I've gotten a few comments lately of how I get it all done, and a few requests for recipes. So here are my tips for getting it all done:
--I don't put success in how your house looks. Some of you might be saying to yourself "obviously!" My house is pretty messy by some people's standard, and that is something I'm really working on. Hence, my lists. But really, I try not to sweat the small stuff. Because when I do, I tend to loose my temper with my family. I'm constantly yelling at the kids and feeling stressed out. So I get done what gets done, and what doesn't get done, doesn't get done.
I try hard to keep my house clean, because it pleases my husband, and I like living in a clean house. It is good to try. It's not good to make it the #1 center, and feel like a failure if your house isn't clean. I think that it's important to keep the main thing, the main thing. I am not a stay at home mom for the purpose of having a very clean house. I'm supposed to be training up my children. Of course that can be done while I clean, and I that does happen around here. But my priority is working with them. And I could stop sewing/knitting, but I only do those things in the evening, after the kids have gone to bed, and we're starting to relax. If it happens during the day, either my chores are done, or there is some change of schedule. I think if I didn't get any relax time until all of my kids moved out of the house, I wouldn't make it. So I allow myself an hour or two every night to do something fun. Maybe it's selfish. To me, it's maintenance. Some people watch t.v. every night. I don't. I sew or write many nights. As you can see I've been blogging a lot lately, so not a whole lot is going on in my sewing room. I might have to work on that soon.
This has meant that people have come over to my house, and have seen messes. I've learned that people don't care as much as I think they do. And if they think I'm a bad housekeeper, well then that's what they think. It is not a sin to be a bad housekeeper. And "Cleanliness is next to Godliness" is actually not in the Bible. I prefer the story of Mary and Martha. (You all know the one I'm speaking about.) Being lazy would be sinful, but I don't think for a moment that the reason that my house has toys and dog hair and laundry all over it has anything to do with laziness. It's just the simple equation that there are not enough people cleaning up to balance out the people who are messing up. That equation is gradually changing as the kids are reluctantly learning to clean up after themselves.
--Plan, plan, plan. I plan meals and my day as much as I can. I like lists, and I have lots of them. Freezer meals is also a big part of this. We don't eat all of our meals from the freezer, but I pull one out during an exceptionally busy day, which is often. My favorite recipes that I freeze from, but not dubbed as "freezer recipes" are meatloaf and beef stroganoff, lasagna, and chili. I make 3-4 batches of these at once. (The meatloaf is frozen raw, ready to cook, and the lasagna is assembled and ready to cook. The rest are fully cooked and just need to be heated.) We eat one batch, and I freeze the rest. It's really not much more work to make 3 than to make 1. So it saves me quite of bit of time.
The 2 freezer cookbooks that I own and use a lot are "30 Day Gourmet" and "There's a Chef in your Freezer." I have modified most of these recipes.
From the "30 Day Gourmet" book I make very often the make-ahead Chimichangas, country chicken pot pie, shredded beef/pork sandwiches, and the breakfast egg casserole most often. It's a great cookbook as far as references, charts and quantities, and it has some great ideas as to how to manage freezer cooking.
However, it uses the term "gourmet" like lake regions around here use the term "resort." It might just be a little bit of a stretch. For instance, one of the recipes uses Cheez Whiz in the casserole. Another uses Rice Crispies as chicken breading. However, it's a great launching pad to coming up with some good freezer meals. I've modified this last recipe of "breakfast egg casserole" quite a bit, so I think it's OK to share my modified version online, since this isn't the one published in the book. I'd just like to give credit to my starting point. I use a lot more eggs than it calls for.
Frozen egg bake
For 2-- 9x13 pans:
whole wheat homemade bread cut into 1" pieces (about half of one of my loaves)
ham, diced (1lb)
shredded Swiss cheese (1 lb)
shredded cheddar cheese (1 lb)
eggs- 2 doz
milk - 4 cups
onion powder- 1 teaspoon
salt- 2 teaspoons
dry mustard - 2 teaspoon
any other spices you want to put in. You can really vary this and put in vegis, or whatever you have on hand.
Place 1/2 the cut bread in each greased pan (I use glass 9x13 dishes for freezing) Completely cover the bottom. Then layer half the ham and each of the cheeses. Repeat. Mix milk, eggs, and spices, and poor on top. Cover with plastic wrap, and put inside 2 gal freezer bag, or cover with plastic wrap and tin foil. Label and freeze.
When you want to serve, thaw in the fridge for about 12 hours, and stick in the oven at 375 for 35-40 mins. (take all plastic off first, of course.) Mine often takes longer...maybe I put it in too cold.
I usually buy the ham that's cheap and already diced. I usually buy for freezer meal making days cheese already shredded when it's on sale. You can freeze shredded cheese until it's ready to be put into a bulk meal. (Freeze bought shredded cheese NOT block cheese.)
Almost all my recipes have been modified for to be "South Beach" friendly. The main change is most things use whole wheat flour, or whole wheat pastry flour as a substitute for regular flour. We use whole wheat tortillas with the chimichangas, and I make a whole wheat pie crust for the pot pie, etc. We're really started to prefer the flavor of whole wheat things, as well.
The "There's a Chef in your Freezer" cookbook has some recipes, but mostly I use it as a great resource to helping my garden produce stay good in the freezer. I learned from this cookbook to roast my tomatoes, and puree them before freezing. You've got the best tomato "goop" on hand to throw in with regular cooking then. It's amazing in beef stew.
I also find great freezer recipes in the Martha Stewart Everyday magazine. My family's favorites are broccoli calzones (which is a really cheap meal too!) and Swedish meatballs. I also freeze loaves of banana bread, and rhubarb bread. That way I always have something kind of healthy to serve when people stop by.
--Blogging. I usually do a lot of it the night before, and save it, and look at it in the morning. My mind is often too much awake at night, and it helps me unload on the blog to help me sleep. I often add things in the morning. Sometimes I delete in the morning. Sometimes I just download the pictures at night, and write other stuff in the morning. I've just learned it doesn't have to be a sit down and do it all at one time kind of thing. It can be a process, and I can press the post button whenever I want. Like Mckmama would say, "It's my blog." Lately, I've just been pressing the post button more often. Whenever I blog in the morning, which I do as well, I always feel bad I didn't edit it more, or I say things that are stupid and don't make sense. I'm not a morning person, as you might gather.
--Reading. That doesn't get done anymore either. For a literature major like me, that's a big deal. Lately, it's taken me a year or so to get through a book. Priorities, I guess. BUT for those new stay-at-home moms, who are going through the shell shock of a completely different life at home, read "The Hidden Art of Homemaking" by Edith Shaeffer. I WISH I would have read that when I first quit my job to stay at home. It taught me to take my focus off of surviving, and turning it to thriving. It made me look at my part in the family as so God glorifying, and not insignificant. I still like to read different chapters now and then, because it helps me think of ways to mirror God in all that I do in our home. It does matter.
--and lastly, how do I do all this stuff? I TURN OFF THE T.V! Well, not completely. It's just, I realized one day, after watching about 2 hours of t.v. every night, what I could get done with that time instead. I kept wishing I had time for stuff, and then wasted every night in front of the tube. I haven't cut it completely out, but I'd say I don't watch more than about 2 hours a week now. So one movie with Knut, or a few shows here or there. And I never watch t.v. without some handwork. I'm either knitting or working on my hand sewing project while I watch. At least I feel a little more productive then.
Now, if only I could learn to turn off the computer. Then I'd REALLY get some stuff done! These are my imperfect thoughts from an imperfect mother and wife. I'm not even close to being all that I want to be, and I hate that some things I continually struggle with. But I think that's when we need to stop, and refocus. We recognize His kingdom in the present when we focus on the Lord, and what he has done for us, we can stop stressing out about all that isn't getting done. His reign over our life does not begin in heaven. It begins now. Whenever I start thinking about all that isn't getting done, I can physically feel my blood pressure rising. Then God just gently whispers, that I have taken my eyes off of him. That doesn't make everything magically get done, but it does allow me to work one step at a time, enjoy my life in Him, and be a reflection of Him. And isn't that the main thing?