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Homemaking Update September 2020

I enjoyed getting back to old-fashioned blogging last month with a more personal update. I got feedback that you enjoyed it too, so I'm back again this month with another personal update about what I've been up to this past month.

 

My fall garden

I haven't taken the time to water or weed; I've just been letting the plants that were out there do their thing.

The beans just keep coming and coming with no work on my part (other than lots of picking!)

I've also got a beautiful patch of kale, along with a few broccoli plants.

The zinnia patch, although it looks pretty nasty and overgrown as a whole, continues to produce some beautiful blossoms that brighten the bookshelf beside the chair in my room.

 

 

I finished 5 books in August:

1. I Dared to Call Him Father

 

Description:
I Dared to Call Him Father is the fascinating true story of Bilquis Sheikh, a prominent Muslim woman. Her unusual journey to a personal relationship with God turned her world upside down-and put her life in danger. Originally published in 1978, the book has sold 300,000 copies and is a classic in Muslim evangelism. The 25th anniversary edition includes an afterword by a missionary friend of Bilquis who plays a prominent role in the story and an appendix on how the East enriches the West.

My review on Goodreads:

I will never tire of hearing testimonies of God's mercy and grace, and how he so lovingly draws people to Himself.

There were some instances where I was not on the same page theologically with the author, and yet, she was a new Christian living in a country with very little light and much hostility towards Christians.

Her dedication to Christ, her acknowledgement of the weakness of her flesh and total need for dependence on Him were challenging and inspiring to me.

 

2. How Do You Kill 11 Million People? Why the Truth Matters More than You Think

Description:
In this compact, nonpartisan book, Andrews urges readers to be “careful students” of the past, seeking accurate, factual accounts of events and decisions that illuminate choices we face now. By considering how the Nazi German regime was able to carry out over eleven million institutional killings between 1933 and 1945, Andrews advocates for an informed population that demands honesty and integrity from its leaders and from each other.

  • Does it matter that millions of ordinary citizens have checked out of participating in the decisions that shape the future of our country?
  • Which is more dangerous: politicians with ill intent, or the too-trusting population that allows such people to lead them?
  • How are we supposed to tell the difference between the “good guys” and the “bad guys”?
  • How does the answer to this question affect not only our country but our families, our faith, and our values?
  • What happens to a society in which truth is absent?

 

My Review on Goodreads:

I have no feelings either way about this book, and I think that was the author's intent. It simply presents many questions to ponder. It's not a storyline with a resolution; instead the reader is left to answer the questions presented and determine what their own course of action will be.

 

3. Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life

 

Description:
In Indistractable, Eyal reveals the hidden psychology driving us to distraction. He describes why solving the problem is not as simple as swearing off our devices: Abstinence is impractical and often makes us want more.

Eyal lays bare the secret of finally doing what you say you will do with a four-step, research-backed model. Indistractable reveals the key to getting the best out of technology, without letting it get the best of us.

My Review on Goodreads:

Not very cohesively written. I did gain some practical tips; however I feel I could have gained the same amount of benefit much more quickly just by reading a list of the tips instead of picking them up one by one throughout the book.

 

Description:
A work of fiction based on real events. Cover-ups in the church, lies, and hypocrisy drive a teenage boy to make sinful choices. The consequences of those choices affect him and others in greater ways than he ever expected.

My Review on Goodreads:

I laughed and I cried. I couldn't put it down. The author did a phenomenal job taking truth and weaving it into a fictional narrative that tells the story of many survivors of abuse, lies, and cover-ups. The fictional aspect was written realistically, although with a happy ending, which does not always occur for every person who shares the experiences the main characters went through. I appreciated the happy ending, though, because while the book sheds light on problematic issues within churches today, it also shows that these issues can be handled in a way that can be healing for survivors and glorifying to God.

 

5. Words on Fire

Description:

Danger is never far from Audra's family farm in Lithuania. She always avoids the occupying Russian Cossack soldiers, who insist that everyone must become Russian — they have banned Lithuanian books, religion, culture, and even the language. But Audra knows her parents are involved in something secret and perilous.

In June 1893, when Cossacks arrive abruptly at their door, Audra's parents insist that she flee, taking with her an important package and instructions for where to deliver it. But escape means abandoning her parents to a terrible fate.

As Audra embarks on a journey to deliver the mysterious package, she faces unimaginable risks, and soon she becomes caught up in a growing resistance movement. Can joining the underground network of book smugglers give Audra a chance to rescue her parents?

My review on Goodreads:

I found my heart racing and my teeth clenched at many points during the book. The author did a good job portraying the emotions the characters felt.

 

Where I get books to read

I read 90% of my books on the Scribd app. I pay $9.99 a month, and I can read or listen to whatever I want on the app. (You don't own the books permanently, but you can read or listen to anything as long as you have a subscription.) They have just about everything on my book list available. Rarely do they not have a book that I'm wanting to read or listen to. I really love it because I spend far less than I would to purchase new books, while at the same time keeping my home clutter free. (Click here to try it free for 60 days.)

 

Something new I tried this month:

I tried a new clothing subscription service called Wantable this month. I've been using Stitch Fix for several years, but I thought it would be fun to see if a new company would add a little more variety to my wardrobe. I wrote an honest, unsponsored review of Wantable here.

A blog post I wrote this month:

Since grandparents day was in September, I was thinking about my grandparents, and I came up with a list of 5 Things I Learned about Homemaking from my Grandmothers.

 

A goal I worked on this month:

I mentioned last month that I really needed to drink more water because I was feeling like I was dehydrated all the time.

One thing that helped was to fill up a half gallon pitcher in the morning and use it to refill my water bottle through the day. Then I didn't have to keep track of how many bottles I drank; I only needed to try to make sure I emptied the pitcher each day.

I also started adding these mineral drops to my water. They seem to have helped a lot with balancing my mineral levels so that I'm actually absorbing the water I drink. My mouth feels a lot less dry. (This bottle will last forever too since you only use a few drops at a time.)

 

 

Something I've been thinking about this month

I posted the following on Instagram:

 

View this post on Instagram

 

This is what love looks like. ☝🏻 . Yes, I know those are actually strawberries, but strawberries can also look like love. . See, here’s something about me I don’t like saying, but is true. I really, really dislike cooking. I always have. I don’t know why; I think it’s partly because I’m awkward, slow, and messy in the kitchen, and it just usually turns out to be a not-very-enjoyable experience. . But I’ve realized more and more that food is one of the absolute biggest ways to show love to other people. I know for myself that I feel loved when someone makes food for me. There’s just something so comforting about a belly filled with food made with loving hands. . I’ve come to understand that the fact that I find cooking so difficult means I have an opportunity to show love in an even greater way. The effort I put forth is just as much my gift to the recipient as the food itself. . And so today I’ve spent the afternoon preparing a (belated) birthday dinner for my dad with a lot of his favorites – roast beef, mashed potatoes with gravy, green bean casserole, homemade biscuits, and strawberry shortcake for dessert. . I’m slowly learning to appreciate the chance to get into the kitchen and take advantage of the opportunity to give the gift of food to my loved ones. Instead of bucking against it and doing it out of duty, I’m learning to view it as a chance to love. . Anyone else have something in your home you dislike doing? How can you change your mindset from duty to love? . #imperfecthomemaker #onlylovetoday #intentionalhome #lovingmyfamily #christianbloggers #saturdaythoughts #ministryofmotherhood #risenmotherhood

A post shared by MaryEllen Bream (@imperfecthomemaker) on

 

 

And now looking forward to October, here are a few of the things I hope to accomplish:

 

Raise awareness about Domestic Violence

October is Domestic Violence awareness month, and as an advocate for abuse victims, I spend a lot of time behind the scenes working to support victims.  Along with helping victims themselves I also spend a lot of effort raising awareness for others who can help.

Many people I've met have wonderful hearts and assure me they would be the first to help, but they just don't know “anyone like that.”

But what a lot of people don't realize is that domestic abuse doesn't just happen to women who live with a rough looking guy in a white tank top. It festers silently behind charming smiles and all the right words. It hides behind social media posts where a family looks so happy and perfect. Sometimes the person you share a pew with at church is suffering silently and alone. No one knows what goes on behind the closed doors of her house, and she does not know who she can tell that will believe her story.

 

I don't do much of my advocacy work here on this website, but it is a big part of my personal life, and I'll be spending most of my October speaking on behalf of victims.
If you know someone who may be in an abusive marriage and you're not sure how you can help, please reach out to me via email (imperfecthomemaker@gmail.com), and I will be happy to point you in the right direction.
If you're hurting and confused in your marriage and you're not sure whether you are experiencing abuse or not, feel free to email me so I can direct you to resources that will offer some clarity about your situation.

 

This Month I Plan to Read:

Is it Abuse? by Darby Strickland.

As a domestic abuse advocate, I am always previewing books that I think will be helpful for both victims and for those who want to help a friend or loved one who may be a victim.

I pre-ordered this book last month, and it arrived recently. It's pretty thick and might take me more than a month to get through it.

 

Sourdough starter?

This one was on my maybe list last month. It's something I've been wanting to do for a long time, but there are only so many hours in the day. I was hoping to fit this in, but I was also trying a new routine with some supplements I'm taking at various points through the day. I didn't feel like it was wise to add multiple new routines to each day, so I put this one on hold last month. We'll see if I can do it this month.

 

Well that was fun! If you want to see even more, you can follow me on Instagram. Thanks for following along!

Wantable Style Edit: My Honest, Unsponsored Review

I decided to write this Wantable Review because I love sharing options that will make your life easier and save you time and stress.

As a stay-at-home mom, it's so difficult to get out to the stores and try on clothes. But yet, I still want to look nice. Dressing nicely helps me be more productive at home (plus I don't have to feel frumpy when I need to go out somewhere!)

A subscription box like the Wantable Style Edit solves the problem of finding clothes that fit well and look nice. I can create an attractive wardrobe with almost no effort and time.

I've been subscribed to Stitch Fix for a while, and have been super happy with the quality of the items I receive. They do seem to have almost a “signature style,” (which I love, by the way) but I thought it would be fun to see if a different subscription box would add some variety to my wardrobe.

I signed up and paid for the Wantable Style Edit myself; this is a completely unsponsored review. So with that said, I will share with you both the positives and the negatives.

Pros of subscribing to the Wantable Style Edit:

-Saves time
Like I already mentioned, it is very difficult to go clothes shopping when you have kids in tow. And when I have the opportunity to go out somewhere by myself, I prefer not to spend that time in the dressing room. Having clothes shipped to my door to try on gives me a fun chance to try new clothes without spending all my kid-free time in a dressing room somewhere.

-Try on clothes in the comfort of your own home
Am I the only one who has noticed that a lot of store dressing rooms have a very bad sales strategy? The mirrors are often distorted, and when you're cramped in there too close to the mirror, you can't tell for sure what the item actually looks like on you.
Receiving a Wantable box at my home and being able to try it on in front of my own mirror gives me a much better idea of whether I really like the item on me or not.
Plus I can walk around the house and feel whether something is too tight or too stretchy, etc. It's just so much easier all around to try things on at home.

shirt from wantable

 

-Free shipping and returns
I love that when I get a box, I can try everything on and then easily ship everything back that I don't want to keep. I buy clothing at other online shops sometimes, but it is sad and a waste of money when they don't fit like I'd hoped. When I try clothes from a Wantable box, I can just slip what doesn't work into the pre-paid return bag. I don't even have to go to the post office because I can schedule USPS or UPS to come pick it up from my house!

-Try new styles
It's fun to have a stylist choose the items to send because I get to try on new things I may not have chosen for myself. I've found new styles and colors that I ended up loving that I never would have thought to try.

-They have plus sizes
Unlike many other subscription services or even online clothing stores, Wantable has plus sizes. If you've been wanting to try a subscription service, but haven't been able to due to sizing issues, Wantable is your chance!

 

Cons of a subscribing to Wantable Style Edit:

-Can be pricey
If you're used to buying your clothes from bargain stores, you might have a hard time with the prices of the clothes in a Wantable subscription.
Keep in mind that the clothes you'll receive are from high-end, high-quality brands.
While it's definitely a splurge, you'll also be investing in higher quality pieces that will hold up well. Plus you're also gaining the convenience of not having to go the store and spend time and gas money.
With that said, I will again reiterate that it is pricey! If you don't have money in your budget to pay 40-50 dollars for an article of clothing, you'll want to skip this.

-Can take time for your stylist to get to know you
Just like a Stitch Fix subscription, it's very likely you'll find that your boxes will get better and better with time. (The reason I've listed this as a con is that sometimes your first box or two could be a little underwhelming while your stylist gets to know you.)

Once your stylist begins to learn your style, the items in your box should be better and better.

 

My personal experience with Wantable Style Edit:

I've only received one box so far, and these were my initial thoughts.

 

-The style quiz was put together really well
When you first set up your account, you'll take a style quiz so that they can get to know what you like and what types of things you want them to send.
There were a lot of multiple choice questions, so although it was a little long, it was easy to do. And because it was so thorough, I feel it gave a better chance for them to send things I like.

-My stylist did an amazing job for her first time styling me
I felt like my stylist really took into account all the answers on my style quiz and the notes I left for her when I requested my box. She followed my requests exactly. She also put together a nice collection of items that could be mixed and matched.

 


-I like having 7 items in my box as opposed to the 5 I get in a Stitch Fix box

Having more items to choose from means more chances to like what they send.

 

-The clothes fit great
I noticed that the clothes were not all the same size. They didn't just send everything in the exact size I had specified. If they knew something ran small, they sent the bigger size. My stylist hit the nail on the head with the fit of every item that was sent!

Important things to know about ordering a Wantable Style Edit:

-There is a $20 styling fee
Basically you're paying your stylist for her time to be your personal shopper. You'll pay this fee when you order your box. However, when you keep any item from your box, the $20 fee will be deducted from the price of the item you keep.

-There is a discount for keeping multiple items
If you keep 5 or more items from your box, you'll receive a 20% discount on everything.

-Some items can be exchanged
If you really like an item but find that it doesn't fit perfectly, you may be able to exchange it for a different size rather than returning it. It depends on whether they have the item in stock in the size you want.

-Order as many or as few boxes as you'd like

I didn't want to receive regular shipments from Wantable, so I canceled my account right after I received my first box. I wasn't sure what would happen when I cancelled, but I was happy to have the option to select “I'm just taking a break.” My account is still there, so it's more like pausing my subscription rather than cancelling.

If you do want to receive regular shipments of a Wantable Style Edit, you can select various frequencies.

How to have the most success with your Wantable Style Edit:

-Create a Pinterest board
Pin outfits you like to a Pinterest board so your stylist can get an eye for what kinds of items will appeal to you.

-Write a detailed note when you schedule a box
The more details you can write about what you want, the better! If you wear skirts below the knee, tell your stylist so they won't waste your time sending something shorter. If you have a little belly pooch that you want to hide, tell your stylist so they can send you clothes that will flatter your shape.

-Use the stream
Wantable has a style stream that you can browse. Click “request” on any items that you'd really like to try on. They may or may not be able to send that specific item, based on stock, but even if not, it will give them a better idea of the styles you like.

 

 

-Be patient and keep trying
Remember that your boxes will get better and better as time goes by and your stylist gets to know you better. If your first box is not the most amazing thing in the world, that doesn't mean every subsequent box will be bad. Keep trying and it will get better. Even though I've only received on Wantable box before, I can say pretty confidently that it will get better. I've been a subscriber to Stitch Fix for several years and by this point they know my style inside and out! I can only imagine Wantable's styling will work the same way.

-Leave feedback when checking out
One thing that will help each box get better is to be specific about your items when you check out. When you return things, leave a note about what you didn't like about the item or what would have made you like it better. The more of these details they learn, the better chances they will avoid sending things you don't like in the future.

-Use the referral program
When you refer friends to Wantable, you'll earn $25 in Wantable credit for each friend who signs up. Having some credit gives you a little more room to splurge when an item you really like is above what you would normally pay. (Of course, only refer your friends if you genuinely think they will like the service!)

 

Ready to give Wantable a try? You can sign up through my referral link here.

 

5 Things I Learned About Homemaking from my Grandmothers

When I think about my grandmothers, my mind is filled with happy memories and with gratitude for the godly influence they both have been to me.  One grandmother is in heaven and one is still with us. I just got to see her a few days ago.

As I thought about the blessing it was to grow up with grandparents who loved the Lord, I immediately thought of several very specific ways my homemaking has been influenced from watching the lives of my grandmothers.

 

 

1. I learned from my grandmothers to pray about everything.

Many were the times my parents would receive a call from a grandparent asking everyone to “Please pray for _____.” And my parents would immediately gather all of us children around to pray.

When I was growing up we lived near my dad's parents, and I got to spend a lot of time with his mom (my Granny.) Many of my Saturdays were spent riding around in the back of her car as we scouted out yard sales. I don't ever remember a time when I rode with her that she did not pray before we left the driveway for protection as we drove. My parents usually did the same, and now with my own children I almost always stop to pray before we leave the driveway.

I did not get to spend time with my mom's mother (My Grammy) as often since she lived far away from us, but I still have letters and cards from her that I treasure. She always let me know in her letters that she prayed for me, and though I would not have been able to put it into words at the time, I knew that I was extremely blessed to have a grandmother who loved me so much and spent her time praying for me.

                       Me and my Grammy

 

Now that I am a wife and mom, I try to set an example to my own children to pray about everything. I spend time in private prayer and I also spend time praying with my children. There is no better way for them to learn that God answers prayer than to learn to pray themselves.

 

2. I learned from my grandmothers to praise the Lord for everything.

While it's important to pray, it's just as important to praise God when he answers prayers. When we cry out to God in the midst of some crisis, it's easy to forget about it once the crisis is over.

I have heard my grandmothers praise God out loud many times. They set an example for me to remember that everything I have is from God, and I want to do the same for my children.

 

3. I learned from my grandmothers to love children.

We all have different personalities, just as my two grandmothers did. My Granny was always on the go (and still is!) The more kids she had around her, the happier she was. My Grammy was more quiet and subdued, and although I would have been too young to perceive it, I imagine her nervous system was not wired to tolerate as much noise and rowdiness. (Now that I'm a mom with constant noise in the house, I understand this perfectly!)

However, regardless of their personalities, they both heartily embraced their role as grandmother and counted it a privilege to be involved in the lives of their grandchildren.

I know that children are a blessing, and I choose to be thankful for them even on the days where I'm feeling overwhelmed.

 

                                    My Granny

 

4. I learned from my grandmothers that messes are okay.

I can remember my  Granny quoting on more than one occasion, “Where no oxen are, the crib is clean,” meaning that she was perfectly okay with the mess in her house as long as it meant the children she loved were there to make the messes.

Looking back I can tell that my Grammy was the kind of person who needed things to be neat and orderly, but at the same time she understood that messes come with the territory of loving children. She never seemed to get frustrated when we made a mess, but she gently and kindly taught us how to help clean up after ourselves. I remember learning how to hand wash dishes at her house, and although I have had the opportunity to use a dishwasher almost my entire life, I still think of her gentle teaching every time I hand wash my dishes.

I've learned that I can both be okay with the mess and I can also gently teach my children how to live neatly.

 

5. I learned from my grandmothers that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

Although as a child I didn't understand the importance of the things I was observing about my grandmothers, they were making an impact on me nonetheless.

I watched them serve their families, and I watched them serve people in their communities.

I never saw them be lazy and I never heard them complain. They did what they did because they loved people.

 

It is obvious that both of my grandmothers took seriously their responsibility to set an example for their grandchildren and to help guide them in the path of righteousness.
Their lives impacted me both through my direct interactions with them and indirectly through the things my parents learned from them.

And now my own parents (and my husband's parents) in turn take their responsibility as grandparents seriously to set an example for my children.

                                                                                              My mom and her grandkids

 

What a heritage I have! What a blessing to have had the opportunity not just to learn these things from my grandmothers through words, but to see that their words were backed up by their actions.

When the time comes, if I am still on this earth, I hope that I can be the kind of influence on my granddaughters that my grandmothers were to me. I hope I can teach them to love their families, to be thankful for them, and to depend on God for their strength each day.

Homemaking Update: August 2020

Blogging has really changed a lot over the years. I used to write a blog post several times a week if not daily. Years ago a blog post was nothing fancy; it was just an online record of what you were up to or what you were thinking about.

As things have become more and more complicated in the world of online content creation, I thought it would be a breath of fresh air just to write an old fashioned blog post with a life update.

So here I go with an update about what  I did in August:

Continued working in my garden.
I've been bringing in several varieties of beans each day, along with some cherry tomatoes that are still producing. I also cleaned out plants that were finished and replanted some fall crops.

 

I finished 3 books in August:

1. Elizabeth Prentiss: More Love to Thee

 

 

My review on Goodreads:

I was afraid the biographer was going to insert her own theological opinions into the book, but in the end I was pretty pleased with how well she stuck to only the factual elements of Elizabeth Prentiss' life. The book was put together in a very logical and concise order, giving a good overview of Elizabeth's life, including family, friendships, struggles she faced as a mother, uncertainty of the future, and her spiritual ponderings. Though she lived many years ago, her life was not terribly different from any woman's today – we all find joy and sorrow, delight and frustration in many of the same things. For that reason I found it a fascinating read.

 

2. Cozy Minimalist Home


I've seen this book recommended several places, so since I happen to be in the process of updating my living room I took a quick skim through the book. I resonated with everything this author said, and learned a couple tips along the way.

Favorite quotes:

“I like pretty things, but not so much that they're allowed to make my life more complicated.”

“You're not a Stuff Manager, you're a Home Curator.”

I read this book using the Scribd app on my phone. I did a free Scribd trial three years ago, and I have kept my subscription ever since. It is one of the very few “extras” I splurge on, and it is worth every penny! Nearly every book I see recommended is on there, and I can read anything I desire without cluttering my home with more books. (Use my link here for a free 60 day trial. Normally the free trial is only 30 days, but you get an extra month using my link. Cancelling is super easy if you decide it's not for you.)

 

3. Unseen: The Gift of Being Hidden in a World that Loves to Be Noticed


My review on Goodreads:

“I just finished this book, and I want to turn right back around and read it again! This book pointed my thoughts to my Father so persistently. There is nothing so fulfilling, so life-giving as to “waste time” with Him.”

Favorite quotes:

“Too often we settle for lesser things. It seems easier to get a like online than it does to get quiet before God, to seek His face and listen for His whispers.”

“There are two stories in every person – the visible story and the invisible story.”

“The moments that the world doesn't witness are always his to see.”

“Hiddenness is God's way of helping us with this holy detachment, slowly releasing our clutch on the things of the earth which we were never intended to grip.”

I listened to the audio version of this book using my Scribd app. (Use this link for a 60 day free trial.)

If you prefer a hard copy, Book Outlet currently has this book for less than half what it costs on Amazon. You'll just have to check; it's always hit or miss what Book Outlet has in stock. (Create your account using this link and you'll get a credit for $10 off your first order of $25+.)


Here's a fantastic article I read and shared to Facebook recently:

A Letter to Wives Who Are Wondering: Is it Abuse?

I have a heart for women who are hurting in their marriage, whether that is because of misunderstandings and miscommunication or because of abuse or betrayal. If you need additional resources, feel free to reach out to me in an email (imperfecthomemaker@gmail.com.)

 

Meat and produce delivered to my door:

I continued to receive produce boxes from Misfits Market (although I reduced the frequency at which I received them since I was also bringing in produce from the garden.) If you haven't seen my thorough review of Misfits Market produce boxes, you can read it here.

 

I also got another huge box of grassfed/pasture raised meat from ButcherBox. I wrote a step by step plan here for how to get the best deal on a ButcherBox subscription.

 

 

What God has been teaching me this month:

A common theme has emerged this month in my personal Bible study, during worship with other believers, and through things I read and listen to. The theme has been to trust God to write the story of my days. Even when I do not understand the big picture, I can trust that He does, and that He is working all things together for good.

So when we lose our only (expensive) key to the van, I can trust that he knows why it disappeared into thin air and why we needed to purchase another.

When our washing machine breaks and the easy fix my husband thought it would be turns out not to be so easy, I can trust God even when it feels like we're wasting a lot of time and money.

God's ways won't always make sense to me because I don't know the bigger story. Faith is being okay with not knowing. It's being satisfied with knowing that God knows what He's doing.

 

 

And now looking forward to September, here are a few of the things I hope to accomplish:

Drinking more water

I feel I have been chronically dehydrated lately, and I really want to focus on getting in a good 64 oz. of water each day to see if it improves my energy and focus.

Trying a new clothing subscription

I have used StitchFix for several years, and still like it a lot. Now I'm trying a new service called Wantable. I really enjoy having clothing that helps me feel put together, and using a styling service saves me a lot of time shopping. I thought maybe with trying something besides StitchFix it might add to the variety of my wardrobe a bit. (Want to give it a try? Here's my referral link.)

 

Plan to Read:
Is it Abuse? by Darby Strickland.

As a domestic abuse advocate, I am always previewing books that I think will be helpful for both victims and for those who want to help a friend or loved one who may be a victim.  You can pre-order a copy of this book here.
(Get a $5 off coupon if you go through this link first..)

 

I'm hoping to do a little freezer cooking this month.

I've been putting all my extra time and energy into the garden this summer, so I'm excited to get back into freezer cooking a bit.


Sourdough starter?

This one is a maybe. It's something I've been wanting to do for a long time, but there are only so many hours in the day. I'm hoping I can fit this in!

 

Well that was fun! If you want to see even more, you can follow me on Instagram. Thanks for following along!

How to Get the Best Deal on a Butcherbox Subscription

Last year I tried out Butcherbox, and while I was extremely happy with the quality of the meat (it's all grass fed and pasture raised meat) I wasn't sure if our budget could afford to continue the subscription.

However, since I was personally trying to stick to a Trim Healthy Mama plan and needed lean meat, I decided that I would keep my subscription just so I could get high quality chicken tenders for myself. Call me a snob, but I just can't bring myself to eat conventionally raised chicken on a regular basis. I do the majority of my shopping at Aldi, and the only decent meat they have available is their grass fed beef. I needed the chicken for THM so I decided to keep my Butcherbox subscription just for that even though it was an extra cost.

Fast forward about 6 months and what I've discovered is that it's much cheaper to buy from Butcherbox than I originally expected; it just takes a little bit of planning and strategy!

So without further adieu, here is the strategy I use to purchase all our Butcherbox meat for around $5/lb.  (Just for reference, the grass fed beef at my Aldi is $5.29  per pound, and I don't even have anywhere to purchase any other good meat, so it's been super nice to get all manner of meats for less than what I would pay for boring old ground beef.)

Here is my step by step strategy to get the best deal on a Butcherbox subscription.

1. I purchase the custom box for $149/month. This gets you the most meat for the money because you can choose which cuts
of meat you want in your box. (You get to choose 6 selections to go in your box.) Naturally, since we're trying to cut our costs down as low as possible, I choose the cuts which give me the most meat, which would be chicken tenders or breasts, or boneless pork butt.
This gets you between 18 and 21 pounds of meat – 18 if you buy all chicken, 21 if you buy all pork.
(Tip: if you buy the pork butt you'll want to slow cook it. The ones I have purchased have been a little bit tough, but slow cooking helps a lot. The chicken, however, has been amazing!)

You may be tempted to go with the offer of a bigger box which includes 18-26 pounds for $270, making the price per pound a little bit cheaper; however if you follow my strategy I can get you a better deal, so keep reading!

So far your total cost is somewhere between 7 and 8 dollars a pound, which is not horrible if you're a chicken snob like me, but we can do better!

2. If this is your first time subscribing, you can sign up through my referral link, which will either give you money off your first box or some free product, which will bring the price per pound down even more.

(Tip: if you're using the Chrome browser on a desktop, watch for a popup if it thinks you're going to leave the page. They may offer you an additional free product to keep you on the page.)

3. You'll be prompted to select add-on products, which may or may not be a good deal. You'll just have to look. I've been able to get sausage and chicken breasts for $6/lb. when I purchase them as an add-on which is pretty good.

4. For your first box, you'll have to be satisfied with the deal you just got. Between the free products or referral credit you get when you go through my link, and any good prices you found in the add-ons section, you should have gotten a decent deal.

Now, once you've got your account set up and you've paid for your first box, we're going to get you some even better deals for your next box. Ready? Keep reading!

5. Set your subscription time to the max allowed between boxes which is 8 weeks.

6. Now, this is where the real magic happens! While you're waiting for your next box to arrive, you'll want to keep logging in to your account to check for sales. I set reminders in my calendar to check once a week or so.

butcherbox deals
They might have a featured deal like the one pictured, but you should also click on the “deals” page to check for more. This is what it looks like at the time of writing this blog post.

7. When you see a deal that you like, go ahead and add it to your cart. You can add multiples of the same deal to your cart. It's kind of like going to the grocery store and finding something on clearance. I don't know about you, but I buy as many as I can as long as I have space in my freezer. Spending extra now will save me a heap of money later.

8. After you add your deals to your cart, they will stay in your cart until your next box is billed, even if the deals are no longer showing as available when your box bills. That is why it is so advantageous to check in often and add things to your cart right away.

 

9. When you add specials to your cart, it is helpful to write down exactly what the special was for and the price per pound. (I just write this right onto my calendar where I have the next billing date recorded.) You won't be able to see the exact prices of any special deals once they're in your cart, so when you're looking for new deals in the future, you won't know if what you already have in your cart is cheaper or if another deal is cheaper.

Do not delete any of the specials from your cart unless you are 100% certain you do not want them. If you delete them and they are not available on the deals page anymore, there will be no way to put them back into your cart.

10. Keeping your subscription set to 8 weeks between billing periods gives you a good amount of time to watch for deals. However, my experience has been that I find enough hot deals during that time to last our family even more than 8 weeks. If you don't yet need another box and your billing date is approaching, you can go in and delay your shipment until whatever date you choose. Click on “Update” where it shows your next billing date and then choose your new date.

 

11. This will give you even more time to check for sales before your next box bills too.  I just continue to delay my box indefinitely until my freezer tells me it's time to restock. Then I look at my list of deals and double check that I've got all the best prices in my cart and select a billing/shipping date that works for me.

Some weeks the deals will be better than others, for instance if there are holidays they might have some really good specials. Just keep checking and adding anything you think you might want each week. You can always delete the higher priced things later if you find something even cheaper.

12. In the mean time, while I'm waiting for weeks, usually 3-4 months, I set aside extra cash from my grocery budget each month so that when I purchase a big bulk order I will have something to pay for it with.

My most recent order was $380. By the time I juggled the sales around in my cart, I ended up paying a little less than $5 per pound for all of this meat.

Now, I must say that I go for cheaper cuts of meat in order to be as economical as possible. If I were adding filet mignon to  my cart every time I obviously wouldn't be able to get my order that low of a price per pound. However, I'm very satisfied with the variety of meats that I'm able to keep in my freezer for my family. We eat ground beef, boneless chicken, bone-in chicken (which gives me broth as well,) pork roasts, bacon, sausage, and turkey.

Between our Butcherbox subscription and my Misfits Market subscription, I always have high-quality meat and produce in the house, which makes up the bulk of my grocery list each week. We're eating lots of protein and vegetables rather than empty carbs, and we all feel more clear headed and energetic when that's the biggest part of our diet. In spite of being a “food snob”, and only purchasing organic produce and high-quality, pasture raised meat, we are able to keep our food costs to $700 per month or less, including toiletries and household items.

I love keeping my freezer full, which saves me trips to the store, and makes it easy for me to always be able to find something to prepare a meal for my family.


If you'd like to try a Butcherbox subscription, you can use this link to get the referral credit and current sign-up offer, then follow the steps I've outlined above to continue getting the best possible price on high quality meat!

10 Boundaries You Can Set to Stop Wasting Time on Social Media

By far, one of the biggest time wasters for me can be my phone, most specifically social media. Once you get on it, you can keep scrolling until the end of time and never run out of interesting things to look at.

Sometimes you can hop on with the best intentions (“I just need to look something up”; “Just a quick scroll to see how my friends are doing”; etc.) and find yourself still scrolling an hour later.

Usually the result is that you feel guilty for wasting time, and frustrated because you were so determined not to fall down the black hole again, yet you did anyway.

How does this happen?

While I won't go into all the technical details, it is proven science that social media apps take advantage of the same process in your brain that creates any other addiction. This is done intentionally because these platforms rely on advertising; therefore it is part of their business strategy to keep you on their platform as often and as long as possible. Negative feelings on social media actually contribute to the addiction as your brain builds up anticipation for the next positive feeling that will hit.

It's not that you have no self-discipline when you open up social media; it's that your brain is doing exactly what it is wired to do, and that is to stay mesmerized, continuously scrolling in anticipation of the next dopamine hit.

Depending on your genetics, your nutrition, and several other factors, this process will take place in some people's brains more quickly than in others.
So what can you do when you want to use your smartphone for good things but you keep getting sucked into wasting a bunch of time?

You can set boundaries for yourself that allow you to stay connected to your friends and family without enabling you to become entranced in an endless scroll.

Here are a 10 ideas for boundaries that you can set for yourself on social media:

1. Practice mindfulness
Fully engage your brain. Don't use your phone as a way to mindlessly escape from the pressures of the day. I get it. When you feel tired or stressed, you just want to check out for a few minutes watching some cute cat videos. But using these apps mindlessly is the quickest way to get sucked in and lose track of time.

2. Follow with intention
When your feed is cluttered with all manner of shiny things, it only contributes to the tendency your brain has to be anticipating that next dopamine hit. But when the people and pages you're following are on your feed for a specific reason, it's easier to keep your brain engaged.
Ask yourself:
-Am I learning anything or being encouraged to grow as a person by what this person shares?
-Are the updates I receive from this person truly helping me keep up with how they're doing or do they only share dorky memes?
-Am I angered or irritated by the things this person shares?

Unfollow anything that is not helping you grow as a person or keep in touch with the people you care about. Unfollow things that make you feel irritated and angry. Unfollow things that are simply shiny “fluff”.

3. Move apps from your phone's home page
Sometimes it just becomes a habit to open up your apps, even when you have no particular reason to. Moving them to a more obscure location on your phone will cause you to put in a little more effort to open them and hopefully think a little harder about why you're opening them.

4. Turn off social media notifications
Seeing those little numbers beside your icons or feeling your phone vibrate in your pocket is a trigger for you to immediately open up your app. There is no mindfulness involved which is a dangerous place for your brain when you're on an app specifically designed to suck you into its content.

5. Leave your phone off your body
Having your phone in your pocket can get you into the habit of mindlessly pulling it out all the time.

6. Replace checking your phone with a different action
Every time you pull out your phone and start to mindlessly open an app, start replacing it with a different action. Do a few squats, write a few lines in your journal, or read a chapter of a book.

7. Go on a social media fast
Choose a day, weekend, or week and go completely screen free except for necessary phone calls or texts. This will give your brain a chance to reset from mindless habits.

8. Use an app to restrict your social media usage to certain times of day
I use the AntiSocial app  on my Android. I'm sure there are similar apps for iPhone. It gives me a lot of options for choosing which apps to restrict and when to restrict them. I asked my husband to set the password for the restrictions so that I can't cheat and log myself back in.

9. Give yourself permission to use social media at the right times
Don't view social media as the forbidden fruit, which only draws you to it more strongly. View it as the valuable tool that it is, and use it with intention. Using an app to restrict my usage has helped me be much more mindful and intentional when I do get on. I know that I only have a certain amount of time, so I'm careful to prioritize looking at and commenting on the content that is truly important for me to see.

10. Remove apps from your phone
If necessary, remove the temptation completely by getting rid of your apps altogether. If you do this, you might want to ask someone else to set a password on your phone for adding and deleting apps so that you won't be able to download them again.

There is no reason to feel guilty about using social media. It can be a very valuable, worthwhile thing when used with intention. I hope these boundaries will help you use your time wisely!

Social media isn't the only aspect of online life that can eat our time away. The good news is that with intention, there is a whole lot we can do to ensure we are accomplishing more with our time.

If you're tired of ending each day frustrated because you just can't seem to “get it all done”, then use the box below to sign up for a free 5 day email course, Time Management for the Busy Homemaker.

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