Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Bonus Income and Opportunities + A Recipe

I have a good job.  I love what I do.  I enjoy the people with whom I work.  I also, though, enjoy getting a little extra money, gift cards, and products to try at no cost to me.

I'm not talking about surveys necessarily - though I do those too (and some of them have excellent payouts!).    With some of these programs, you get paid just by clicking on advertiser links.  With others, you get products to try in exchange for simply telling others about the product and handing out samples and/or coupons.  Easy.  I mean e-a-s-y.

Here are my links to my favorite programs that earn me the most rewards:

  • You earn Swagbucks by watching videos, redeeming printable coupons, and taking part in offers and promotions.  After you've accumulated a number of Swagbucks, trade them in for gifts or gift cards.
  • BzzAgent gives you the opportunity to try out full-sized products in exchange for "Buzzing" about these products to your anyone in your sphere of influence.
  • You can earn and trade in My Points for gift cards.
  • House Party requires that you throw a party using products they send you.  You report back with pictures and results from the party.  (My friends love when I throw a "House Party."  It usually means they go home with loads of goodies!
  • Smiley360 ships products for you to try and tell friends about.  They also send coupons and samples for your friends.
  • Kraft First Taste sends you coupons for free Kraft products when they are first rolled out.
  • With Jingit, you can earn money watching videos online, and by "checking in" at Wal-Mart.

I put together a recipe last weekend based on what I could find on sale, combined with what sounded good, fresh, and healthy.  Here's what I came up with (I did use a mixture of a few recipes I found online also...).

Berry Mint Salad

1 cup strawberries, chopped
1 cup blueberries
1 cup raspberries
1 cup blackberries
1/4 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tbsp. honey

Gently mix all ingredients together and chill up to 4 hours.  
I served mine in parfait glasses with my daughter's birthday dinner.  It looked lovely and tasted amazing and fresh!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Preparing for a Beach Vacation

We are leaving for vacation very soon.  My whole family is excited to be on the beach, meet Mickey Mouse, and spend some time just relaxing.  However, we haven't started packing.  Life's obligations get the best of me, and, well, packing seems like such a mammoth task.

This weekend I'll start.  I will!  I found this checklist from the Disney Family Fun website, and I plan to use it to get me started packing.  It seems fairly complete, and I know we'll end up packing our other "necessities" up until road trip time.

This is our first real family vacation, and I'm afraid I'm going to forget something major.

Do you have a checklist you use when you go on a trip?  Care to share it?

Now, for my review of Lawry's Mediterranean Herb & White Wine Marinade with Lemon Juice & Garlic (described as featuring "fragrant herbs like basil and oregano, along with white wine, extra virgin olive oil, garlic and sun-dried tomato").  Wowza, it was SO good!  After marinating in the fridge for 10 hours, I grilled the pork chops and served them with mixed veggies and mashed potatoes.  The pork chops were so moist, and incredibly flavorful!  I didn't have to add any salt or pepper, nor did I dip them in any condiment.  Everyone in the family ate at least one, with my daughter having two pork chops for herself!  Yep, I'm certainly a fan of this marinade.  It was SO easy to prepare our main course with this, which also made it super simple to have a "gourmet" meal within budget AND stick to a healthy diet.

*BzzAgent sent me full-sized products to try, just so I give others' my honest opinions about them.  No sales pitch - I'm just sayin'...

Thursday, June 14, 2012

What I'm Trying Today - Lawry's Marinade

I signed up for BzzAgent a couple years ago.  It seemed too good to be true.  After all, they send me full-size products to try out and coupons to give my friends, and all I have to do is give people my honest opinion of the products?  FYI - it's not too good to be true!

This summer, BzzAgent has sent me quite a few items to test out and spread the word about.  I've loved every minute of it!

My latest shipment came in the mail yesterday.  I received a box full of Lawry's products (perfect for grilling season!):

  • A bottle of Santa Fe Chili Marinade with Lime and Garlic
  • A bottle of Mediterranean Herb & White Wine Marinade with Lemon Juice & Garlic
  • A bottle of Lawry's Original Seasoned Salt
  • A red Lawry's apron (not pictured)

I thawed out some pork chops last night and added the Lawry's Mediterranean Herb & White Wine marinade to my marinading dish this morning.  I'll have Savannah (my 15-year-old) flip the container this afternoon.  I can't wait to try it!  I'll definitely let you know how it turns out.

BONUS: BzzAgent also sent me a stack of Lawry's coupons to give out.  Each page has a coupon for 75¢ off one 8 oz. variety or larger Lawry's Seasoned Salt and $1.00 off any one Lawry's Marinade.  If you're interested in receiving a coupon, please leave a comment below letting me know you want one.  (Disclaimer: I have a very limited supply of these!) 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Getting it All Done . . . Almost

I am a note taking, list making, go-go-go woman.  I feel that there is so much I need to accomplish each day, and in order to get anything at all done, I must capture and prioritize those thoughts.
I have tried making lists on my iPad, which can work for me in a pinch, but I truly like the act of writing things down and marking them as "done" as I finish tasks.
My list is ever growing and never ending.  Each day I add probably two to four new tasks.  It would seem unmanageable if I didn't have a system in place to mark off those tasks.  So here's what I do, since I am such a list maker.

  • I make a list of ALL the things I need (or want) to get done.  Period.
  • From that list, I choose three things I want to do in the evening - after I get home from work but before I go to bed.  That list usually includes two easy, fast, more enjoyable tasks (such as printing the week's grocery coupons from the Internet (yes, I have to even add this to my list!) and wrapping a present for a birthday party) and one task I feel is more daunting (such as hemming a new pair of pants).
  • I mark off each chore as I get it done, and re-write my list the next day.
  • Weekends are catch-up times.  If there are things on the list I haven't accomplished throughout the week, I use the weekend to finish my list.
I feel so good knowing I accomplished some things and shortened my list.  But I'm not overwhelmed by the list of 10 things I want to get done.  Three to-dos are much, much more manageable!

How do you organize your to-do list with a hectic schedule?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Planning Our Menu - Week of June 11-15

I make it a point on Sundays to plan my family's menu for the week.  I write it on a piece of paper like THIS, and hang it on the fridge.  This serves three purposes:

  1. I can use what food we already have in the house.  I have a stockpile of food gathered from getting amazing deals on boxed or canned food, frozen food, and meat.  We are on a super strict budget, so I use what we have on hand to make dinner.  
  2. It keeps us from eating out throughout the week because I am too lazy or inconvenienced to plan what to eat.  If the meat is already thawing in the fridge, or I already have a meal planned for the evening, I am far less likely to stray from what I have committed to.
  3. My family is prepared to eat what I have written down.  They know what is coming!  Plus, on rare occasions, my daughter might even help prep for dinner before I get home.  (I did say rare occasions.  We're still working on that.)
This week on the menu:
  • Monday: We cheated this week.  It's the kids' birthday weeks, so we used free meal coupons for them, followed by free ice cream.  Hubby and I splurged on hot wings.  
  • Tuesday: Ravioli with pasta sauce, salad, and garlic bread.  (Leftover homemade ice cream from kids' weekend birthday parties for dessert.)
  • Wednesday: Hubby works late.  I'll be cheating again by using two more "free meal" coupons for the kids' birthdays.  (Stay tuned for next week, when the menu is a little more normal.)
  • Thursday: Grilled pork, steamed veggies & cheese, mashed potatoes.  Jell-o for dessert.
  • Friday: Hubby works late again.  Pizza, popcorn & fruit.  We'll probably rent a DVD for some end-of-the-week down time.

Saturdays and Sundays are always up in the air.  We typically do things with friends and family, so I don't plan much on these days unless we have committed ourselves to a gathering that requires planning!

Meet a Full Time Working Mom

I've decided to publish a blog that caters to full time working mothers.

My assumption is that there are other women out there who work a full time job, then come home to run their households for the rest of the day.  That's what I do.

My hope is that this blog will benefit not only working mothers, but also stay-at-home moms, women and men without children, and families in general.

I have quite a bit of experience being a full time working mother, and am always learning more about what makes my family life more harmonious in the few hours each day I get to spend with them.

This pictures is from a weekend trip we took to visit my brother and sister-in-law in Cincinnati.  

Here is my family.  You will learn much, much more about them throughout this blog.