The Groundskeeper

Sep 192017
 

The digital rewards Swagbucks just hit a major milestone – they have given their members over $200 million in cash and free gift cards since 2008! I use Swagbucks all the time to get free gift cards doing stuff I already do online, like shopping, answering surveys, watching videos, discovering great deals, and searching the web. To demonstrate how big a number 200 million really is, here are some fun facts:

$200,000,000 is a huge number, and to celebrate they’ve been holding a “Swago” promotion for the past week! (It ends at 12pm PT/3pm ET today.)

If you’ve been playing, you’ve also been getting spins on their Spin & Win wheel. Starting at 9am PT/12pm ET today, you can start cashing in on those spins! The wheel will close at 9AM PT/12PM ET on Thursday, September 21st.

Every spin on the wheel results in either SB earned, entries into an Exclusive Limited Time Swagstakes or an exclusive Swag Up. Click here right now to start spinning!

**The SB options on the wheel will credit immediately. Please note, the SB you earn from the wheel will not count towards your Daily Goal meter. The Swag Ups will be live for a couple of weeks and will expire 15 days from the time they are applied to your account so there will be different expiration dates.

  • Shop Swag Up Bonus: Make a qualifying purchase before October 1st and earn a 500 SB Bonus when your Shop & Earn SB Credits! Manual crediting of SB will not count.
  • SB Local Swag Up: Earn SB from SB Local before October 1st and earn an additional 200 SB Bonus! Manual crediting of SB will not count. Must earn atleast 25 SB from your SB Local purcchase. to qualify for the additional 200 SB bonus.

**All Swag Up and Double Search and Survey SB will credit back as Bonus SB which means they will not go towards your Daily Goal Meter

This post contains affiliate links.  When you click through to Swagbucks and join, I will receive, at no cost to you, a portion of points you earn.  That you for helping support this blog and my love of shopping at Amazon via earned gift cards.

Sep 182017
 

This year has held many changes for us.  I thought I was prepared.  I thought I could handle it all.  I thought…

Yeah, I was wrong.

Not completely, mind you, but in the “I thought I…” part of things.  There is nothing I can do to make anything happen.  Try as I might, I can not think something into reality.  What it does bring is anxiety as you see things around you not going as you want them to.

This came to a very clear reality after my surgery in March.  Physically I healed fine and quickly, with little pain.  Emotionally I was brought to my knees.  Once I figured out it was anxiety and not low iron, blood sugar, blood volume, or internal bleeding (sitting on the couch with orders to not do anything for a few days can lead your mind down interesting paths), I knew what needed to be done.  I also knew it was not going to be a quick fix.

Part of my self-imposed routine was to start the day off well.  In the past this meant me getting up at my regular time, having two breakfasts (the first to get my stomach convinced it was actually hungry and not sick), and getting dressed.  This time however, I found myself waking up super early, unable to fall back asleep.

Unable to fall asleep one morning, I went out to the back deck to watch the sun rise and listen to the birds sing.  Within minutes I felt better.  Not perfect, but better.  I went back in to get George off to school, but then back out to the deck I went.

For a few weeks I spent hours out there every day.  We even did home education outside.  The fresh air, sun shine, sound of birds and wind rustling in the tree tops…it was peaceful and what I needed.  Well, peaceful except for the occasional emergency vehicle siren and sound of traffic during morning commute times; at those times I focused on the nicer sounds and prayed for where those sirens were going.

Another part of my time outside involved a morning devotional.  At first, reading made me nauseous, so I used an audio version of the Bible on my phone.  After being able to tolerate printed materials, I added in Humble Roots by Hannah Anderson.

Not only was this book an encouragement, but it also spoke to my love of plants and nature.  Most importantly it spoke to the “I” part of why things were not working out – it was pride.

For years I thought that my sense of peace depends entirely on me. – Hannah Anderson, Humble Roots

Daily devotionals are not something I usually seek out.  I have gone through a few different ones over the years, but find I would rather read from the original text than from someone else’s opinion of what was being said.  This is where I felt Humble Roots deviated from other devotionals – it does not read or feel like a devotional.  Instead, it felt more like a talk with another gardener, one who has been where I was at.

Humble Roots is half plant book and half Christian devotional, each half complementing the other to help demonstrate the point being made.

After spending hours out-of-doors, and not solely in this instance of healing, it is hard to not notice details of nature and take them to heart:

  • The dry creek bed filling up with water in a few minutes time, yet days after a rain storm upstream.
  • The birds singing in the middle of a rain shower.
  • Flower stalks righting themselves after being laid flat by the wind.
  • A plant, growing from a tiny seed which seemed unimpressive and unlikely to survive.

There are lessons all around us, examples of the goodness of God and His providence.

These are also things which we, ourselves, could not make happen.

Humble Roots does not come across as an author talking at the reader, but someone who is also on the journey to find peace and understanding in one’s day.   This gentle approach and easy read was much appreciated at a time when I was already being hard enough on myself.

Toward the end, I found that I did not fully agree with some of the conclusions which Hannah Anderson presented.  They felt a bit forced or abrupt.  This did not mean I could not gain something from the writing, only that I think the last chapter or two could have been edited better.

 

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review.  This post contains affiliate links.

Sep 142017
 


A few weeks ago I shared a post which said, “All throughout September you can earn big bonuses at Swagbucks, a rewards site where you earn points (called SB) for things you’re probably doing online already…”

I know it is easy to gloss over such posts as these, assuming it is not legitimate, or requires you to purchase something, or give up  your rights to your first born child.  I used to think the same thing.  And you are right about some sites.  I know. I have tried them.

After having been a member of Swagbucks for years, I know it is a legitimate site. I also know that, while you will not get rich from this site, it is a good way to earn a bit of extra money each month without having to leave home.

Over the course of me being a member of their site I have earned approximately $1,223.19.  Some months I have earned $50, while other times I do not do anything for months on end.  That is one thing I love about Swagbucks, they have something for me to do no matter how much, or little, time I have to spend.

Going back to the post I initially mentioned, Swagbucks is currently offering a 300 SB bonus, equivalent to $3, for new members who earn 300 SB by the end of the month.  If you are new to the site, this might seem like a daunting task.

With that in mind, I wanted to show you how I was able to earn 300 SB in two days time.  If I had been able to take a bit longer the first day, I could have completed it all then.  However, life still must go on and people in my household do like to be feed during the day.

Here’s how I was able to earn 300+ SB over a two day period without downloading something on my computer, purchasing anything, or even doing my normal online shopping:

DAY 1
  1. I checked my Swagbucks Inbox for deals – completed a travel search and earned 5 SB, checked out hotels in a specific city and earned 1 SB
  2. Clicked on the banner at the top.  Watched the nCrave videos for 1 SB.
  3. Went to my To-Do List (found on the left side of the home page).  Daily Discovery and Crave were already completed.  Daily Poll – 1 SB, Daily Watch – 2 SB, Deal of the Day – 1 SB, unsuccessfully attempted 2 surveys – 2 SB, completed survey – 30 SB
  4. Bonus for completeing 6 out of 8 items on To-Do List – 1 SB
  5. Bonus for completing To-Do List – 1 SB
  6. August Spin-n-Win double survey earning – 30 SB
  7. Completed a Discover Activity (watched an ad for 30 seconds) – 2 SB
  8. SuperRewards (Discover) activity – 3 SB
  9. Watched an additional 3 video series – 3 SB
  10. Disqualified from 3 surveys – 3 SB
  11. Compeleted survey – 54 SB
  12. Completed 1 AdGate Media (Discover) activity – 2 SB
  13. Completed 6 Peanut Lab (Discover) activities – 7 SB
  14. Watched 8 nCrave video series for 8 SB
  15. Disqualified from 5 Peanut Lab (Discover) surveys – 5 SB
  16. Search – 6 SB
  17. August Spin-n-Win double search earning – 6 SB
  18. Play – 10 SB
  19. nCrave slideshow – 3 SB
  20. nCrave video slideshow – 5 SB
  21. nCrave video slideshow – 5 SB
  22. nCrave video slideshow – 5 SB
  23. nCrave video slideshow – 7 SB
  24. nCrave activity – 2 SB
  25. nCrave activity – 5 SB

End of Day 1.  Earned 202 SB.

Some of these activities were new to me.  Even after all these years, I am finding new ways of earning SB, as Swagbucks has changed over time.  Some of the new or different activities I like and do often.  Others, well, let’s just say that there were a few new ones this time which I will not be doing again.

Day 2
  1. nCrave video slideshow – 7 SB
  2. nCrave video slideshow – 4 SB
  3. Disqualified from survey – 1 SB
  4. Completed survey – 58 SB
  5. Deal of the Day – 1 SB
  6. Daily Poll – 1 SB
  7. Bonus for completing 6 out of 8 items on my To-Do List – 1 SB
  8. Disqualified from 5 surveys – 5 SB
  9. 6 AdGate Media (Discover) slideshows – 6 SB
  10. Watch video slideshow – 1 SB
  11. Bonus for completing 8 out of 8 items on my To-Do List – 1 SB
  12. Peanut Lab (Discover) activity – 20 SB
  13. Peanut Lab (Discover) activity – 10 SB
  14. Peanut Lab (Discover) activity – 10 SB
  15. Peanut Lab (Discover) activity – 9 SB

End of Day 2.  Earned 135 SB

I decided to stick with activities I knew well, things which would not take me as long to complete.  The Peanut Lab activities were also ones I had to submit a ticket for due to them not crediting after completion.

If I had not had the benefit of double earnings from the previous month’s Swago promotion, I could have completed a few more survey, or looked for other Discover activities to complete.

Total at the end of two days = 337 SB

Part of the earnings during Day 1 were from bonuses earned while participating in August’s Swago promotion.  By earning spins on the Spin Wheel I received bonuses such as “Double Survey Earnings” or “Double Search Earnings”.  These particular bonuses may not count toward your 300 SB earnings needed to receive the 300 SB bonus for being a new member, but they still count toward your total earned toward a gift card.

With this in mind, during the September Swago promotion, which is currently taking place, there are several activities I have completed, not because they will result in a higher earning pattern but because they will earn me opportunities to spin the wheel. Due to the difference in this month’s Swago promotion, the celebration of Swagbucks giving away 2,000,000 SB, the Spin & Win Wheel will not be available to use until 9AM PT/12PM ET on Tuesday, September 19th and will end at 9AM PT/12PM ET on Thursday, September 21st.

Sep 102017
 

This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and join, I will receive a portion of points you earn, at no cost to you. This is one way I help off-set the cost of running this blog.

The digital rewards site Swagbucks is nearing $200,000,000 in cash and gift cards given back to it members. Since 2008, they’ve rewarded members for things we all do online, like shopping, watching videos, discovering deals, answering surveys, and searching the web.

$200,000,000 is a huge number, and to celebrate they’re holding a “Swago” promotion starting Monday, September 11th at 9am PDT!

Swago is just like bingo, but in this case you’re filling out squares as you earn points on their site for doing things you already do online. If you’re thinking of trying Swagbucks, this is a great chance to learn all about how the site works and earn bonus points while doing it. Here are a few tips:

  • Each square on your Swago Board will contain an action item to complete. They can be anything from getting a search win, completing a survey, or just visiting one of our popular stores!
  • Once you complete the action item in a particular square the square will change color signifying the action item is complete.
  • You have until 12pm PT/3pm ET on Tuesday, September 19th to mark off as many squares as possible so use your time wisely.
  • Be mindful of the patterns and their corresponding bonuses located on the right of your Swago Board. The patterns will vary in difficulty and bonus value. Once you’ve achieved a pattern, the corresponding “Submit” button will light up. You can have multiple patterns available for submission, however, you can only submit ONE pattern so choose wisely.
  • Each activity you successfully complete on your Swago Board will give you anywhere from 1-20 spins on the Spin & Win Wheel. PLUS, when you submit your board for a bonus you’ll get additional spins. The number of spins will depend on the pattern you complete. The wheel has all sorts of great prizes that you can win, and each spin is a winner!

The Spin & Win Wheel will not be available to use until 9AM PT/12PM ET on Tuesday, September 19th and will end at 9AM PT/12PM ET on Thursday, September 21st.

Fill up your board and then submit your pattern to get even more points – if you can fill in the whole board, you get a 500 SB bonus! That’s enough for a $5 gift card in their Rewards Store to the retailer of your choice.

Click here right now and click “Join” to get started! If you don’t already have a Swagbucks account, you’ll be able to quickly sign up; PLUS, if you earn 300 SB before the first of next month, you’ll get a bonus 300 SB!

Sep 102017
 

 

Regular turning of your compost pile is one of those garden jobs that often is forgotten.  Turning your pile over does several things:

  1. Mixes the new items you have added to your pile with your older items.
  2. Allows air to get to items that may previously have not had it.
  3. Discourages pesky insects (gnats, flies, mosquitoes, etc.) from gathering and laying eggs by covering food scraps not yet decomposed. This is only an issue if your pile is near where people will be, and therefore they will be pesky.
  4. Speeds up the decomposition of your pile.  In other words, you will have compost that you can use faster.  (This is my favorite reason.)

If you are in a cooler climate, or just a down right cold area, you may have to wait till a warmer day. This is especially true if your pile is under snow or otherwise unable to be worked.

Sep 092017
 

If you have watched any television, turned on a radio, or walked past a newsstand in the last few days, you will have seen or heard about the current weather events taking place along the Gulf Coast and Atlantic Ocean.

Hurricane Harvey was a massive, unexpected, force which has disrupted a huge area and hundred of thousands of people.  Hurricane Irma has been just as destructive, if not more-so, and she is not done yet.  Most consider these natural disturbances a catastrophe.

In terms of humans, I completely agree. Having lived in the Houston area, it is even harder to see the images and realize the scale, knowing that the images do not do it justice.  I was there when Katrina hit New Orleans and many of those residents fled to Houston.  Hearing their stories and seeing their struggles, literally face-to-face, did more than any news image could.

Hurricane Harvey and Irma are natural disturbances on a grand scale.  Thankfully, most disturbance of nature are that so intense.

Scaling back a little, let us take a look at a “disaster” from a different view point.

Consider a week of spring rains across the Midwestern states.  The rains have saturated the soil, thereby sending water flowing into local streams and rivers.  The streams and rivers can only move so fast, yet the water keeps coming.  Water levels rise, resulting in typical yearly flooding into fields, woods, yards, roadways, etc.

Eventually the rains end and the streams are able to carry the excess water into the rivers and down to the ocean.

What is left?

If you were to go look at the stream, you might notice a lack of sticks in the bed…you likely had to step over a line of them along the bank in order to get down to see the stream bed itself.  Perhaps the tall tree, whose roots used to stick out into the stream, is now lying across the stream, branches dangling in the water.

Down in the field, you notice grasses matted down, covered with detritus and debris. Temporary rivulets left lines as the water receded, creating low areas in a once flat field.

Is this a catastrophe or a rejuvenation?

As this natural disturbance is a seasonal, regular occurrence, what might look like a catastrophe to the local ecosystem at first can actually turn out to be a much needed and depended upon rejuvenation.

Where the tree fell, more light is reaching the forest floor.  In a year, this area will be covered with plants who need more light, rather than shade, to grow.  Birds who like to nest and eat along the edges of forests increase in population, and end up eating more of the insects flying near the water.

In 5 years you will not even be able to see an opening in the forest canopy.

The sticks in the stream, which used to catch leaves and block flow are now out of the way.  The water has been able to create a smoother bed and deeper pools.  While the dangling limbs from the tree provide shade and protection, the cleaned out stream bed means there are also more crevices under rocks, more places to hide.  The deeper pools are cooler than the shallower edges, helping regulate the stream’s temperature and aiding aquatic life who need cooler temperatures.

Was this natural disturbance a catastrophe or a change for rejuvenation?

While many in the news label occurrences like this a natural “disaster”, I think that is not always the case.  Without disturbances, a system becomes too similar – population diversities decline, species who can not survive in those conditions die or become extinct, and the system as a whole may loses its ability to handle a disturbance when it does happen.

The idea that natural disasters are not always bad, or disasters, is what Seth Reice talked about in “The Silver Lining: the benefits of natural disasters“.  I had picked up his book at a library book sale, the picture of a field/forest fire on the front having caught my attention.  Yes, I was initially judging a book by its cover. 😉

What I found inside was a great explanation of what happens during a natural disturbance, how we as humans perceive the results, why these disturbances are actually needed, and the observable results of various “disasters” years later.

Even better was the flow of the book.  It was not weighed down with technical terms, but written so even someone without an understanding of the science behind it could follow along easily.  My background in biological sciences and ecology only aided in understanding further what he was talking about.

While everything he mentioned was not new to me, it was a great reminder that there is not always one way to view what is happening.  We need to take headlines with a grain of salt.  The new agencies are in business to sell papers or gain ratings, while telling a story; hence the use of catchy headlines.  After all a headline saying “Forest Utterly Destroyed By Fire” is more likely sell a greater number of (non-academic) papers than “Forest Fire Allows Pine Trees To Reseed.”

Sep 022017
 


It may almost be the end of Summer, but you can still earn big bonuses at Swagbucks, 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 10/1/17. You’ll get a $3 (300 SB) bonus for it!

3. That’s it. It’s super easy, and Swagbucks is for real. I use it myself, and I’ve earned enough to help purchase school books for Jack this year, purchase household supplies from Amazon, and to help pay for costs of running this blog. (Technically I am saving for that last item, as it is not due quite yet.)

It is unlikely you will get rich using Swagbucks, but it sure is nice to have some extra money in your pocket (or on a gift card).  I know of other Swaggernauts who use their money to help cover specific utility bills each month.  Others use it to supplement their household/grocery shopping budgets.  A few years I used this as my method of saving for Christmas.

Whatever it is, and having a goal to work toward always helps, why not give it a try this month and earn and extra $3 in the process?

Is there something which is keeping you from trying Swagbucks?  Comment below and I will help clarify or answer  your questions or concerns.

Aug 302017
 
This post contains affiliate links.
This past summer did not go at at all like I had planned for it to play out.  Visits to all the libraries in our library system, exploring city parks, summer schooling, baking with the kids – very little of it happened like I had hoped.  
Why?  Because I was feeling anxious.  It zapped my energy and my motivation to get up and go.
The kids picked up on how I was feeling and would mirror with their own set of behaviors.  Let’s just say it was more a summer of “here is how you make your own cereal for breakfast, and yes you may watch Netflix for a few hours.”  FWIW: we are not cereal eaters, and my kids actually do not like it a whole lot.  However, they like doing things “by myself” and did okay with this scenario.  There were also days with shakes and breakfast sandwiches, so they were not completely left to their own devices. 😉
The good news is I am working on getting things back to where they were, one step at a time.  I have changed several things, tried to take on a new outlook, asked for help, and shared with others what was going on.
All of these steps have helped, but there is still a ways to go before I get to where I want to be.
 
Does life have you feeling stressed?  Overwhelmed?  Are you looking to get back in control of life, rather than reacting after the fact?  If you are not sure where to start or are looking for extra encouragement, here is a great opportunity.
Crystal Paine, from MoneySavingMom, has a new course set to be released soon – Say Goodbye To Survival Mode.  
 “It’s a 7-Day Journey to Break Free From Burnout. It’s one of the most authentic and vulnerable products I’ve ever produced and my hope is that it will inspire many women to dig deep and discover where their exhaustion and overwhelm is truly coming from.” – Crystal Paine
To launch the new course she is offering a FREE 3-day Webinar called “3 Strategies to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed.”
 
During the Live Webinar, Crystal will be sharing:
~Her 4-step process for deciding what to say yes to & what to say no to
~The most important question you can ask if you want more calm & less chaos in your life
~Her #1 trick to get more done every single day
~Plus, I’ll be hosting a LIVE Q&A at the end of the class to answer your burning questions!
If you have not visited MoneySavingMom before, I highly recommend you check it out.  Not only does she share money saving deals and advice, but also gets to the personal side of it as well.
This is a great place to start (and it’s free)!  The Webinar begins next week.

Aug 292017
 


Swagbucks is holding their Swago promotion starting Monday, August 28th at 9am PDT! It’s just like bingo, but in this case you’re filling out squares as you earn points on their site for doing things you already do online. If you’re thinking of trying Swagbucks, this is a great chance to learn all about how the site works and earn bonus points while doing it.

The best part is that the points you get can be used to get free gift cards to places like Amazon, or PayPal cash!

Fill up your board and then submit your pattern to get even more points – if you can fill in the whole board, you get a 500 SB bonus! That’s enough for a $5 gift card in their Rewards Store.

Click here to sign up and get started! If you sign up through my link and earn 300 SB before the first of next month, you’ll get a bonus 300 SB!

Aug 272017
 

mason jars

After spending all the time canning produce from your garden or elsewhere, the last thing you want to happen is to have jar go bad and not realize it till you “smell something funky” when you go to your pantry.

Take a few minutes to look over the jars you have.

Are they all still sealed?

Do any need to be wiped down?  If so, do it now before you forget.

If any have gone bad, dump the contents and sanitize the jars.  Check for chips before storing them till they are needed again.