Feb 102018
 

This post contains affiliate links.

January seems to have the reputation for being the slower month.  Coming off almost two months full of celebrating holidays, I can see why.  However, that was not the case for me this year.  Instead, January ended up being a fairly physically restful, emotionally eventful, finding our groove month.

February…I can not say the same for so far.  Yes it has only been 10 days, but that is 1/3 of the month already!  That 1/3 has included getting sick, rain, rain, and rain.  Come on!  Rain is grey and makes mud.  At least snow is white and reflects the light to make it seem bright. Alas, rain it is.  A great reminder for why I am saving my earning from Swagbucks to use towards purchasing our first rain barrel.  Our back yard is muddy. Sticky, clay muddy mud which stains.  Yuck times 10.

I actually have enough points on Swagbucks earned, as well as other bits of earnings added to PayPal, to purchase a rain barrel.  After reading reviews, I decided to buy a larger one to accommodate what I know is a large volume of storm runoff from the roof.  This means I have to earn a bit more before purchasing the size and style I want.  I think it will pay off in savings of frustration by avoiding a smaller barrel which would fill too quickly.

Today I went to a local nursery to hear a talk about growing fruit.  The attendance was great, the setting had plenty of room, and the speakers were knowledgeable workers who had been doing this for a number of year.  The one down side?  The rain. Yes, rain. Again.  The class was inside a greenhouse, which was a very appropriate and accommodating setting.  However, greenhouses are built to grow plants, not be acoustically quiet.  The roof acted like a hug drum, make it very difficult to hear the speaker.  As long as I could see the lips of the speaker I was fine.  However, the talked ended about 40 minutes early and turned into a Q&A session around a table, looking at various products, and handouts.

In the end, I am glad I went.  They are holding future talks which I plan on attending.  Hopefully the rain will stay away.

One of the points I took away, and which I fully agree with, is to choose one or two new things a year.  Learn all you can about them, then try/grow/implement it.  Do not say, “I want to have bees”, go buy them, then get a book from the library or contact the local honey club to learn what you need to do.  By that point it is too late.  You will be spending the rest of the season playing catch up, or be the owner of dead bees.  The same can be said for growing a new vegetable, a fruit tree, trying a new gardening method, trying to attract butterflies…you get the point.  Take the time to read and do research, it will pay off leaps and bounds.

Oh, and take time to research prices as well.  That rain barrel I said I needed to save more for…seems it is back in stock in the color that is at a lower price.  While looking for the picture above, I saw a different store had restocked it.  Another lesson, if you are not set on color or store, make sure you look at all the options.  I will save $10-$20 by not being particular about the color, and another $6 by using discounted gift cards redeemed for a different store.  At this lower price, I will be able to purchase this item sooner than I anticipated.

 

Why go through the ‘trouble’ of a rain barrel?  This is where Grow Your Cents comes in to play.  By spending some upfront costs or time on a container to catch free water, I will not need to pay the local utility for the same amount of water to use in the yard or garden.  Last year we did not have a lot of watering needs, though I see that increasing in years ahead.  Why not collect the water that would otherwise run to the street and down the storm drain?  Or, in my parents case, which would run down the driveway and into the creek?

With increase non-porous surfaces, storm water runoff issues are increasing.  Whether it be pollution, swollen ditches and streams, or lack of ability to be reabsorbed into the soil, these issues are not going away.  Not only will we save on water usage, but will also be able to slow down the water and allow more of it to be added back into the local soils rather the the local storm drain.
Want an extra boost to your budget in February??

If you haven’t tried Swagbucks before, you can get a bonus $3 for signing up as my referral this month. 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 $3 bonus! Here’s how:

1. Sign up using this link

2. Earn 300 SB total before 3/1/18. You’ll get a $3 (300 SB) bonus for it!

3. If you want even more bonuses, you’ll get a $10 (1000 SB rebate) bonus for making your first shop purchase! That’s in addition to the SB you earn for every dollar you spend.

That’s it. It’s super easy, and Swagbucks is for real. If you are not sure, reread the post above. 😉

 

Tip to earn more: One thing I have been doing since the beginning of the year, is participating in a Facebook group for other people using Swagbucks.  This has saved me time on finding deals, figuring out which things work, being alerted to how to make opportunities work better for me, and see what is not working.  This has resulted in higher earnings for me, as well as trying different activities I have otherwise avoided.  This is something to keep in mind if you have tried this before, but found it too hard or confusing.  Or perhaps you want to try it, but are overwhelmed with the options of ways to earn.

Remember, you will not get rich from this, but you can earn enough for a rain barrel…or two.

 

Jan 242018
 

This post contains affiliate links.

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.

Click here to get started!

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”
Jan 142018
 

Beans.

According to Answers.com:

There is no exact number, but the world gene banks set the count at about 40,000 different types of beans,

though only a very small number of these bean types are mass-produced for common consumption.

These little orbs of understatedness are great sources of fiber and protein.  They are easy to grow, can be dried and stored, and are light to transport.  They can be cooked, baked, roasted, or eaten raw.

They are also mushy. And have funny smells.  Did I mention they are mushy?

This past fall we had significant decrease in our income, with an unknown end in sight.  Therefore, even that extra $.10 at the store felt like $1,000.  The extra trip across town caused pain as I thought about the cost of gas to get us there, all while hoping no one would hit us.

Among other things I did to give some immediate relief was to take up couponing again.  I had never fully stopped, but had relaxed on it a bit.  Now I pulled out all the habits I used to do, while learning new ones.  New rebate apps were installed on my phone and new websites found which helped me find deals at my local stores.

We were very blessed that first month or two with a lot of “free after rebate” or “free with a coupon” items.  Between those items and our pantry we were doing okay in the food budget arena.  There was no steak on the menu, though ribs were in the freezer.

Then IT happened.  I saw a deal at a local grocery for another free item!  I quickly checked it out only to my horror to find myself torn.

“But…but…I don’t like those!” said my selfish side.

“They are good for you.  The kids don’t know you don’t like them. Mom would get quite the laugh.  And they are FREE!” said my more rational side.

“But I don’t like them!” I repeated.

Two nights later we were having (free) beans and cornbread for supper.  I was pleasantly surprised that the beans were actually good.  Though you would have heard this conversation at the dinner table:

“Come on, boys, eat up.  Your supper is better warm than cold.” (trust me I know, I wanted to add.)

“But…Mom, I don’t like these.” Boy 1 said.

“These are good for you.  If you eat them with the cornbread you can’t even taste them.”

“But, Mom.  I don’t like them.”

“Sorry, Sweetie.  This is what is for supper.  If you want dessert you need to eat what is in your bowl.” (Did I really just say that about beans????  Me!?!?!)

There was a lot of thought taking place in their brains as to whether it was worth it to eat the beans or not.  Eventually all kids ate their supper and earned dessert (i.e. choice of leftover Halloween candy).

Frugality won out over great dislike in this case.  While I did not run out immediately to buy a year’s supply of this item, I did realize that even I survived eating something I did not think I would like.  Our bank account thanked me that week.

We are now at a place where our income is back up.  However, at that time, we did not know if it would for 6 month, a year, or longer.  We gave great thanks for our safety net, for skills we have learned over the years, for a plan we formulated early in our marriage if such a thing ever happened, and for all the blessings we saw happen after this time.

And yes, I even gave thanks for the beans.

Jan 052018
 

Growing up, I was the kid in the house who loved when we had beans and cornbread for supper.  Loved it!

I was also the kid who was at the table two hours after supper was done because I still had the required 3 beans sitting, cold, on my plate.  Yes, I took only the exact number of beans I was told I was required to eat.

I HATED beans. (Though I did eat them when I was at other people’s homes because that was the polite thing to do.)

Yes, this meant I technically loved it when we had bean broth and cornbread for supper.  What can I say, apparently it was not the flavor which turned me off. (Yes, it was sort of a running joke as years went by and I never gave in to actually eating the beans.)

Once I was off to college and had begun to grow even more in my frugalness, I didn’t want to spend extra money on the few meals I needed to eat outside of the dorm cafeteria.  Sometimes I would spring for a pudding cup and pack of peanut butter crackers from the vending machine, but not regularly. After all, that cost me a whole $1.50!

My favorite money saving ideas were:

  • take the extra piece of fruit we were allowed when leaving the cafeteria, resulting in my first attempts at shakes for breakfast
  • skip breakfast and eat lunch early at the cafeteria where you could go back for more.  That way I only needed two meals in a day
  • to make the most of what I could get from the to-go cafeteria when I did eat there

 

Hummus was a new food for me.  Well, sort of.  I had heard of it, but it was not on anyone’s meal plan in the rural, Midwestern county I was from.  Less you think there were no culturally significant food options growing up, we had lovely cuisine choices, such as:

  • turtle soup – preferably cooked in a big pot over a fire, in the fall, with a gathering of friends
  • burgoo – preferably cooked in a big pot over a fire, till you could not distinguish what anything really was, in the fall, with a gathering of friends. Hey, what can I say?  If you are going to be cleaning out your freezer, may as well enjoy it in the company of friends.
  • meatloaf, with ketchup on top
  • green bean casserole

But, back to hummus.  I knew hummus was good for you, that it was nutritious.   I also knew that I liked the flavor but NOT the texture.  I knew I could get a fair amount of it from the to-go cafeteria and add it to raw vegetables for a lunch/snack while between classes.  What I did not know was what it was made of.

Imagine my surprise when I learned it was made from…well, chickpeas of all things. Yuck! Those plump, squishy, horridly textured chickpeas.  BUT, I was cheap and looking to eat somewhat healthy.  So, I sucked it up and found a way to each hummus – by putting it on the top of the vegetables so it did not touch my tongue as I ate it.  And that is how I came to eat hummus.

After I graduate and got married, I had not fully gotten into trying new meals, or meal planning. Nor was I very educated in the use of coupons and shopping sales.  My idea of keeping the budget in-line was to find the 5 or so meals I liked and rotate them.

I was okay with having pretty much the same thing for lunch every day.  For weeks.  No worries, there was variety – I would change the fruit I had with my sandwich and the flavor of yogurt.  See, variety.  🙂

My husband, who did NOT grow up in the Midwest, but actually came from a place that used spices beyond salt, pepper, and ketchup, requested I learn some new recipes.  Apparently he did not like the same 5 basic meals over and over.  Hmm.

Over time we came to find that we both liked particular beans.  Usually the same ones – black beans, lentils, baked beans, and limited amounts of chickpeas.  I do buy green peas because I love my husband who loves early peas.  However, that does not mean I also need to eat them.  Now that I am a parent, I silently say nothing as I spoon them up on the kids’ plates, while leaving mine void of any green orbs.

As for other beans, well ….”Grandma makes great lima beans.  Perhaps you can ask her to make you some next time you go there.”

to be continued…

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.

What if there was just one thing standing between you and a healthier life?

I know it seems hard to believe but hear me out…

Healthy meals don’t just happen.

(Wouldn’t that be nice!)

You have to decide what you are going to eat, make your list, buy the ingredients, and then prepare everything.

And the domino that starts it all is knowing what you’re going to eat.

In other words, the path to health begins with a plan.

Today, you can get your hands on ready-made meal plans for just the way you eat – complete with shopping lists and fresh recipes – for a ridiculously low price.

It’s called the Ultimate Healthy Meal Planning Bundle and here’s how it works:

It’s a complete meal planning solution made up of 10 mini-bundles.

Each bundle contains digital cookbooks, fresh meal ideas, and ready-made plans (and even grocery lists!). No matter how you eat, there’s a mini-bundle that’s perfect for you and there are two buying options:

Option 1: find a mini-bundle that works best for your life right now – quick & healthy, budget-friendly, Instant Pot & slow cooker OR diet-specific options like vegan, real food, paleo, keto, gluten-free… there’s one that’s right for you.

Option 2: For less than the price of two mini-bundles, get the ENTIRE package with over 3,000 recipes and 100 weeks of made-for-you meal plans, so you’ve got total control no matter how your food needs change.

You really can get healthier, starting today.


Not sure which mini-bundle might be right for you? Each mini-bundle is linked to a full description of what it contains:

Budget Meal

Freezer / Batch Cooking

Gluten Free

Instant Pot & Slow Cooker

Keto

Paleo / Primal

Quick Meals

Real Food / Clean Eating

Vegan

Meal Planning

Make those dominos fall and start your New Year right by picking up your copy of the Ultimate Healthy Meal Planning Bundle (or any of the mini-bundles) right here.  This offer disappears after Friday, January 5th @ 11:59 p.m. EST. 

Healthy Meal Planning

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 212017
 

Looking for a quick craft to add interest and color to your garden? How about a gift without spending a lot of money? Glass Garden Flowers, also known as plate flowers, are the perfect fit!

Materials needed:

  • tube e6000 glue
  • acetone
  • cotton swab
  • various plates, saucers, cups, candle holders, lids, condiment dishes, etc.
  • PVC elbow pieces, conduit connectors, bud vases, etc. for back
  • paper towel
  • sheet/drop cloth – not mandatory, but will make clean up easier
  • Pipe or rebar, to act as a “stem”

Step 1

Gather various ceramic or glass pieces. Plastic ones work, too, but may not hold up in cold weather. I picked up an assortment while at a thrift store. Turned out to be “50% off everything” day. The pieces I picked up ranged in price from $0.25-$1. I could have spent more, but was looking to make several without spending a lot out-of-pocket.

Step 2

Clean pieces. To get glue, residual stickers, and marker off, use a cotton swab dipped in acetone. (You can pick up a bottle of finger nail polish remover and cotton swabs from the Dollar Tree if you do not have any.) I find it easier to pour a bit into the lid and wet the swabs from there.

Dry thoroughly.

Step 3

Pair pieces together to get the look you want. Play around with the arrangements. Not all combinations looked like I thought they would, while others surprisingly worked.

Once you get them arranged like you want, take a picture if you plan on moving them. 😉

Step 4

Glue pieces together. Working with one group at a time, deconstruct the stack. Working from the bottom up, glue pieces together.

Step 5

Glue connector on the back. After letting the pieces dry enough not to move, flip the stack over and glue a connector piece on the back.

There are many various ways to do this. I tried three – using a bud vase, using conduit connectors and using PVC pipe elbows. Each has their benefits and drawbacks.

Bud vases – can be found cheaply and often in abundance. However, if the vase is too big, the flower will “dropped” on the support post. These also add weight.

Conduit connectors – cost a bit more (around $0.40 each in a pack of 5), are stocked at local hardware stores, and lighter in weight than vases.

One potential downside I noticed is the open side pointing up. This means rain can go down your support pipe, if it also happens to be hollow. If you live in a cold region this may result in snow, ice, or freezing of precipitation in this area. A solution would be to glue a coin or small metal piece on top of these.

PVC elbows – light weight, cost me around $0.40 each, found commonly at local hardware stores (or leftover from a DIY project), easy to attach, and snug fit to post. Not sure how these hold up in cold weather, as I have not tested them.

One lesson I did learn, thankfully before the glue cured completely, was to place the metal connectors far enough back from the edge of the plates so the posts can actually fit into them. Be aware of the lip along the bottom of the plate!

Step 6

Create, install, and attach to a support stem. This can be a variety of items, anything which is strong enough to support the weight of the flower. Some use rebar, conduit pipes, or other metal structures. PVC pipe is too flexible to use and would potentially break under the weight and deteriorate from being exposed to the weather.

If your flower is small enough, you may be able to use copper pipe.  I love the color these add, though it is more expensive and was too flexible for the weight I was working with.

I cut my poles to 2.5 ft, pounded them into the ground about 6 inches (till they felt secure), then placed the flowers on top. While I did not use rebar the help support the flowers, I believe I will do so in the Spring, due to the kind of soil we have. Inserting a foot or foot and a half into the ground, then sliding the “stem” over it would be an even sturdier option in my garden.

Enjoy!

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!)

Dec 172017
 

This post contains affiliate links.

You have fewer than 10 days till Christmas – are you still looking for a gift to get a kid on your list who seems to have everything? Or maybe they live further away and gifts would have to be mailed. These are hard positions to be in.

Have you thought of gifting an experience rather than a thing?

Kids Cook Real Food makes an awesome Christmas gift, and many grandmas are doing it already!! (They have printable gift certificates for them btw.)

Sunday, December 17 through Tuesday, December 19, Kids Cook Real Food is having a flash sale.  To make it even better – new members get a free $20 value set of extra videos!

Problem solved! Now, go. Finish up that list and enjoy some yummy holiday cookies.