Sep 072018
 

This post contains affiliate links.
Schoola.com
Looking to update your wardrobe for the season?  Realize you could do with a few more long sleeves or pants?  Schoola is a great way to help support schools while saving money on your wardrobe budget.

We have used them several times and have always been pleased with the honesty of the descriptions as well as the quality of clothing.  Even the packaging is nicely done.

Right now, it is even better with their Refer-A-Friend promotion – $10 for you. $10 for a new friend. 40% to schools. It’s a win-win-win! Refer a friend to Schoola.com!

So what will it be – warm sweater or comfy pants?

Sep 072018
 

This post contains affiliate links.
Sale! ALL Craftsy Classes Under $20 at Craftsy.com 9/7-9/9/18.Fall is the perfect time to cozy up with a new craft project. And to help you get started, we’re putting every Craftsy class on sale!

What a great way to get a jump on your fall décor projects or the end of the year holiday presents.  Whether you are looking for something to help with your painting, cake decorating, scrapbooking, stamping, and sewing projects, or maybe your woodworking and gardening, Craftsy has something for you.

Don’t delay, this deal ends at 11:59 MST on September 9th!

Exclusions apply. Please see additional terms and conditions in coupon details.

Aug 312018
 

This post contains affiliate links.
Get Up To 50% Off Supplies at Craftsy.com 8/31-9/3/18. No coupon code needed.Who says you have to wait until Labor Day to start celebrating? The long weekend begins now, and we’re kicking yours off with a little something special. Get up to 50% off your Private Label supplies during this exclusive shopping party. Hurry, it ends Monday!

Exclusions apply. Please see additional terms and conditions in coupon details.

Aug 302018
 

I was compensated for this post.  This post also contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

 

“Some things are too good to keep to yourself.” That is how I felt when I received a surprise package in the mail.  I knew the sender and that I had not ordered anything from them recently.  Then I opened the cardboard package and saw another package.  This inner package, though, was wrapped in a bow.  What could it be?

This is where the good news made me feel giddy.  Starting today, August 30th, my favorite dollar store, Dollar Tree, is now carrying Hallmark cards!!! Expressions From Hallmark will be $1 each and Heartline a Hallmark company will have cards 2 for $1! No more excuse about having to pay $4-$5 per card for special occasions in your life.

While the price is low on these cards their look and feel is not. The recipients will not be able to tell you picked these up from the Dollar Tree.  Coverings a variety of life events and including a pre-written note inside, you can now find an economical choice at one of the 6,500 Dollar Tree stores nationwide to help share your notes of joy, sorry, and love.

Dollar Tree and Hallmark will also be coming together to offer a few other Hallmark card lines – Mahogany, Vida, and Tree of Life.  These lines are aimed to filled the need in certain racial or religious groups who may often feel a bit overlooked by the normal selection found in stores.

In addition to the Expressions and Heartline line of cards I also received a few from “joyfully yours, a Dayspring Company”.  These cards allow you to express your faith in just the right way, whether it be for a holiday, special occasions, or moments big and small.

If you have even been on the expectant end of my card mailing list, you would quickly find out that written notes and cards are not my strong suit.  A large part of this is due to my frugalness getting in the way.  It is not that I do not love or appreciate you to that extent, but would rather spend the money to take you out for dessert than to purchase a piece of paper which would end up in the trash in a few hours.

Now there is no excuse, I can do both – buy a card and treat you to dessert.  This is a good thing for everything except my waist line.

Aug 292018
 

My normal collection of bags is not typical I believe.  I usually have one purse I am using…and no back up.  I may have a few backpacks for various activities (going to the pool, to take to the park, to go camping, etc.) but not much beyond that. I use what holds up, the rest are usually not worth my time to buy only to throw away after one season.

The majority of the bags I use were received from conventions or training seminars.  They tend to be canvas type material and have done well through all sorts of uses and weather.

One collection of bags I own, though, does not fit this stereotype at all – the dog food bag collection currently happening in my garage.  Yes, these large, bulky items which look like something could be done with them but which our local recycling does not accept.

This has not been a problem in the past as we did not have a dog.  Now we do.  A big one, about 90 lbs. He eats a fair amount of food. At this rate we will add two bags to the collection every month.  I foresee this getting out of hand rather quickly, yet did not want to add yet more ‘stuff’ to the time capsule called the landfill for my great-great-great grandkids to dig up and say “Look, I found what used to pass as food for dogs!!!”

What is one to do then?

A quick online search gave me a few answers:

  • Funky Recycled Pet Food Bag Purse/Tote – while I do not need another bag for the beach, these would make great bags for grocery shopping.  This would also be a unique gift idea.  You could either give them as a gift or to put a gift into.
  • Reuse at home – to gather leaf mulch, as a container to store other items, and other uses.
  • More uses at home – outdoor pillow covers, trash can liners, moisture barrier for your floors, and more ideas from commenters. I loved seeing how many others used these “what’s in my hand” items for solutions to problems they had around the home. (Holding rose bush trimmings, anyone?)
  • Messenger Bag – okay, confession time.  If I were to begin creating these, I think I would have a much, much larger collection of bags.  I LOVE messenger bags.  There is something about them which reminds me of coffee, creativity, sophistication,…coffee.  This design was one using chicken feed bags, but with a bit of creative thinking it could be used for pet food bags.

If reusing or crafting are not your thing and you really just want them gone…but not to the landfill, then consider TerraCycle.  They not only recycle dog food bags, but many other things as well.  At this time they are only accepting certain brands of dog food, so it will not work for everyone.  This is a recycling program worth checking out as they recycle the hard to recycle products, send you a shipping label which covers the cost of shipping, and even have a reward program.

Are there other ways you find to reuse or recycle your pet food bags?

Aug 072018
 

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This morning found us having a wonderfully yummy “Not-Back-To-School” breakfast.  That is right. While all the neighborhood kids were already at school my kids, both of them, were just waking up.  They were not tardy or skipping the first day.  Our first day is not for two weeks.  And that is a cause for celebration at the moment.

After much aggravation this past year, I knew something had to change.  Among other things is the schooling of George.  No worries, he will still be learning.  Only this time it is at home. With no homework all evening. With no early morning bus rides. With no wasted busy work during the day.

Well, that last one depends on what you call ‘wasted busy work’.  There is a lot of things he finds himself doing which I do not necessarily consider productive, but it is not ‘work’ to keep him busy while everyone else is doing something.

His schooling this year will look similar to Jack’s but with a few key differences.  For one, he is getting tutored in math outside of home two days a week.  A wonderful friend has tutored in math for years and already had another kid George’s age who was needing help this year.  By placing them both together there is now a ‘class’ of two plus the teacher.  You can’t get much more individualized than that.

With an added kid but no particular time I have to be home to meet a bus, we are able to stay for all of our play/nature groups, add in an outside class or two, and have an added voice when we talk about books we have been reading.

It also means more organization on my part.  And that, Dear Readers, is what I have been trying to work on these past few weeks.  Currently it looks more of a mess than organized, though it is getting there.  I have sold several things, recycled others, shredded papers to make a mulch for the garden, pulled up dead plants and replanted random seeds from almost empty packets, begun laying down cardboard in order to create a bed along the back fence for trees, added hooks in the attic to hang a quilt frame for storage, and rearranged the attic (still in progress) so the less needed items are no longer right by the door.

Okay, I may have also binge watched all the episodes of a vlog on YouTube. Motivation comes in many forms.

There has also been a lot of thought to my goals for this year.  While they are under the umbrella of our overall education goals, each kid has different needs.  This has helped guide me in decisions about possible activities, curriculum, planners, orders of the days, etc.  There is more to go, but any little step is closer than I was before.

Little steps seems to be the theme for me this summer.  I have accomplished several things, though all have been in little steps.  The new bed along the back fence is a great example of this concept.  First, I considered my goal – block out some of the view of the neighbor’s house.  Then I set about going through different ideas.  Next I did some research, then decided upon specifics.  After that came the first plant, then the marking for 3 more yet-to-be-purchased tress.  Once those were marked I began laying down cardboard as an initial layer for a planting bed.

Layers of cardboard are good for killing grass, keeping moisture in, and decomposing after some time.  Finding someone getting rid of their moving boxes helped the progress of this step immensely.  While doing all this, I also have been earning Swagbucks to use toward purchasing landscaping and concrete blocks to edge in this bed.

Later this week I will begin adding wood chips.  I had delayed this step as I did not want to spend $$$ at the store to purchase bagged mulch.  A search on one of the local For Sale groups returned a result for free wood chips.  Perfect.  Now to haul them to my house a bit at a time every week as I am in that part of town.

It’s that time of the year again! Swagbucks is holding a Back to School Team Challenge to help you earn free gift cards! 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 and earn points towards free gift cards and PayPal cash! The challenge runs from Monday, August 6th to Friday, August 10th

Here’s how you can join the challenge and the site:  
1. Click here to join the challenge and be assigned to a team.

2. In addition to earning SB, you’ll contribute to your team’s 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 600 points to their team’s total will receive a SB bonus in the form of a SB Swag Up Shop Bonus on their next gift card!
Not only that, but if you sign up under me this month and earn 300 SB before September 1st, you’ll get a 300 SB bonus!

Members of the 1st place team will receive a 100 SB Swag Up Rebate, members of the 2nd place team will receive a 50 SB Swag Up Rebate!

Jun 262018
 

This post contains affiliate links.

Schoola.com

Who ever is in charge of promotions this week must have known this is not the week for me to be going to stores with kids.  It seems that it is the week for shopping for kitchen items, scheduling grocery pickup, purchasing shoes, and stocking up on kids clothes while saving from the comfort of my living room.  (or dining room table or bed while waiting for little heads to go to sleep)

When I saw that Schoola was having a sale of 75% off, I knew I had to share.  It is too good of a deal to keep to myself.

Schoola has been a sanity and budget saver in the past, delivering quality preowned clothes to our door.  The clothes were even very neatly folded inside a bag, inside a box.  I am not sure who they hire to help package but they are welcome at my house on laundry day anytime they please.

The flash sale is on! Get 75% off your order with code HAPPY75 at Schoola.com. Offer is valid only 6/26-6/27.

And as always, FREE SHIPPING on orders of $25 or more on the first 10 items.

Valid 6/26-6/27 only. Limit one promotion code may be used per order. Not valid on previous purchases. Discounts and credits do not apply toward shipping 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.

May 262018
 


Among other activities keeping me busy this spring is a new addition to our garden.  This is not something I had planned on adding, though always wanted. I had a “if we get this it needs to meet these criteria” list, mainly to explain to the kids why we didn’t have this and wouldn’t for a long while.

This list worked well for the past 6 years. I thought it was fairly fool proof.

About a week ago I decided to put aside my wishes, to stay home and garden, to be the “fun” mom.  I loaded up the kids, water, skateboards, helmets, book, and a hat. (It was hot after all.) Against verbal arguments of one who wanted to stay home and play on the computer, we headed to a local skate park for a free event. We were going to have fun whether they wanted to or not, me knowing that in the end they would have fun.

My plan was to let them skateboard, do some of the other activities available, have some snow cones, then come home with two tired, hot kids who were ready for bed.

It almost went like that.

See, as the kids were skating I wandered over to the dogs brought to the event by a local animal shelter in hopes of finding homes. We usually visit them as it is good for the kids to be around different dogs and for the dogs to be around different people.  However this time…this time I met one which actually MET my very specific criteria on the “if we get this it needs to meet these criteria” list: old, calm, laid back, not nervous around kids, doesn’t bark much, walks on a leash well, doesn’t scare the kids. The adjectives in bold were the major key ones on the list which usually disqualified every single dog we had met before.

Not only did I find a dog who meet the criteria, but he exceeded them. Turns out he is trained, rides well in a car, loves to be petted, is as social as George (has yet to meet a stranger), and even didn’t intimidate Jack, who isn’t as much of a dog lover as George.  When I walked over to the group of dogs, I had written him off right away due to size.  However, he very nonchalantly moseyed over to me, sat down, and waited to be petted.  He didn’t even need to smell my hand first, just waited like I should know what was expected.  So I did.  As other people and dogs went by, he might have given them a glance, but sat perfectly content (and quiet) being petted.

I talked with the workers for a bit, explaining what I was looking for in a dog and why.  We talked a bit about this particular dog.  Then I asked them not to say anything to the kids when they came over.

George gave the dog of wide berth while he went to a shorter dog.  However, after one of the workers suggest he walk the larger dog while she walked the smaller one that was the end of that.  Within  feet George had renamed him and fallen in love.  To my surprise, so did Jack.  He didn’t flinch when the dog came right up to him, he didn’t shy away from his head, instead giving him lot of pets and pats and loving.  Jack has never been this calm around a dog, let alone a dog this large.  It didn’t take too long for both of the boys to begin asking if we could adopt him.

The only two draw back – he is big and has long hair. For all his other qualities I can overlook those two.  He even keeps me company while I try various DIY projects.  I can even hammer and drill without disturbing his naps.

Soooo, we came home with two hot, tired, excited boys and one dog of trial run at our house.  That trial has since ended and he has become a permanent fixture in our garden.

As I have found out this week, he also LOVES to chase rabbits.  Excellent! I had been wondering how to keep them out of the garden.

In case you were wondering, I did NOT bring a dog home without asking my husband first.  I am smarter than that after all these years.

 

May 032018
 

These past few weeks have been full of various activities around the house and adventures away from home.  Here are a few snapshots of what has been going on. Much to my surprise and delight, my amaryllis is blooming. This lovely flower was a gift from a friend.  However, it was one which I could not set out to bloom the first year I had it, so it was placed in a cool, dark basement.  Then we moved, and it had to winter another year being stored in a cool, dark place.  Tip: this is not a recommended gardening technique.

As I was unpacking and organizing the house this past fall I decided to put it out by the front door in hopes that the location would encourage it to begin growing.  Within a few weeks of placing it outside and watering it, I noticed green beginning to appear.  Both bulbs put on a hardy set of leaves for a few months.  After a time the leaves began to yellow and die away.  I was a bit disappointed, but not surprised by the lack of flowers. With a lack of a place to store it, I left it outside though not a lot of watering was taking place. (Apparently I did something right without knowing it.)

One morning, I noticed green appearing once again!  Regular watering began immediately.  This time an additional shoot appeared after a few weeks – it was a flower stem!

Our front porch has now been graced with this beauty for the past week or so.  It brings a smile to my face every time I see it.

This beauty (in the eye of the beholder) was on the neighbor’s curb.  While it is not the perfect pallet for what I have planned, there were a few factors which made it perfect in my eye. Most importantly the fact that it was two houses away and free.

It is now a work in progress, hopefully to be completed by the end of this week as I already have plants to put in it.

With a warming of weather I realized it was getting close to being late for putting in a garden.  I was not wanting the look of concrete blocks, however the benefits – mobility, long life, no having to cut and drill, outweighed the negatives – not exactly the look I was heading towards.

After seeing a friend’s beds built with these even my husband mentioned I should try it.  Guess he was not bothered by the look. So I took the plunge and bought them one day.  I knew that if I only took the first step, the rest would fall into place quickly.  I already have the cardboard, from moving boxes, and experience of having done this before in Small Town.

The construction of this has progressed enough for plants to be added in today or tomorrow.  I will share more on it later.

While picking up blocks for the larger raised bed, I decided to adjust a design detail on the new smaller side bed.  The blocks along the fence had been more of the decorative type.  The problem with this was two-fold – they were too short and they were more expensive.  Why have nice looking blocks there when no one would see them?  Not only are the concrete blocks taller, but I can also plant inside the previously open squares.

I also added a painted pot from one of the kids.  The likelihood of a toad finding it to make a toad house is fairly small, but you never know.

Another aspect of gardening I have been researching is the addition of fruit plants and/or plants to create a living screen along our back fence.  After asking opinions of other local gardeners, browsing online garden supply stores, and reading up on our state’s extension website I thought I had it narrowed down to my final choices.

A trip to a local nursery with Jack one day showed me that I was not happy with the final choices.  Even more so, I did not want to pay a few hundred dollars for something I was not completely sold on.  Back to the drawing board I went.

One thing was for sure, I wanted a fig tree.  The other fruit trees are more prone to issues due to the humidity of our location.  Figs, however, do better and will give us about two crops a year.  I also hope to start new plants off this one using cuttings.  The gift that keeps on giving, I hope.

These past month has also found me working on other goals – saving money, establishing better homemaking routines, getting back into the flow of schooling, and decluttering.

On the saving money front, I chose a store where I do not regularly shop and worked on finding ways to save there.  It took a lot more time than I thought, but I am getting the hang of it.  Something I came to realize, though, was that my attitude was not in the right place while learning.  Instead of being in a place of thanks giving for the time and resources to learn, I began to have an attitude of lack. 

I began to feel as if I failed if I did not get this deal or that. To nip this lie in the bud, I stopped paying attention to the deals at this store for a couple weeks.  When a big sale came up I was able to take advantage to save a lot of money by stocking up on some essentials for our home, not worring about the other deals I missed.  When I had to thought of, “Maybe I should go check out the other store near us, they may have other inventory”, I gave myself a talking to and found a better use of my time to bless my family.

January tends to be the hard month school wise.  After the holidays it is hard to get the motivation back to get work done.  While January was unusual, it was March which really did us in.  For whatever reason, we just could not find our groove again.  April found us taking advantage of more out-of-home activities as we are getting to know particular local families who also are active in several of the groups we frequent.  A few other groups have also appeared on our radar…we really are blessed with the opportunities, ones we were wishing for in Small Town but could not find.  We are all appreciating the opportunities to make new friends.  Now the challenge is to find a balance between “learning” and “socializing”.  Good thing several of the groups fill both needs.

As for decluttering, there are still a few boxes of items to unpack from our move.  While I am not in a rush to unpack them without knowing where the items will go, I have been going through other things to clear out items we no longer need, want, or which are in a condition to warrant being thrown away.  I was able to pass along several bags of clothes to other families of boys, as well as contribute to the yard sale of a local youth group.

The common thread to these things is: routine.  Having a routine for school makes it more likely to get started.  Having  a routine to plan weekly meals makes it more likely to not rush at dinner time.  Having a routine for picking up the house makes it more likely I am not spending all my time picking up, but can actually focus on cleaning, fixing, or clearing out.

After trying a few different things I have found a few thing which have stuck.  Using those as framework for the rest of the system we are slowly expanding.  For me that currently looks something like this:

  • Laundry – Monday=mine and my husbands, Tuesday=George, Wednesday=Jack, Thursday=household and random other pieces
  • Meals – Sunday=spaghetti for lunch, leftovers for supper, Thursday=supper with small group, Friday=supper is pizza and movie, Saturday=lunch is meat, potatoes, and another vegetable with a nice dessert, supper is lighter such as sandwiches.  Nothing fancy, but it is a good framework.
  • A daily evening pickup of the house. Not perfect, but something is better than nothing.  This was happening right before bed, but then everyone was worked up. I changed it to happen right after supper and before a family activity which involves some sort of treat/dessert.  It worked much better last night.
  • Bedtime routines have simplified and been written out.  This was written down such that “Boy A” does X then Y, while “Boy B” does Y then X.  Seems clarifying that they shouldn’t be in the bathroom at the same time was needed to help reduce the amount of rough housing and to decrease the time it took to brush teeth.
  • The robo vaccum is run twice a week, at least – on Sunday while we are at church, and Wednesday during the day.  Other times as needed, but at least I know the floor will be picked up and swept twice a week. Now for mopping…

There is a lot going on over here, a lot of new or different things.  However, I am beginning to feel a better balance about things…all in time for summer break to be looming on the horizon, of course.

My overall goal for the garden this year is to work on getting big things established, to keep the longer distant time-wise goals in mind.  With an idea of where I want to end up, each step of the way is in that direction, even if it seems like I am skipping here and there around the place.

How has the spring been finding you?  What is one of your goals for the year and what have you done to work toward achieving it?