Would you like to increase your income? {Help me with my next book!}

I’m excited to be in the thick of working on my third book right now… and I think some of you are going to be pretty interested in the topic. And I’m spilling the beans today because I’m going to be asking for your help in the writing process this time around.

Well, not exactly your writing help, but in the next few months I’m going to be coming to you all fairly frequently with questions, quick surveys, and requests for you to nominate women for me to profile or interview in my book. You all are an amazing resource and wealth of wisdom and I can’t wait to hear you ideas and suggestions and answers to the questions as I go throughout this writing process!

So, what am I writing on? Well, in a nutshell, I’m writing a book on how women can increase their income and use that income to make an impact while at the same time maintaining a healthy balance of priorities.

I’m really, really, really stoked about this topic. Judging from the many emails I’ve received over the years, it’s something that many you are interested in. Not only that, but because I’m the girl who has made just about every mistake in the book and learned a lot from failure, it’s a topic that resonates so near to my heart.

My goal in this book is to empower you with practical ideas for not only how to start a business or find a creative way to make a part-time income, but to also challenge and inspire you to think how you can make a difference with that income — whether that’s to help your family get in a better financial position, to be able to fund a charity you believe in, to give generously to a cause you’re passionate, or whatever that looks like for you and your family.

What Do You Think?

So, with that said, as I’m still shaping the book’s message, I’d LOVE to hear from you:

Do you want to increase your income? If so, what are your greatest struggles when it comes to trying to increase your income? What do you feel like is holding you back?

Share your answers to these questions in the comments — or shoot me an email (crystal @ moneysavingmom.com) with your thoughts.

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8 Ways to Use Your Garden Surplus

garden surplus

Guest post from of OneThingAlone.com

Are you drowning in produce?

Right about now, vegetable gardens around the country are bringing in their harvest. And if you’re a gardener, you probably have more cucumbers, zucchini, and tomatoes than you know what to do with.

Letting them go to waste is a shame, but exactly how many ways can you cook zucchini before you hear collective groans at the dinner table? With a little creativity, you can both save money and make others happy with your garden surplus:

1. Save it for later.

You don’t have to eat everything now, you know. Many veggies freeze well if blanched first.

Simply drop a handful of veggies (carrots, green beans, peas) into boiling water, boil for 30-60 seconds, and then “shock” them ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain excess water and freeze in zip-lock bags. They should keep until the next harvest and will come in handy mid-winter.

You can also save spices like oregano and basil by placing them in an ice cube tray and covering them in olive oil. Once frozen, you can pop them out and store in a freezer-safe gallon-sized bag.

Fruit can be flash-frozen on a cookie sheet for 15 minutes and then stored in freezer bags for yummy smoothies, muffins, or healthy snacks throughout the year.

2. Make convenience items.

With just a bit of work, raw produce can become the base for many quick dinners. Use tomatoes to make a few batches of pizza sauce, tomato juice, or spaghetti sauce. Peppers can be sliced and bagged with onions for a fajita kit. Berries make delicious jams and great Christmas presents.

Veggies can also be used in lasagna, pre-made pizza toppings, and kebab kits. Simple, healthy, and money-savvy.

3. Bring them to work.

Obviously, not everyone has a vegetable garden in their backyard. While you may be up to your ears in cucumbers, others may have cukes on their shopping list. Be generous with what you have and make someone’s day.

Note: if you leave cabbage in the break room, check to make sure it’s gone by the end of the day so you don’t come back to a stench.

4. Invite friends into your garden.

I love bringing friends into my garden and letting them pick whatever they want for dinner that week. Nothing says friend like free food, right?

I get rid of extra veggies and they get dinner on the table with fresh, local, and organic produce.

5. Make a stir-fry or stew with remnants.

If all you have is a handful of peas or a small bowl of green beans, combine them all together for a quick stir-fry. Or throw them all in a pot, add some onions, seasonings and sausage, and make a stew!

Bonus: you can freeze half of the recipe for a later time when you don’t feel like cooking or when eating out tempts your wallet.

6. Double up and send it out

Whatever you’re cooking, make a double batch and surprise a friend with dinner. Whether it’s a new mama, a friend with sick kiddos, or your new neighbors, everyone can use a cooking-free night.

7. Try a new recipe

Whenever there’s a particular veggie that overproduces, try searching Pinterest for yummy recipes, print them all out, and have them handy to reference when the basket is full.

According to Google, there are 30,000,000 zucchini recipes out there, just waiting for you to give them a try. Who knew that zucchini fries, zucchini tortellini soup, and chocolate zucchini soup could taste so good?

8. “Auction” it online

Everyone likes free. Give your local Facebook friends something to smile about by “auctioning” off your produce surplus to the funniest comment or the most embarrassing mommy moment.

Create your own giveaway and make someone’s day, or offer it in exchange for babysitting, lawn services, or help with a freezer-cooking day. It’s a win-win either way.

With a bit of creativity and effort, your low-hanging veggies can save money, make smiles, and brighten days.

Asheritah is married to her high school sweetheart, Flaviu, and together with their daughter, Carissa, they make their home in Ohio. She blogs at OneThingAlone.com about the One Thing that makes laundry piles and midnight cries worth every second: walking with Jesus. 

photo source

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Enter to win a FREE Pure Echo Mattress from My Green Mattress!

My Green Mattress Giveaway

Need a new mattress or know someone who does? Well, then you’ll be excited about this post!

My Green Mattress is giving away a Twin Size Pure Echo Mattress with Organic Cotton and All-Natural Wool to one of my readers this week. And there are multiple ways to enter to win!

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Tim Masters founded My Green Mattress when he was inspired to create a chemical-free mattress as a solution to his daughter’s severe eczema and allergies. Their mattresses are handcrafted, and contain no flame retardants or chemicals.

My Green Mattress offers one-sided and two-sided Pure Echo Mattresses, as well as the Organic Dreams and the Everlast Natural. Their mattresses are handmade, made in the US, chemical free, and contain no flame retardants or chemicals.

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Money Saving Mom® readers are also eligible for an exclusive 10% deal from My Green Mattress. Use the coupon code MSM at checkout to take 10% off your order—including Pure Echo mattresses, as well as Organic Dreams and the Everlast Natural.

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>>Click here for your chance to win a Twin Size Pure Echo Mattress from My Green Mattress.<<

(Note: This giveaway is open through August 25, 2014 12 a.m. CST. This giveaway is underwritten by My Green Mattress. Read my disclosure policy here.)

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Rise & Shine Challenge: Day 2

Rise & Shine Challenge

Good morning… er, not so quite morning. :)

I know I’m much later in getting this Rise & Shine Challenge post published than I’d planned to… but I woke up at 4:30 a.m. to my inbox literally exploding with emails from the Grocery University Blowout Sale today. And I’ve just been trying to keep afloat all morning between the emails, texts, and details surrounding that sale.

We had expected the sale to be a success, but you have (once again) far exceeded what we could have ever imagined. You all truly know how to show up in force for a bargain. :)

Thank you for spreading the word and sharing in our excitement! You all are the best!

In between all the emails, texts from my team, taking care of the details of the sale, my morning blogging work, laundry, homeschooling Silas, and taking care of the most important priorities who live at my house (!), I haven’t gotten that much else done today. I did get in my morning devotions and a quick exercise session and a shower. But that was about it.

However, I truly cannot envision how chaotic my morning would have been had I not gotten up at 4:30 a.m. Just another reason I need to make this getting up early thing a regular discipline again!

I’m also so grateful for my amazing team — some who got very little sleep last night to make sure everything was in place for the sale this morning (I’m looking at you, Joy!). They’ve worked tirelessly to answer countless emails, fix glitches, and take care of all the little behind-the-scenes things that have to be taken care of to pull off a sale like this with thousands and thousands of orders.

And I’m incredible grateful for my wonderful husband. This morning, after we realized that this sale was going to take a lot more time than we had initial thought (a completely great “problem” to have!), my husband offered to take over the homeschooling of the girls this morning so I could stay “tethered” to my phone and computer for awhile. Yes, that man is the best. He also made me bacon and eggs for breakfast. For the win, I tell you! :)

At any rate, I have to say that I LOVED all your comments on yesterday’s Rise & Shine post. You all are so inspirational!

And I wanted to answer each comment individually with a long reply. I still might get a chance to do so… but if I don’t get a chance today, know that I appreciate each one of you so much.

{Want to know the truth? Yesterday flew by between our first day of homeschooling, prepping for the Grocery University sale today, and working on blog/business stuff. We spent the evening with dear friends and didn’t get home until around 8:30 p.m.

After we got home, I was really, really tempted to jump online and spend an hour just responding personally to all of your comments on this post. But then I realized that would be a little counter-productive… you know, to stay up late responding to all your comments on getting up early. Yeah, not so smart.

So instead, I was a good girl and went to bed. Aren’t you proud of me?!? ;)}

Today’s Rise & Shine Challenge Assignment

Today’s assignment is to consider your family’s sleep cycles and see how you can do better.

This is an area we’re really committed to working on, because we developed some not-so-great habits while we were on a few weeks of summer break. And I was the worst culprit of said habits.

So I’m really committed to training my body to start going to bed much earlier. I sleep so much better when I go to bed early. I feel more rested. And I wake up feeling so energized.

This, in turn, makes me much more energetic and productive. Plus, I just feel happier all around.

To help us make going to bed a priority, one thing we did was to set up our fall schedule so all work, school, cleaning, projects, etc. would be wrapped up by 6 p.m. This way, the evenings are free to just be together, hang out with friends, and — most importantly — wind down.

I love the idea of coming up with nightly bedtime rituals that the Rise & Shine Challenge talks about today. What rituals does your family have to help everyone go to sleep earlier and to encourage everyone to sleep well? I’d love to hear any and all your ideas!

This Morning’s Report

  • Got up at 4:30 a.m.
  • Checked my phone to find that the Grocery University sale had blown up while I was sleeping!
  • Answered some urgent emails. Started to read my Bible and devotional books, got an urgent text from Joy on my team asking me to call her. We got that urgent issue taken care of and then I went back to finishing up my Bible reading, reading some devotionals, and praying over my day.
  • Made some coffee, answered a lot of emails and comments. Did some more urgent blogging work.
  • Exercised, showered, dressed. Hung out with my family for a bit, handed over my morning homeschooling responsibilities to Jesse since my inbox continued to blow up and he suggested it’d probably be the best option for the day (and he was so right!)
  • Answered more emails.
  • Switched the laundry and took the big pile of clean laundry out to the living room couch to fold later today. (I’m still playing catch-up from our 12-day vacation!)
  • Cleaned out my inbox again. Scheduled some posts.
  • Taught Silas kindergarten.
  • Answered more emails and finally finished this post. :)

How was your morning? What do you want to change about your family’s sleep cycles (if anything)? What are some of your bedtime rituals?

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