Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Gratitude Journal and 21-Day Challenge

Rather than just writing a gratitude journal, I am engaging in a twenty-one day challenge with some others that involves gratitude and a few other things, so this is the place where I will write those down.

Here is the challenge for each day in this twenty-one days:
1) Write down three things I am grateful for daily.
2) Journal one experience that day that was positive.
3) Exercise.
4) Meditate.
5) Do one random act of kindness every day.

Today, I will list the three things for which I am grateful:

1) I am grateful for good medical insurance.  Today I took my oldest to the doctor and he requires some new prescriptions for asthma medications.  While our insurance didn't make these items free, it did reduce the price greatly.  It will still be a struggle right now to pay for them, but the struggle would be so much worse without our good insurance.

2) I am grateful to have my sister-in-law living with us at the moment.  I had many errands to run today, including two doctor's appointments, and was able to leave my two little ones at home with her.  That makes it so much easier when you don't have little ones tagging along.

3) I am grateful that the weather is cooling down.  It's still not as cool as I like fall to be, but at least our electric bill is seeing a bit of a relief in the high cost and we are able to keep windows open and not use the AC. 

One experience today that was a positive experience for me was seeing my oldest complete his homework.

I did not exercise, other than walking from the parking lot to the doctor's office, up the stairs and down again there and back to the car.

My random act of kindness was holding the door for a caterer with a large cart at the doctor's office.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Gratitude Journal Day Two

Today I am grateful for a working washing machine and dryer in my house.  I did six loads of laundry today and this would not have been possible to have done by hand in one day or if I had to go to a laundromat to do it.  While my washing machine is ten years old and not always the most reliable and my dryer is a cheap, simple one, they get the job done most days.  We can have clean clothes available to us all the time because of these wonderful modern conveniences.  I am grateful for a working washer and dryer.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Gratitude Journal Day One

Every day in November, I want to write about something for which I am grateful. 

Today, November 1st, I am grateful for a roof over my head.  There are many people in the world without such a luxury.  There are also many people in the world who have a roof but it isn't the fancy one that I am blessed to have.  While my house may not be perfect and there are issues with it constantly (leaking, foundation issues, etc.), at least it is a place where I can be protected from rain, wind, cold, heat and my kids all have beds to sleep in and we have a place to prepare and serve food.  This is so much more than so many people have and I am very grateful for this.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Need Someone To Talk To? There is One Who is Always There...

Friday night was a rough night.  My husband was working the night shift (which goes from around 4 p.m. to about 2:30 a.m.) and I had a rough time getting the kids to bed.  My oldest child, age eleven, was out with a friend (he had been invited to go with that friend for his birthday to an amusement park).  My ten-year-old, who is the second oldest, had been a big help that evening.  He had cleaned up the dinner dishes, helped the seven-year-old with her weekly chore of picking up the dog poop in the backyard, had changed the poopy diaper of the two-year-old and helped the four-year-old with going to the bathroom before bed all while I was attending to other children and problems.  After the younger kids, ages eight and under, were in bed, I was rewarding the ten-year-old with a turn playing Minecraft on my Kindle Fire and having a bowl of ice cream when the eleven-year-old walked in.

He eagerly began to tell me about his day at the amusement park and then he saw the ice cream and asked for a bowl.  Now, I had just given the last of the carton to the ten-year-old, so I explained that his brother had been such a huge help to me that night and was being rewarded for his efforts.  This sent the eleven-year-old into a preteen tantrum about how unfair life is and how he never gets anything he wants (hmmm...he just spent the entire day at the amusement park and I had even checked him out of school early to go).  He thundered up the stairs, grumbled as he took his shower and grumbled as he went to bed.  The ten-year-old finished his treat and turn on the device and went to bed.  I then went and took a bath, feeling quite disgruntled.

I sat in the tub, mulling over how things could have gone differently.  This oldest child of mine is a whirlwind of emotion.  I'd like to say that it's because of the preteen hormones and all that, but he's always been like this.  We have never been ones to give in to whims or bombard our kids with all sorts of unnecessary but fun activities and toys (they have to earn their time on the Kindle Fire, for example, and we only have the one device, the Kindle Fire, which I got for Christmas just this last year).  I don't know where this spoiled sense of entitlement comes from.  I was frustrated and alone, since Husband was at work.  I couldn't even call him to vent because he just doesn't have the kind of job where you can call unless it's really urgent.  My mom wasn't answering her phone and it was too late to call most everyone else.  I just needed to talk to someone about my frustrations with this child!

Then it hit me.  I needed to pray.  Heavenly Father is always available when I need someone to talk to and it was just what was needed.  As I voiced my frustration and prayed for understanding and the ability to communicate and teach this child, I felt my resentment and anger towards him melt away.  Not only was I able to refill my spiritual cup, which I desperately needed, but I was able to have my heart softened toward my child and I felt like I could still reach him, whereas before, I just felt a sense of utter and total failure. 

I need to remember this, that my Heavenly Father is always available to listen and often, the best choice in someone to vent my frustrations to and seek an ally.  I still talked to my husband when he got home from work around 3 a.m. and told him what had happened and how I handled it.  I also told him about my inspiration to pray and he agreed that we should both pray more often for help with our kids.  After all, Heavenly Father knows our child better than we do and sometimes just putting it all out there in His hands helps us think through how best to approach a situation. 

Prayer is such a beautiful gift that we have, a way to communicate with one who truly knows and loves us. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Eating a (Mostly) Balanced Diet on a Budget Conclusion

I had someone point out that not all of my meals were healthy, in that 1/2 the plate was fruits and veggies.  Yes, I know.  It is really hard for me to add veggies to a breakfast because they seem to me to not be breakfast food.  I'm really weird about what's appropriate as breakfast food.  My husband can eat a tuna sandwich, complete with lettuce and pickle for breakfast, but the thought just makes my stomach curdle.  Anything with egg and bread usually suffice for me.  That is why I like to have juice with breakfast and often fruit.  When I do oatmeal, a lot of times I will add bananas, strawberries, blueberries, or even peaches to the oatmeal.  I like to sweeten the oatmeal with honey, which has good benefits even though it is used as a sweetener.  For example, local raw honey can help with allergies to local pollen. 

I personally think it would be impossible to eat every single meal with exactly 1/2 the plate as fruits and veggies and enjoy eating.  Besides that, I didn't really talk about snacks that my family eats outside of our three regular meals, and I guess I should have.  I either bake up something, like muffins or soft pretzels, or they have a piece of fruit or a vegetable for a snack.  Some examples include celery with peanut butter or carrots with a little Ranch dressing.  Often, I will just have them eat an apple or a handful of strawberries or raspberries, which is why I buy so many apples.  I always buy bananas and apples and then I buy other fruits according to what I find on sale.  That includes oranges (I love winter when little clementines are easy to find--they make a great snack), grapes, watermelon, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, kiwi, pears, and grapefruit.  We don't like mangos and we don't eat cantaloupe or honeydew because of my son's sensitivity.  Vegetables I buy regularly include green beans, broccoli, lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, and potatoes (though in the last few decades, I guess potatoes are no longer a vegetable, but a starch?  I still think they have some good qualities that make them a good food, as long as that isn't all you eat). 

Also, I try to make all of the dinner meals a good balanced meal that includes a protein and always, always, sides of fruits and veggies.  We do drink a lot of milk, and that is another food that is under fire for not being something we should consume.  I still think milk, when consumed in small quantities, contains vitamins and benefits that are healthy.

In the end, you do what works for your family.  In the summers, we do more salads, like chicken salad, and lots of crock pot meals, like a chicken/potato dish my kids love.  That way we aren't heating the house with the oven being on and the foods are more seasonal.   We also eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.  In the winter, I often resort to canned fruits/veggies, if I can't find what I like for a decent price in the produce section.

I really believe that a healthy, balanced diet is one where you eat foods you like and you try to have the right amounts on a daily basis, not concentrating on just each meal, but daily and even weekly total consumption.  Also, drink a lot of water throughout the day and with the meals.  

Some of the meals I have planned for this week include:
beef pot roast with carrots and potatoes (I don't do onions, they hurt my stomach)
beef stew made from the leftovers of the pot roast
spaghetti (again)
tacos (made with beef, homemade tortillas, and using veggies like tomatoes and lettuce to stuff them with)
chicken quesadillas
and the usual leftovers and homemade pizza.

I shop the sales, I use my grocery ads, and I stock up on items when I find good deals.  I hope this has been helpful.  If you disagree with my food choices or think I'm making the prices up, you are free to believe that.  I don't want to start a debate.   Everyone has their own idea of what eating healthy consists of, especially when there is so much contradicting information out there.  My mom fed us well and healthily and all of us kids grew up pretty healthy and I cook a lot like her, so I figure I'm doing all right.  This has really helped me take a look at where I can do better, though, so I'm glad I did this.  Thanks for reading!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Eating a (Mostly) Balanced Diet on a Budget: Day Seven--Homemade Pizza



Ham, Egg, and Cheese Frittata (more like an egg casserole than a true frittata)
Apple juice or Orange-Pineapple-Apple juice

Note on the juice:  I like to buy certain kinds of frozen concentrate juices.  I tend to buy my orange juice that way because I read that concentrate orange juice has less preservatives in it than bottled orange juice, that bottled orange juice is stored in big tanks and orange flavoring and color is added to it but not to the concentrate.  But, my favorite kind of concentrate is a brand called Hawaii's Own.  Unfortunately, they do not sell my brand of juice here in Texas.  According to the juice's website, they sell it at certain dollar stores, but I have searched all of those dollar stores in my area and the ones near me do not carry it.  So I have settled on similar juice by Welch's: orange-pineapple-apple, strawberry, or passion fruit are my favorites.  Sometimes I mix them to try and imitate the flavor of the Hawaii's Own.  When and if I am in Utah or Arizona, I will be buying a cooler of dry ice and bringing a large amount of that back to Texas with me!

6 eggs
1 cup of milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
Diced ham (I use a handful, so about 1/2 cup)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup shredded cheese
Sometimes I add one potato, peeled and shredded.

Beat eggs, milk, melted butter, salt and pepper together.  Pour into greased 9X9 pan.  Sprinkle ham and cheese over the egg mixture.  Bake in 350 oven for 25-30 minutes until knife inserted in middle comes out clean.

Cost of breakfast:

$.99 diced ham ($3.98 bag of diced ham, but I only used a handful, about 1/4)
$.78 eggs
$.11 milk (remember, I bought my gallon of milk for $1.69)
$.05 margarine (yes, I know butter is supposed to be healthier)
$.40 cheese (~$3.20 4 cup bag of shredded cheese, I used 1/2 cup)
$1 juices (drank about 1/2 each of the two juices)
$3.33 Total=$.42/person


Hot dogs
Fresh fruit/veggies
water to drink

Yes, I know the stigma of hot dogs, but all beef hot dogs really aren't that bad if you only have them once in a while.  If you have a steady diet of hot dogs, then I can see that would be really bad for you, but a hot dog on occasion is okay.  

Cost of Lunch:

$3 hot dogs (2 pkgs of 8)
$1.50 worth of strawberries or apple slices (some of my kids don't like strawberries--I know, crazy, right?)
$1.50 worth of sliced carrots or celery
$.89 hot dog buns (because I bought two packages at that prices but we only ate one--several of my kids eat the hot dogs without the buns)
$6.89 Total=$.86/person


Homemade pizza
Fruit salad
Tossed salad
Chocolate milk to drink (which we really like with pizza, for some reason)

You can find my pizza dough recipe by clicking on the recipes tab at the top of my blog or by clicking the hyperlinked word recipe.  I make two pizzas with the dough and have some dough leftover to make a third pizza later in the week for a lunch one day.

My family likes plain cheese, pepperoni and olive, ham and olive, pepperoni and mushroom.  I make a mozzarella/cheddar blend of cheese with about 1 cup mozzarella to about 1/4 cup cheddar.

Cost of dinner:

$2.50 pizza dough ingredients estimate (things I always have on hand because I make pizza dough just about once a week--I also think this is a high estimate of these ingredients)
$.89 jar of sauce (lasts for 2-3 pizzas)
$1.99 pkg of pepperoni (lasts for 2-3 pizzas)
$3.20 4 cup shredded mozzarella (lasts for 2-3 pizzas)
$.50 worth of shredded cheddar
$2 olives/mushrooms/ham
$1 fruit (bananas, strawberries, apple)
$.85 milk
$.50 chocolate syrup to make it chocolate
$1 tossed salad (lettuce, shredded cheddar, celery)
$14.43 Total=$1.80/person

Total for Saturday:  $24.65=$3.08/person

Total for the Week:  $116.80=$14.60/person for the week in food

Friday, April 17, 2015

Eating a (Mostly) Balanced Diet on a Budget: Day Six--Macaroni and Cheese


For Breakfast, we had pancakes again.

For Lunch, same as usual.

I do admit that sometimes breakfast and lunch can get tedious, but only in this day and age do we somehow believe that everything has to have so much variety.  I try to make sure the kids get a couple days a week with eggs, and a few without eggs and to save on cereal, I try to make something else, like the pancakes or waffles.


Homemade macaroni and cheese:

Boil 1 cup of macaroni noodles until tender.

2 Tbsp butter or margarine
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup to 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or any cheese to your liking, and I usually use a handful, so I don't really know how much)
1 can petite diced tomatoes

While they're boiling:
Melt butter in saucepan.  Add flour and salt and stir.  Then add milk and cook, while stirring, over medium heat until mixture thickens.  Remove from heat and add half the cheese.  Stir until cheese is melted.

Strain the macaroni, combine with cheese sauce in a casserole dish.  Add can of tomatoes.  I like the tomatoes for flavor but my kids hate them.  Sometimes I use an 8 oz can of tomato sauce instead.

Top with remaining cheese.

Bake in 350 oven for 30 minutes, until cheese melts and browns a little.

You might have to double this recipe if you have a large family.

I also served steamed broccoli and a fruit salad.

Cost of dinner:

$.50 broccoli
$1 fruit salad
$.50 for cup of macaroni
$.60 can petite diced tomatoes
$.50 other ingredients
$.50 cheese
$3.60 Total (or $5 ish dollars to double it)=$.45/person

Total cost of food for the day:

$2.17 breakfast
$8 lunch
$3.60 Dinner
$13.77 Total=$1.72/person


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