Oct 122017

This post contains affiliate links.

If you have been following this blog on Facebook, you will have seen several times where I have shared about gardeners looking back on the gardening season to reevaluate what has worked and what has not.

I have done this in the past and found it to be a great learning experience.  It also allows me to realize all that has been accomplished over the previous weeks and months.

Gardeners are not the only ones to look back and reevaluate past actions, nor is gardening the only area of life to which one can apply this activity.  Perhaps it is my introverted nature that often has me doing this as I go through life. I find a balanced look at past and present actions can be a great opportunity for personal growth.

AlinaJoy from Good Old Days Farm has recently gone through a similar process with her blog.  After life brought some (good) changes, she reevaluated the direction her blog was taking.

Good Old Days Farm is where I found the Easy Peasy Chores a few years ago.  It was a great system to use with our pre-readers.  Even now the kids would love the ease of knowing what is expected of them.

After some thought and consideration, Good Old Days Farm is getting a new makeover.  The most obvious will be a name change to Happy Unconventional Life.  What is not changing is the content to help you create a godly family culture.

To celebrate my new blog… I have a HUGE launch! I’ll be opening the doors for the very first time to my brand new resource library. Inside the Library, there are hundreds of pages of files about Family Fun, Homemaking Help, Bible Study and Encouragement. Best of all, everything will be free, Free, FREE.  ~AlinaJoy @ Happy Unconventional Life

Not only do you get access to this free resource, but for those to sign up now there is an Early Bird Bonus of resources from 20 various bloggers!  These have been put together to create a Faith & Family ToolkitThis bonus is only available until October 16th.

My home has benefited from resources and wisdom of shared by AlinaJoy, and will continue to do so in the future.  (Though, a particular son of mine would not mind if I conquered the laundry pile by allowing him to go naked, or wear the same outfit for days on end.  But that is a different issue altogether.)

I am looking forward to having access to this free library of resources and the Early Bird Bonus available for the next few days.  I am curious to see what the Electronic Free Bingo has in store for our family; the struggle is real over here.

As an added bonus, if this has not been enough already, once you sign-up you will be presented with a limited time offer to redeem a coupon which can save you several dollars off one of their most popular ebooks.  You need not take advantage of this offer to access the rest of the FREE materials, but I did want to make you aware of the opportunity in case you have had your eye on this great resource.

How about you?  What resource are you most excited about?

Free Resource LIbrary for Busy Homemakers


Oct 032017

This post contains affiliate links.

If you haven’t tried Swagbucks before, you can get a bonus $3 for signing up during October as part of their Three for Fall promotion. 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.

In all, during the month of September, I earned 2,516 SB.  That is enough to redeem for a $25 gift card or money through PayPal, and still have some SB left over.

Why am I so excited about Swagbucks?  Because I have used this site for years and earned many a gift card through them.  Some years it was used to help purchase gifts, while other years it was used for ordering grocery items online.

This year I have used Swagbucks to help offset home school materials and was looking to purchase a rain barrel for our home.  However, circumstances changed suddenly, more on that later, and it was used to purchase grocery items from Amazon.com instead.

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 11/1/17. 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.

If you are not sure how to earn 300 SB, take a look at this post where I earned 300 SB in two days’ time, without having purchased anything.


Sep 192017

The digital rewards Swagbucks just hit a major milestone – they have given their members over $200 million in cash and free gift cards since 2008! I use Swagbucks all the time to get free gift cards doing stuff I already do online, like shopping, answering surveys, watching videos, discovering great deals, and searching the web. To demonstrate how big a number 200 million really is, here are some fun facts:

$200,000,000 is a huge number, and to celebrate they’ve been holding a “Swago” promotion for the past week! (It ends at 12pm PT/3pm ET today.)

If you’ve been playing, you’ve also been getting spins on their Spin & Win wheel. Starting at 9am PT/12pm ET today, you can start cashing in on those spins! The wheel will close at 9AM PT/12PM ET on Thursday, September 21st.

Every spin on the wheel results in either SB earned, entries into an Exclusive Limited Time Swagstakes or an exclusive Swag Up. Click here right now to start spinning!

**The SB options on the wheel will credit immediately. Please note, the SB you earn from the wheel will not count towards your Daily Goal meter. The Swag Ups will be live for a couple of weeks and will expire 15 days from the time they are applied to your account so there will be different expiration dates.

  • Shop Swag Up Bonus: Make a qualifying purchase before October 1st and earn a 500 SB Bonus when your Shop & Earn SB Credits! Manual crediting of SB will not count.
  • SB Local Swag Up: Earn SB from SB Local before October 1st and earn an additional 200 SB Bonus! Manual crediting of SB will not count. Must earn atleast 25 SB from your SB Local purcchase. to qualify for the additional 200 SB bonus.

**All Swag Up and Double Search and Survey SB will credit back as Bonus SB which means they will not go towards your Daily Goal Meter

This post contains affiliate links.  When you click through to Swagbucks and join, I will receive, at no cost to you, a portion of points you earn.  That you for helping support this blog and my love of shopping at Amazon via earned gift cards.

Sep 142017

A few weeks ago I shared a post which said, “All throughout September you can earn big bonuses at Swagbucks, a rewards site where you earn points (called SB) for things you’re probably doing online already…”

I know it is easy to gloss over such posts as these, assuming it is not legitimate, or requires you to purchase something, or give up  your rights to your first born child.  I used to think the same thing.  And you are right about some sites.  I know. I have tried them.

After having been a member of Swagbucks for years, I know it is a legitimate site. I also know that, while you will not get rich from this site, it is a good way to earn a bit of extra money each month without having to leave home.

Over the course of me being a member of their site I have earned approximately $1,223.19.  Some months I have earned $50, while other times I do not do anything for months on end.  That is one thing I love about Swagbucks, they have something for me to do no matter how much, or little, time I have to spend.

Going back to the post I initially mentioned, Swagbucks is currently offering a 300 SB bonus, equivalent to $3, for new members who earn 300 SB by the end of the month.  If you are new to the site, this might seem like a daunting task.

With that in mind, I wanted to show you how I was able to earn 300 SB in two days time.  If I had been able to take a bit longer the first day, I could have completed it all then.  However, life still must go on and people in my household do like to be feed during the day.

Here’s how I was able to earn 300+ SB over a two day period without downloading something on my computer, purchasing anything, or even doing my normal online shopping:

  1. I checked my Swagbucks Inbox for deals – completed a travel search and earned 5 SB, checked out hotels in a specific city and earned 1 SB
  2. Clicked on the banner at the top.  Watched the nCrave videos for 1 SB.
  3. Went to my To-Do List (found on the left side of the home page).  Daily Discovery and Crave were already completed.  Daily Poll – 1 SB, Daily Watch – 2 SB, Deal of the Day – 1 SB, unsuccessfully attempted 2 surveys – 2 SB, completed survey – 30 SB
  4. Bonus for completeing 6 out of 8 items on To-Do List – 1 SB
  5. Bonus for completing To-Do List – 1 SB
  6. August Spin-n-Win double survey earning – 30 SB
  7. Completed a Discover Activity (watched an ad for 30 seconds) – 2 SB
  8. SuperRewards (Discover) activity – 3 SB
  9. Watched an additional 3 video series – 3 SB
  10. Disqualified from 3 surveys – 3 SB
  11. Compeleted survey – 54 SB
  12. Completed 1 AdGate Media (Discover) activity – 2 SB
  13. Completed 6 Peanut Lab (Discover) activities – 7 SB
  14. Watched 8 nCrave video series for 8 SB
  15. Disqualified from 5 Peanut Lab (Discover) surveys – 5 SB
  16. Search – 6 SB
  17. August Spin-n-Win double search earning – 6 SB
  18. Play – 10 SB
  19. nCrave slideshow – 3 SB
  20. nCrave video slideshow – 5 SB
  21. nCrave video slideshow – 5 SB
  22. nCrave video slideshow – 5 SB
  23. nCrave video slideshow – 7 SB
  24. nCrave activity – 2 SB
  25. nCrave activity – 5 SB

End of Day 1.  Earned 202 SB.

Some of these activities were new to me.  Even after all these years, I am finding new ways of earning SB, as Swagbucks has changed over time.  Some of the new or different activities I like and do often.  Others, well, let’s just say that there were a few new ones this time which I will not be doing again.

Day 2
  1. nCrave video slideshow – 7 SB
  2. nCrave video slideshow – 4 SB
  3. Disqualified from survey – 1 SB
  4. Completed survey – 58 SB
  5. Deal of the Day – 1 SB
  6. Daily Poll – 1 SB
  7. Bonus for completing 6 out of 8 items on my To-Do List – 1 SB
  8. Disqualified from 5 surveys – 5 SB
  9. 6 AdGate Media (Discover) slideshows – 6 SB
  10. Watch video slideshow – 1 SB
  11. Bonus for completing 8 out of 8 items on my To-Do List – 1 SB
  12. Peanut Lab (Discover) activity – 20 SB
  13. Peanut Lab (Discover) activity – 10 SB
  14. Peanut Lab (Discover) activity – 10 SB
  15. Peanut Lab (Discover) activity – 9 SB

End of Day 2.  Earned 135 SB

I decided to stick with activities I knew well, things which would not take me as long to complete.  The Peanut Lab activities were also ones I had to submit a ticket for due to them not crediting after completion.

If I had not had the benefit of double earnings from the previous month’s Swago promotion, I could have completed a few more survey, or looked for other Discover activities to complete.

Total at the end of two days = 337 SB

Part of the earnings during Day 1 were from bonuses earned while participating in August’s Swago promotion.  By earning spins on the Spin Wheel I received bonuses such as “Double Survey Earnings” or “Double Search Earnings”.  These particular bonuses may not count toward your 300 SB earnings needed to receive the 300 SB bonus for being a new member, but they still count toward your total earned toward a gift card.

With this in mind, during the September Swago promotion, which is currently taking place, there are several activities I have completed, not because they will result in a higher earning pattern but because they will earn me opportunities to spin the wheel. Due to the difference in this month’s Swago promotion, the celebration of Swagbucks giving away 2,000,000 SB, the Spin & Win Wheel will not be available to use until 9AM PT/12PM ET on Tuesday, September 19th and will end at 9AM PT/12PM ET on Thursday, September 21st.

Sep 102017

This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and join, I will receive a portion of points you earn, at no cost to you. This is one way I help off-set the cost of running this blog.

The digital rewards site Swagbucks is nearing $200,000,000 in cash and gift cards given back to it members. Since 2008, they’ve rewarded members for things we all do online, like shopping, watching videos, discovering deals, answering surveys, and searching the web.

$200,000,000 is a huge number, and to celebrate they’re holding a “Swago” promotion starting Monday, September 11th at 9am PDT!

Swago is just like bingo, but in this case you’re filling out squares as you earn points on their site for doing things you already do online. If you’re thinking of trying Swagbucks, this is a great chance to learn all about how the site works and earn bonus points while doing it. Here are a few tips:

  • Each square on your Swago Board will contain an action item to complete. They can be anything from getting a search win, completing a survey, or just visiting one of our popular stores!
  • Once you complete the action item in a particular square the square will change color signifying the action item is complete.
  • You have until 12pm PT/3pm ET on Tuesday, September 19th 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. 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.
  • Each activity you successfully complete on your Swago Board will give you anywhere from 1-20 spins on the Spin & Win Wheel. PLUS, when you submit your board for a bonus you’ll get additional spins. The number of spins will depend on the pattern you complete. The wheel has all sorts of great prizes that you can win, and each spin is a winner!

The Spin & Win Wheel will not be available to use until 9AM PT/12PM ET on Tuesday, September 19th and will end at 9AM PT/12PM ET on Thursday, September 21st.

Fill up your board and then submit your pattern to get even more points – if you can fill in the whole board, you get a 500 SB bonus! That’s enough for a $5 gift card in their Rewards Store to the retailer of your choice.

Click here right now and click “Join” to get started! If you don’t already have a Swagbucks account, you’ll be able to quickly sign up; PLUS, if you earn 300 SB before the first of next month, you’ll get a bonus 300 SB!

Sep 022017

It may almost be the end of Summer, but you can still earn big bonuses at Swagbucks, 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 10/1/17. You’ll get a $3 (300 SB) bonus for it!

3. That’s it. It’s super easy, and Swagbucks is for real. I use it myself, and I’ve earned enough to help purchase school books for Jack this year, purchase household supplies from Amazon, and to help pay for costs of running this blog. (Technically I am saving for that last item, as it is not due quite yet.)

It is unlikely you will get rich using Swagbucks, but it sure is nice to have some extra money in your pocket (or on a gift card).  I know of other Swaggernauts who use their money to help cover specific utility bills each month.  Others use it to supplement their household/grocery shopping budgets.  A few years I used this as my method of saving for Christmas.

Whatever it is, and having a goal to work toward always helps, why not give it a try this month and earn and extra $3 in the process?

Is there something which is keeping you from trying Swagbucks?  Comment below and I will help clarify or answer  your questions or concerns.

Aug 302017
This post contains affiliate links.
This past summer did not go at at all like I had planned for it to play out.  Visits to all the libraries in our library system, exploring city parks, summer schooling, baking with the kids – very little of it happened like I had hoped.  
Why?  Because I was feeling anxious.  It zapped my energy and my motivation to get up and go.
The kids picked up on how I was feeling and would mirror with their own set of behaviors.  Let’s just say it was more a summer of “here is how you make your own cereal for breakfast, and yes you may watch Netflix for a few hours.”  FWIW: we are not cereal eaters, and my kids actually do not like it a whole lot.  However, they like doing things “by myself” and did okay with this scenario.  There were also days with shakes and breakfast sandwiches, so they were not completely left to their own devices. 😉
The good news is I am working on getting things back to where they were, one step at a time.  I have changed several things, tried to take on a new outlook, asked for help, and shared with others what was going on.
All of these steps have helped, but there is still a ways to go before I get to where I want to be.
Does life have you feeling stressed?  Overwhelmed?  Are you looking to get back in control of life, rather than reacting after the fact?  If you are not sure where to start or are looking for extra encouragement, here is a great opportunity.
Crystal Paine, from MoneySavingMom, has a new course set to be released soon – Say Goodbye To Survival Mode.  
 “It’s a 7-Day Journey to Break Free From Burnout. It’s one of the most authentic and vulnerable products I’ve ever produced and my hope is that it will inspire many women to dig deep and discover where their exhaustion and overwhelm is truly coming from.” – Crystal Paine
To launch the new course she is offering a FREE 3-day Webinar called “3 Strategies to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed.”
During the Live Webinar, Crystal will be sharing:
~Her 4-step process for deciding what to say yes to & what to say no to
~The most important question you can ask if you want more calm & less chaos in your life
~Her #1 trick to get more done every single day
~Plus, I’ll be hosting a LIVE Q&A at the end of the class to answer your burning questions!
If you have not visited MoneySavingMom before, I highly recommend you check it out.  Not only does she share money saving deals and advice, but also gets to the personal side of it as well.
This is a great place to start (and it’s free)!  The Webinar begins next week.

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 …