Sunday, March 28, 2010
The easiest way to earn swagbucks is through basic internet searches. If you use their search engine everyday, you are guaranteed to get at least 10 swagbucks. Some days you will be rewarded with even more. I have been using their search engine for 5 months, and I have been rewarded with swagbucks EVERY SINGLE DAY. You won't win on every search, but if you search at least a few times per day, you will receive something. So let's do a little math. 10 swagbucks per day for searching x 30 days = At least 300 points in a month. Not too bad.
In addition to earning swagbucks through searches, they release one or two swag codes per day too. Now to get these codes, you have to keep your eyes peeled. However, there are lots of sites that do most of the searching for you, like this one. If you get all the swag codes released, you will earn at least 10 more swagbucks per day. Let's do some more math. 10 swagbucks per day for codes x 30 days - At least 300 points in a month. Once again, not too bad.
Now lets add everything up. 300 + 300 = 600 points per month. 600 x 12 months = 7,200 points per year. $5 Amazon gift cards are the best deal for your points, and they cost 450 points. 7,200/450 = 16 $5 gift card (that is $80 in Amazon gift cards per year!).
So basically you can earn the bare minimum in terms of points and still earn $80 in free gift cards in one year. Other ways to earn money include completing special offers (some are as easy as watching videos), shopping through their site (I did this once and received points. However it took a month for the points to be credited to my account), and referring friends.
Referring friends is without a doubt the fastest way to rack up points. You will get a swagbuck for every swagbuck your referral earns through INTERNET SEARCHES. Swagcodes and special offers don't earn you points through referrals. So to get points from your referrals, they have to do internet searches. Unfortunately referral points are capped at 1000, and after your referral reaches that number, you will no longer receive points from that person.
Swagbucks might sound complicated, but it is actually really easy once you figure out how to navigate their site and earn points. It doesn't make sense to NOT join. If you are going to be searching the internet anyways, why not earn some extra money in the process? Go sign up!
P.S. If you made it all the way to the end of this post CONGRATULATIONS! My mother is coming to visit this week. I have lots to do to get ready for her arrival, so I am taking a week off from blogging. I'll probably be around commenting, but I won't be posting. See you next week!
Friday, March 26, 2010
When we bought our first house in KY, John only made $20,000 annually. At the time, I thought we were living the good life (Which is laughable now. How did we even survive?). If you would have asked me back then, I probably would have said we were middle class.
I think all Americans like to consider themselves middle class. No one wants to be poor and no one ever thinks they have too much money. So instead, we are all middle class people just trying to get ahead.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
So, here is my list of the three sexiest men in order of sexiness...
Apparently I have a thing for curly headed men. I think what this boils down to is that I don't like pretty boys. I lust after famous people who look like NORMAL people.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
New Jersey does not have chili parlors. However, it does have lots of diners. I love our city's diner - they have a veggie burger on the menu, and it tastes heavenly. As you drive through NJ, you will see diners on nearly every corner. Most of these places have a large menus. You can order anything from cheese steaks, to liver & onions, to Gyros. Although I didn't appreciate them at first, I now love eating at all the little diners around NJ. And whenever family comes to visit, I always take them out to eat at a diner.
Tell me about your area? Any unique foods or dinning experiences?
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Izzy is obsessed with his father. He dresses like John, mimics John's behavior, begs to go to the bathroom with John, etc. It is like they have a secret boys-only club. Porgie and I feel shunned.
I am in such a lazy funk. For some reason, I just can't get motivated to clean the house. I have started various projects, but I keep abandoning them halfway through the process.
I do things to try to save us money, but I end up costing us more. For example, I read online that Rita's was giving away free Italian ice on the first day of spring. I got the kids all excited about getting a treat, and then we actually drove to Rita's. The line was insanely long. Like out to the road long. Like there is no way in hell I am going to wait in line that long for water ice (that is slang for Italian ice in these parts) long. So, we went to a little diner for water ice instead. And paid full price.
Well, I guess I should go do something productive like twiddle my thumbs and watch TV. Peace out homies.
Monday, March 22, 2010
So, my mother is coming to visit in less than two weeks, and I haven't accomplished any of my goals. The guest room isn't painted (shit, I haven't even picked out a color yet). The curtains haven't been made (I actually ended up buying curtains, but then I returned them). I am blaming it on the beautiful weather. Who wants to stay inside and work, when you could play outside in the warm air and sunshine?
Speaking of sunshine, this weekend was amazingly beautiful. We enjoyed every second of the lovely weather. We went for walks, we visited 3 different parks, we visited a special zoo exhibit at the mall, and we even had ice cream! All around, it was a fabulous weekend. We spent almost every second of it outdoors, which was a wonderful change of pace.
This week I have lots of catching up to do. The pile of laundry in my bedroom is atrocious. My sink is piled high with dirty dishes. The floors are in desperate need of a good vacuuming. I guess we all know how I will be spending the next few days. Thank goodness it is raining, otherwise we would be doomed to live in squalor.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
But my daughter? Not so much. Don't get me wrong, she is a great kid - funny and smart and clever. However, she is also strong-willed and fiercely independent. As most of you know, Porgie has been in a ballet class since last September. At first, she really enjoyed the class. But as the class became more structured, Porgie became more defiant. Every week, I would watch as the teacher struggled to get Porgie to comply with her requests. At home I talked to her about following the teacher's directions, but she largely ignored me. For the last month or so, Porgie would pout and whine when I mentioned that we had to attend dance class. And maybe it was my imagination, but I started to sense that the teacher didn't like Porgie very much.
After ballet class yesterday, Porgie's teacher approached me in the lobby. She wanted to let me know that Porgie did a good job in class. She actually said, "Today is the first day Porgie has ever followed my directions." I was kind of dumb-founded. My daughter hasn't followed directions for 7 months? Gulp. I didn't know whether to apologize to the teacher or to demand a refund for all these expensive ass classes I have been paying for.
I think I understand what was happening. Instead of trying to please the teacher, Porgie was focused solely on having fun and playing with the other children. When the teacher reprimanded her for failing to comply with the rules, Porgie stopped caring about dance class. As a people pleaser, this disturbs me. Yet at the same time, I am kind of happy that she doesn't feel the constant urge to be helpful and good and obedient. Maybe she'll grow up to be a woman who won't have a fear of rejection. Maybe she won't suffer from the exhaustion of always trying to be perfect. Maybe, just maybe, she will grow up to be a confident and self-assured woman.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
I feel like I really need to shape up in the mommy department. I have been very short tempered with my kids lately. Every little thing they do pisses me off. It is probably because I am too distracted with my crocheting projects and my baking to properly pay attention to them. To make up for my sub-par parenting skills, I plan on taking Porgie and Izzy to the local nature center this week.
I guess what I am trying to say is that it is really hard to be perfect. Don't let my recent posts fool you. I try hard to be good at everything I do, but I always end up falling short. Such is life, I suppose. Fortunately, these two little cuties make me continually strive to be a better person...
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Also, I have been attempting to cut down on the amount of dairy we eat. For the first two years of Porgie's life, we rarely ate dairy. We certainly didn't keep cheese, sour cream, and yogurt stocked in our fridge. But lately, we seem to have gone dairy crazy. Somehow, almost every meal I make now requires cheese. I am going to be honest with you - this makes me a HUGE hypocrite. I am a vegetarian because I am opposed to factory farming practices. Yet somehow, I have convinced myself that consuming dairy isn't as horrible as eating meat. But it is. The aim of factory farming is to produce as much meat, eggs, or milk at the lowest possible cost - regardless of the deplorable conditions and the animals' suffering. Dairy is just as bad a meat, and I need to stop candy coating it.
Finally, I am going to attempt a few new things in the kitchen. I want to start making my own bread. I have made bread a few times, and it was fabulous. However, it is hard to find the time to do it during the week. So, I am going to start baking loafs on the weekends and freezing them. Also, I want to start cooking actual meals for lunch. I typically keep food very simple during lunch - grilled cheese, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, boxed mac & cheese, etc. I think we would all benefit from a better meal plan.
Now I just have to find the time and motivation to achieve all of my goals. But as they say, "Lack of time is lack of desire."
Monday, March 15, 2010
Regarding the yeast infection: What a difference two days can make! I feel sooooooo much better. Helpful hint - if you are taking antibiotics, it would be wise to invest in some probiotics. Another helpful hint - do not use scented flushable wipes (what the hell was I thinking?). It seems that the yeast infection from hell has finally abated. And holy shit, I am going to take every measure to make sure it never happens again. This was my first yeast infection, and hopefully my last. Truly, it was hell on earth.
Regarding dentists: I made an appointment with my new orthodontist. They couldn't get me in until Mid-April. I am frustrated by how long this entire process is taking. I decided I wanted to fix my teeth last October. Six months have passed, and I have made very little progress toward that goal. If I am not in braces by summer, I am going to flip the fuck out. Why is this so hard? Also, my insurance company refuses to give payment on my oral surgery bill from January. First they needed more information from the doctor. Now they are consulting with another dentist about the work that was performed. I know what they are doing. They are trying to find a way to deny the claim. And it really pisses me off. Once again, I am left wondering why we shell out money for useless insurance.
Friday, March 12, 2010
Dental issues are stressing me out again. After being at my dentist's office for 5 months, he recently admitted that my case is too complex for him. He has referred me to another dentist. I have mixed emotions about the whole thing. I appreciate that he is admitting his limitations, but I am annoyed that he didn't admit this from the beginning. I have wasted lots of money on his "consultations." Jerk.
My UTI turned out to be a yeast infection. I guess. I was prescribed Diflucan, which I promptly took. However, three days later I am still having symptoms.
The weather has gone from sunny and lovely, to rainy and melancholy. I think I'll end on that note.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Izzy loves his new big kid bed! And best of all, he is sleeping like a champ. I can't believe how quickly my little baby has transformed into a big kid.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
I washed and dried a crayon in the laundry. I have ruined every article of clothing my children own.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
1. SURPRISE! It turns out that I ran over a nail and one of my back tires was flat ($25).
2. SURPRISE! I went shopping at Target because I needed milk. After wandering around the store collecting things I didn't really need, I discovered that they were out of milk ($36).
3. SURPRISE! I went to A.C. Moore because I had a 40% off coupon. When I got to the register with my yarn, I realized that I left the coupon at home ($12).
4. SURPRISE! My last dentist appointment wasn't covered by my insurance ($77).
5. SURPRISE! This winter has been very destructive. After weeks of ice and snow, we have finally thawed out. And my beloved garden gnome, who we affectionately nicknamed Gnome Chomsky, was crushed by the weight of the snow ($18).
This budget shit is REALLY freaking hard. We should have all of our credit card debt paid off by July, but sometimes 4 months feels like an eternity. I want to have extra money NOW. I am so sick of talking about money and thinking about money and worrying about money. I am counting down the days until we are credit card debt free.
P.S. I won a small battle with my health insurance company. I appealed $300 worth of medical claims from November and December, and somehow, my insurance company agreed to pay these bills. YAY me!
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Friday, March 5, 2010
I made these little beauties for my beloved husband, on his 35th birthday. How better to celebrate turning 35 than with a Super Mario Brothers themed party. Everybody knows that 35 is the new 13. In case you are video game challenged, was attempting to replicate 1up mushrooms and super mushrooms...
I know, I know, I am amazing:)
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Half way through the trip I realized that something was wrong. The shelves were nearly bare. I stopped to ask a worker why everything was in disarray, and she told me that the store was closing in one week. Oh. I continued on with my shopping trip, but my stomach was tied in knots.
I hate that the poor people are the ones who are hurt the most by the economic downturn. These people have shitty jobs, low wages, little or no health care. And to top it all off, they are the first people to lose their jobs when things aren't doing well.
I couldn't help but get a little teary eyed as we said goodbye to the mean old black lady, who has a soft spot for my kids. I wanted to hug the ditsy young cashier, who talks WAY TOO MUCH. I wanted help the old guy who collects carts in the parking lot. I like these people. And I am sad that they won't be working in our neighborhood anymore.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
When I feel the need to be alone, I often embark on crazy home improvement projects. Fixing up the house = peace and quiet. So, I have decided to paint our guest bedroom in anticipation of my mother's upcoming visit in April. I have been fretting endless about colors. To save money, I am also going to attempt to hand sew new curtains for the room. I would make them with my sewing machine, but I don't know how to use it. I am pathetic.
So, be expecting before and after pictures in the next few weeks!
Monday, March 1, 2010
This weekend I made her vegan lemon bar recipe. OH MY GOD! They were delicious. Everyone loved them - including the kids. I found her recipe listed online, so I thought I would post it for you. It calls for a few rare ingredients - like agar-agar and arrowroot. However, I found both items at Whole Foods. So, without further ado...
Vegan Lemon Bar Recipe
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup non-hydrogenated margarine
1 1/3 cups water
3 tablespoons agar agar flakes
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/8 teaspoon tumeric
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons arrowroot powder
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest (from two large lemons)
1/4 cup soymilk
Extra powdered or confectioners’ sugar to decorate finished bars
Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a 13 x 9 inch baking pan.
Pulse flour, powdered sugar and cornstarch in food processor. Add margarine in spoonfuls and blend, 8 to 10 seconds, and then pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle mixture into prepared baking pan and press firmly into an even layer with slightly raised sides to hold in the filling. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes and then bake for 25 minutes; remove from oven and let cool. Meanwhile, prepare the filling.
In a sauce pot, soak the agar agar in the water for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, zest your lemons and squeeze your lemon juice. Mix the arrowroot into the lemon juice to dissolve.
When the agar has been soaking for 15 minutes, turn the heat up and bring to a boil. Boil for about 10 minutes, or until the agar is completely dissolved. Add the sugar and tumeric and boil until dissolved, about 3 minutes. Lower the heat to medium and add the arrow root and lemon juice mixture, then add the lemon zest and soy milk. Wisk constantly until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. It should not be rapidly boiling, but lowly bubbling is ok.
Pour the mixture into the prepared crust, let cool for 20 minutes and then refrigerate for at least 3 hours, until the filling is only slightly jiggly and set. Use a sifter or a fine mesh strainer for sprinkle the bars with powdered sugar. Slice into squares and serve.
You're welcome! Now get busy baking!