Is the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle Really Worth It?

This post contains affiliate links. For my full disclosure, click here.

ultimate homemaking bundle

The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle is a collection of 106 ebooks and ecourses on creativity, faith, finances, home decor, cooking and meal planning, intentional living, marriage, motherhood, organizing and systems, recipes, self-care, and work-life balance.

Laura, you might be thinking, I am already overwhelmed just looking at that sentence.

I understand the feeling, and I was once a bundle skeptic myself. The key here is to not even attempt to use everything. Personally, I have no interest in some of the resources. Even so, it only takes using 3 or 4 ebooks or ecourses to start saving money.

Even better, there are 9 resources in the bundle that cost more than the bundle itself, so if you only used ONE of those, you would be saving money!

Today I’m going to walk you through what I’m really excited about in this bundle.

A Mom’s Guide to Better Photos: A Beginning Photography Class for Moms With Any Type of Camera (Normally $99.00)

I’m not a professional photographer, nor do I aspire to become one. I do have a cute (in my 100% biased opinion) little boy, and I do like taking pictures of him. Meg’s course is designed for people like me. Even if all you have is a smartphone, your photography skills will improve with this course. I’m really enjoying it!

Keep in mind that the entire Ultimate Homemaking Bundle costs $29.97. When you purchase it, you get this course, which is a $99 value, AND 105 other products!

Foundational 5+ Workout Course (Normally $19.95)

I was so excited to find this as a part of the bundle! While I lost my baby weight pretty quickly, having a 9 lb. baby took a toll on my stomach muscles. The Foundational 5+ course is designed to help women who have had children to strengthen their core. It’s great for women who have diastasis recti, which is a common condition where the muscles separate during pregnancy and do not go back together completely afterwards. I have a small diastasis myself, and it’s something that I’d like to work on healing. The workouts are short and efficient for busy moms!

FREE Meal Plans and Shopping Lists

One of the bonuses that you receive along with your bundle is a free one year membership to MollyGreen.com, which is a $29 value. I had never heard of MollyGreen.com until a few days ago, but I found a fun surprise as I was looking around the membership site.

When you go to the member home page after logging in, scroll down and click on “Build a Menu.” You can sign up to get a free meal plan with recipes and a shopping list delivered straight to your email. You will automatically be sent one every week for SEVEN weeks.

Since this is intended to just be a sample, you don’t have as many options as you do with a full paid Build a Menu membership, but it gives you a good idea if a meal planning service is right for you. You could even save the meal plans and shopping lists and use them later when you’re having a crazy week. The sample meal plans are in the “Dine on a Dime” category, though a paid Build a Menu membership offers options for people who eat Trim Healthy Mama, gluten free, paleo, allergy friendly, and more.

I’m so excited to use my free meal plans! As I’ve written before, I love meal planning, and this will make it that much easier. This would normally cost around $7.00

You might not be interested in all of the products in the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle. That’s totally okay. To be 100% honest, I’m not either.

But even if I only ever use these three things that I’ve mentioned, products that I absolutely LOVE: the bundle will have been worth it.

Adding up the photography class, the workout class, and the free meal plans, it would normally cost approximately $125.95.

The bundle is $29.97, and I also have access to 103 other awesome resources. That’s a $95.98 savings…even if I never touch any of the other products.

You might be thinking that there has to be a catch to this. How can this possibly be that great of a deal?

The key is that this bundle is only available for six days, from April 26 – May 1, 2017. After that, it will be gone forever. Each year’s bundle has totally different products. Click on the button below to view the full list of what’s included!

The Power of Homemaking Habits

cleaning habits

When I was first married, I was overwhelmed by keeping my home. Of course, the fact that I was pregnant and sick and operating with about half of my usual energy wasn’t helping, but I also had no routine.

I was operating under the incorrect idea that the key was to get things clean Once and For All. Unfortunately, that’s not how it actually works. People who have clean houses work at it, and they do boring tasks over and over. There is no way to escape this fact. Sadness.

The benefit of habits though, is that eventually they become second nature and you don’t have to actively think about them as much. I’ve reached this point with some household tasks, but definitely not all.

My husband and I will be celebrating our second anniversary this summer. I finally feel as if I have some level of control over my house. This is in large part due to some homemaking habits that I have established.

I always have a cardboard box for Goodwill donations. Always. No exceptions. I used to think that decluttering was the kind of thing where you went through your house and got rid of stuff every few months. What I’ve learned is that I’m constantly finding something else that needs to go to Goodwill. Alternatively, I’m always finding that my toddler has outgrown yet another article of clothing that needs to be packed away in a storage bin. We get sales flyers and junk mail all the time, and those have to be sorted, examined, and then tossed. The key is to deal with the clutter immediately.

The dishwasher is run once a day…about 90% of the time. I’m still working on this. Sometimes I try to justify not starting the dishwasher because there MIGHT be room for one more fork…but that’s really just procrastination. I need to stop that.

I load the washing machine every morning. I don’t actually do a load of laundry every single day, because we only have three people in our household and we don’t generate enough laundry to need to do it daily. However, the act of gathering the laundry and putting it in the washer allows me to stay on top of it. When laundry is piling up and making the hampers overflow, I get stressed. Stressed is not good.

I make my bed every day. It just makes the bedroom look nicer, and it doesn’t take long.

I make sure the bathroom counters are clear each morning. Not everyone does this, but it drives me crazy if there is makeup, shaving cream, razors, toothpaste, or anything else of that nature piled all over the bathroom counter.

My deep cleaning skills still need some work, but implementing these five tasks into my routines has improved the appearance of my home!

What cleaning tasks do you do every day?

Why I Quit Pinterest

why i deleted pinterest

When I was 18, I quit Pinterest.

Pinterest is not inherently good or bad. It’s a tool. However, my Pinterest use was getting out of control and causing me to sin. At the time, I was newly single. Like many 18 year old girls, I had a wedding board on Pinterest. I saved pictures of wedding gowns, reception decorations, and flower arrangements.

When I became single, I didn’t think I would ever get married. I spent a lot of time moping about being “forever alone” before I realized that seeing pretty pictures of wedding ideas on Pinterest was only adding fuel to the fire.

Matthew 5:29-30 says “If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell” (NASB).

Pretty harsh, right? In context, Jesus was talking about lust. Pinterest wasn’t causing lust in that sense of the term. However, both discontentment and lust are rooted in the same cause: wanting something that you cannot have.

I wanted a pretty wedding, a dress with a full skirt, and a handsome man who loved me. Desiring to be married wasn’t wrong, but focusing on it at the expense of other beneficial things wasn’t good.

After some consideration, I ultimately decided that I couldn’t handle Pinterest at that time. I deleted my account and said goodbye. I did not touch the site again for a long time.

I ended up getting a Pinterest account again a couple of years later when I was engaged. At that point, I was searching for things that I could use right then, not for things that were off in the distant future somewhere. Since I was using it that way, it was a healthy thing. After I was married, I found a lot of helpful recipes and meal planning ideas by using Pinterest.

Even now, I sometimes take a step back from Pinterest. Occasionally, I’ll browse through my feed, only to find titles along the lines of “How to Make Your Child a Complete Genius Who Speaks Three Languages and Only Eats Organic Vegetables” or “How to Look Like You Have Never Had a Baby Before.” I made those titles up, but I’m sure you can envision what I mean.There are lots of things on the internet that have the underlying message “you are not enough, and here’s what you need to do more and be more and be better.”  It’s easy to get overwhelmed by an onslaught of that sort of information.

Maybe you don’t struggle with a certain website, but you struggle with discontentment in other ways. I think through these three questions when I evaluate if something needs to stay in my life or not.

Is this causing me to ignore the responsibilities of the present and excessively daydream about the future?

Am I striving for more when I ought to just be still? (Psalm 46:10)

Is this causing me to sin?

Have you ever eliminated a type of social media from your life, either for a season or permanently?

How to Give Thoughtful Gifts on a Budget

gifts on a budget

Being frugal does not mean being stingy. God has called us to be good stewards, but He has also called us to be generous.

I have shewed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  – Acts 20:35

Sometimes it can be a fine line between being frugal and just being cheap. I strive to stay in the former category. Thus, I’ve learned how to give thoughtful gifts on a budget. These are gifts that the recipient can actually enjoy and use, but that can also be purchased for reasonable prices.

 

The best way to give nice gifts while also being frugal is by shopping for gifts throughout the year.

I learned this from my mom when I was young. She always had a stash of Bath & Body Works lotions, Chapstick, toys, candles, and a variety of other gift items. We mainly used the gift stash for teacher gifts, but the concept can be expanded to gifts for family members and friends as well.

Last Christmas, I started shopping for presents in early September. By the time Thanksgiving rolled around, I was already finished! When I accompanied some friends as they shopped about a week before Christmas, I was thankful to have mostly avoided the craziness that is retail during the month of December.

I highly recommend signing up for emails from Money Saving Mom. She is a coupon and frugal living blogger. The thing that I like best about her email list is that you can choose to receive coupon match-ups only for your favorite stores.

In addition to standard coupon match-ups for grocery stores, the Money Saving Mom emails often contain deals for free photo books, inexpensive clothing, toys, and much more. By watching these emails for several months before Christmas, you can save a great deal of cash. When I got married, I had several relatives request printed wedding pictures for Christmas. I could afford to get photo books made for 4 relatives, as well as a nice photo book to keep for myself.

Another way to give thoughtful and frugal gifts is by giving something handmade.

Not everyone is a DIY person, so this tip is less universal. I’ve been knitting for 10 years, so I’ve been known to make Christmas gifts during years when my budget was tight. When one of my brothers was in 6th grade, I found some camo print yarn and knitted him a hat. I thought the camo print made it look more masculine. He loved it and still wears it several years later. I’ve also knitted baby items and kitchen linens.

If you know how to do calligraphy, writing out a meaningful quote and putting it in an inexpensive frame can be a lovely gift.

Whether you choose to go for store bought items that were on sale or for handmade gifts,  remember the words of Jesus:

It is more blessed to give than to receive.

5 Verses to Pray Over Your Children

I’m not really great at prayer. Often, I feel like I’m just saying the same few things over and over again. Recently though, I’ve started praying words straight from the Bible. Among other benefits, praying the Bible helps me to focus on the greater picture of God’s plan, rather than only on my own circumstances. It is good to pray about situations in my own life, but it’s also good to focus on others.

I don’t believe that praying this way is a Scriptural mandate, but it’s been helpful for me. Many Bible passages were originally prayers. Some of the Psalms fall into that category. As a teenager, I read through the book of Psalms and noticed that several chapters consisted of the psalmist lamenting to God about his problems. I affectionately dubbed these the “why me???” Psalms. I believe that God included those for a reason. People in the Bible had problems, just like we do today.

Passages that describe people who were obedient to the Lord can also inspire prayers. Lord, give me the courage of Daniel and his friends in the lion’s den…Help me to stand up for what is right, even in the face of opposition…

The following 5 verses are great for praying for your child or children. One of the best things you can do as a parent is to pray.

  1. Numbers 6:24-26

The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace. – Numbers 6:24-26 NKJV

I’ve been praying this passage over my toddler every night after he goes to sleep. As a mom, one of my greatest desires is to keep him safe. Ultimately though, God is in control of his life, and of every person’s life. “The Lord bless you and keep you.” I pray for God to keep him safe and to help him sleep peacefully.

2. 2 Peter 3:18

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. – 2 Peter 3:18 NASB

My mom used to pray this verse for me. I want my son to learn more about God as he gets older. This verse also reminds me that I’m supposed to be teaching him about the Bible. How will he learn if he is not taught, and who has more responsibility for that than me?

3. 3 John 1:4

I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. – 3 John 1:4 NASB

I pray for my little boy to get saved and to follow God. This verse was talking about spiritual children, rather than biological children. In either case though, children who follow God are a source of joy!

4. 1 Peter 3:15

But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence. – 1 Peter 3:15 NASB

There was a time when claiming to be a Christian was the default response in the United States. The social pressure to be at least nominally Christian has diminished, and a growing percentage of adult Americans give the response “none” when asked what religion they practice.

Given that this is the reality now, it’s perhaps more important than ever to teach kids to be comfortable with being different, and to be comfortable with discussing why they’re different in a gentle and kind way.

5. Hebrews 13:6-7

So that we confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid, what will man do to me?” – Hebrews 13:6-7 NASB

It’s important to follow God’s commands, even when it’s scary and unpopular. I want to instill that in my son. The Bible tells us not to be afraid hundreds of times. Ultimately, what can humans do to us? For Christians, even physical death can’t separate us from God.

praying over your children

What are some of your favorite verses to pray over your children?

When God Doesn’t Fix It

suffering

This post contains affiliate links. For full disclosure, click here.

I’ve started to write this post a hundred times. Today I’m finally finishing it.

My son was born in April of 2016. It did not go well and things were scary towards the end, but he was born alive. His cries were the sweetest sound I’d ever heard. I was hurt very badly. (I did not have a c-section. Everyone asks that. It is in fact possible to have a baby without a c-section and still need emergency surgery. Who knew??)

The precise details of what happened to me are not important. This story is not really about me. It’s about Jesus, and how I found hope in Him.

The days passed. The pain was excruciating. I could not sit down for the first month. I told myself that this was normal. After all, six weeks of maternity leave is standard. No one at the hospital said that my recovery would be any different from anyone else.

Six weeks passed and the pain continued. Maybe I’ll just need eight weeks, I thought. Some people who have c-sections say it’s more like eight weeks. I did have surgery. Maybe it’ll just be more like that.

Eight weeks passed. Twelve weeks. Sixteen. All through those sixteen weeks, my baby cried. They told me he had colic. It only added to my growing sense of failure.

When my son was 4 months old, a lactation consultant who was otherwise completely unhelpful and insulting made a passing comment about how it would take a year to recover from the type of complication I had.

Every month that passed brought new discouragement as I, the healthy 21 year old, continued to live with chronic pain. I carefully calculated how long I could sit per day. There would be no snuggling with my sleeping baby in the rocking chair for hours, as I had imagined when I was pregnant. I tried to tough it out, but I just couldn’t. It hurt too much.

Mondays were the worst. I would sit through Sunday school, a morning service, and an evening service on Sundays. I paid the price on Mondays. I went to everything because I thought it was the right thing to do.

Why am I suffering so much from doing the right thing? I wondered. It didn’t seem fair.

After six months of this, I reached my breaking point. I felt the Lord say “Laura, do you trust me?”

I ignored the question for weeks. Then I finally decided that I didn’t need to hide what I was thinking from God. He knows everything anyway.

No, Lord. I really don’t. I don’t trust you. I did all the right things and made good and moral choices and this is how You repay me.

That’s awful. I know it’s awful now, and I knew it was awful then. But being honest with God about it was the first step towards healing spiritually.

Christianity doesn’t guarantee an easy life.

This is the question: Are you using God to get something from Him? Or is God Himself the goal of your striving? – Matt Chandler, To Live is Christ to Die is Gain

When I first read that quote from, it hit me hard. That IS the question! Am I a Christian because I think I’ll get more perks and have an easier life if I do the right thing? I certainly shouldn’t be!

Think of Paul, who was perhaps one of the greatest Christians who ever lived.

Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep.  I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren;  I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. – 2 Corinthians 11:24-27

Does that sound like someone who followed God because it made his life more comfortable? Certainly not! This concept of only serving God because it makes things easier slips in subconsciously at first, but it is toxic. Nowhere in the Bible does God make the claim that bad things only happen if the person deserves it.

We don’t always know why things happen.

I wish I could tell you that I have arrived, that I am so thankful to have started living with chronic pain at the age of 21, and that I completely understand why this happened to me. Those things would be lies.

What I have learned though, is that we have to believe that there is a larger story at work here that we may never know this side of eternity. I will have questions when I get to heaven, and I think that’s okay.

As I write this, it is April 2017. While the pain has dulled somewhat, it is still there. Sometimes my friends will ask me if I’m going to get better. Honestly, I don’t know. I still hope so, but I just really don’t know.

But I’m no longer placing my ultimate hope in a pain free existence.

Too often, my hope is in my ever-changing circumstances. I say things like, ‘I really need the baby to take his nap this morning,’ which is a fine thing to say and a fine thing to look forward to. But if, come lunchtime, the nap hasn’t happened, and I’m so emotionally wasted by it that it ruins my afternoon, then I’ve probably put more faith in that nap than in the never-changing circumstances of the gospel. – Gloria Furman, Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full

My hope is not in getting better, it is in the knowledge that I’ve been saved from the depths of hell by a Savior who loves me. It is the knowledge that I will be in heaven someday.

Sometimes God doesn’t fix it, at least not to my human standards. But He is there. And He is good.

Things I Make from Scratch (and some things I still buy!)

This post contains affiliate links. For my full disclosure, click here.

cooking from scratch

Cooking from scratch sounds so intimidating. I don’t make everything from scratch, but I’ve experimented with various things over the last year and a half. Some things are worth it to me. Other things…not so much.

Taco seasoning mix:

taco seasoning

I actually didn’t know that most people buy the little packets from the grocery store until after I got married. My mom always made her taco seasoning from scratch. She gave me the recipe at my bridal shower, along with some other favorite family recipes. Taco seasoning is simple to whip up yourself, and the store bought version has unnecessary additives. Verdict: Make from scratch.

Chicken bouillon mix: The Trim Healthy Mama cookbook has a recipe for “Trim Healthy Bouillon.” Since it’s copyrighted material, I can’t repeat the recipe here. I will say that it was very easy to make though! Verdict: Make from scratch

Refried beans: I started using more refried beans when I was dairy free. Making them myself sounded intimidating, but it’s actually really easy. Dried pinto beans can be purchased inexpensively at most grocery stores. I put 2 cups of dried pinto beans into my crockpot along with 6 cups of water, a little bit of diced peppers and onions, and salt to taste. I left the crockpot on high for 8 hours. Once they were done, I mashed them and then froze them in individual servings. Verdict: Make from scratch

Boneless skinless chicken breasts (rather than buying a whole chicken): I have purchased whole chickens and processed them myself a couple times now. The second time was less gag-inducing than the first, but dealing with a whole chicken is still pretty nasty. I use a crockpot liner to contain the mess and let the whole chicken cook until it’s tender. Then I let it cool and take apart the meat.

On my last trip to Aldi, I found a whole chicken from their Never Any brand that was $5, which made the price $3.15. The Never Any brand has no added hormones, no antibiotics, and no animal-byproducts. Typically it’s also a good bit more expensive, but the mark down made it a great deal this time. Verdict: Whole chickens are worth it for nicer meat, but not for conventional meat.

Chicken broth: Making chicken broth is straightforward if you’ve just cooked a whole chicken. If you haven’t just cooked a whole chicken, it would be more of a pain. I’ve only made homemade chicken broth once. As with cooking whole chickens, I’m not convinced that this is beneficial enough to do all the time. Verdict: I’ll take my chances with the low sodium chicken broth from Aldi.

Tortillas: I have never made tortillas from scratch in my life. Honestly, I’m intimidated. We do buy the 100% whole wheat version.I might attempt making them myself someday…but honestly, 100% whole wheat tortillas straight out of the package are just so convenient. Verdict: I’m scared.

What do you make from scratch? Do you have favorite family recipes?