29, 2009


Disney's Branching Out

Did you know Disney is going green? They have acquired a newsletter devoted to green living and have 5 new films featuring our planet.

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


Sunday's Spotlight

Blogs worth taking a peek at:

Cooking During Stolen Moments - Some great recipes with pics at this site. Be sure to check out the Virtual Great American Bake Sale. You can participate even if you do not have a blog.

I Am a Money Magnet - a fellow Kentucky girl who offers specific info on bargains, deals, and freebies.

Mommy's Idea Book - This blog has a little bit of everything that a mom might want to know to make her home more enjoyable or more manageable.


Friday, March 27, 2009


Thanks to the Canned Food Alliance and TheMotherhood.com

Look what I found on my front porch!

A few weeks ago, I participated in a Food Pantry Challenge at TheMotherhood.com sponsored by the Canned Food Alliance. The challenge was to not buy any food, other than necessary perishables such as milk and produce, for one week. We were to feed our family with only what was already in our pantry.

The prize went to the first 10 moms who participated and reported back to TheMotherhood.com. We shared daily menus and recipes and I think we even helped one mom use up some coconut milk!

The Canned Food Alliance donated this basket filled with a variety of canned foods and several recipe booklets to each of us and then made a donation in our names to our local food pantry.

Did you know canned food does not spoil? Assuming the can is not dented, the quality will change after about two years, but it will still be safe to eat for years later. You won't believe how old some cans were that were found on a sunken ship and were still microbiologically safe. You can find out how old these cans were, recipes, and time-saving tips at Mealtime.org. I thought the Red-Bean Salsa Grilled Chicken and the Maple Pecan Pumpkin Cheesecake sounded fantastic.

Here's my challenge to you: take a peek in your pantry and see what item you have forgotten existed or have been avoiding. Then, go to a recipe site like Allrecipes.com, and using their ingredient search at the top of the page, type in your item, and find a recipe to get those old products out of your pantry.

I'd love to hear what item you found in your pantry that must be used, and how you prepared it.

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Questions to Consider Before the Lay-Off, Part 2

What will you do if your family loses it's income? Check out my article: Questions to Consider Before the Lay-Off, Part 2 at Happy to be at Home.

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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
Congratulations, Angela!

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

I originally found this recipe at Miserly Moms years ago, before frugal was the new black, and used it often. I recently rediscovered it and pulled it back out of the cookbook as another effort to reduce expenses at home.

If this sauce is made and ready, I will be more likely to make pizza at home rather than order out and I do not have to run to the grocery store when I choose to make one. In addition to convenience, this homemade sauce costs less than half of the jarred sauce.

Some of the ingredients lend well to changing so you can cater to your family's taste, just as I changed it a bit from the original.

Homemade Pizza Sauce

1 large can Tomato Puree (29 oz.)
1 small can Tomato Sauce (8 oz.)
approximately 1/4 cup olive oil (original recipe called for 1/2 cup salad oil but I thought that was too much)
2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 Tablespoon oregano
1 Tablespoon parsley flakes

Mix all of the ingredients together and divide into 4 freezer bags. There's no need to cook this and it freezes very well.

The total cost of 4 portions of pizza sauce is roughly $1.50 or .38 a pizza.

This post is linked to :
Finding Freedom Friday at Cents to Get Debt-Free
Friday Recipe Swap at Grocery Store Challenge
Mouth Watering Mondays at A Southern Fairytale

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Thursday, March 26, 2009


Frugal Family Fun - Holding Down the Fort

With part of the country snowed in, another fraction enduring long bouts of non-stop rain, and yet another starting Spring Break, this seems like the perfect week to stay home for the next idea in the Frugal Family Fun series.

I'm going to offer an old but favorite stand-by for kid fun, including ideas on how to make it even more memorable.

You will need:
Lots of blankets
clothes pins (to hold blankets together)
flash lights
an out of the way area of main room, i.e. corner of the family room, dining room, etc.
a movie and snacks

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

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Report Card Freebies

My children are excited about their upcoming report cards. Since they are excited and not worried, that means this mom is relieved and excited too.

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

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Prize Winning Texas Chili

As promised in my Ultimate Blog Party post, today I am sharing my favorite, prize winning chili recipe. This recipe comes from my grandpa in Texas, who you may remember from a previous post if you are a regular reader here, is a great cook.

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.

Texas Chili

  • 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
Saute diced onion and bell pepper in shortening until tender. Set aside. Brown meat in pan and pour off grease. Add butter and dry ingredients to meat; mix well. Add cooked onions, pepper, and parsley to the meat; mix well. Add beans, tomatoes and 1/2 cup of water. Cover and cook slowly 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

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

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Monday, March 23, 2009


Goodie Bag

I've been enjoying my time at the Ultimate Blog Party the past few days, but realized that the party goers here at Just Doing My Best need a goodie bag to take home to remember their time at this site.

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

Lastly, these are not free, but coupons.com (you can get there from my sidebar) has high-dollar coupons, such as:
  • $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.

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Is Your Family Ready for a Financial Emergency?

To help evaluate if your family is ready, check out my article: Questions to Consider Before the Lay-Off at Happy to be at Home.

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Sunday, March 22, 2009


What's More Important?

I'd like to introduce you to Malia at Homemaking 911. I've met her IRL (in real life) on numerous occasions and I can tell you that she is an anchor of calm and compassion. The personality that you hear when you read her articles is real and sincere. You can visit her and her many articles, ideas, and e-books at Homemaking911.com.

I Love You More

Last summer, our family was going through a difficult time. My oldest daughter (then 16) just had a very extensive knee surgery, far more difficult than we expected. Our son (2) was going through a lot of behavior changes and having difficulty sleeping, obeying, responding when called, and the like. My other children were just fine, but the weeks were very long and hard. My frustration with my son was growing with each passing day. I would wake up more exhausted when I went to bed because he kept getting up at night. He woke several times each night screaming, crying, fussing, wandering the house, or whatever a two year old mind can think of to do when all the lights are out and everyone else is trying trying to sleep. I am very consistent with the discipline of my children and I was searching and praying or answers, solutions and quick fixes. The Lord had something else in mind for me.

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

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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 can win one $15 gift card to Amazon.com

You will receive one entry for each of the following:

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.

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I Won a Prize!

Ultimate Blog Party 2009

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.

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Friday, March 20, 2009


Frugal Family Fun - A New Twist on Playgrounds

In celebration of the Ultimate Blog Party, this is the kick-off to my Frugal Family Fun series. You will see posts weekly, probably near the weekends, with ideas for enjoying your family without spending much, if any, of your family's hard-earned money.

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:

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Thursday, March 19, 2009


Ultimate Blog Party

Ultimate Blog Party 2009

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:

**Update** Extra giveaway added! Go to Just Doing My Best's homepage and scroll down for details on how you can win an Amazon.com gift card!

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:

and if those are taken, these look fantastic too:



Bartering is Back

Do you barter? Check out my article, Bartering is Back, at Happy to be at Home.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Storing cheese correctly

Are you shortening the life of the cheese in your fridge? Plastic bags and plastic wrap seem to be the most popular way in America to store cheese. In fact, we bring the cheese home from the store wrapped in plastic, then we replace the original plastic wrapper with a new plastic wrapper. Cheese is a living organism and needs to breathe, so the plastic should not directly touch it.

The best way to store hard to semi-hard cheese is in foil, parchment paper or wax paper. Foil is the only way I store block cheese and it always lasts for a very long time with no signs of mold or drying out. We have used it for semi-hard to hard cheese, from cheddar and Gouda to Parmesan, and it works beautifully.

For more kitchen tips and recipes, visit Kitchen Tip Tuesdays at Tammy's Recipes.
For more Works for Me Wednesday tips, visit We Are THAT Family.

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Monday, March 16, 2009


New Season at the Consignment Shops

If you are a regular reader here, you will know that I think highly of consignment shops. If you would like to try shopping for free or just need to clean out your closets, now is the time to call your favorite consignment shop and set up an account to start selling your clothes. My local shop is now taking appointments for Spring clothing.

Consignments shops can provide a small bit of money in your pocket from the sale of clothes and the prices are a fraction of new clothing. Thrift shops are also good resource and usually even cheaper than consignment shops. You will want to plan an extra few minutes to shop thrift stores since the items are donated and there is a larger quantity of clothing which may not suit your preferences. This is in comparison to the consignments shops where the items are sold for a fee and pre-screened to meet the store's criteria. If you want to read how one mom makes thrift stores work, take a look at Shannon's post from Up Too Early on Thrift Stores.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Fast and Free Homemade Cleaner

I have white counter tops. I love the crisp and clean appearance, but they can be an absolute pain. I've had gorgeous shades of purple from grape juice and a beautiful pink from something I couldn't identify. Usually a quick spray of a commercial cleaner is enough, but when regular kitchen cleaners don't do the job, I have a quick and powerful cleaner that I can whip up from my pantry.

I do not have exact measurements, but it's easy to eyeball. Just put a little bit of baking soda into a small bowl. A couple of tablespoons will probably be more than enough. Then, add just enough lemon juice to make a paste. This paste is one powerful cleaner. Just rub it onto the stained item and if it's stubborn, let it sit for bit. If the stain still won't budge, cover the stain with the homemade paste and let it sit outside in the sunlight for a while.

Once when an item transferred rust to my white dishes in the dishwasher, I used this paste and it came right off.

Do you have any tips for great homemade cleaners?
For more tips, visit Works for Me Wednesday at We Are THAT Family.

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Sunday, March 8, 2009


Money Management for Teens

The current economy has forced millions of families to reevaluate their spending and financial futures. Now, more than ever our next generation of leaders need a strong financial start. Regardless of how the economy looks when it is time for these teens to finally step out on their own, they will need as many tools for success as possible.

Our family is right at the preteen/teen cusp and we are still learning how to wade through these new waters. If you have found some great ways to teach money management or the economy to your older children or teens, please consider sharing your idea by leaving a comment so that we can learn from each other.

In the meantime, I can direct you to two websites that are geared toward helping teens and their finances.

For teen job ideas, visit CVTips.com.
For teen finance lessons, visit GiveMe20.com.

What are your favorite tips when it comes to teaching your children or teens about money or the economy?

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Easiest Ever Avocado Salad

Being from Kentucky, I am not well-versed in anything avocado. But, thanks to my family in Texas, I'm learning to love them and I even have a clue now how to prepare them.

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.

Easiest Ever Avocado Salad
Coarsely dice 2 avocados and 3 small tomatoes and place in serving bowl. (I've used Roma and they work well because Roma's have less liquid than some of the other varieties.) Then, coat the diced duo with Italian dressing. You will have to eyeball the amount, but you will not want to use too much. Just enough to coat.

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.

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Sunday's Spotlight

Check out these great blogs that I discovered this week.

Up Too Early - a new blog worth watching
Tales from Bloggeritaville - an eclectic site that seems like a lot of fun
Life as Mom - the new home for Frugal Friday

Have a great week and let me know if you find some interesting reads that I should check out.


Thursday, March 5, 2009


Frugal Fitness

The recession is forcing a multitude of people to make cuts in their family's budget and gym memberships are one of the first casualties. Whether you choose to keep your membership or need to try a more frugal approach to fitness, there are several options.

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?

For more frugal tips, visit Thrifty Thursday at Coolmomguide.com and Frugal Friday at Biblical Womanhood.

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Coupon Round-Up

Coupons.com (you can get there by clicking the Coupons.com pic on the sidebar) has new coupons for March. If you are a coupon user, you will want to check them out because they have quite a few. Also, I have listed a few high-dollar coupons I've run across.

Aveeno - $2.00 off any product, excludes trial size
Marie Calendar Signature Sautes - $2.00 off
Theraflu - $2.00 off


As always, please do not copy coupons, even printable ones. Coupons forwarded by email and in PDF form, may not be legit. Be sure you trust the source before you redeem.

Have you seen any great coupons that should be listed here?


Tuesday, March 3, 2009


The Necessary Items for an Unexpected Sick Child Day

Tonight as the evening wound down, I realized I may have a sick child tomorrow. You are probably just as familiar with that dreaded in-between phase as I am. You know the one, where you wonder if sleep will produce a happy child ready to face the day with only a couple of sniffles or rather a child who has succumbed to the most popular virus at school.

Tonight is one of those nights, but I feel relieved that regardless of what the morning brings, I am ready. I have the basic items needed for a sick day, or at least the first several hours until my guy gets off work in the evening and can stop by the store.

The items I always have on hand for sick days are:

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.

You will find more tips at Works for Me Wednesday hosted by We Are THAT Family.

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Why "Just Doing My Best?"

While I was at Blissdom '09, I met a friendly and helpful blogger named Reba. Her site, Ramblings by Reba is hosting a carnival asking how our blogs got their name. Her help was much needed and appreciated, so I wanted to make it a priority to participate.

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.

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Monday, March 2, 2009


Tiring of Winter?

If you need a few ideas to help you enjoy what's left of winter, check out my article Enjoy Free Winter Fun Before Its Too Late at Happy to be at Home.

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