Jun 022017
 


It’s summertime, and Swagbucks has brought a $5 bonus!

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, Walmart, Target, or PayPal cash.

When you sign up through me this month, you can earn a $5 bonus!

Here’s how:

1. Sign up using this link

2. Earn 300 SB total before 7/1/17. You’ll get a $3 (300 SB) bonus for it!

3. If you spend at least $25 through Swagbucks Shop* you’ll get another $2 (200 SB) bonus on top of the cash back you’ll get from shopping.

If you have some shopping to do online, just go to Swagbucks first and visit the store through them. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but you’ll get SB points for every dollar you spend (on top of the bonus)! That’s it. It’s super easy, and Swagbucks is for real. I use it myself, and I’ve earned over $100 in gift cards since the beginning of the year.

I am saving up for a particular item currently.  In the past I have used SB toward gift cards or PayPal to help pay for Christmas gifts, gardening supplies, various household items, fitness items, and treats for ourselves which do not fit into the budget. Earning Tip: having a goal to work toward always helps increase my earnings.

*You must receive your shopping SB before August 1st

May 222017
 

 

how to tackle the challenges of a less than perfect garden collage

continued from Part 1

No yard is perfect.  Overcoming the challenges can either be viewed in a positive light or as a overwhelming chore.  I am choosing to go the first route, viewing this as a time to grow and use my creative juices to find solutions and help the garden grow.

The first step I took was to address one of the biggest visual and immediate problems.  For me, this meant mowing the grass to help get the weeds under control and to get myself moving.  The Laws of Motion can also apply to our motivation when doing things in life.

An object in motion stays in motion unless acted upon by another force.  -Newton’s First Law of Motion

The other force takes the look of our self-doubt, the feeling of being overwhelmed, freezing up by indecision, and so forth.  By doing something, anything, we have begun the motion to reach our goal.

#2 Form A Plan

While this step would ideally come first, something it is best to get moving and do something. 

Have you ever spent time making an awesome, color coordinated, shiny plan, only to then feel so exhausted by it you go take a nap? You never get around to actually doing the plan you spent so much time making?

Or how about researching, and researching, and researching to find the perfect whatever-it-is?  In the end you are so frozen by indecisiveness you give up.

So, we put into motion our goal with a first step which was obtainable and quick.  It was not perfect.  It was not necessarily researched or planned out.  What it was is quick and simple.  The other steps can come later.

We are now in motion.

The first time I mowed, it was nothing fancy or full of thought as to the pattern. I mowed and everything was shorter. It no longer looked like an unloved home. The end.

The second time, I put a bit more thought into it, mowing the other direction.  Not only would this help catch any missed places from the first time, but it would also help the grass keep from being blown onto the exact same spots in the yard each time.  By going a different way, I could also view the yard from a different angle and begin to gain a sense of how the yard worked.

I am not sure there is any great wisdom behind changing direction. I did find various dips and bumps the second time which did not stand out the first.  As for timing, I am thinking mowing parallel with  my house saves a few seconds, as all the major obstacles would be along a particular pass or two, rather than at the end of every row.

While mowing I began to form a plan to address various issues. I also contemplated how to use challenges to our advantage. It was all theoretical, nothing was actually put into action.   The end.

The third time I mowed, I tried to make a concerted effort to actually look closely at the plants making up the yard as I passed them.  Grass is not the only plant growing, and the others may give me an insight into what is going on below ground.
initial front bed planting

During these first three times, though, I was doing something to help the yard.  Others might think I was purely being lazy, but it was an active choice, one I knew would eventually help the lawn.  I left the clippings on the ground.  

Instead of bagging up the grass clippings or composting them, I let the mower blow them straight back onto the ground.  By putting back the organic matter I had just removed, the grass clippings will break down over time, returning nutrients to the soil.

They will also (hopefully) help keep weed seeds from reaching the soil and taking hold as quickly.

Once summer comes in full force, having a layer of organic matter on top of the soil will also help in shading the ground, helping keep moisture loss lower than it might otherwise.

This seemingly little step may not sound like much.  However, over time it will begin to add up.  Any organic material I can add to the lawn will only help improve the soil, and thereby the plants and animals living there.

Another step I plan to take for the next mowing is to raise my mower as high as it will go.  Not only will this allow the grass to have larger leaves by which to absorb energy from the sun, but it will also help continue to shade out any other smaller plants (i.e. weeds) which decide to try to grow.

 

May 172017
 

how to tackle the challenges of a less than perfect garden collage

Each garden is unique in its challenges and abilities.  That is part of the fun, and frustration, of gardening.

Add in to this the fact that each gardener is different – desiring different things from their garden, using it differently, and having different abilities and time with which to dedicate their skills.  This is where we often find ourselves growing or letting go.

With our new yard, I was looking forward to a younger yard, one where perhaps the need to water and increase soil nutrients would be the biggest worries.

I was wrong.

While the previous owner took great care of the inside of the house, I can say with a fair amount of certainty that the outdoors were not where a lot of time was spent.  If there was time spent there, it was not on landscaping or improving soil quality.

The first time  I mowed was about 3 weeks after it should have been done.  It actually needed mowed the week I had surgery, the week after we had just taken a family vacation … it was not happening.  I had assumed I would be up for the task after a week or so of recovery.

Wrong again.

In order to mow the new yard, I had to load our non-selfpropelled lawn mower into the back of my car and drive it over there.  Then I had to unload it and push it around the yard.

“Take it easy and let others do things for you,” said the doc.  In other words, no lifting or pushing.  I assumed with it being the beginning of the season, I could get away with a few weeks off.

Wrong again.

By the time I was able to get to the lawn, here is what the backyard looked like:

new yard initial

Not exactly a monoculture of grass.  I was thankful it had not reached what I dub the “hay-mowing stage”, where all the grass is a lush 3 feet tall and you may as well buy a goat.

The weeds were/are still abundant and growing at a wonderful rate.  The soil you can see will easily tell you that topsoil is sorely missing.  Certain parts of the yard are getting too much water, while other sections are not getting enough sun. Other parts are doing great in regards to sun and water, but also have some serious weeds (beyond the standard crabgrass, dandelions, etc.)

So much for being an easy, challenge-free yard to begin our gardening adventure at the new house.

wet shaded yard initial

How are we going to tackle these challenge and turn them into something which will be productive and an asset?  While I do not have all the answers right at this moment, I do know one thing – small steps add up to big changes.

With that in mind I have decided to do those small steps, focusing on places where I can initially make the biggest impact or where the issue is something which can be handled quickly.  These small, high impact steps will help keep me moving forward.

#1 Choose a place to start, something which will make the biggest impact

First up – regular mowing, blowing the grass clippings back on the yard, as well as beginning a late spring garden.

By starting here I can remove one of the largest visual challenges.  It may not be the toughest thing to fix, but it will help me start feeling like the end is not impossible.

Also, by mowing, I am keeping this aspect from becoming a larger issue as the weeks pass.

Looking at planting calendars from my state’s colleges, I noticed it was not too late to start some of the vegetables we like.  What I did not have time for was to build a raised bed.

While out shopping one day, I noticed stacks of potting soil next to the cash registers.  I picked up a bag (and later another one), took it home and planted seeds. (more details to come).  This is probably the smallest garden I have had in over a decade.  Not really an issues, as I am not looking to provide all of our vegetables for the year.  My goal was to have a few fresh things now without causing too much work.

In a few months I will look into creating a late summer/fall garden.

to be continued …

May 152017
 

cup of matcha latte

I am always on the look-out for new recipes and foods to try.  Unfortunately, that does not always mean I have time or the ingredients to test them out.  However, I try to keep my eyes open for things that will fit into our menu in the upcoming weeks.

Sometimes, something catches my eye and begs me to get it then figure out what to do with it.  While this is not the normal way I function, it does happen rarely.

This was one of those times.

match tea powder

As you may have picked up over the past several weeks, I like a cup of hot tea.  Usually a red or black tea, preferably nothing fruity.  Knowing green tea is also good for you, I had picked up a box a few months back with the intent to add it to my mornings.

I didn’t.  It sat there mocking me on the shelf every time I opened the door.

Once I began having a cup of tea in the mornings, while watching the sun rise, I decided it was time to open the box of green tea and let some of the natural benefits work their magic on my healing body.  As it turns out, while it is not necessarily my preferred tea, it was not bad.  Actually, I was beginning to like the flavor.

When I was given the opportunity to try out Matcha (ground green tea powder) I decided it was a safe, yet exciting, step to take into trying something new.  “I like green tea, so … surely I can find some way to make this so I like it, too. After all, it has a lot of health benefits and I have not exactly been going to the gym lately.”

And find a way I did.

Thanks to their website I found a recipe for a green tea latte.  How great is that? Not only does it call for matcha powder, but it also contains coconut oil.  AND it is a latte.  I love lattes.

making matcha tea

While the recipe was for a Bulletproof Keto Matcha Latte, I did not need all the restrictions. In the end, I did make a few adjustments due to not having certain items or not needing certain dietary restrictions.

  1. I had no coconut milk in the house, instead substituting regular Vitamin D milk.
  2. With a lack of a milk frother, I found my hand blender to work well enough for my tastes.  Thankfully I am not a huge fan of froth on my drinks, so the results were exactly as I like them.

bulletproof matcha tea latte

One of my concerns was the size of the packaging.  For the price, I was expecting something larger.  However, once I looked through the recipe and found I would only need 0.5-1 teaspoon of the powder, I realized how many cups this would make and the size was not such an issue.

If this is something you often order when you are out and about, at $4 a cup, or would like to keep as a special treat or a healthy alternative, then I could see where it would be a good deal.

If, however, you are looking to make several cups a day because you are an avid tea drinker and want to watch your costs, then you may want to counter the cost with a few cups of a cheaper option of tea.

If cost is not a deterrent to making several cups a day, then go for it! It was easy to put together and the coconut oil did not clump once the drink cooled off. (I was not in an extremely cold setting.)

 

This post contains affiliate links.

May 132017
 

concrete flower container with pic borderContests. Giveaways. Sweepstakes.  No matter what you call them, these little gems can be fun to enter.  It is even better when you win and open your mailbox to find something besides bills.

However, in order to win, you must know about them and enter them.  While I can help a little bit with the first step, the second one is up to you!

Here are some giveaways from around the web. A few things these giveaways have in common:

  1. A garden theme
  2. They are open at some point in this month, though closing dates vary

I try to also have these common themes, though that is not always the case:

  1. They are not on major commercial sites
  2. The majority do not have thousands of entries (so the chance of winning it higher for you)

I hope you find something that peaks your interest.

IMG_20140706_125450329

SEWCIAL BEE SAMPLER

“Julie at The Intrepid Thread is offering a $20 gift certificate to spend however you’d like at her shop!” Enter now through Monday, May 15th!

 Cottage Garden Collection Fat Quarter Bundle

With a review like this, how can you not want to find a craft in order to use these prints? – “The Cottage Garden Fat Quarter Bundle will give you those cozy feelings with prints of woodland animals, ladybugs, strawberries, and other whimsical details.”  Ends May 21, 2017 at 11:59:59 p.m. Eastern Time.  Note: there are a lot of ads to skip or click “No” on to get to the confirmation page.  You will get there though without having to say yes to any of the offers.

Everything’s Coming Up Roses Giveaway

“Enter to win a Proven Winners Rose Garden package featuring the At Last Rose, Oso Easy Double Red Rose and Oso Petit Pink Rose and Dave Thompson’s Organic Healthy Grow fertilizer to get your plants off to a great start!” Ends May 21. 2017 at 11:59pm CT. Open to legal U.S. residents of IL, IN, IA, MI or WI who are 18 years or older.

Sharpen your seed skills with Botanical Interests & $50 gift card giveaway!

“…you can buy your seed anywhere from the local garden center to the grocery store or even in bulk at a farmer’s market. But it’s quality over quantity today as we sift through seed. That’s why we are over the moon excited to have partnered with Botanical Interests and for your chance to win a $50 gift card from them to choose your own seed.”  Ends May 31, 2017

Nifty Homestead Giveaway – May 2017

“Spring is officially here and with summer right around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about tomatoes. We love tomatoes so much that we wanted to do something a little special this year and make sure that you’re all set for the fruitful season ahead!” – Ends May 31, 2017

 

If you know of others, please leave a comment below. I will check it out and add it, if appropriate.

May 092017
 

Schoola.com

Earlier this week I went through the kids’ clothes with them, paring down on excess, passing along 2+ paper sacks of clothes no longer needed, and looking for where we needed to fill in.  With the weather all over the place, I had to leave out both cool and warm weather clothing.  Thankfully it was still cool, as I found 4 more pairs of next-size-up pants for George in our clothing totes.  However, he only had 2 pairs of shorts which would fit him. Yikes!

Buying ahead and also second-hand are two ways we are able to keep our clothing budget in check.  This is especially important with one kid who likes to change sizes quickly and is 4 sizes ahead of his (not much) younger brother.

Schoola has been a sanity-saver more than once.  We have always been impressed with the quality of their clothing, their honesty in the condition of each item, the shipping times, and the knowledge that our purchase is helping a school raise funds for various programs.

Currently, Schoola is running an early Mother’s Day savings event – Happy Mother’s Day! Get 50% off with code MOM at Schoola.com. Offer is valid 5/10-5/14.*

Know someone who would be as excited as you are about this deal?  Send a friend $15 off to shop the amazing deals on children’s clothes at Schoola.com and you’ll get $15 off too. Shop now!

And don’t forget, orders of $25 or more 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.

 

This post contains affiliate links.  If you click through and purchase something, we will receive a small amount in return, at no added cost to you.

May 022017
 

The May flowers are here, and Swagbucks has brought a $5 bonus!

When you sign up through me this month, you can earn a $5 bonus! Here’s how:

1. Sign up using this link

2. Earn 300 SB total before 6/1/17. You’ll get a $3 (300 SB) bonus for it!

3. If you spend at least $25 through Swagbucks Shop* you’ll get another $2 (200 SB) bonus on top of the cash back you’ll get from shopping. If you have some shopping to do online, just go to Swagbucks first and visit the store through them. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but you’ll get SB points for every dollar you spend (on top of the bonus)!

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, Walmart, Target, or PayPal cash.

That’s it. It’s super easy, and Swagbucks is for real. I use it myself, and I’ve earned $55 (5582 SB) in the first 3 months of the year.  This is a bit lower than I normally would have earned, though almost a month of that time I was out unable to do my normal activities.  I also did very few surveys and no free trials, both of which can be sources of larger SB earnings. (You do not have to complete surveys or trials in order to earn SB; it is only one option.  There is also no tracker which you must download.  Earning is as easy as logging into their site and choosing which activities you would like to complete.)

The SB were redeemed for PayPal and Amazon gift cards, resulting in home school materials purchased for this upcoming year, as well as replacing a broken radio in our home.  Every little bit helps and begins to add up, especially when I can do these things without having to leave home or interrupt a large portion of my day.

*You must receive your shopping SB before July 1st (I think they mean June 1st, but I will check to make sure on this detail.)

This post contains affiliate links.  As a referral, I receive a small amount of bonus SB whenever you also complete activities and earn SB.  These help me continue to purchase items for our schooling and home needs.

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 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

Apr 102017
 

Schoola.com

To raise Tax Day spirits, Schoola is offering an early “return” at Schoola! April 10th through April 15th, buy 4 items and receive $15 in Schoola credit or buy 8 items and receive $25 in Schoola credit. It doesn’t end there! They are also offering See You In The Garden readers 40% off their order with code GET40.

Pair this up with the Free shipping on all orders over $25 at Schoola.com offer for an even better deals. (Keep reading for some other codes that may save you even more on top of these deals.)

Perfect timing! George has decided to edge up into the next size of pants, yet we are not quite into shorts weather.  I had hoped we would solidly be in warm weather clothes when he decided to do this.  Add to that, he has used his skills, yet again, to put holes in several of his pants.

We have had great results with Schoola in the past, and I was hoping to catch a good deal before reaching the point of buying new pants.  Seems my patience may have paid off.

Schoola

Knowing these clothes are preloved, the selection varies.  There is no guarantee that what you are looking for will be there today.  Thankfully, the search features are easy to use and you will know in a matter of a few minutes if they have what you are wanting.  If your kids are anything like mine, that is faster than they would be able to get their shoes on to drive to a store and shop for new clothes.

I’ll take checking the computer instead, thank you very much.

I also appreciate the description of the clothes, which I have found to be very honest in their assessment.  A few times they even noted flaws, though I could not see them on the computer nor when the item actually arrived at my house.

Additionally, if you are wondering where all the money goes for the clothes you paid for, well, 40% goes right back to the schools who donated the clothes.  How awesome is that?!  Personally, I like this fundraiser better than buying pizzas or candles or any of the other overprices items which I do not need.  Clothes? Clothes, especially for the boys, I always need!

Here are some other offers from Schoola which may still be available. You might be able to combine some of these deals for even greater savings:

This post contains affiliate links.  If you click a link and purchase something, a small portion will be returned to me. I hope you find what you need and are able to save a few dollars doing so.