Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Saving Time and Money with E-Mealz


     I discovered e-mealz last week, and was really impressed with what I saw from the site. After some discussion, my husband and I decided to give it a try. At the beginning I feared a meal planning service would result in the proportions being too small, the meals bland, the ingredients dependent on convenience/packaged products, or not quite hefty and real food enough for my meat and potato lovin man. However, after just a few days those fears have been disproven and we are loving it! Here is why:

What is e-mealz?
E-mealz is a service which offers meal plans customized around the weekly sales and coupon offerings of your local grocery. It saves you time and money in preparing delicious meals for everyone in your family!

Why e-mealz?
*By utilizing the sales ads, coupons from manufacturers, and coupons from the stores E-mealz is able to offer the greatest grocery savings opportunities. For our two person family, we can have five different meals for $35-45 per week! The savings by far makes up for the $5 subscription expense each month.

*The meals are simple and mighty tasty! While keeping cost low, we've still been able to get items like fresh fish, quality meats, and lots of fresh produce! The simplicity of the meals make them appealing to even the pickest of eaters!

*The meals are designed for one occasion, and so there is little waste (ie money in the trash)! Any excess ingredient component is reused in a different way for another meal. You're not left with random pieces of ingredients that have no purpose the following week and result in waste.

*There is room for tweeking such as continuing to make what you can from scratch for additional health and financial benefits.

*The plan comes with a completed meal plan for the week, detailed grocery list organized by store sections which include both staple items and meal components, directory for additional coupons for items (this is a bonus and may or may not be available every week, but when it is it is so valuable).

*The subscription is very affordable. It's paid in a three month package (every three months you're charged $15). That's $5 per month. Broken further, that's only $1.25 per week! Can you afford $1.25 per week to save $20 or more? I could!

*The plan becomes available to me each Wednesday when Publix publishes their ad. We simply look it over to see what we have on hand or what we could make homemade. Our meal planning time has decreased significantly! The trade of planning time for family time has been a good one for us!

*Other meal plans available:
      *serves 7 meals for 4-6 people:
            *regular plans (Kroger, Publix, Wal-Mart, Aldi, Ralphs (CA))
            *gluten free (Walmart, any store), Low Carb (Walmart, any store), Low fat (Walmart, any
              store, Publix), portion control (Walmart, any store, Publix), and vegetarian (any store,
      *serves 5 meals for 1-2 people:
            *regular plans (Walmart, any store, Aldi, Publix)
            *low fat (Walmart, any store), portion control (Walmart, any store), low carb (Walmart, any

Recommended by?
      If you're a follower of Dave Ramsey, then you'll be thrilled to know that this service comes highly recommended by him! As you'll know he fully supports the work to finding ways to save and get out of debt. Saving on grocery spending is a great way of doing it!

How to get in on e-mealz?
     Follow the link in the picture above or on the side bar to the right to read more or sign up at the site. :)

Our Experience So Far
     This week was our first week of using the plans and we have been very pleased with the meals, savings, and simplicity of it all. This week we saved $18 from our average grocery spending! This week's estimate was on the higher end at $46, and so other weeks at lower estimates will provide even greater savings. We've had delicious chili pie, spiced cooked apples, green beans, oriental ribs, and rice in our first two meals. I was so excited to see one of my hubby's favorites on the plan (the spareribs)! I didn't want him to feel like he couldn't have the things he enjoys for the sake of saving money. (phew!). I've been able to find ways for homemade such as in doing the cornbread for the chili pie and later in the week making a loaf of french bread. The proportions have been just right. We have plenty to for the meal itself, but not so much as to be overwhelmed with leftovers. I must admit that I'm a little excited already to receive the plan for next week tomorrow!


Friday, October 21, 2011

Pray Even When He Already Knows

[Picture- Lovely spot for a picture, eh? Anyone know of where I can find non-copyrighted images to use until I replace my camera? Thanks!]

"...for your father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!" -Matthew 6:8

     This verse is referencing the notion of the words of a prayer qualifying it for God's response. We are instructed to not "babble on" because He already "knows exactly what you need." Is it then not a strange request to us to communicate what is already known? In writing this would be unnecessary repetition and sure to receive a bold red strike through. However, God is instructing us to do just that- tell Him what He already knows.

     When someone is telling us something we already know, do we not have to fight the tendency to think "yeah, yeah, yeah, get to the point (or the heart of the matter)." I feel like that is a little of what's happening here except God isn't asking for some thesis statement but for our hearts. This revelation of sorts is, in fact, beyond our words. In coming to Him I must humble myself and acknowledge who He is and who I am. He asks me to come to him in prayer repeatedly because in doing so I must offer my trust and devotion to Him- my heavenly Father. It isn't the eloquence of words when praying that is requested of me, but my heart.

In all things-- PRAY.

Father, forgive me when I assume too much of myself and by doing so neglect You. I thirst to be held by You, and for You to be the one I eagerly seek to bare my heart. Deepen my trust and reliance on you daily.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Book Review: The Hidden Art of Homemaking

          Edith Schaeffer's book The Hidden Art of Homemaking ought not be mistaken as a guide to homemaking but, rather, a visual aid to the potential creative arts of this realm. The premise of the work is that God, having created all that exists, is an infinitely creative being. We, as the product of his work, therefore ought to also mimic creativity in our lives.

           Schaeffer describes in great detail the vast potential of creativity present within areas of: music, painting, sketching, sculpturing, interior decoration, gardening, flower arrangement, food, writing, drama, creative recreation, clothing, integration and environment.

         I enjoyed the author's encouragement to not be limited by our surroundings when dealing with the aforementioned subject matters, but to embrace it in utilizing it in its fullest capacity. She paints a picture of a live lived with intention of transforming the drabness that can be the ordinary into something truly beautiful. While maintaining awareness of conditions of ample resources or few, the author attempts to relay the vitality of participating in each creative art.

        Although the author does a sufficient job at conveying her vision for homemaking as an artform, I felt the overall work was nonsubstantial and circuitous. Within each chapter she spends an overwhelming amount of time in detailing the many, many possibilites and neglects arriving at any conclusivity. The author is transparent in the writing, which is conveyed as a long stream of thought. She does reference biblical passages at times, but I'm uncertain as to the truth in usage. For instance, she bases attire standards on Matt. 6:28-34. I personally have not come to conceive this passage to be indicative of God's desire for us to present ourselves in aesthetic attire. I, on the other hand, have come to understand God's desire to be our hearts. Interior decor and other subject matters within the book are also treated in a similar fashion.

       Overall, I felt the idea of painting homemaking as an art was brilliant but the execution in writing could've been better (namely far more concise and crisp). Though the book is a mere 215 pages it took me nearly two months to complete. The wordiness of the extensive descriptions and possibilities contained in each chapter really weighed down the reading experience. I would almost be interested in rereading it for it is highly inspirational in it's theme, but the act of reading through it poses to be more of a begrudging task than enjoyment for me currently.

        I would probably not recommend this book to anyone looking for a concise or conclusive writing on homemaking. On the other hand,  if anyone is seeking subtle inspiration for viewing homemaking in an artistic eye or embracing creative means of aesthetic appeal regardless of his/her circumstance, then this book would be one I'd pass along.
Have you read the book? What are your thoughts?


*The review of the book is the sole option of RevivingHomemaking. No compensation was received for the reading or review. The site is an affiliate of Amazon and does receive a small compensation for traffic or purchases directed to their site through the astore or links.

Monday, October 10, 2011

And the Winner Is...

      The time has come to announce the winner of the giveaway!

 There were a total of 56 entries! WOW.

I have had so much fun connecting with so many of you through this giveaway! 

The lucky (and now fall festive) winner is..... Our Joyful Living! I'll be in contact with you through email shortly.

Thank you everyone for participating! I think there needs to be another one soon! :)


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Cherishing Our Husbands As We Would Our Children

        We do not have children as of yet, but there is always the dream. I will confess that my heart aches to hold, teach and love children in an indescribibly powerful way. I say this as a cautious confession because to reveal such truth to myself is so often met with criticism. I have been given all the reasons why children are not where my thoughts should lie, but there they rest in the blissful dream of the possibility of family. One day.

         I often daydream of life with a little one looking to me to show him/her the way in life. In truth this is the predominant influence a mother or father has on a child, is it not? It isn't the words spoken, but the example lived. And so, they ask: "What is truth, mama?" "What is noble, mama?" "What is right, mama?" "Am I to have a loving spirit to all?" "To what purpose shall my words be put forth?" Show me

        Would I sit at the dinner table and discuss the matters of another's life with a critical spirit and judgementalnes? Would I lash out when my schedule fails causing us to rush and things left undone? Would I be so eager to seek out my needs and security in other, and thereby harming those relationships (as well as pull from the true source of reliance on the Lord)? Would I excuse my laziness or selfishness in serving and loving as I do now? Would I ask my children to walk on eggshells guessing which step will result in an emotional breakage? Would I be short with them with my words and haughty in my actions because I have not decided to overcome my foul mood. Would I truly show them unconditional love and offer them a safe, secure and loving home in which to dwell lavishly?

          In my imagination, I, of course, would do none of these. I would demonstrate the kind of love, grace, and example that Christ has shown me. Children are afterall a gift and blessing from the Lord and ought to be considered as such, are they not?

        And then I awaken from my slumber to the realization that I already have been given a great gift and blessing- my wonderful husband. I must then ask myself all those questions as before with the firm realization of my influence and purpose as a wife. What is it in the future daydream of family defined as with children that has cause me to neglect that he and I are just as much a family. He deserves just as much of the demonstration of love, grace and example of Jesus as any. The man God has selected to be my husband and the home and family He created with the two of us is, indeed, precious. How can I possibly expect myself to suddenly transform for the sake of children when I have yet to establish such for the respect of my husband?

          As I looked across the breakfast table this morning at church at the precious little girl delighting in the love of her mother, that familiar ache arose within my being and for a moment I allowed myself to drift in to the daydream. But then I looked to the side of me to see my husband and within my hand I felt his loving grasp. Why do I believe the role of mother is so far superior than that of wife that I leave the condition of my heart, and my behavior as an extension of, as a element of the future? Have I created our home or been the kind of wife whose love my husband can delight in? No one is perfect, and this writing isn't about perfection. It's about opened eyes to the state of my heart. Time and time again I take the Lord's blessing of this moment and my husband and like a sheet of paper I crinkle it up and carelessly toss it away in favor for a fresh piece when the first was sufficient.

           Perhaps this time of longing, this ache within my heart, and the repeated "no" answer is serving a greater purpose than I may be able to comprehend. Maybe it isn't just the timely and delicious meal or maticulously maintained home that is to be learned during this time (though those are indeed very purposeful goals), but also the leaning on the Lord and the trust in his teachings as a way to live- now.
So, I am encouraged to once more refresh myself on what it means to love fully, and not just apply it the image of self in the daydream but to the reality of self in this moment with my home and family just as it is.

    4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails....  12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:4-13

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Adding Convenience to Homemade: Batter Bags

      There is nothing like the taste of fresh and homemade foods! Homemade also is more cost effective and nutritious than prepackaged products. The turn off for most people against homemade is the time required. When pressed to get a meal prepared, it appears the solution is to reach for that box or bag of prefab food. Ugh. Instead, I began creating what I call "batter bags."
Here's a lovely look into my refrigerator with the batter bag container.
      Batter bags are essentially what you would be buying if you purchased the packaged products from the grocery (minus the packaging, preservatives and all other mystery ingredients). I simply mix all the dry ingredients of a recipe into a plastic baggie and keep it in the refrigerator. (Since it's just dry ingredients, it isn't a strict necessity to refrigerate but doing so can keep it even longer.) I then write on the bags with a permanent marker what it is, the wet ingredients remaining to complete it, and the baking specifications. Most things can be mixed right in the bag, and so there's no need to dirty up mixing bowls and such! Another nice part of this little trick is that they make it easier for others to help out in preparing a meal. For instance, Sunday mornings typically are so rushed in our house and we typically opt for something we can eat in the car, such as muffins. We can easily get these going early and they're ready by the time we leave. If you have older children, I imagine this would provide a good opportunity for them to demonstrate initiative and a servant heart through preparing a quick breakfast meal for everyone on their own, even if it is just muffins.
        When finished, I prefer to simply rinse out the bags if they've only held the dry ingredients. The others I give a more through washing and still reuse. Even with having to rinse or wash the baggies, it is still much simpler than pulling out all ingredients and mixing bowls and utencils in the moment of need.
        I have certainly enjoyed the benefit of less fuss while maintaining providing homemade meals with this little idea. What other ideas have you come up with to add convenience to homemade?

Be sure to enter the giveaway!
 Last day is coming up quick (Oct. 10th)! More information on the Fall Giveaway page.


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