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What an interesting month this has been. Part of me is shocked, when looking at the calendar, to find next week will bring about a new month. Where did the time go? It feels as if nothing has happened, while also a lot has happened.
This past week found me finally at a place I thought I would be a few weeks ago – in a routine which I hoped would bring some sameness to our days and weeks, allowing for a balance in various areas of life. Why didn’t it happen sooner? Well, apparently when you live in a place with no public snow removal equipment (a.k.a. snow plows and salt trucks) even an inch or so of snow can throw life for everyone out of kilter. Add to that snow which melts then freezes again, then melts and freezes again…especially on roads which are not flat…well, let’s just say life shut down for a few days. (FYI: the picture above was from when we lived in Small Town. I am pretty sure people here would think the world was ending if they woke up to this bundle of fun white stuff.)
Not only were things like grocery shopping and extracurricular events affected, but also “snow days” from public school and work. With extra people in the house, it was very difficult to convince Jack our home school did not have a snow day. We had taken enough days off due to moving, sicknesses, and doctor’s appointments this year that we needed to keep going if I wanted to stay on track at all.
It was also hard to overcome the feeling of still being on vacation and winter break. It didn’t help that we were coming off of three weeks of a break, visiting friends and family, only to have a federal holiday and then three or four “snow days”.
Not all has been disruptive, several good things have also taken place, namely, my husband began a job with a new company. We knew this was coming, obviously, though it meant again a subtle change in routine of the household, in good ways thankfully. It was one of those blessings which came from a less than desirable experience. While all is not roses and rainbows, things are going well and we keep being reminded of the good of this situation.
Blog wise, I am thrilled to have a computer to use again. For the past month plus, I have had to type up posts and edit pictures on my phone. In December our desktop made its last final funny noise and refused to start up again. Purchasing a new computer at that time was not in the plan, so we didn’t. Instead, we waited to see what it was that we really wanted or needed, checked out several options, and finally decided on something once we had returned in January. Knowing it was an intentional decision to wait, I chose not to complain about the situation or whine about it, choosing instead to make the most of my new reality. This led to me finding a few new short cuts on my phone to make the process easier. However, let me just say, it is much easier to type out posts on a keyboard rather than with one finger on a small phone screen and I am thrilled to be able to create a post without causing pain in my hand from finger strain. 🙂
We are also experiencing an increased involvement with our church, as well as looking at becoming involved in another (non-church) ministry. These are both things which would have been difficult to do while living in Small Town. Again, another reminder of how this move was beneficial, even with all the bumps along the way.
Through it all, I am sticking with the “keep it simple” motto. None of the aforementioned events were things we added in addition to a full schedule. I have enjoyed not feeling “busy” and plan to work at keeping it that way. It is time we started adding things back into our lives, especially those which encourage us to grow and bless others. This is what I see this upcoming year holding – finding more of what we would like to give our time and energy to, while keeping things family focused.
We’ll see how it turns out. 🙂
Another thing I am so glad we agreed to years ago, was setting a budget for Christmas spending. Over the years it has taken on different looks – some times it is using only the rewards from our credit card to purchase gifts, other times it meant using gift cards and cash earned through Swagbucks, while other times it involved homemade items, using store reward points or credits, or even choosing to gift experiences or family gifts rather than individual presents. No matter the form, the one thing which remained consistent was that we do not go into debt to give gifts.
The best way I have found to do this is to plan ahead. Already I have several gifts purchased or started for this upcoming Christmas season. As well, I was able to purchase items for birthdays and other occasions during after Christmas sales. While this added extra spending to our budget at the end of the year, when I would rather have been saving it, I knew what my spending limit was, did not go outside it, and kept to my list. I also knew I would be doing this and planned (ahead) accordingly.
By planning ahead I not only save about 50%, spread the spending out over 12 months instead of 1, and enable me to relax during the end of the year months, but I also do not spend the first 6 months of the new year paying off last year’s purchases.
If you find yourself in the other situation, paying off for months what you spent previously, I would greatly encourage you to spend some time today or this week looking at how you can change your spending this year. You can still give great gifts without overspending.
My gardening goal for this year is to set a foundation for future gardening years. While I plan on having some produce this year, my larger focus is on getting a framework in place. The first step in doing so was to begin composting. I was able to redeem Swagbuck points, called SB, in order to purchase a compost tumbler online. Not only did I pay no money out of pocket and was able to have it shipped to my house, but I also earned SB back on the purchase by clicking through Swagbuck’s website to make the purchase.
Up next is a rain barrel, to help dry out a certain part of our yard which remained wet all of last year. So far I am half way to my earning goal for this particular item, using Swagbucks as well as another source or two of side income.
After a rain barrel, fruit trees and vines will be on the list. These will need to be planted in the Spring, so I will watch for various deals from garden companies, as well as calling local green houses.
Once these four parts of the garden are started I hope to begin working on some of the smaller aspects. Who knows, bees might even make an appearance this year. Though if that were to happen it would need to happen quickly as March seems to be the time to get new hives started in this area.
Looking to begin shopping for the next holiday season or to start your Spring shopping? The online rewards site Swagbucks has a smart and fun way for you to earn and save when you spend. Swagbucks helps supplement the cost of gardening and other household purchases. While the main way I earn SB is by watching online videos (which I have running as I sit and type up this post) and taking surveys, I also do earn some SB via online shopping. So far this year I have earned 3,262 SB back, either from online shopping or rebates from in-store shopping. Not bad for the few extra seconds it takes to click through Swagbuck’s website!
Swagbucks is hosting another round of Shopping Swago! What is SWAGO you ask? It’s a bingo-inspired promotion run by Swagbucks, a website that rewards you with points (called SB) for completing everyday online activities. You can redeem those SB for free gift cards. If you’ve never used Swagbucks, participating in SWAGO is a great introduction to the site and an easy way to earn a good amount of points quickly.
Here’s what you need to know to get your 300 SB Bonus (and don’t worry, you don’t have to make a purchase to complete a pattern):
- Go to the Swag page and make sure you hit “Join” otherwise you won’t get credit for completing the action items. Each square on your Swago Board will contain an action item to complete.
- Once you complete the action item in a particular square the square will change color signifying the action item is complete.
- You have a limited amount of time 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 – up to 300 SB – enough for your first $3 gift card.
- 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.
- The game ends Friday, January 26th at 12pm PDT/3pm EDT. So make sure to hit “Submit” on the pattern you wish to submit. If you don’t hit “Submit” before the game ends you won’t receive your SB bonus.Also, if you sign up through me this month, you’ll get a $10 rebate when you make your first purchase via Swagbucks Shopping! You can activate it in the “Swag Ups” area of “My Account”