Apr 252017
 

Alexander Hamilton book

It is Tuesday.  Not Monday.  Yes, I am aware of that and gave myself enough guilt about it yesterday.  However, it is Tuesday and not Wednesday, so that is saying something.  Right?

This past weekend included a llloooooooooooooonnnngggggggggg gggg  ggggg drive (do I need more g’s to make the point?) to a homeschool conference.  The original plan was to leave Thursday morning, with my husband taking two days off work, drop the kids off at my parents, and allowing my husband and I to have a restful weekend away together.

What happened was, and I promise there is a point to this beyond whining:

  • my husband’s job moved a meeting to a week and a day which it was not originally planned for
  • resulting in us not leaving Thursday morning, but Thursday evening instead.
  • I drove, which is not our norm on long trips, because I knew my husband had worked a full day and was tired. (He did drive the last few hours.)
  • We met up with my parents several hours past the kids’ bedtime, with the last point making the trip a very hard one along the way.
  • By the time we got to our hotel, it was past midnight.

I was able to get about 4 hours of sleep that night, resulting in the realization that my body was not past the point of being stressed.*  Yet.  I felt icky Friday (tired and nauseous), but had a day of talks ahead of me.  Knowing the reason for feelings helped me address them.  What it did not do was take away the feelings themselves.

Friday night I slept horribly, being awake from about 3 am – 5 am, then sleeping fitfully for 2 hours.  So much for getting a good night’s sleep.

Saturday came, I kept going, knowing that moving, eat small snack throughout the day, and not dwelling would help getting past the physical reactions.  This allowed me to figure out if I was actually feeling tired or hungry; I am amazed at how they can feel the same if you are both very tired and very hungry.  Taking the edge off really helped.

Saturday night, I had another plan:

  • I passed visiting with my  husband’s former college roommate (and new baby) in order to rest
  • reduced the nauseous feelings
  • and ate something high in protein, thereby setting myself up for a solid night sleep.

It worked!

By Sunday morning I was feeling … better.  I could not wait to get home though.

We still had a 7+ hour drive home, including picking up the kids and visiting a bit with my parents.

The drive home was actually one of the best ever with the kids.

We had no electronics – partly planned (no personal devices were packed), partly not (both of the dvd players, our “half-way there” treat, decided not to work).  What we did have were books on tape, audio dramas, snacks, and activity bags.  We also had kids who were tired from 3 fun filled days at the grandparents.

It was while listening to one of our books on tape, Parables From Nature by Margaret Gatty, that I realized I too have room to learn. Chapter 7, called “Waiting”, is specifically what I am speaking about.

In this chapter, Mole tells the House Crickets that sitting around bemoaning their issues do no good.

Every animal has a purpose. Yours is to wait for the sun to rise.  That is what you should be doing.  Anticipating the sun rise.  Once it goes down, then you find a snug place to stay till it is time to do your job again.

(quote not word for word)

Add that to something my husband shared from learning at the conference, that worry is feeling tomorrow’s emotions today.

I had been bemoaning and worrying, even if I thought perhaps I had not been.  This also goes to show why I feel better when I would get up and actually do something, taking my mind of how I was feeling and focusing on something else (walking, birds, gardening, solar lights, garden layouts, starting a garden … you get the idea).

Once we were home, a new board game was set up (Risk: Star Wars edition) and the boys, big and little, played while I tried to create some kind of order out of the chaos which comes from cleaning out the car from a long weekend away.

Monday morning came, I enjoyed a cup of tea on the back deck while listening to the morning birds.  My bemoaning and worry began to wash away, reminding me of the purpose and job I have to do right now … not the potential feelings of tomorrow or wonderings of why things for us are not like they are for others.

bird scared away from feeders waiting to return

The giveaway for Alexander Hamilton’s Guide to Life has closed.  Anita Yancy’s name was selected by Random.org as the winner.  

*After a while of contemplating, part of me began to wonder if the stress my body was feeling was not only due to being tired and the change of traveling, but also remembering our trip to this conference last year.  On that particular trip, we had a foster child with us, one who had not gone on trips with us before and was only a year younger then Jack.  It was a lesson for everyone involved.  We learned that a larger age gap is needed, due to the emotional needs of our kids, if we ever choose to foster again.

 

This post contains some affiliate links.  If you click on them and purchase something, I will receive a small percent back.

Apr 242017
 

persistence watchfulness wood ducks

Last month, we took advantage of the first ever Spring Break George was given at school.  It was a whole week.

It did not include the Easter holiday.

And my husband had vacation days he could use.

We went south. 😉

With the warmer climate and air flow patterns, the plants there were ahead of the ones where we live.  The birds, too, were experiencing “spring”.  I am not sure if it was George and I being in the right place at the right time which allowed us to see this.  Or if it was due to the warmer climate there.  Either way, a slow walk around a pond (storm water detention basin, which was very well designed) resulted in a first hand look at bird behavior.  This was better than any book could have shared.

These wood ducks looked fairly calm and placid, but upon closer observation we determined that a few particular ones in the group were … determined to reach their goal.

The colorful birds are the males, while the dull gray/brown one is the female.  Yes, there is only one female and the rest are males.  Even among the males, though, there is not equality.  If you pay attention you shall see which seem to be in charge of his lackeys.

I was amazed at their determination, at the coolness of the female through the whole thing (she seemed to like doing what she wanted, no matter how much trouble it caused her escorts), and at the sneaky strategy of the intruders.  What a fun thing to watch!

We were able to observe the various body movements of the males, how they flapped their wings (they were not only stretching), how they dipped their heads and swam around.  What awesome, intricate ways to communicate and “strut your stuff”.  Though, at times, I feel we humans do exactly the same thing.

 

Apr 222017
 


If you love Steak ‘N Shake, I know we do, you can get a 15% cashback when you purchase Steak ‘N Shake gift cards from MyGiftCardsPlus, which is a site that gives you cash back when you buy gift cards to your favorite retailers.

This would have been great during an 8+ hour road trip the kids and I took last fall.  The car’s air conditioning went out 3 hours into the drive, and there was only so much rolling down of windows could help with. (Though the kids thought they were cool stuff being able to roll down windows on the interstate highways, something usually off limits in our household.) Steak ‘n Shake was a life saver, offering a yummy way to keep cool with their delicious shakes!

The cash back is paid in the form of SB points on Swagbucks, which you can turn into free gift cards to places like Amazon, Starbucks, or PayPal. You can take advantage of this deal by clicking here, and if you don’t already have a Swagbucks account, you can create one there so you get your SB points for your purchase! (You may also receive up to a $5 bonus!)

This is a limited time offer that’s good through this April 30th or until supplies run out, whichever happens first!

Apr 222017
 

Compost Stew: An A to Z Recipe For The Earth giveaway ends tonight!  Have you entered yet?

From their Facebook page:

“THREE weekly winners will be drawn (April 8/16/22), each to receive a hardcover copy of the groundbreaking picture book, COMPOST STEW: An A to Z Recipe for the Earth….Open to US/Canada only. Ends April 22, 2017 at 9 pm (PDT).”

 

This post contains affiliate links.

Apr 222017
 

recycjingbank

Recyclebank is website where you can go to learn about recycling and be rewarded for your efforts.

People join Recyclebank for different reasons. Some join because they want to get rewarded for recycling in their community, some just want to learn about living more sustainably for themselves and their families. No matter what inspires you, we’d love to share our tips and reward you for making a positive impact in your community.

I have been using this site for several years.  During this time I have come to realize how limited my idea of recycling really had been.  It is also amazing the opportunities we have now, which were not around a few years back.

While helping me format the image above, George was curious what Recyclebank was about.  The easiest way to describe it to him was to take him there and allow him to see.  We learned about the various ways to recycle denim, earning 5 points in the process.  I was anticipating a list of crafts you could do; instead I found a list of companies that recycle old textiles and links to ideas for projects.  Yes, there are companies who will recycle other clothing.  What a great option!

Some current rewards:

  • Coupon for FREE one year subscription to Modern Farmer – 0 points needed
  • 1-year (12 issues) of ESSENCE® Plus Exclusive Free Tote Bag – 240 points
  • 2-year subscription to Traditional Home – 200 points
  • 2-years subscription to Better Homes & Gardens – 300 points
  • 1-year subscription to Southern Living – 200 points
  • 2-year subscription to Country Living – 240 points
  • Donate to the Arbor Day Foundation or The Nature Conservancy – 250 – 2500 points
  • Coupons for Happy Family products
  • Coupons for One Twine
  • Buy One Adult Entree at Ruby Tuesday and Get Another 50% off – 100 points
  • and more.

Check out their Facebook and Twitter pages for more information.

Apr 202017
 

Would you do me a favor and test out this video?

I am wanting to know if it played alright, or if there were any issues with it. If all work out, I may have finally found a way to share videos.

Yes, I realize YouTube is not new.  Yes, I have used it before.  So why the delay and using it to share videos?

That is a great question with a not very great answer:  It was yet another item in a long list of items, all of which I had convinced myself was difficult, time consuming, and hard to accomplish.

If it works, I was wrong.

Yet again.

 

Apr 172017
 


Easter is bringing with it another fun team challenge to help you earn SB from Swagbucks!

For those of you who don’t know what Swagbucks is, it’s a website where you can earn cash back on everyday tasks you do online like shopping, answering surveys, discovering deals, and watching videos. You can even earn for searching the web!

If you’ve never tried Swagbucks before because you didn’t know where to begin, their Team Challenges are a great way to learn the ropes! With each Team Challenge I participate in, I learn new ways of earning, more efficient sources, and even some ways which do not work for me.

It is also interesting to talk with different teammates; I am always in awe of how different we can be, yet all get along pretty well.  Some can only participate in the Team Challenge at night, because they work and have kids.  Others are able to give it their full attention due to being retired or in bed sick.  There is no minimum amount of time you have to commit.  There have even been a few times when teammates do not join till the challenge is almost over.  They do their best and contribute what they can.

Their latest, the “Egg-cellent” Team Challenge, begins Monday, April 17th.
Here’s how you can join the challenge and the site:  
1. Click here to join the challenge and be assigned to a team. Pre-registration is going on right now! If you don’t already have an account, you can sign up on this page as well.
2. Starting April 17th at 8am PDT, in addition to earning SB you’ll contribute points to your teams total as you complete different activities on Swagbucks.
3. Check back on the page often to see the scores and what you’ve contribute so far.

All members who participate and contribute at least 400 points to their team’s total will receive a SB bonus in the form of a SB Swag Up Rebate on their next gift card!
Not only that, but if you earn 300 SB before May 1st, you’ll get a 300 SB bonus (as long as you’ve signed up under me)!

Members of the 1st place team will receive a 50 SB Swag Up Rebate, members of the 2nd place team will receive a 25 SB Swag Up Rebate, members of the 3rd place team will receive a 10 SB Swag Up Rebate. Your SB Swag Up Rebate will be made available on Friday, April 21st and will expire on Sunday, May 7th 11:59pm PT

Swag Up Rebates are SB given when you redeem for your next gift card.  For example, if my team came in second during the challenge, then when I redeem for a gift card during the time the Swag Up Rebate is available then I will receive 25 SB in my account.  If you are decent at math, you will realize 25 SB is worth about $0.25.  While this is not a large amount, the greatest benefit from the challenges is not the Rebate, but all the other knowledge and encouragement you gain from participating.

 

Apr 162017
 

Alexander Hamilton book

Life has been a bit crazy lately.

Okay, a lot crazy.

When I received Alexander Hamilton’s Guide to Life by Jeff Wilser to review, I thought, “Great! That is exactly what I need.  I can use some life tips from someone successful.  Alexander Hamilton fits the bill!”  (Yes, pun intended.)

At over 300 pages, I set out for a deep read, ready to learn and grow from the knowledge imparted by one of our founding fathers.  What I found, was not so much deep thinking, as an easy read about Alexander’s life.  The Introduction put it well:

It is not a traditional biography. Instead, it’s the kind of manual that Hamilton would have written himself, perhaps, had he lived to be an old man.  That’s a bold claim, and of course Hamilton’s actual Guide to Life would have been smarter, deeper, longer, and Founding Fatherer.

Thankfully, it was not a list of maxim of Hamilton’s, as that would have been long, perhaps a bit boring, and not really taught me about the man.  Instead, what I found were sections organized around various parts of life.  These sections were then broken down into chapters based on one of Hamilton’s maxims.  (He had many and obviously they were not all used in this book, else it would have been much longer.)

The 10 areas of life covered were: Self-improvement, Career Advancement, Romance, Money, Style & Etiquette, Leisure, Friends & Family, Leadership, Office Politics, and Honor.

Within these pages, I found a founding father who was not as I had thought him to be.  Perhaps it was due to how the author chose to portray Hamilton, or maybe it was because he really was that different from what I had expected.  As it turns out, he did not have the same pedigree background as the other Fathers, he beginnings were much more humble.  He was mainly self taught rather than attending a prestigious school or having a tutor.  AND he was never President!

Disciplined. Forges his own path. Honor bound, to a fault. Studious.  These are all words which I now associate with this man.

Coming from a very less than ideal family life in one of the colonies, he was looked on as not a “true” American by some of his cohorts. That did not stop him, though, from doing his best to share his knowledge to make the country better.  Even when others dismissed him or politics got in the way, he tried to persevere.

In the end it was his honor, his pride, that got him killed.  Something which seems silly now, but was taken somewhat seriously back then – a challenge to duel over an insult.

The point of this book was not an in-depth study of the man, and perhaps that is why I come away feeling as such.  The author was clear on his point of the book (“not a traditional biography”, “), though I did not take it as seriously as I should have.  The first indication for me that I should have taken the author at his word was when I came across a reference to a modern day game.  It seemed very much out of place and like the author was trying to force a connection. (There was another reference or two throughout the book which made me feel the same, though not too many.)

While I am glad to have gotten to know a bit more about Hamilton, I feel as though there was a lot more left out.  Or perhaps it was the feeling of the author choosing what to share about this man. Or maybe it was the feeling of the book being written only because there was a musical coming out.

Either way, Alexander Hamilton’s Guide to Life is a good one for an introduction to the man, a place to start learning more.  If you already know a bit about him, then I would suggest moving on to a different book.

 

Would you like to have to chance to read the book for yourself?

 

Blogging For Books sent me an extra book which I am giving away!

As this is my first giveaway on the blog, I am going to keep it simple.  By 12 PM EST of Saturday (April 22), leave a comment below telling me what was the most recent book you read and why you would recommend it (or not).

Using the True Random Number Generator I will choose a winner and post it on Monday the 24th.  You will have till Wednesday to respond or I will choose a new winner. (If you leave your email when you leave a comment, I will email you if you win.)

Please, share this with your friends.  You will not get any extra entries for it (keeping it simple, remember), but I would greatly appreciate it!  I will post it on Facebook and Twitter, which should make sharing it easier. Thank you.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Apr 152017
 

red onion sets

As a kid, helping mom in the garden often meant planting onion sets (green onions) and radish seeds. I could not wait till those onions grew, making an appearance on the dinner table, trimmed and standing upright in a glass of cold water, green tops still attached.

Little did I know then, these were two plants which were hard to mess up. Hence we kids were encouraged to help plant them.

When I became my own gardener, green onions were one of the first plants added to my garden.  I loved how the whole plant could be used for onion flavoring, or washed and eaten straight out of the garden.  Imagine my surprise when my husband voiced his opinion on the matter – he likes onions but did not like to eat them straight.

What?!  How could you not like these?

Come to find out, what he did like were pearl onions in stews.

It took me only one winter of buying $5 bags of pear onions every few weeks, bringing them home and skinning them, to realize I could spend $5 and grow a whole batch of green onions.  Once grown, I could freeze them, and use them for stews the following winter.  Not only would be save a lot of money on our grocery bill, but skinning fresh green (pearl) onions is a lot easier than getting the dried skin off the ones from the store.  They also do not take up a lot of room in the freezer, which is a bonus if you  have limited space.

Last year, I did not add onions to my garden and I missed it once I began making stew in the winter.  I did not know what the year would bring and chose to only grow what we would eat at that time.  While onions in the freezer help the grocery bill, trying to move frozen onions from one house to another is not  a good use of funds.

With the warmer spring, due to where we live and the naturally warmer winter, I am behind on when I could have started planting onions sets.  Thankfully, they wonderful vegetables can be grown throughout most of the growing season.  The limiting factor is finding onion sets, or storing them successfully till you need them.

They can be grown in pots, straight out of a bag of compost, in among flowers, or in a garden.  They are not necessarily picky plants.  This is why onion sets will be the first plants found growing at our new house.  I do not have a garden set up, do not even have furniture there, but I have pots, can buy a bag of soil and have these lovely ladies “in the ground” in less than 30 minutes.

green onion

Photos courtesy of Pixaby.

Apr 142017
 


Spring has sprung and at Swagbucks, the deals are in full bloom. They’re giving back BIG Cash Back on your favorite merchants.  What a great way to save on gardening supplies you may already need!

As the weeks go by, I am reminded of the various items I need to replace or search for: clothes and shoes for the kids, new potting soil for pots, bulbs and annuals, vegetable seeds, broom hangers for the garage, a wall mounted bike rack … and the list keeps going.  One of the ways I am looking to save on these purchases is with discounted gift cards and online shopping.

online grocery shopping amazon

The weekend is upon us and the weather is warming up, so now’s the perfect time to do a little shopping! Need to update your wardrobe for the new season? Check out all the great Cash Back deals you can earn at:

JCPenney – 15% Cash Back
Nike – 20% Cash Back
Macy’s – 12% Cash Back
Gap – 8% Cash Back

Looking to do some spring cleaning and organizing? Check out great deals at these retailers:

Home Depot = 3% Cash Back
Target = 4% Cash Back
Walmart = Up to 8% Cash Back
Lowe’s = 3% Cash Back

Plus, if you’ve signed up through my links at some point this month (or do it now), you’ll get a $2 (200 SB) bonus added to your account when you get your shopping SB!

You can earn SB in all sorts of ways, including discovering deals and trying new products/services, watching videos, taking surveys, or just searching the web!

Hurry though, because this deal ends on the 16th!

If you haven’t heard of Swagbucks, when you shop there you get cash back in the form of SB points for every dollar you spend. Then you redeem those points for gift cards to places like Amazon, PayPal, Starbucks, Walmart, Target, and more! Sign up here to get started