My summer reading plans

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Yesterday afternoon I sat at the computer to write today’s post and the words just were not coming. I aspire to be more than a “fly by the seat of your pants” kind of blogger one day, but that may never happen.

I’ve been thinking a lot about homemaking lately since our ebook, Hope – Thriving While Unemployed is in this year’s Ultimate Homemaking Bundle. I also have the privilege of watching my sweet daughter-in-law begin the journey of making their house a home. And on the other end of the spectrum, I’ve been watching a good friend do a huge remodel on their house that is going into it’s 5th month. It’s been a reminder to me that this homemaking gig really is a journey not a destination.

So, wherever you are in your homemaking journey take some time to be intentional about your home. Are there things that aren’t going so well? If so, what needs to change? Who needs new responsibilities? Are there things you are doing that really no longer need to be done? Or done as often? Do you have a plan, as in a plan that is actually doable in your season of life?

I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I would breakdown the Ultimate Homemaking bundle for you today.  So, here it is (just click on any of the graphics to be taken to the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle website)….

I was so very excited when I found out that The Healthy Home ecourse from Vintage Remedies was going to be in this bundle. I’ve been wanting to take it for a while now. But with a $95 price tag, it keeps getting pushed back. I’ve been thinking about using some of the Vintage Remedies courses for part of Phoebe’s high school classes so I’m excited to see what this one has to offer. The other course that I’m excited to try is the 14 Days to a Better Neck. A couple of months ago the attic ladder fell on me and while there was no real damage my neck hasn’t been quite the same since.

Green Your Life by Emily McClements is such an uplifting book. She tackles honest questions like, What about the environmental impact of re-usable products such a cloth napkins? Here’s what she has to say,

“It’s not that most re-usable products are without any kind of environmental impact – but it is a different kind of impact. I believe the underlying question here is which option has the most harmful and longer-lasting impact on the environment – using energy to wash and re-use items like cloth rags and towels, or using one-use disposable products like paper towels and disposable cleaning products?”

Emily has all kinds of recipes and tips for living with less toxins in your life and saving money. I love the 12 indoor plants to improve air quality. I need to work on this. I only have one indoor planter – and it’s in the bathroom, hopefully improving air quality ;-). 

I had to smile when I saw That Works For Me in the bundle. This is the first ebook that I contributed to. Kristen Welch and Jennifer De Groot put this together from ideas that had been part of their weekly blog party, Works For Me Wednesday. The proceeds go to help support Mercy House which is a mother/child home in Kenya. I’ve always been super inspired by what the Welch family has been called to. When this book was being put together and Mercy House was starting we were at the beginning of our four year season of unemployment. I remember being happy that I could contribute something so small as letting them use my simple idea of how I handle homeschool grading since there was no way I could contribute financially.

I also can’t wait to dig into Handmade Walls by Jamin and Ashley Mills this summer. Summer is such a good time for me to do small updates to our home since we don’t school in the summer. 

The most important thing we can do for our kids is encourage them to live a life devoted to God. We can’t require it or make them but we most certainly can encourage it….and it starts the minute they are born, not when they are teenagers and driving us crazy.  I really appreciated The Busy Mom’s Guide to Teaching Character by Jennifer Thorson.  As a mom of teens and young adults, I love the wisdom found in this quote…

“Teaching character is not about just making our children into “good moral people”. It’s not a matter of getting them to “prove” they are holy by wearing certain clothes or going to church several nights a week. It’s about asking the Holy Spirit to help us (and help them!) as we impart the wisdom, knowledge and understanding of God into their little hearts, all the while pointing them to the cross when they fail.”

There was a time in my life that I parented from a point of, “Please don’t make me look like a bad mom.” And I think most of us have been there. When we get to the point of parenting based on the true well being of our child instead of our own insecurities we’ll see a huge difference in our relationship with our child.

I think spiritual health is such an overlooked aspect of our lives.  Sometimes I *think* I’ve got together and I’m doing just fine thank you very much. And I certainly have more of a Martha tendency than a Mary tendency.  These books have been a breath of fresh air for me. 

And here’s our book, Hope -Thriving While Unemployed. Of course, I think it’s wonderful. The other books are full of great tips on saving money, budgeting and living a frugal lifestyle. I found several ideas that were new to me that I want to try.

This is a great bookshelf and I can’t wait  try some new recipes this summer.  I really don’t have time during the school year to vary our menu much but I have more flexibility in the summer so I try to try new thing then. I love Kelly McNelis’ No Cook Freezer Meals. I’ve tried several of her crockpot freezer meals from her website and they have all been a hit with my family. I think if I can get some crockpot freezer meals made before our school year starts in the fall, it will really help with the stress factor. 

I really like the Canner Cookbook by Merissa Alink, too. So many times people can their summer bounty and then have no plan on how to really use it up. This cookbook helps you figure it all out.

I bet you can’t guess what book in this section is my favorite? If you guessed, From Your Garden to Your Family you are correct. Stephanie Brandt Cornais has done such a great job of integrating the garden with the kitchen. I don’t know why that is so hard for people but I regularly get asked what we do with all the produce we grow…ummmm, eat it. She also does a great job of integrating her children and her garden. There are gardening tips, planning tips and fabulous looking recipes for each month of the year.

I’m going to be honest, I cannot even think about the fall holidays yet. If it doesn’t involve growing herbs or sewing for gift giving, its too overwhelming for me to think about fall. But I know when I’m in the mood for fall planning (Labor Day or so) I’ll be reaching for these resources. 

If you’ve read any of our homeschooling posts, you know we’re pretty relaxed and I’m a creature of habit. Not a lot of new stuff makes it’s way into our homeschool. That being said, I’ve been wanting to use Write Through the Bible with Esther. Although I’m pretty confident in our homeschooling today I remember the seasons of insecurity, tears and frustration very well. Homeschooling has stretched me more as a person that anything else I have ever done. It’s been good and there are no regrets but there have been some incredibly hard times, too. Homeschooling Day by Day by Kristy Howard is absolutely the most encouraging homeschooling book I’ve read. I’ll be buying a copy for our daughter in law when she begins homeschooling – maybe it will be in print by then ;-). 

Sometimes I’m going about my life, thinking I have it all together and them WHAM – all of the sudden I realize I don’t.  50 Frugal Dates by Jenny Martin has been a reminder to me to slow down be more intentional in my marriage.  

So much good stuff here. I really appreciated from Grouchy to Great by Ruth Schwenk because, well, I’m grouchy sometimes. I hate to admit it but I’m not the fun parent. I have to really be intentional to be not grouchy. I don’t mean to be grouchy, sometimes I get all caught up in the things I think “need” to be done and when they don’t get done or I think they won’t get done…I get grouchy. 

This bookshelf and I are going to become best friends this summer. We’ve lived in this house for three and a half years. That’s the second longest we’ve ever lived in one home. (The longest was five years.) So since I won’t be packing up a house to move, I have to figure out how normal people keep clutter under control. Also, I’ve had a small glimpse of what Holly Dorvak has to offer with the free mini-ecourse. If you haven’t subscribed to it, you should. It’s really great. 

Planning isn’t the hard part for me, having the discipline to actually follow the plan is. Since my all time favorite calendar has been discontinued I’ve been on the hunt for a new one. I’ve been wanting to try The Sweet Life Planner from Laura Fisher Smith for a while, so I’m super excited it’s in this bundle. With 120 pages of planning and organizing goodness surely I can create a planner that will work for me.  I also really liked the chore cards in the Home:Planned by Mandy Ballard. I think those will be super helpful for Esther until she can real a little better.

So, I didn’t even read any of these books. We are beyond this season in our life. However, I’ve recommended several of them to new mamas and they have found them very helpful.

Simply Dressed by Victoria Osborn is at the top of my reading list for this bookshelf. Does that surprise you? I realized a few weeks ago when I came out of room one morning dressed, hair brushed and with a little make up on and all of my kids asked me where I was going, that I might want to step it up a notch ;-).  Also 10 Things You Should Know About Essential Oils Before You Buy was very thought provoking. It’s a short read, just 4 pages, but has some great information that you should be aware of if you are using essential oils.

How to Blog for Profit Without Selling Your Soul is a fabulous book on blogging. I’ve tried really hard to be a blogger with integrity and honesty. I do think that people who blog should have a way of being compensated for the time they spend writing. But like all things in life there isn’t a one size fits all when it comes to making money from a blog. Ruth does a great job of guiding you through different options and figuring out what is best for you and your blog. The other two books are on my summer list. As we branch out into ebook writing and an etsy store, this online business is taking more and more of my time and we need to figure out how to balance all these new projects.

This is my favorite part of these bundles…the bonuses! I’ve used my Hope Ink credit to buy a graduation gift, I’m using the scarf from Deborah & Co as part of our giveaways and I ordered a Green Kids Crafts for Esther. I’m trying to decide what Crafty class I want to take or if I want to let someone else in my family use it and I’ve started my Tyndale Rewards account. Many of these things are things that are a real treat for us to have and we only get them because of the bundle.

So there you have it, my breakdown of the 2015 Ultimate Homemaking Bundle. If you have any questions about the bundle, there is a great FAQ page. If you still have questions after reading that just ask me and I’ll see if we can find the answer. 

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