(in)RL and Ultimate eBook Bundle

Happy Friday to you!  I’m sure I’m not the only one happy to see the weekend. I have two quick things I want you to know about for your weekend.



(in)RL conference is a FREE online women’s conference happening today and tomorrow.  Today, you watch the webcast on your own at one of the screening times – 9am, 1pm, 6pm or 9pm EST and connect with friends, if you choose, via Twitter with the hashtag #inRL. 

And then tomorrow, you can either join a meetup to watch the webcast or you can watch on your own as well.  You have ZERO to lose by signing up and checking it out.  I was so encouraged the last two years by this conference and did I mention it’s FREE?  Go sign-up here: http://www.incourage.me/inrl-countdown




The other thing I want you to know about is the Ultimate Homemaking eBook bundle is back!  You might remember my book Entangled was in it last year.  They’re back this year with 78 eBooks  PLUS 10 awesome bonuses which includes 10 DaySpring greeting cards, $15 store credit to HopeInk and 3 FREE eyeshadows among others for $29.97.  Hello, it’s worth it for the bonuses! Plus, check out all these books you get!




If you want to check out all the books and bonuses, head over to their site. It’s ONLY available until Monday so you need to jump on this while it’s available.


So there, I hope I made your weekend even more awesome!  Share with your friends so they have an awesome-er weekend too. Have a great one!

Saving Hundreds a Year and Avoiding Appointments By Cutting My Own Hair


About two years ago I decided I’d had enough of paying nearly $100 every time I went to the stylist every 6-8 weeks.  Let me do the math for you—anywhere from $6-800 a year.  So, I started growing my hair out.  With a longer, simpler hair cut, I figured I could afford the chance at getting a cheaper cut.  If someone really messed it up, I could have it fixed. And really, Scott prefers it longer. 

Plus, I’m terrible at making hair cut appointments –or any appointments for that matter.  What is it about calling someone and having to commit to a time??

For several months while I was growing it out, I used some Groupons to help with the money issue, but the scheduling issue still lingered.

In August 2012, I had my last professional hair cut.  I started trimming my hair, following the stylist’s last lines.  But soon, my hair was a few inches past my shoulders and started looking scraggly.

It was ‘do or die time.

Would I just be a grown-up and make the appointment and fork out the cash or attempt it on my own?

Oh, you guessed it, I decided I would try it.  My hair is super thin and I had a few extra inches of hair so if I screwed it up, I’d go in and let someone fix it.

I am very happy to say that not only was the process doable, it was actually fun.  Maybe I missed my calling.  Nah, probably not. However, there was something extremely freeing about letting myself adjust my hair cut as I wanted.  No money, no appointment.  It’s totally working for me.

I followed this YouTube tutorial to cut a long, layered hair cut.


Is it perfect? Probably not.  Definitely not.  But it works for me.

If you have short hair or super thick hair or curly hair, I can’t say I’d recommend this.  Thin, straight hair is a benefit for once.

Have you ever cut your own hair?

What I’m Into – November 2013

November was a busy month of birthday parties capped off with Thanksgiving.  I read a lot and watched Netflix with the family to decompress.  I don’t have a ton of stuff to share but let’s get to it!

Online Shopping


I know this might be an odd thing to say I’m into, but I’ve definitely been into online shopping.  Given today is Cyber Monday, I thought it worth mentioning.  I bought all the girls birthday presents online and the only Black Friday shopping I did was some poinsettias from Lowe’s.  The rest was done from the comfort of my office chair.  Even when we did go out for a few presents this weekend, we found that there were better deals online.  And who doesn’t love to have a bunch of boxes show up on your front porch?

If you don’t have an Amazon Prime account, we’ve found it pays for itself easily.  Also, did you see they’re testing 30 minute deliveries with drones.  I’d be into that.

A serious footnote: I’ve been wrestling with all of this consumerism this holiday season given this post I wrote about Catching Fire. I can’t seem to find my way through it yet and life marches on—we’re crossing our Christmas list off the only way we know for now. Maybe I’ll write more tomorrow on Fair Trade Tuesday.


Earthpaste Toothpaste


Soo…I never thought I’d be including this, but I really am into this natural toothpaste called Earthpaste.  I got it as a free gift on one of the eBook bundles.  It’s made out of clay and has no foaming agents.  At first, I was completely turned off.  But honestly, the more I use it, the more I prefer it to traditional toothpaste. 

I don’t feel like my mouth gets as icky in between brushes, I feel like my breath is better and my friend Becky that uses it too said it’s really helped her teeth unlike any others she’d tried.  I have it in the lemon flavor but it also comes in peppermint, wintergreen, cinnamon, and spearmint.


Mocha Brownies


Now let me give you a good reason to need toothpaste…Pioneer Woman’s mocha brownies.  I’ve made these several times in the past, but again for Emma’s birthday this month after we were caked-out.  It always gets rave reviews, but be ready for a serious sugar rush!  As you can see, they’re more icing than brownies!


Christmas Music


We started decorating for Christmas before Thanksgiving so I’ve already been into Christmas music.  I’m not one of those crazed Christmas music fans, but it doesn’t bother me to hear it early either.  I found a few good lists on Spotify (FREE music!) that are perfect background music for the season.




I didn’t read a ton, but I did manage to complete a few books.  I admit, this month’s books are a little unfair.  I read a few Advanced Reader’s Copies I got from Allume. 

Restless – Jennie Allen’s book coming out in January is a next step from her book Anything.  It’s an answer to those calls you have way down deep that there’s something more.  I was underlining this one like crazy—something I only do when a book is one of my favorites.

Say Goodbye to Survival Mode – Crystal Paine’s book is another January release.  If you’ve read Money Saving Mom for long, you know Crystal is like a productivity ninja.  This book is all of her productivity secrets rolled together.  I’ve learned so much from her over the years and I can’t imagine this wouldn’t motivate someone.  She aims to stress less, sleep more and restore your passion.  I highly recommend it.

If You Find Me – I read this YA fiction after reading a passing social media comment about it.  It was ok but nothing to rave over.  It had some sensitive subjects in it, but I was drawn to the theme of adoption.  It wasn’t terrible, but I can’t say I highly recommend it either.

Speaking of books, I’m reading through Ann Voskamp’s Advent book The Greatest Gift his month and posting about it on the Facebook page.  Join me there!


What have YOU been into this month?

Check out more What I’m Into posts over at Hopeful Leigh

Sole Hope – An Invitation

At Allume, the hallways were lined with non-profits—so many that are already close to my heart—Samaritan’s Purse, Mercy House Kenya, Compassion—but it seems this year the Lord had one in particular he wanted to stick with me. Sole Hope has not left my mind since Allume.



Sole Hope’s goal is to make shoes for children in Uganda who are affected by soil borne conditions like jiggers.  They reuse jean material and tires and use locally trained shoemakers to make shoes for children to prevent diseases. They help clean the children’s feet at clinics and then give them a pair of shoes.


I had no idea this was even a THING until they showed this video at Allume (warning—graphic):



Did you watch?  Because that’ll make you want to DO SOMETHING.

And the really, really fun thing is we CAN do something super easy!  All it takes is a sharpie, a pair of scissors and some time to attend a SHOE CUTTING PARTY.

Through a shoe party, participants trace and then cut jeans based on templates that will then be used by the Ugandan shoemakers.  Not only are the children provided with shoes, but local women are provided with a job.


Some of my too-small jeans I took to Allume to donate are now on their way to Uganda to cover some little feet!  It’s like the BEST THING EVER!!

And guess what??

I’m hosting a local shoe cutting party and you’re invited!!




If you’re reading this, you’re invited!  I don’t care how far away you are, whether we know each other and don’t talk much, or we’re BFFs in real life, I’d love to have you here!  Bring as many jeans as you want, a pair of your favorite fabric scissors and $10 donation if you can swing it  (not required—it’s used to pay the shoemakers).

I’m giving you plenty of notice–it will be at my house on Friday, December 6, 6:30-8:30.  I’ll have coffee and snacks and have everything organized so we can make the most of our time.  I’m planning to have my kids there and if you have older kids that can cut, BRING THEM too (or not, if you want a kid-free evening).  

Consider this your official invitation—just let me know in the comments here or in email at amyjbennett AT gmail DOT com if you plan on attending. But, if you’re local and we’re friends on Facebook, you’ll be getting a Facebook event invitation there as well.

If you want to see some past shoe cutting parties in action, head right over here.

If you aren’t local to me or can’t get here that night, host your own shoe cutting party.  Just do it one night with your family or invite your small group or your best friends!  For just $15 you can order a 10 person kit that can be reused over and over.


Alume has given me permission to show photos from the cutting party that happened on Saturday at Allume.  For folks like me, knowing what you’re walking into really helps:


Allume October 2013-AllumeCandids 2-0156

 Allume October 2013-AllumeCandids 2-0157

Allume October 2013-AllumeCandids 2-0158

Allume October 2013-AllumeCandids 2-0160   

Allume October 2013-AllumeCandids 2-0165

photos courtesy of Allume/Kim DeLoach Photography

As you can see, it really is as easy as tracing and cutting!  We can do hard things but we can also do super easy things like this!


Ah!!  I’m so excited! I really would like to make a big impact for Sole Hope to show them our support.  Make plans to come out!

Let me know—who’s interested in coming or hosting your own party??



*images courtesy of SoleHope.org

On Neatening and Broken Windows


I recently had a lightbulb moment regarding homemaking I want to tell you about, but first I need to preface it with two truthful, but funny comments from my children.  It should set the tone for the type of homemaker I am regarding neatening, or what Cheryl Mendelson of Home Comforts calls straightening up.


Messy Is the Norm

Last week I was straightening up for our weekly small group we host on Thursdays.  Emma was sitting on the recliner in the living room and says, “Why are you cleaning up so much—our house doesn’t look like that.”

“Are you suggesting I’m being fake by cleaning up?”

She confirmed that indeed, she thought I was being disingenuous by straightening up the house before company came over.  I get what she was getting at, but I’m pretty sure company would rather not trip over her tennis shoes and sit on bags from Walmart.  In any case, I guess the point is it stung that she thought messy was the norm in our home.

Yesterday I was home because of Veteran’s Day and the kids had school.  I spent most of the day straightening up the house, trying to finally catch up on all the catch-all areas that I can never catch-up on. 

Lexi came home from school, walked through the house to set her stuff down, went to the bathroom and what-not and asked if the cleaning lady had come.

“Yes, your cleaning-lady-mother came!” I quipped, realizing once again that messiness was more norm than I realized.

So, just to level-set, this is what we’re dealing with in our house. 

My house gets professionally cleaned every two weeks, it gets neatened in the common areas once a week for small group and the entire house is neatened just before the cleaning lady comes. I try to get the girls to clean their room floors every night but that’s not always the case.  Scott usually keeps a handle on the floors being clear but other than that, it’s a free for all.

One cannot be expected to have 100% of a house straightened 100% of the time. It’s just not possible.  However, I admit that I had some weird thoughts about the whole neatening process after reading the neatening section of Home Comforts

Let me explain.


The Broken Window

In Home Comforts, Cheryl explains the broken window theory.  The broken window theory is something police officers uncovered in derelict neighborhoods.  If an abandoned home had a broken window, then delinquents were more likely to take the vandalism one notch higher, like graffiti.  And if there was graffiti on the house, they were more likely to break in the house.  By fixing the small issues like broken windows, police could significantly reduce vandalism.

She applies the concept to our homes.  When we walk into our kitchens and there is a glass on the counter, we are more likely to set our dirty glass down beside it.  However, if the counter is clean, we are more likely to put the dish in the dishwasher so the counter stays clean. If we can fix the broken windows in our homes, it’s more likely to cut down on the need for neatening.

This concept was a lightbulb moment for me.

In the past, I would look at a room and rate the messiness of it.  I rated the messiness of the room by how long it would take to clean it.  If just a pair of shoes was on the floor, it would only take 30 seconds to take the shoes to my room.  If there was also a book out that I was reading, that would only take another 30 seconds to carry it to my bookshelf.  So, in all, it would only take a minute—literally—to clean the room.  If the rating was very low like that, I would consider the room nearly clean and I would not see a need to straighten it. 

Once the room’s rating was high, meaning it would take several minutes, or even hours to clean, I labeled it messy and then figured I should do something about it.  The problem was once it was going to take several minutes or hours to fix, I rarely would have such a chunk of time to actually clean it.  This made the problem all the worse because everyone saw it as a free-for-all since it was already messy.

This broken window theory has totally thrown a wrench into my thoughts


The Broken Window Applied

Now when I see just one thing out of place, I see the potential and in fact, psychological impacts, of not “fixing the broken window.”

Now I don’t see a room that will take no time to clean, I see something that could cause lots of other things in the room to gather AND something I could fix very quickly NOW.

I’m not saying I have a neat house 100% of the time now (please see my children’s comments above), but I am saying that the broken window concept has changed how I look at a room and has, in fact, made me neaten a room when it takes just 30 seconds to do so instead of waiting.  As a result, I think the rooms are staying cleaner (emphasis on the “er” part) and I’m only neatening for seconds at a time instead of several minutes or even hours.


Whew, welcome to my neatening neurosis.  How do you view neatening?  Is it something you do religiously or just wait until you have lots to straighten at once?