Sep 092018
 

This post contains affiliate links.


The digital rewards site Swagbucks is offering big payouts during on their September Swago Board, which runs from September 10th through September 17th at 9am PT! 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, meaning you can get more gift cards faster. 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 Monday, September 17th 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 be available all throughout Swago and you have until 11:59pm PT on Monday, September 17th to use all your spins.

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, which is enough for a $5 gift card from 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 October, you’ll get a bonus 300 SB!

May 072018
 

There is a lot of “new” happening over here this growing season – new zone, new yard, new routines, new plant selections, new places to shop…you get the idea.  Among all the newness there are still some constants which help it all flow smoother.

One of the things I have learn while gardening in various ways over the years is that raised beds are my friends.  I do not need a tiller to break up the soil each year, weeds are greatly reduced, and I can grow more in a small space than I could traditionally.

From past experience I knew that an 8 foot by 4 foot bed would be a great place to start.  Large enough to plant several things, but not too big to become overwhelming.  Having paid attention to the sunlight over the past year, I knew where in the yard would get full sun through all seasons, and which areas were in full or partial shade from late fall through late spring.  As none of our neighbors have backyard trees to create shade, that was not something I had to contend with.

A few other factors to take into account when deciding on placement were: location to a watering source, distance from fire ring, discharge from rain gutters, and allowing room for the kids to play.  I did not want to be carrying heavy buckets of water across the yard all summer or trying to wrangle several lengths of garden hose.  I also needed it to be far enough away from our fire ring to not interfere if we happen to be outside after dark.  The rain gutters discharge a lot of water during a rain event, even a small one.  If the garden was too close the soil would be eroded away.

After settling on where to place the garden bed and carrying the materials to that spot I actually had to move the location over a foot or two.  Why?  The yard had a slight slope around the edges to it to aide in storm-water run off.  What is normally a good thing (good drainage) becomes a not so ideal situation when you are trying to build a level raised bed.  Moving the bed over meant it would be level, thereby saving me the effort of having to dig it down on one side or raise it up on the other.

My previous garden beds were made out of wood planks screwed together to create squares or rectangles.  While this method was more economical it meant more time in constructing the beds, as well as painting or staining the boards to ensure a longer life.  It also made it a lot more difficult to extend the beds as my gardening adventures grew.

I liked the look of raised beds made of decorative stones, but the budget would not permit it at this time.  I also felt like that beds were more permanent in nature.  At this time I was not ready to commit to a location long term.

Concrete blocks were more economical than decorative border stones, flexible enough to change or move if desired, did not require constructing a frame, and allowed me the option to plant in the open spots of the blocks.  While I did not prefer the look of the blocks, the other factors won out.

In two days time I had a bed created in my back yard.  A few days later it was planted and seems to be doing well.  After two years of not having a vegetable garden, it is nice to be able to look forward to produce from one’s own backyard.

Something to keep in mind when planning on using concrete blocks is their weight.  Not only the weight of the finished product, but also the weight in your transportation of choice.  I was able to fit 27 blocks in my car without overloading it.  20 of the blocks were for the raised bed, one block high.  7 of the blocks were being used in a flower bed located in a different part of the yard.

At the time of picking up the blocks I also grabbed a bag of peat moss, two bags of top soil, and a bag of perlite (meant to get vermiculite but didn’t want to make an extra trip to exchange bags). A 50 lb bag of manure, 4 more bags of top soil, and 2 large bags of compost were added to it later.  As I replant and fertilize more dirt will be added.  I will also need to pick up a few bags to finish filling in the open holes of the blocks around the border.

Once home I gathered up cardboard boxes which had been accumulating in our garage.  These I laid out in a rough rectangle shape.  Where possible I created multiple layers of cardboard, which will kill the grass underneath before breaking down in the soil.

After the first corner was located where I wanted it, I began the place the blocks in a line, measuring from the privacy fence to double check its alignment.  Due to the size of the blocks the planting area was not exactly 8 feet by 4 feet, but it is really close.  Add in the extra planting squares and I am happy with the result.

After the blocks were squared up as much as possible, the bags of peat moss, soil, and compost were added and mixed in place.  This may not be the “correct” way to do it, but without a wheel barrel it was an acceptable alternative.  It also created less work than mixing the ingredients on a tarp before adding to the bed.

The soil was watered, allowing me to check for levelness of the new soils and to help the contents settle before planting.

The bed is now ready to be planted!

 

Apr 162018
 

This post contains affiliate links.


All throughout April you can earn large bonuses when sign up as my referral on Swagbucks. 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, or PayPal cash.

When you sign up through me this month, you can earn a 300 SB bonus! Here’s how:

1. Sign up using this link

2. Earn 300 SB total before May 1st, 2018. You’ll get a 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 since the beginning of the year to purchase a rain barrel, a compost tumbler, a used copy of a long-awaited book, and more.  This past month has been a bit quieter due to having my focus elsewhere.  That is one of the things I like about Swagbucks, the earning opportunities are flexible; there is no set schedule or method which you must use.

Mar 152018
 

Last October I shared this video with the intent of increasing garden knowledge for those who like to tuck such facts away for when they will be useful.

For the rest of us, here is the video at a time which may be more appropriate to your gardening preparations.

Do you grow onions?  What is your preferred type?

 

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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!

 

Jan 022018
 

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 stories, snow shoveling, bill paying, work stress…

And still they get delicious, wholesome (and even pretty) meals on the table? What gives?

Well, you’re about to find out by going behind-the-scenes, and right into their kitchens!

It’s called the Meal-Plan-Along, and here are all the can’t-miss details:

Five VIP bloggers are joining forces with Ultimate Bundles on January 3rd from 4-7 pm ET/1-4pm PT. 

You can curl up with a warm drink, and maybe a basket of clean laundry, and join us virtually through your computer or mobile device.

Wardee Harmon of Traditional Cooking Schoolwill be spilling her time-saving secrets using the slow cooker and pressure cooker to meal plan.

Does meal planning feel stressful? Get this: Katie Kimball from Kitchen Stewardship will be talking about how meal planning can reduce your stress.

If the whole idea is a bit daunting, fear not… Kresha Faber from Nourishing Joy will be sharing meal planning techniques for beginners.

One big reason for meal planning is to save you money! Susan Heid from The Confident Mom will be dishing out her tips for meal planning on a budget.

If any member of your family has allergies, don’t worry! Elise New from Frugal Farm Wife is going to drop some knowledge bombs on how to meal plan around food allergies.

And to finish it out, Stephanie Langford from Ultimate Bundles will be hosting the whole event and will be chiming in with some ninja batching and freezer cooking secrets (when you’ve got five kids who want to eat every day, you find shortcuts).

Follow along to see how six different women feed their families using simple strategies to stay more organized, make meals come together more easily, spend less time cooking, and ensure healthy meals make it to the table even in the busy times.

2018 doesn’t have to be the year of food waste, sky-high grocery bills, unhealthy meals, and last-minute takeout. You can do this, and we can’t wait to show you how to make it all easier and more doable!

Register for the FREE live event on January 3rd right here.

Dec 312017
 

This post contains affiliate links.

Goodbye 2017. Hello Big Savings.

Looking to restock your craft supplies for the upcoming year? Then you are in luck, you don’t even need to venture out into the cold. Through 11:59pm MST tonight you can save up to 70% off supplies at Craftsy.

Which crafts do you have planned for the upcoming year?

Dec 262017
 

This post contains affiliate links.

Did you get an Instant Pot for Christmas, but are unsure how to use it?

Looking to help your school-aged kids learn more life skills?  (Maybe it is you who is looking to add new life skills you missed learning.)

Do you learn better by watching than by reading?

Then here is a resource that may help:

“These 5 videos will help your kids MASTER our favorite time-saving appliances. Even before they are proficient at the knife skills taught in the original course, they can do dinner, start to finish, no mess, no fuss, no failure.”

Kids Cook Real Food is an encouraging site, showing it really can be done – kids really can cook!

Dec 262017
 

This post contains affiliate links.


This sale will be over in a flash! December 26th only, stock up on new faves for your family and save 75% off your order at Schoola.com with promo code FAST75.

Schoola has been one of my favorite ways to save money on clothes and save time by shopping from home.  With a kid who has grown, again, I will definitely be checking here today to see if I can help fill in a few current needs. This is also a great time to begin thinking ahead to spring and summer clothes.

Send a friend $10 off to shop the amazing deals on children’s clothes at Schoola.com and you’ll get $10 off too. Shop now!

And don’t forget, orders of $25 or more (up to 10 items) always qualify for free shipping!

*Fine print: Discounts and credits do not apply toward the free shipping threshold or promotional minimums. Discounts are applied to the post-credit order value. New-with-tags items are not eligible for purchase with discounts or credits.

Sale ends 11:59 PM PST December 26

 

Dec 202017
 

We are now a one house family again!

We traveled this past weekend back to Small Town home. The main reason was to close on the sale of our house there. We also used the time to visit with friends we had not seen this past year.

How do you know someone is your friend? Usually one of the following two apply:

  1. they stop by (somewhat) unannounced for a visit and stay an hour or two, or three
  2. they let you in their house when you stop by (somewhat) unannounced for a visit and let you stay for an hour or two, or three.

The one visit I thought we had pre-planned was the one that actually didn’t work out. We showed up, but they didn’t. All the others where set up as such – “Hey, we are going to be in town this weekend.”, then we stopped by to see if they were home and visited. Even when it was around supper time or already 7 pm.

Thank you, Friends, for continuing to extend your generosity.

Something I got out of every visit, beyond the reminder that friendships do not have to be based on seeing someone constantly, is that we all have had things happen this past year which have been struggles and blessings.  Not one person said, “I went to work, I came home, I mowed the grass… everything is exactly as it was a year ago, there were no unusual events or struggles.” Everyone did say something different, no two struggles or unusual events were the same, but everyone had something(s) happen.

We drove in to town on Saturday, changed the furnace filter, turned on the heat, made sure all the toilets worked, turned on the refrigerator, carried in our bags, and inflated the air mattress. Then set out to visit friends.

We picked up supper and brought it back for a picnic meal on the kitchen floor – the house had NO furniture.

Sunday morning Jack was up earlier than George or my husband, which seemed to make a shower a good idea. And it was. Except we found out quickly that we had forgotten to turn on the water heater the day before.

Oh, the things you take for granted each day.

A trip to the grocery store resulted in a lighter (gas heater), paper plates and napkins, an extra roll of toilet paper (just in case the one left in the house ran out!), and cream cheese. A stop by McDonald’s filled the coffee request. Back at the house we, and YouTube, lit the water heater then proceeded with a breakfast of coffee, hot cocoa, beagles and cream cheese, again on the floor of the kitchen, while the water warmed up. Breakfast hit the spot.

By the time it was the adults turn for a shower we had to actually use some cold water to make the water temperature tolerable.

After replacing batteries in a few smoke detectors, fixing a door which wouldn’t stay shut…work at this house never seems to end…we headed out for lunch in Big Town.  We went to a restaurant where we frequented every Sunday after church for years. Pure nostalgia, as it is a chain restaurant you can find in most towns.

While in Big Town, after a few wrong turns delaying us, we saw a friend of ours crossing the street. We pulled over to offer a ride (this friend walks assisted, which can make getting places difficult), say hi, and extend an invite to lunch. As it turned out, this friend wasn’t feeling well and was headed home to rest. But it was a nice chance encounter.

More visiting with friends, a frustrating miscommunication, then supper of leftovers and a few premade items from the grocery store.

Monday we got up at our normal times, loaded the vehicle back up, cleaned up the house, fixed a fan (the codes had somehow changed between it and the remote – work is never done), and said final goodbyes to the house.

We had a couple hours till closing which we planned to fill with a delicious breakfast out. It did not disappoint. Added perk, no wait for a seat on a cold Monday morning.

Not all of us were as hungry as usual, which meant yummy leftovers!

We headed out to our closing destination, found ourselves checking in about 20 early, so took a walk. While out strolling a few blocks around our location, a former classmate of my husband’s saw us. He wasn’t able to chat with us, but did connect with my husband via text.

Closing went smoothly. A blessing in more ways than one – our attorney had been down south, headed back with his family via Atlanta airport. While they did not get stuck in the airport, their flight had been delayed. He found a different way back, arriving just in time.

Papers were signed. Hands were shaken. Informal details given. Ways parted.

We are no longer home owners in this particular state!

Being that it is a small-ish, rural-ish town, as well as winter time, cold, right before holidays…we thought for sure nothing would happen till spring. When this reasonable offer came in, we were shocked. It was at a time where things had been a bit rough (see “everyone had something this year” above). This was one of two large pieces of good news which came in the same week after months on quiet. Proof that you can not always make things happen in your timing.

So, that is what we have been up to these past few days.  Perhaps not the typical pre-christmas activities, but one that was a huge gift and blessing. We have said, “Thank you, God.” many times through the process.

Wherever you find yourself this week, look for ways to be a friend, as well as enjoy those you already have. It doesn’t have to be anything grand, or require a pristine house. Sometimes it is the small gestures which mean the most at that moment. (Thank you for letting us borrow your step ladder!)