Wednesday, January 25, 2017

3 Apps That Will Make You [EASY] Money

I purposely don't work full-time. I know myself really well. If I did work full time I know I would quickly become a workaholic. It runs in the family and my personality is totally predisposed to being obsessive with things. It's a huge plus that my schedule allows me to keep our home running well! I also do all the yard work and I have time for volunteer work each week.  

Overall this works out great. But sometimes the budget is tighter than others. I'm always on the look out for extra income, just in case. I have a few cleaning jobs and I buy and sell a lot on Ebay! I thought I'd share the 3 apps on my phone that make me money. And I'm talkin' easy, painless money! 

This is the app I've been using the longest. Google sends you short surveys and rewards you with Play Store Credits. I mostly use them for songs, but you can buy movies or pro versions of your favorite apps. The money you earn seems to line up with how long the survey is. Some are 1 question long, and others are more in depth. I've been asked about my experience at Walgreens, and also if I've ever foraged for truffles. (True Story!) Sometimes you get several surveys a day, and other times it's a few days in between. 

   Google Opinion Rewards- screenshot

I started using Ibotta in November and since then I've earned about $50 in rebates. It took a minute to figure out how to use it, but it's also another app that's too easy not to use. Basically you search by your favorite grocery store. Their rebates will appear, and you unlock the ones you want to use. Buy those products and scan your store receipt. Then you get money back! I've only purchased things I would have bought anyway. If you aren't particularly brand-loyal this will work for you. 

My favorite rebates are the Groupon and Ebay rebates! You get a certain % back when you buy through Ibotta. Basically- open Ibotta first, click on Ebay and it opens your Ebay app. Once you make the purchase, Ibotta processes your rebate. I shop on Ebay and Groupon all the time, and it's nice to get a few bucks back. 

This is my referral link, at no cost to you - but you do get $10 when you sign up! The money you make can go right into your bank account. 

   Ibotta: Cash Savings & Coupons- screenshot

This is the newest app to my list, but I'm already excited about it! MileUp gives you points everytime you drive. (Automatically!) And those points can be redeemed for gift cards. You can also report your car accidents through the app and they will pay you for that information. 

I easily drive 400 miles a week, so the points add up really quickly. And if you take a long car trip, even better! FIY it does take a day or two for your trips to show up. I was nervous that my 85 mile drive the other day wasn't counted, but it just took about 24 hours to appear. It's kinda cool to see the little map at the end too. 

This is my referral link for you mobile readers, also at no cost to you.

   MileUp- screenshot

I'm sure there are a million apps that can earn you money, but I love that these 3 are SO easy and uncomplicated. Leave a comment below with your experiences with these apps, or if you know of another easy to use app! Thanks for reading!

This post contains affiliate links!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Guest Room Makeover

Throughout our current decluttering mission, it has become pretty obvious that some of the spaces in our house aren't meeting our needs. Our ultimate goal is to have a streamlined home, so that the more important things in life get more attention. The yard sale pile is bigger than I ever expected! 

After doing the initial declutter, I decided that I wanted to take each room at a time and do it again. And in addition we could tackle any 'honey-do' list items while we were at it. We chose to do the guest room first. We are going to be having some company in the next few months so it seemed like a good idea. 

Before


The first photo is what this room looked like when I moved in. And the 2nd and 3rd are what it evolved into. Over the years we replaced the oversized sleigh bed with a custom headboard and platform box spring. We moved our bookshelves into the guest room and we got rid of a giant hand-me-down antique dresser (you can see that in the reflection in the 1st photo). 

The Issues
This room looked fine. It just had a few technical issues that needed to be addressed. For starters, it had not been painted in about 10 years, so the trim and walls definitely needed a refresh. Also, there were no power outlets easily accessible to our guests. There was really only one visible and it was under the vanity. The bookshelves were also bugging me. No matter how many times I sorted through our book collection, the shelves were still stuffed. And, the vanity...It pained me so much, but I decided to part with it. 

The vanity was a gift to me for my High School graduation. It was rescued from a ditch, rehabbed and then given to me. It was absolutely perfect for me in my room at home. Every teenage girl needs a vanity! (Side note! One of the drawers got stuck in 2008, and I was only just able to get it open last year! Such a time capsule. 18 year old me needed a lot of hair mousse for some reason.) 

When Blake and I got married, and I moved in, the vanity couldn't fit in my bedroom anywhere. So it ended up in the guest room. It's gorgeous, but it isn't serving me a purpose anymore. I was really hesitant to sell it because I actually think it's worth something, and had no idea where to begin with that. I ended up giving it to one of my friends, who is moving back from overseas and had no furniture for her new home. She is thrilled, and so am I. I'd so much rather something like this go to a friend who will love it as much as I do. 

The Solutions
Originally I thought I'd just paint this room the same neutral tan color we have throughout our house. But for some reason I got the itch to paint it Navy blue. I walked right up to this paint chip, and was in love. 

Target had an amazing sale and I picked up this desk, and 2 matching ladder bookshelves. The desk is perfect in this room. It will function as a great surface for guests to use either for their laptop or just to set their things. The best part of the desk is the cool flap on the back that contains a power strip! Now no one will have to go searching for an outlet! (The bedside tables in that collection also have that awesome feature). The shelves were really easy to put together and added some height to the room. I grabbed some white frames and a blanket while I was at Target and called it a day. 

After 






Painting took forever and a day! The painters tape I bought was terrible and the trim paint bled through a lot. It was very difficult to fix, and it's still not perfect. I do love how fresh white paint looks though! The trim and closet doors really pop now against the dark navy. 

The wall color is exactly what I was hoping for. 2 coats would have been perfect, except our walls are panels so the nooks and crannies were especially challenging to coat thoroughly! The room is quite a bit darker now, especially at night. I ordered 2 wall hung reading lamps that I hope will help with that. If not we may need to invest in a brighter ceiling fan. 

I am also hunting for 2 tan Euro pillows. I can't seem to find what I'm looking for, in my price range. The blue ones are fine though, and will do for now. 

Sources: 
Lamp is way old from Bed Bath and Beyond. Headboard is something we made a few years ago using this fabric. Curtains are from Walmart. 



Leave a comment below: Are you scared of darker paint colors? Would you rather DIY or hire someone to paint for you? What do you like to see in a guest room, when you are the guest?

Monday, January 9, 2017

My Grandparent's 50th Anniversary Party

In a world where marriages last 72 days, when a couple makes it to 50 years it really is something to celebrate! My grandparents celebrated their 50th anniversary last week, and this weekend we had a party in their honor. My family rented a historic house in Cairo, Ga for the party and it was so charming! 

I was very surprised how easy everything came together and how simple it was for us to organize. It helps a lot when you hire a caterer and bartender to handle the food and drinks. The facility also set up all the furniture to our request. So really all we needed to do was decorate a little! And it's such a lovely place, it didn't really need much in the way of decor. 

Somehow I ended up with the decorating...which is actually not all the surprising at all because I love doing it. I had a few friends collect wine bottles for me for a few months, and I spray painted them in various shades of gold. We ordered pink and white carnations (a very affordable flower! Peonies were my first choice, but ended up being $3 a stem!!) Other than the flowers, I bought a "We Still Do" banner on etsy for the fireplace behind the cake. 









The party was a success! There was a great turn out, so it's obvious a lot of people love my grandparents as much as I do! It was also really crazy to see people I haven't seen since I was a kid. It's always funny when people ask how old you are, and realize you are probably now too old for it not to be rude to ask that question! 

There were a lot of tears when my uncle gave a sweet speech, and then even more when my cousin-in-law sang "Remember When". I'm not usually in favor of talent show stuff at parties, but he is seriously SO good. Everyone needed tissues after that. Blake and I ended up sitting at the bar, where it was a bit quieter and we got to catch up with some friends, and he got to meet some I.T. people he really hit it off with. 

There was a lot of lead up to this party, so it's going to be strange to not have anything big on the calendar for awhile. And I have to figure out what to do with 45 gold wine bottles! 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

No Soda for a Year - We did it!

About this time last January, Blake and I decided to give up soda for 2016. I didn't really drink a lot of soda myself, but when my husband had a little health scare the doctor encouraged him to give up certain foods-including soda. So to be supportive, I gave it up too. And we did it! No soda for an entire year. No cheating either! It was actually a really interesting experiment, health benefits aside. 

When We Missed It
There were really only a handful of occasions where I thought "Man, a Coke would be so good right now." Once, I was really thirsty, and I opened my mom's fridge and saw a Diet Coke and kinda craved that bubbly taste. Another time was at Disney World in June, and a cold fizzy drink seemed refreshing. And finally, at the movies! It is really strange to eat popcorn and have a water bottle instead of a soda. That sweet and salty combination is something I really missed at the movies. 

What Changed
Neither of us lost any weight or noticed any dramatic results from giving up soda. However, one really neat change took place over the whole year. Instead of ordering soda at a restaurant, we tended to order Iced Tea. I've been drinking half-sweet/half-unsweet for as long as I can remember. But, Blake strictly wanted sweet tea. But, over the course of the year he gradually switched to half & half and now actually prefers unsweet tea. That's something I never expected.

What It Tastes Like Now
After our year was up, we decided to taste soda again and see if we felt any different about it. I was so nervous to try it! It was almost like I was afraid to like it. We started off tasting Cherry Coke. It was such a surprising taste. I liked it, but everytime I sipped it, the bubbles kept throwing me off. It was kinda weird. And even though I liked it, after 2 sips I didn't want anymore. Then we decided to sample regular coke. That was disgusting! It tasted like drinking pancake syrup or something! SO sweet. 



Going Forward
I don't plan on drinking soda anymore. I feel like I could easily go another year without a taste. Blake feels similarly, but is still experimenting. He grabbed a Root Beer from the convenience store today just to see what it tastes like. From his reactions so far, I don't think he will be drinking it very often either. Maybe just at the movies with popcorn. 

What We Are Giving Up This Year
We wanted to do a similar challenge in 2017, because it was kinda fun to challenge our competitive selves. This year we are swearing off any restaurant that has a drive thru. I always feel SO disgusting after I eat fast food. I call it a fast food hangover. It might be cheap and convenient, but it's not a good thing all the way around. Chick-Fil-A will truly be a challenge to give up. I don't go a lot, but I really like it. (And I don't get that same hangover feeling from it as I do other places.) 

We are also doing a little challenge each month this year. I'm really excited about this! Each little challenge will support our bigger goals. For example, in January we are not going out to eat at all. No restaurants. We spend a lot of money going out to eat each month, and it isn't the best habit for the waistline. We have a few other ideas for other months, like a No TV challenge. 

Leave a comment below if you've ever given up something for a year! I'd also LOVE to hear your ideas for little challenges. I have 5 ideas right now, but there are 12 months! 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park

I have a goal to visit every State Park in Florida, and it's going to take me forever to do it! We are really fortunate to have so many parks within a short distance from where we live. Paynes Prairie State Park has been on my 'to visit' list for well over a year now! We see it all the time, driving down I-75 toward Disney World. From that vantage point it looks really marshy and desolate, but I was totally blown away by the life and Floridian beauty up close. 

Blake and I spent our Saturday afternoon being totally mesmerized by this park. There are two entrances, so that was pretty confusing. The south entrance is the technical 'main entrance', and that's where our gps took us. I had done some research beforehand, and knew that there was a 3 mile trail that I wanted to do. Turns out that trail was accessed from the north entrance! We did check out the visitor's center and look out tower, but quickly realized we needed to drive around to get to the trail we wanted. 

The La Chua trail boasts abundant wildlife, and it did not disappoint. The trail starts off on a boardwalk, then heads straight out into the prairie. It's 1.5 miles out, and then you walk back. The end has a neat observation platform for a better view. 

We went on a holiday weekend, so it was actually pretty crowded. Lots of families! The animals didn't seem bothered by the people at all, and were right up next to the trail. We saw literally hundreds of gators, thousands (!) of birds and an amazing herd of wild horses. There were some bison too, but they were really just specs on the horizon. 

I could have watched the horses for hours! They were so close to us, but still skittish. In such a developed country, it is really neat to see some things left (mostly) untouched by people. 














I loved our little hike! We were really captivated by the trail, but also really enjoyed eachother's company. Afterward we got pizza with friends in Gainesville, and when we got home we looked through our 2016 memory jar. Not a bad way to finish the year! 

Paynes Prairie has been at the top of my list for a while, so now that we've checked it off, I have to pick the next State Park we visit! Leave a comment below if you have a suggestion!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Camel Coat & Tartan Tote









This outfit totally started with this bag! Mark and Graham have the best selection, and I'm always window shopping. This tartan tote caught my eye last year. Blake offered to get it for me for our anniversary, but since our anniversary falls at the end of February it didn't quite feel like a spring bag. And who wants to get a gift they can't use for months?! Well, this fall rolled around, and I was still in love with this bag. So I treated myself! It's a perfect tote, with lots of pockets. My only complaint is that it has started to droop at the top a bit since I've been using it. It gets worse as the bag gets filled up. I'm going to try ironing it and seeing if that helps. 

I also needed a new coat this year, so I was really happy when Old Navy had a good sale on their peacoats. Camel is probably the perfect color for my wardrobe. I'm really excited to get to wear it more often! We are still having 80 degree days here, so maybe January with bring a real winter. 

My hair is in that weird in between stage right now! I'm growing it out, but it's still got the long bob thing going on. Headbands have been my lifesaver, I just wish they weren't so temperamental! 

Thanks again to my favorite photographer, Chabeli! They got a new website a few months ago, head over and show some love! 

Comment below with your most recent 'treat yo self' purchase! 

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