Feb 142018
 

Whether it is you and your Super Hero celebrating this day together, or if you are showing your appreciation for others, I hope your days holds lots of sweetness.

If it doesn’t, here is a great recipe – rated two thumbs up by in-house experts, Jack and George:

  • Heat up a cup of milk.
  • Add a packet of hot cocoa mix of choice.
  • Top with whipped topping.
  • Garnish with left over sprinkles or bits of chocolate from your pantry.

If you happen to dilly-dally a bit too long, arguing that you do not want to finish your supper because you are “too full”, then see what your brother is getting and decide to get a move-on…well, you might just miss out on the whipped topping.  In such a case, adding extra bit of chocolate to your hot cocoa and sprinkles on top will work as well.  FYI: the chocolate of the xoxo variety tends to not melt unless stirred; it also sinks. This can mean another yummy surprise at the end, just when you thought your were done.

Personally, I like to think I am more of a smooth dark chocolate with a hint of almond flavor.  How about you?

 

On a more serious note, in case no one has had the opportunity yet to tell you, let me just say:

You are appreciated, loved, a friend, and a welcome addition to my life.  You have a purpose, and are a blessing to those around you.

If you are not feeling this way, I encourage you to look for someone to help today, someone to smile at, someone to spend some time having a conversation with.  If you are not sure where to start, might I suggest the cashier at the local grocery store or someone at the nursing home.  Simple actions can mean a lot in the lives of someone else.

If you are in a lonelier place please give these people a call.  They are there to help, not judge.  There is animosity in these calls, yet they connect you with others who truly care about you.  Unsure of what to ask or talk about, here are a few questions to get you started.  It may feel strange to take that first step, to ask for help, but it is a good path to start back traveling. You are worth it!

 

Feb 102018
 

This post contains affiliate links.

January seems to have the reputation for being the slower month.  Coming off almost two months full of celebrating holidays, I can see why.  However, that was not the case for me this year.  Instead, January ended up being a fairly physically restful, emotionally eventful, finding our groove month.

February…I can not say the same for so far.  Yes it has only been 10 days, but that is 1/3 of the month already!  That 1/3 has included getting sick, rain, rain, and rain.  Come on!  Rain is grey and makes mud.  At least snow is white and reflects the light to make it seem bright. Alas, rain it is.  A great reminder for why I am saving my earning from Swagbucks to use towards purchasing our first rain barrel.  Our back yard is muddy. Sticky, clay muddy mud which stains.  Yuck times 10.

I actually have enough points on Swagbucks earned, as well as other bits of earnings added to PayPal, to purchase a rain barrel.  After reading reviews, I decided to buy a larger one to accommodate what I know is a large volume of storm runoff from the roof.  This means I have to earn a bit more before purchasing the size and style I want.  I think it will pay off in savings of frustration by avoiding a smaller barrel which would fill too quickly.

Today I went to a local nursery to hear a talk about growing fruit.  The attendance was great, the setting had plenty of room, and the speakers were knowledgeable workers who had been doing this for a number of year.  The one down side?  The rain. Yes, rain. Again.  The class was inside a greenhouse, which was a very appropriate and accommodating setting.  However, greenhouses are built to grow plants, not be acoustically quiet.  The roof acted like a hug drum, make it very difficult to hear the speaker.  As long as I could see the lips of the speaker I was fine.  However, the talked ended about 40 minutes early and turned into a Q&A session around a table, looking at various products, and handouts.

In the end, I am glad I went.  They are holding future talks which I plan on attending.  Hopefully the rain will stay away.

One of the points I took away, and which I fully agree with, is to choose one or two new things a year.  Learn all you can about them, then try/grow/implement it.  Do not say, “I want to have bees”, go buy them, then get a book from the library or contact the local honey club to learn what you need to do.  By that point it is too late.  You will be spending the rest of the season playing catch up, or be the owner of dead bees.  The same can be said for growing a new vegetable, a fruit tree, trying a new gardening method, trying to attract butterflies…you get the point.  Take the time to read and do research, it will pay off leaps and bounds.

Oh, and take time to research prices as well.  That rain barrel I said I needed to save more for…seems it is back in stock in the color that is at a lower price.  While looking for the picture above, I saw a different store had restocked it.  Another lesson, if you are not set on color or store, make sure you look at all the options.  I will save $10-$20 by not being particular about the color, and another $6 by using discounted gift cards redeemed for a different store.  At this lower price, I will be able to purchase this item sooner than I anticipated.

 

Why go through the ‘trouble’ of a rain barrel?  This is where Grow Your Cents comes in to play.  By spending some upfront costs or time on a container to catch free water, I will not need to pay the local utility for the same amount of water to use in the yard or garden.  Last year we did not have a lot of watering needs, though I see that increasing in years ahead.  Why not collect the water that would otherwise run to the street and down the storm drain?  Or, in my parents case, which would run down the driveway and into the creek?

With increase non-porous surfaces, storm water runoff issues are increasing.  Whether it be pollution, swollen ditches and streams, or lack of ability to be reabsorbed into the soil, these issues are not going away.  Not only will we save on water usage, but will also be able to slow down the water and allow more of it to be added back into the local soils rather the the local storm drain.
Want an extra boost to your budget in February??

If you haven’t tried Swagbucks before, you can get a bonus $3 for signing up as my referral this month. Swagbucks is a rewards site where you earn points (called SB) for things you’re probably doing online already, like searching, watching videos, discovering deals, and taking surveys. Then you take those points and exchange them for gift cards to places like Amazon, Starbucks, Walmart, Target, or PayPal cash.

When you sign up through me this month, you can earn a $3 bonus! Here’s how:

1. Sign up using this link

2. Earn 300 SB total before 3/1/18. You’ll get a $3 (300 SB) bonus for it!

3. If you want even more bonuses, you’ll get a $10 (1000 SB rebate) bonus for making your first shop purchase! That’s in addition to the SB you earn for every dollar you spend.

That’s it. It’s super easy, and Swagbucks is for real. If you are not sure, reread the post above. 😉

 

Tip to earn more: One thing I have been doing since the beginning of the year, is participating in a Facebook group for other people using Swagbucks.  This has saved me time on finding deals, figuring out which things work, being alerted to how to make opportunities work better for me, and see what is not working.  This has resulted in higher earnings for me, as well as trying different activities I have otherwise avoided.  This is something to keep in mind if you have tried this before, but found it too hard or confusing.  Or perhaps you want to try it, but are overwhelmed with the options of ways to earn.

Remember, you will not get rich from this, but you can earn enough for a rain barrel…or two.

 

Feb 042018
 

Have you heard?  Sugar maples (Acer saccharum) may be one of those things which go the way of the American chestnut tree – “When I was a kid, they were everywhere.  Forest ecosystems were based around them.  Now… well, they are so rare their locations are kept secret to keep them safe.”

At least, that is what a paper published in Ecology concludes may be one outcome in the future.  Looking at various studies and research done over 20 years, they combined factors to extrapolate the effect on the trees.  While the trees’ growth would benefit from certain factor changes, others may lead to them basically dying of thirst.

It remains to be seen if this is another the-sky-is-falling scenario, or if it will actually play out this way.  After all, the authors did say this would be a result of “growing under the considerably drier conditions characteristic of our most extreme climatic scenario”.

The Canadian Journal of Forestry published a research paper which highlighted just how tough it is to be a natural sugar maple seedling in New Hampshire.  From their study areas only 3.4% over 7 years.  “Location, location, location” seemed to be an important factor in their survival.

This, my Readers, is why trees put out so many seeds each year, they are hoping for just one to survive.  It is a tough world out there.

Jan 142018
 
A Love-Hate Relationship, in which fugality won Part 2

Beans. According to Answers.com: “There is no exact number, but the world gene banks set the count at about 40,000 different types of beans, though only a very small number of these bean types are mass-produced for common consumption. “ These little orbs of understatedness are great sources of fiber and protein.  They are easy […]

Jan 092018
 
January Swago - earn up to a $5 bonus

This post contains affiliate links. The digital rewards site Swagbucks is offering big payouts during their January “Swago” promotion starting Monday, January 8th at 9am PT and running until Monday, January 15th! Swago is just like bingo, but in this case you’re filling out squares as you earn points on their site for doing things […]

Jan 072018
 
Grow Your Cents - composting

This post contains affiliate links. “The third time is charm!” As the upcoming gardening season planning commences, I hold out hope that this saying continues to ring true. This will be my third garden in as many states. The prior two looked vastly different from each other, though taught me a lot about gardening. I […]

Jan 052018
 
DIY Project - Unique, Budget-friendly Bird Feeder #2

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for helping support this blog. Bird feeders are an easy addition to any garden or balcony. They do not take up much space and can match any style you currently have going on. Do not be discouraged if you do not get immediate results, it may take some […]

Jan 022018
 
Live Meal-Planning Simulcast - Wednesday, January 3rd

This post may contain affiliate links. Needing extra encouragement with your meal planning resolution? Looking for new ideas? Are you more of a visual learner? Then you do not want to miss this 3-hour live Meal-Plan-Along with 5 Food Bloggers on Wednesday January 3, 2018. They’re dealing with the same responsibilities as you: laundry piles, bedtime […]