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Time Management: What questions would you love to have answered?

I’ve been getting a lot of emails recently asking “How do you do it all?”

Well, the truth of the matter is that I don’t do it all — and that’s the only reason I can have three young children, homeschool, keep up with a large blog, stick to a budget — and still have time to read, have a clean and organized home (most of the time!), get enough sleep (most nights!) and go on dates with my husband.

I’m speaking some on balance and time management at next week (can’t wait to meet some of you there!) and since so many people are asking for my practical suggestions on time management and how I manage to accomplish what I do, I thought I’d share some of what I’ll be sharing at Relevant in a series on time management here, as well.

However, in an effort to make this series as helpful as it can be, I wanted to open up the floor for requests. If you had a specific question you’d like for me to address regarding time management, what would it be? Email me with your question or leave it in the comments here.

I plan to begin this series near the end of October and will be posting one post per weekday until it is finished (no making you wait a week or two or 15 for the next installment as I’ve sometimes done in the past!) No promises that I’ll have a great answer to your questions and am pretty positive I won’t be able to address everything regarding time management in the series, but I’m hoping to make this series as comprehensive and helpful as possible based upon what is working for me.

Revamping My Freezer Cooking Methods

As I’ve mentioned in the past few months, I’ve been simplifying and streamlining a lot of areas in my life so that I can focus on the most important priorities, not overload my plate and have time to “stop and smell the roses” instead of feeling like I’m barely staying afloat.

One area that I’ve felt needs some revamping is my method of Freezer Cooking. When I had one and two small children, it was pretty simple to pull off a six-hour Freezer Cooking Marathon if I did a few hours in the morning while the girls played or helped me and a few hours in the afternoon during naptime.

Now that I have three children and a big chunk of our day is dedicated to homeschooling, I’m finding that fitting in a Freezer Cooking Marathon is just not, well, fitting in. In addition, we haven’t been eating casseroles and instead are mostly eating simple dinners of meat, veggies and either fruit and/or mashed potatoes, rice or bread. These meals don’t require a lot of prep work ahead of time, unlike the meals I used to make on Freezer Cooking Days.

The past month, I’ve been experimenting with doing a 30-minute batch-cooking session once or twice each week — marinating four meal’s worth of chicken breasts, quadrupling a batch of meatballs, making up a quadruple batch of pancakes or cooking a roast in the crockpot and then shredding it and turning it into a few meal’s worth of barbecued beef. I usually tack this onto our regular dinner prep in the late afternoon and I’m discovering if I do this once or twice each week, we consistently have at least a week’s worth of meals in the freezer at all times.

I was feeling guilty about doing Freezer Cooking this way as it just didn’t seem “right” compared with how I’ve always done it. When I was talking with about the guilt I was struggling with in admitting to you all that having a Freezer Cooking Marathon is just not working for us right now, she reminded me that there is no right way to “do” Freezer Cooking.

It’s not about trying to copy what works for someone else or trying to mimic what once worked for us. Being a successful homemaker, wife, mother and home economist is about finding what works for you and your family and doing that — and having freedom from guilt about what others do or don’t do.

So, I’m going revamp my previous Freezer Cooking methods and do what works for us right now — which is just having a mini freezer cooking session once or twice a week. I might not stay as far ahead or have my freezer quite as stocked, but it will still save us a great deal of time. And I really don’t think it will end up taking any extra time and my kitchen won’t get so utterly destroyed all at once (though I might end up washing a few extra dishes by breaking it up like this).

I’ll still be posting an occasional freezer-friendly recipe, but for now (she so generously offered to take over the shouldering of it for me!). I may pick it back up again in the future, but for now, I’m going to guiltlessly enjoy doing what is working for our family.

photo from

48-Hour Giveaway: Johnny Patch (6 winners)

Looking for a quick and easy way to prolong the life of denim? You might consider trying a .

Available in three different denim shades, a is made from recycled jeans and can be simply and easily ironed on to extend the life of your jeans. Not only are the patches available in different shades, but you can also get a regular patch, a seam patch or even a back pocket patch. These are proven to hold up through hundreds of washes.

Now, I do have to mention that I personally would likely never pay $9 for a Johnny Patch. Why? Because that’s quite a bit more than I usually pay for the two pair of jeans I own at any given time! 🙂

So, I’d likely sell a pair of jeans in our garage sale and just go buy another pair during the thrift store dollar days before I’d spend the money on a Johnny Patch. But that’s just me! If, on the other hand, I had plunked down a lot of money on a pair of expensive jeans or had a lot of trouble finding ones that fit, I’d probably be much more inclined to go the Johnny Patch route when they started wearing out.

If you’re interested in trying these out, is offering a 20% discount to my readers when you use coupon code MSM (code is good through December 31, 2010).

Plus, Johnny Patch has offered to give away two patches to six different winners here this week. Just click on the link below and type in your name and address to enter. Six winners will be chosen and posted on Monday. This giveaway ends Friday, October 15, 2010, at 11:59 PM CST.

Sticking to Your Financial Goals — Even When it Hurts

My friend, Jen, has an incredibly encouraging post up about and how she’s learning to let go of her ego and drive it –peeling paint, dents and all — so that they can stay on track with their financial goals.

If you’re struggling with playing the comparison game and worried about what other people might think of the financial choices you’re making, I think you’ll be inspired and blessed by her post.

And I just have to say, that after I saw the pictures of the minivan she’s driving, our beloved Old Blue doesn’t look that bad. Oh wait, I guess that’s playing the comparison game, too. 🙂

Ask the Readers: How do you save money when you work outside the home?

This question comes from Amy:

I have an outside my home job that requires 40 to 50 hours per week. I try very hard to save money. We use coupons, cook at home (most of the time) and various other things to save money. I would like to hear from other moms who work outside their home on how they get it done.

I rarely have time to go to the store more than once every couple weeks, so I can’t really plan around sales. I try to go to Walgreens over my lunch hours, but I would like to know if anyone else has tips for how they get in on the deals and stay organized enough to cook dinner every night. Thank you! -Amy