Swagbucks Saturday - An Easy $40 a Month

if you haven't already, get signed up for swagbucks!  you get extra points when you sign up when you use my referral link.  i'm earning at least $100 each month and i often get asked how many earnings are so high.  i've posted a couple of times about the things i do but i really feel like the most rewarding, quickest, and laziest way to earn the swagbucks is by using your phone.

the set it and forget it way to get an easy 140 points each day ($40 a month if you're consistent):

download the video watching apps to your phone.
these are called swagbuckstv and entertainow.

find some short videos. 
on swagbuckstv - check under home and garden.  anything that says 10 sec tip, actually is, in fact, 10 seconds.  maybe 11.
on entertainow - there's many that are about 16 seconds.  try checking under tv spots.  always sunny, les mis, the boondocks, mad men, and american horror story are all 16 seconds and there's probably more.

add them to your favorites.
swipe to the left to add it to your favorites.  

play only your favorites list each day.
when you go to play videos each day, go to your favorites list.  it'll play those on repeat, even if it's just one video.  check it every so often to make sure it's not frozen on an ad, which can happen if you're in a spotty wi-fi area, but otherwise, it should play through just fine - and much more quickly than if you set it to a random playlist full of 5 minute videos!

swagbuckstv gives you 50 points each day and entertainow gives you 90.  even if you did nothing else on the swagbucks website, you'd be earning $5 every 4 days, which is $40 each month.  i do this at times when i'm not using my phone - while i watch tv, in the shower, during dinner.  since you don't need to keep an eye on it and can mute everything (just an occasional check to make sure it's not frozen or already finished up for the day) i can even keep it in my bag/plugged into the charger at work and let it play on silent.

free $40?  don't mind if i do.

p.s. you can cash in swagbucks for any number of e-gift cards, in any amount as low as $5.  amazon, target, starbucks, etc.  even paypal, though the minimum there is $25.

Create Your Own Adventure

it's almost september, which means the start of the create your own adventure goal setting challenge i talked about here.  in case you missed it, the basic premise is this - each month has a different general topic, such as food, relationships, organizing, etc.  under that general topic, you'd pick whatever you want to work on for the month, such as 'try 3 new recipes' or 'fix up the linen cabinet.'

the link up will be the first thursday of each month, so you'll have a full month to work on your particular goal and write up a recap post.  on the first of the month and at the end of my recap posts, i'll let you know what the challenge theme is for the next month and what i'll personally be working on.  i'd love for you to comment and tell me what your plan is too so i can tweet you encouragement throughout the month.

any questions?

the challenge for september is fitness and the link up about your results will be october 2.  we decided to start with fitness because for those of us that have winter and polar vortexes, it's still nice enough in september to get outside, if that's how you like to exercise.  it doesn't have to be anything crazy, it can be as simple or as complicated as you want.

some ideas for 'fitness':
- walk 1 mile each day
- sign up for a 5k
- only take the stairs
- participate in a diet bet
- work up to heavier weights
- try the jillian michaels 30 day shred (or other workout video)

what i'll be working on:
i move apartments this weekend.  my fitness challenge for the month is just to get used to my new place - there's no elevators, for one, so daily unavoidable stairs are on my list.  i'm on the second floor and the laundry is in the basement.  obviously, it's not a lot, but it's more stairs than i'm used to.  i also need to walk to the train to get to work.  it's less than 10 minutes but (as opposed to where i am now) i cannot just hop in a cab when i feel lazy.  i also might try walking around the neighborhood more to get used to it and find new places.

general guidelines:
1) if you want, follow your hosts not entirely perfect, life according to steph, and keeping up with ashley and cody.  (i like twitter, that way i can follow you back and tweet you encouragement throughout the challenge.)
2) link up your post about your results for the month - we want to hear all about what you did, how you fared, what resources you used, what you'd recommend to others, etc.
3) please link to your actual post about your results.  links not having to do with the challenge will be deleted.
4) feel free to use this button, created by the lovely sarah at venus trapped in mars.

Not Entirely Perfect

will you be participating in september?  what will you be working on?

i included a link up widget today so i could test them out, see if it works.  if you plan on participating in september, feel free to link up your blog below. (a link to the main page of your blog this time is fine.)

My Most Neurotic Tendency

i do all sorts of weird, neurotic things throughout my day.  john likes to call this 'nudgy.'  i'm 'nudgy.'  (i'm not, the word means naggy or nervous/edgy.  i'm not nudgy, i'm just detailed and only with my own things.)  plenty of you view my organizational efforts as such, like my master packing list.  i also make all my lunches on sunday and line them up in the fridge.  there may or may not be days of the week labels involved.  little things like that that less organized or detail oriented folks find totally neurotic.  i'm normally fine with this, because my life runs super efficiently and i have time management down to an science, like a well-oiled and relaxed machine.  minus this temporary set back called the moving process, but i'll be back to normal come monday.

however, there is one little neurotic detail that even i admit is completely ridiculous.  and this number one most neurotic thing?  i cannot have manual clocks or watches in my room at night.  because i can hear the ticking.  any watches i own have to stopped at night and reset the next time i wear them because i can hear the tick tick tick of the stupid second hand, as loud as if it were pressed to my ear.  even if it's buried under the sweaters in my dresser drawer, even if i took a melatonin and passed out, i will wake up to the tick. tick. tick. tick. at 2 a.m.  wall clocks are even worse, they have no place in my home.  the sound drives me into a downward spiral of sleeplessness and rage that can only be stopped by permanently terminating the ticking sound at all costs.

like captain hook.

because i'm crazy.

anyway, happy national dog day, from our neurotic home to yours!

Getting My Chart Read

so let's start with this - i absolutely 100% believe in astrology.  not that i read my horoscope, because those are so vague, but i definitely believe that your personality is shaped by what sign you were born under.  me, with a november birthday, i'm a scorpio.  and boy, am i.  all the best and worst traits of the sign fit me to a t, just ask my mom.  i see the world in black and white, have an opinion on everything, love to go against the grain just for the sake of it.  i'm loyal to a fault and if you cross me, i'll inflict immeasurable pain on you.  i know i love cancers (my boyfriend and my best friend), that sagittarius-es are flakes (ahem. incapable of being on time megan), and that when i butt heads with someone, they're bound to be a gemini (sorry geminis out there.)

of course i love reading all things scorpio because it's always so accurate, so i read desiree at simply sun signs all the time.  after i read everything she's written down to what my signature scorpio drink should be, naturally, the next step - i got a chart reading.  i told des my time and place of birth (ish, you know, i'm adopted, i don't know my time of birth exactly) and she plugged in all my info and 'read my chart.'  she sent me a whole pdf explaining what everything means, like houses, chart types, and my rising sign.  here's what it looks like, but obviously i needed an expert to decipher it.

i found out i have a bundle chart type, which is why most of the symbols are together on the left there.  that means the planets were close together when i was born and that it increases my likelihood of having a very strong personality reflective of my sign.  which is why i'm so scorpio.  she also told me what the placement of each planet meant - for example, saturn is in scorpio which means i have obsessive tendencies and extreme stubbornness.  heck yes.  and neptune being in sagittarius means i'm likely to be a vegetarian because of my love for animals.  yup!  i think the only thing that wasn't spot on was that one of the planets should indicate a love of travel.  i definitely don't love travel, but that may be because of my fear of flying.  put me in a car and we're good to go anywhere.

and my favorite notes?  (1) the sun is in the twelfth house (thank goodness she explains it all) which means i love uncluttering my life!  we all know that's true.  (2) "you are keen when it comes to business, but you still know how to laugh and go out for a glass of wine or ten."  i just think it's amazing that someone who has never met me can predict all these little details of my personality based on the time and place i was born.  there was all kinds of other insights as well, 5 pages worth, but a scorpio girl's gotta have some secrets. next up, having desiree do a relationship chart reading.

from someone who loves this stuff, let me assure you, it was not a let down!  i loved everything i read so i highly recommend you do it too.  and then post about it so i can read it.  what sign are you?!  do you believe your personality reflects your sign or am i the only one who predicts which friendships will last based on birthdays?

10 Best // Life Lately

1. concert!  john got us tickets to the jason aldean concert, with florida georgia line opening.  he is not a fan of country at all, so it was pretty awesome of him.  i've made him a florida geogia line fan though, for sure.  or he just liked how much they were drinking on stage.  he was jealous.

2. sharknado 2!  i loved the first one so we had a viewing party for the second, and it was everything i hoped it would be and more.  i'm so ready for the 3rd one.  i'm going to make a tara reid costume.  hawkeye's going to be a shark, naturally.  actually, there's a good chance i won't be able to wait til the 3rd movie and i'll have to do it for halloween, even though john is dead set on being dexter and megan, tara and i are going to be the sanderson sisters.  2 halloween parties are needed, clearly.

3. nascar, of course, was a huge highlight of the last month.

4. my surprise delivery that accompanied the concert tickets, my beautiful flowers.  (pro flowers must love him, i know i do.)

5. cleaning and organizing.  i am loving my packing system.  everything is so detailed, it makes me happy.  and it gives me a little organizing project to work on each night and since i'm weird, i love that.

6. the challenge is on.  i'll be posting at the end of the month with a theme for september and a new button!

7. this text conversation with tara.

8. nashville planning.  i'm heading there in nashville for my 30th birthday and my best friend sarah got the hotels all booked with her sweet government discount.  thank you sarah!  it seemed so far away before but now i'm really getting excited.

9. in other vacation planning news, john and i are planning on vegas next year, probably end of april.  he's never been.  i've been approximately 300 times.  ok fine, like 15 times.  same thing.  i'm very excited, even though i'm not sure who's going to get us there, since we both hate flying and have to be practically incoherent to even get on a plane.  should be interesting...

10. hawkeye.  she has commandeered one of john's shirts and i'm certain he is never ever getting it back.  every time i reach for it, even to move it slightly, she rips it away from me and runs off.  she misses him when he's not here.

A New Idea

so there's a new idea i've been mulling.  a new monthly link-up with steph at life according to steph.  both her and i love making monthly goals and life goals in general.  we're pretty much constantly posting these on our blogs (i have my 101 list, she has her seasonal goals, among other things.)  and we especially love reading about it when other people do the same.

the link-up would be a 'choose your own challenge' goal setting link-up.  beginning in september, we'd give a general topic, like 'food,' 'relationships,' 'finances,' etc.  it would be up to you to pick one thing within that category to work on for the month.  (or more than one, we like ambition.)  under 'food' you might try meal planning, making a new dish from pinterest, eating out less, or packing your lunch each day.  under 'relationships' you might try writing love notes to your husband, sending your mom surprise flowers, or walking the dog more without checking your phone the whole time.  we'd both offer ideas of things to try and let you know what it is specifically that each of us is planning to work on on at the beginning of each month.

then, at the start of the following month, once you've had the full 30 days to work on your challenge, we'd want to hear all about what you challenged yourself to do.  what you tried, how you did, what advice you'd give others, and what resources you used.  did you find a great printable to help with meal planning?  did a new phone app help with sorting out your finances?

i thought about starting this in january with the new year, but september also brings about renewed focus and a fresh start.  so... are you in?

hawkeye is so ready for her month.  "it means daily ice cream for me, right mom?"

Things I Have Not Accomplished This Summer

we're almost halfway through august and i can't even handle that fact.  i mean, i like it because you know i prefer cold weather, but man, time is flying.  which has made me think about what i've really been doing with my time these past few months.  i didn't actually make a 'summer bucket list' from which to systematically check off my activities.  i don't make them for any season.  if i do seasonal things, great, if not, oh well.  particularly for the summertime, since i don't really enjoy summer weather.  so i realized that this summer i:

haven't been to the pool.  there's an outdoor pool in my apartment building... i'm not sure what excuse i have for not going to it.  other than 'laying out' bores me to tears - i can never relax and i always feel like there's better ways to spend my time.

haven't been to the beach.  not super surprising, because i don't actually like the sand, or dirty lake michigan, or crowds, or being hot.

haven't had a frappuccino.  i like my coffee unsweetened and black like my soul.

haven't been to a beer garden or outdoor eating.  bugs and heat, i guess.  i like beer gardens in the fall, when the bugs start to die.  otherwise, i'll stay inside where it's clean and air-conditioned. 

haven't gone on vacation.  haven't had the time.  at least i'll be going to nashville for my birthday in november, but that's all i have planned.  i also hate flying, so that often keeps me in chicago.

haven't gone to a baseball game.  i've gone to the bar next to the baseball game, does that count?

haven't gone stargazing.  since i took astronomy my freshman year of college.  can you even see stars in chicago?

haven't been to a water park.  since 2001.

haven't been to the taste of chicago.  since 2006.

haven't been camping.  since... never.

i have, however, gone to a florida georgia line concert, seen my friends' bands at approximately 74 street fests, played beer pong and flip cup, closed down a 4 a.m. bar, taken my dog for ice cream, had a sharknado 2 party, set off fireworks, marathon watched crappy movies on netflix starring wwe wrestlers, went to a nascar race and sat in pit row, (that list reads preeeeety redneck for someone who lives in chicago...) so it's not like i've been bored.  i just don't like all those 'normal' summer plans.  but at least i'm that much closer to my snow.

10 Best // Packing and Moving Tips

pinterest is a wonderful, beautiful land full of moving guides.  to say i'm obsessed with it is a bit of an understatement, govna.  (easy a? anyone? love that movie)  i'm pretty well-rehearsed in this whole packing and moving thing, seeing as how i've done it like 12 times now.  at least.  but i still like finding and utilizing new tips to make the process as efficient, painless, and budget-friendly as possible.  so far, i've been working off my own memories of moving, but i started searching for even more ideas to share with you.

first, here's 10 things i've done to help my packing and moving process:

1. declutter - if you get rid of it, you don't have to pack it.  so just think about that and ask yourself "do i like this enough to clean it, pack it, move it, unpack it, and put it back?"  if the answer is no, donate.  don't spend your time and money moving something you don't care about.  if you have enough in the donate pile, many donation places will even come pick it up.

2. buy used boxes - it's less than half of what you'd spend on new boxes at some place like office depot.  they certainly aren't 'dirty' either, mine look practically new.  they are boxes that were used to move corporate offices or paper goods.  never anything stained or greasy.  and the companies that sell them check everything super carefully and don't re-sell boxes over and over.  one and done.  (here in chicago, i cannot say enough good things about moving boxes now who has same day delivery, awesome prices, and will even come back and swap boxes out if a certain size isn't working for you.)  you can find free boxes too, but i don't have a car and definitely don't feel like putting that kind of work into it.

3. this.  which makes me insane but was worth every second.  you know you're a little jealous.  but at least do some labeling or listing with the boxes so you know what room it goes in and what's in the box.  if you have a lot of boxes, print out labels instead.  make sure to put them on the sides, not the top, so you can still see it even if the boxes are stacked up.

4. start early to get movers quotes - john and his brother will have no trouble moving my boxes and smaller pieces of furniture in john's pickup.  actually, they both have pickups.  score.  but i prefer to hire (insured) movers for big things like my tv, couch, and bed, since i'm moving into a place with only stairs.  and since i'm moving at the end of the month, like most renters, prices sky rocket.  start early to find the best quote and try to work with the landlord to get in on an off day, like a week day that's a few days before or after the 1st of the month.

5. use what you have - wrap breakables in towels and blankets and save yourself the cost of packing paper and bubble wrap.  if you're moving some things yourself, you can use your usual baskets and storage containers.  if you hire movers though, they generally will not move things that aren't in boxes.

6. take a picture of complicated items - i would have no idea how to hook up my tv and dvd player if it weren't for megan taking photos of it with her phone.  shut up, the color coded cords are not as easy as you'd think!  they don't all get plugged in and it makes no sense.

7. make pet arrangements - the last thing i need is a panicked hawkeye getting smushed by a dropped couch.  usually my best friend meredith drives her around for a few hours, gets her mcdonalds ice cream, and drops her at the new house.  but mere moved to california :( so this year, hawkeye will be spending moving day hanging out with john's mom and their dog, thor.

8. clean out a closet first thing - where are you going to stack those boxes you start packing early?  the kitchen?  clean out a closet first (i chose the closet in which i store my winter coats, fingers crossed i don't need my coats in august in chicago, though it's never a guarantee) and now i can stack all the packed boxes in there and shut the door.

9. assume liquids will spill - just pack everything that could possibly cause damage with the assumption that it will.  no matter how well you think you stacked it, even it's a completely unopened bottle of shampoo with the safety seal still on in a box you'll be carrying your super careful self, assume that it will open and spill.  cover everything in plastic wrap and put it in a ziplock.  and even then, don't put it in a box with something you really care about.  better safe than sorry.

10. leave a box or bags for day of things - you're going to have last minute things to pack the minute you move.  for me, it's my phone charger, computer, hawkeye's dishes, contact case, toothbrush, things like that.  they will exist for you too, so have a plan where you'll put these things, like a tote bag or an extra box.

now, my tips are pretty straightforward because i'm just moving across town.  4.5 miles, actually.  and i rent.  that means it's not a giant house full of stuff and there's no moving of things like refrigerators.  but of course, pinterest has tips for those kinds of moves too:

4. create a moving binder (it's beautiful)

happy packing!  and as always, i suggest decluttering whether you're moving or not.

This One Time, My Cousin Ran Over His Brother...

i think it was shortly after this photo was taken. the little one next to me got in to drive and ran over his twin brother, who was lying on the ground, probably playing with sidewalk chalk.  he was fine, he just had tire marks on him for a couple of weeks.  (remember earl?  no one should be surprised we run each other over with toy trucks.)

and that is where my head's been at these days.  too many things to do and plan and think about that my mind feels like someone ran it over with a truck.  not a big truck though, just a toy truck like that one up there.  have i mentioned how much i dislike summer?  my brain doesn't function.  and all i really wanted to do today was post a photo of baby stephanie driving.

which i realize i could have done on instagram and saved you all a blog post, but hey, i'm a rebel.  i also turned off comments.  living on the edge here.