Two Easy Ways to Make Money

OK, I hate to post about stuff like this, and I’ve written about one of these before, but I wanted to share 2 things I use to make money back on stuff I already have to buy anyway. One of them (Ibotta)* I’ve just started using and have made $30 on in the first 3 weeks of using it, and the other (Ebates)* I’ve made $68 on since I started using it in 2015. So ok, that’s not a lot of money.

BUT I wanted to share this because Ebates is the easiest thing in the world to use, and right now (just for a week) it’s offering 15% cash back on purchases from over 400 stores.

Stores like Boden, Aveda, The Container Store, Le Creuset, Lou and Grey, Madewell, Melissa & Doug, Sierra Trading Post, basically almost any website that sells clothes, skincare, shoes, or anything else.

All you have to do is sign up, and then either:

  1. Go to any website from the Ebates website (you can browse by category or search alphabetically for a store), and the money will go right into your account, and they can send it to a PayPal account, etc.
  2. Go to the bottom of the website and find the column that says APPS, TOOLS, AND SERVICES. Underneath that you’ll want to click on “Ebates button”. Once you get that set up, whenever you visit any website that participates in Ebates a little box will pop up on your screen and tell you exactly how much cash back you’ll get if you make a purchase.  See picture below (guys! I figured out how to take screen shots! I hope everyone is proud of me!). Then you’ll click “Activate 15% cash back” and shop as usual, and you’ll get 15% back.

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I know all of this is a little contrary to my recent posts about shopping secondhand. I STILL advocate buying things gently used when at all possible, but there are times when you might need to buy something new. Just promise, if you do sign up for Ebates, you won’t use it to justify purchases you wouldn’t have made otherwise!!!!! Just use it if there are things you need, and maybe you could get them right now while you can get 15% back. But it’s always better to not buy anything at all, cf. this guy.

And then, Ibotta! This one I’ve been using for groceries, though you can also get money from shopping through shopping on Amazon mobile, and things like flights and hotels. You can use it at almost any grocery store: Harris Teeter, Wegmans, Krogers, Whole Foods, Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, and a ton of others (see partial list below). All you do is sign up and then search the current “offers”, which will be things like $0.75 cash back when you buy a certain kind of kombucha or a certain brand of salsa. (They also have offers for any brand of eggs, bread, milk, shredded cheese, bananas, kale, etc. So you can buy what you normally buy but get cash back for it. Plus offers for organic food, gluten free items, etc.) Then when you’re done shopping you just take a picture of your receipt (in the app) and they automatically tally up however many purchases you made that correspond with offers you selected, and once you get to $20 you can transfer money to a PayPal account or you can get gift cards.  (Below– photo from the Ibotta website, partial list of participating grocery stores.)

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Also, when you sign up you’ll get a certain amount of time (mine was a month) to redeem a certain amount of offers (mine was $10– not sure if it changes), and then you get a welcome bonus (mine was $10). So it took a little bit of strategizing that first month, but still without buying anything I wouldn’t have normally bought I was able to get the $10 bonus, plus I’d made $10 from the offers I used.

Anyway. I don’t have time in life right now for anything complicated and unnecessary. But these two are both the easiest, and it’s nice to get a little money back, if you have to be spending money in the first place.

And of course, it’s better to not buy anything. And please don’t use these, or anything like these, as an incentive to buy something you otherwise wouldn’t.

Also, coming soon! Blog post about how the jeans I bought didn’t quite work, but how I bought another pair from eBay (also J Brand, and for only $30 this time) and then I bought a linen dress from another secondhand online venue, somewhat by accident,  and some (more) thoughts in general about buying secondhand things.

I’m also going to write a post entitled “Ode to the Public Library (or How, if you Are a NY State Resident You Can Get a Library Card for the NYC Library System and get Any ebook or e-audio Book For Free, or How to Replace your Retail Therapy Habit with Getting Books for Free from the Public Library.”) Also, speaking of libraries I recently walked past the shelf in the fiction section that held the book Ivanhoe, and on a whim (because free books!!!!!) I picked it up and YOU GUYS. It’s delicious. But really, the essence of what I’m trying to say is please oh please spend less money and instead enjoy free things like library books and sunshine.

*And yeah, if you sign up using one of my links, I’ll get a small referral credit. Which I am hoping to use to buy shoes for my children, because one of them might not have any summer shoes right now.

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My One Bowl Lunch Salad These Days: Kale, Beets, Quinoa (and Chèvre if You Are Literally a Millionaire.)

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I started eating a version this salad way back when I was pregnant with Will, though minus the beets and quinoa, when my sweet sister-in-law posted about a kale salad on her blog. I made it, ate entire batches of it in one sitting, and forever since then it has been my favorite of all time.

And then, when my mom was visiting last year I got a kale salad from Panera that had beets, quinoa, and goat cheese. It was delicious. So I started making something similar, though minus the goat cheese, because who can afford goat cheese, though I love it with all my heart, I do not know. If you can, please love it and caress it and speak tenderly to it and make delicious wealthy person food out of it.

BUT, I have soldiered right ahead, in my impecunious version of that glorious salad, and made this. And this is the best salad in the world, even without chèvre. This is not a recipe, but essentially: I cook a bunch of beets (golden beets in the photo, because yes, we do have a winter CSA, so I guess we’re not that impecunious, really. Beets, sometimes peeled, sometimes not, cut up, cooked in a little water on the stove until they’re soft, enough for 3 or 4 days of making this salad), a separate pot of quinoa (ditto about lasting for a few days), and then tear up a few kale leaves into a bowl, top it with warm beets and quinoa (though you could do it cold), and then drizzle on olive oil, a sprinkle of salt (a scant quarter teaspoon, maybe? Too little salt will yield a salad that is not worth eating whatsoever), a few dashes of crushed red pepper, a squeeze of lemon juice, and then some sunflower seeds or if your neighbor gave you some expired bags of sliced almonds for free, some of those. Then, if you have some dried cranberries, those. If you’re a millionaire, then dried cherries, and please enjoy them for me, as well as of course, your chèvre,  though this salad manages quite well without it. You can make this without the beets and without the quinoa, though not without the lemon juice or crushed red pepper. Or salt.

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Homemade Rice Flour and Licorice Exfoliator (& Some Books about DIY Skincare)

I wrote this post a few years ago, and since then I’ve been saving a ton of money by making a lot of my own skincare items.  I just cleaned our linen closet out, where we keep all of our extra bathroom things, and I’ve found several glass jars of various creams, one of which may or may not have been made out of tallow because of some crazy blog post I read a few years ago. And in the same clean-out I threw out the remnants of a probably $10 container of some organic exfoliator I had bought at the health food co-op last year. It just didn’t work very well, and I wish I had saved the $10 and just gone back to making my own exfoliator (recipe below).

I’ve been re-inspired about this after recently reading a few lovely books (Skin Cleanse and The French Beauty Solution) that both contain a bounty of skincare recipes by women who know their stuff. There are obviously about 70 billion blog posts written by random people with random make-it-yourself skin care ideas (of which yes, this is one), and I’ve used a lot of them. (I’ve used this recipe for deodorant for over 3 years now I think. Costs pennies, and uses zero plastic.) But I do think it’s helpful to have a book or two written by a somewhat qualified person if you really want to learn more about making your own skincare products.

ANYWAY. Adina Grigore, the author of Skin Cleanse compellingly lays out how companies market skin care products to us by making us believe that our skin is too oily, too wrinkly, our pores are too large, that we are deficient and ugly and we need their product in order to be beautiful. I think it is deeply important and good for us to learn how to care for our whole selves, skin and all, with gentleness and grace, and that sometimes skin care products are part of that. But for some reason, reading Skin Cleanse made it click with me that I do not want to literally buy into that whole scheme. I will NOT be a cog on the wheel of the mass marketing of skincare products. Also, I can’t afford to buy all that crap.  So I’ve been using some of the Skin Cleanse  and French Beauty recipes. Buying 90% fewer skin care products in stores.

Which made me remember this exfoliator, some version of which I’ve used off and on for years now.

So. One of my favorite skin care products of all time (which I have bought exactly once in my life, now over 8 years ago) is Dermalogica’s Daily Microfoliant.  It is a super fine powder that you mix with water and use wash your face.  It isn’t abrasive at all, and it made my skin feel unbelievably lovely.  It contained oatmeal, rice powder, and licorice root extract, among other things.  When I ran out all those years ago, I decided to make my own version of it instead of buying a new (very expensive) bottle.

The first time I made this I used my coffee grinder to grind brown rice.  Unfortunately, my grinder wasn’t able to get the rice fine enough, so I bought some rice flour at the grocery to use instead. I just kept the bag in the freezer and have used it for subsequent batches. (I also added goat’s milk powder, as it is part of the skin regimen recommended for oily skin in Absolute Beauty, a wonderful book on Ayurveda and health/beauty/skincare).  This stuff is wonderful, and has such a calming effect on the skin.  Here’s the recipe:

Rice flour and Licorice Cleansing Grains

Mix together 3 T brown rice flour, 3 T oat flour, 2 T milk powder* (doesn’t have to be goat’s milk), and about 1/2 t. licorice root powder (probably easiest to find in capsule form. I used 3-4 capsules, gently broken open (discard the capsules)).  Mix together, and put through a sifter if the milk powder is clumpy.  To use: Once or twice a week– Remove makeup first, if wearing makeup.  Mix about 1/2 t. powder with lukewarm water and massage gently over damp skin.  Rinse, and pat dry.  (You can also mix into a thicker paste and leave on your skin for 10 minutes as a mask.)

Store in a clean salt/pepper shaker for easy dispensing!

*Some people may be sensitive to the milk powder.  If you have a milk allergy, obviously don’t use this ingredient, and if you experience any irritation, discontinue use.

Licorice root is soothing to the skin, anti-inflammatory, helps with acne and eczema, and is often used in skin-brightening products.

Rice powder is also used to lighten skin and clear the complexion.

Milk powder contains lactic acid, which is a type of alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) which works as a gentle exfoliator, promotes the production of collagen, and helps improve skin texture.  It is also hydrating and has anti-bacterial qualities.  Helps to even out skin tone and diminish scars.

 

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Easy Way to Save Money! (And a few pictures of life around here)

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So probably everybody already uses Ebates, or there’s some really dreadful thing about it that I just don’t know yet, but I just heard about it and signed up for it and even just used it to buy some insoles for my LL Bean slippers (the shearling is totally worn out in my right heel, not sure why). SO for anyone doing last-minute Christmas shopping this is a super easy and awesome resource for saving some money! (Well, making some money back on stuff you would be buying anyway).

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So anyway, for people who might not know: Ebates is a website where you can sign up, and when you use their website to shop online you get a certain percentage back in cash. They just mail you a check. Or put money in your PayPal account! You don’t give them your social security number, your bank account numbers, or anything scary like that.

You can shop at just about any website at all: Amazon, Gap, Nordstrom, J. Crew, Groupon, Snapsfish, Sephora, Target,  Amazon, Walmart, Ebay, and on and on. Even Etsy!!! And did I say Amazon?! And travel booking websites! You just go to the ebates website, and search for the store or item you’re looking for, click that link to go straight to whatever website you want, and get cash back for stuff you would have bought anyway.

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Today a lot of the cash back deals are doubled, so for a lot of stores you can get 10% cash back. And when you sign up and spend $25 in purchases within the first few months, you get a $10 credit. And you still get each individual store’s discounts! So for example, everything at Lands End is 40% off today, and if you shop through Ebates, you get that 40% off plus 8% cash back through ebates.

And if you refer 3 friends you get a $100 credit. So that’s awesome.  (If you sign up using this link you will count as one of my 3 people, ahem, mom, dad, etc, cough, cough.)

Ok, that’s all for now!

Cucumber Lemon Water

Beautiful, thundery morning in Ithaca.  I woke up early and read The Silver Chair on the couch for an hour or so before John woke up.  When he woke up we sat on the porch watching the rain and talking about our tiny garden and plans for the day.

I’ve been making a big pitcher of lemon water lately– just squeezing one lemon into a 2-liter jar.  Sometimes I add some slices of cucumber to it.

Lemon water is really helpful for maintaining bright, clear skin, and cucumber is also beneficial for the skin, containing plenty of anti-oxidants and helping to reduce inflammation in the body.  Cucumber also is a gentle diuretic and helps to cleanse the digestive system (which in turn helps to clear the skin).

Give yourself an easy, nearly free spa day:  drink lots of lemon cucumber water (or just lemon water if that’s all you have), take a break from makeup, and avoid sugar and bread-y food.  Do some yoga if you’re into that, or just remind yourself to take really long, deep, deliberate breaths as often as you can remember. If you have time, do a little facial at home, like these or this one with just honey, lemon juice, and banana.  Also, check out this article for an ayurvedic weekend detox or this 7 Day Detox plan (though not if you’re pregnant or nursing!).

Cucumber Lemon Water

1 lemon

1/4 c. sliced cucumber

2 liters of water

Squeeze lemon juice (through a strainer if you want to keep the seeds out) into the water.  Add cucumber slices.  Stir or shake to help the juices blend into the water.  (Store in the fridge.  Best to drink this within 2 days.  After that, discard and make a fresh batch).

Basil, Mint, and Kiwi Sorbet (no sugar added)

I bought a few kiwis at the grocery this week, planning to cut them in half and eat them out of their skins with a spoon.

But then I decided to make some sorbet.   I didn’t add any sugar, so the end result was pleasantly tart.

(Kiwi is packed with vitamin C and contains fiber, potassium, vitamin E, and the antioxidant lutein.)

Basil, Mint, and Kiwi Sorbet

(serves 1-2)

2 kiwis

1 T chopped fresh basil and mint

(optional– 1 t. raw honey, agave nectar, or sugar, to taste)

Scoop the green flesh (including seeds) out of the kiwis into a bowl.  Using a small knife or fork, gently chop/mash the kiwi (or blend/food process for a smoother consistency if you’d like).  Add chopped herbs, stir, and freeze for an hour or two.  Depending on how frozen yours gets and how you want to serve it, you might want to run a little lukewarm water on the outside of the container to loosen the sorbet.

Variations:  Try half and half kiwi and avocado (add some lime juice and a teaspoon of finely diced, seeded, jalapeno?).  Or kiwi and banana.  Or kiwi plus some pineapple.  Make in popsicle molds or freeze in individual serving cups.

Health Benefits of Raw Honey

I think the first time I ever encountered raw honey was in France.  But I didn’t know it was raw, and I didn’t know there was a difference between regular honey and raw honey.

It was in the kitchen of the parents of the woman whose children I was there to nanny.  In a wisp of a town on the coast of Brittany.  And there was always a little pot of honey on the counter in the kitchen.  A soft, solid-ish, creamy, golden kind of honey.  I had never seen semi-solid honey before. But I would put a teaspoon in my afternoon cups of herbal tea and it tasted like heaven.  Nothing like the regular liquid honey you typically see in stores.

So what is raw honey, anyway?  Raw honey is unpasteurized; “regular” honey has been heated, a process which also depletes the honey of most of its healthful properties. Raw honey will cost a tiny amount more than regular honey, but it is worth it, I promise.  Also, if you can find it locally produced, of course buy that.  Raw honey will often come in a solid or semi-solid form and can range in color and taste, depending on the type or types of flowers the bees have been visiting, the season, etc.

Health Benefits of Raw Honey  (these benefits do not apply to regular honey– look for a label that says Raw)

* Contains propolis, which is a substance the bees produce to keep bacteria and viruses out of their hive.  The propolis contains a number of healthful enzymes that are destroyed when honey is heated (i.e., regular grocery honey– or even raw honey is heated above about 118 degrees f.).  And people, I do not know what enzymes are, I’m just going to be honest with you.  But they’re important. (Some theorize that the body’s appearance of aging is connected with the depletion of enzymes, and raw honey is one of the few foods that can be ingested to get a surplus of amalase, an important enzyme.)

* Contains healthy bacteria (such as are found in yogurt and fermented foods)

* Full of powerful anti-oxidants, including the flavanoid pinocembrin, which is unique to honey

* Can be used topically as a moisturizing and acne-fighting mask, which is great, if you are approaching 30 and are trying to somehow battle aging skin and blemishes at the same time, which is something that I obviously don’t know anything about, but it would really suck I bet.

* Aids digestion

*Alkaline forming

*Increases fertility

*Heals burns and other skin wounds (obviously please check with a doctor first for serious injuries)

* Helps to keep blood sugar balanced more than white sugar (has a lower Glycemic Index number, which means it’s absorbed more slowly into the bloodstream– but still, if you are watching your weight, be careful because even raw honey will still cause you to gain weight.)

* Thought to help improve symptoms of allergies

* Also reported to slow down hair loss (read here for more)

*A study at Penn State showed that children with upper respiratory illness improved significantly when given raw buckwheat honey (see here)

* Elderberry syrup and raw honey work wonders together for colds and other such sicknesses (I had a terrible sore throat a few weeks ago, the kind that, for me, usually turns into 2 weeks of misery and a couple of visits to the doctor and a round of antibiotics– and I drank somewhat enormous quantities of homemade elderberry syrup with raw honey… and I got better.  Fast.)

Be careful not to feed honey to infants under 1 year.

Raw Honey and Heat

Just as regular store-bought honey is rendered less healthy by a heating process, raw honey can be damaged by over-eating as well.  In Ayurveda, heated honey (above 118 F) is actually believed to be a poison to the body.  I’m not sure why, but I do know that the living enzymes and probiotics in raw honey will be killed at 118 degrees F, so try to keep it warm, rather than hot.  (You can test a liquid for temperature with your finger– if you can keep your finger in it for 10 seconds or so without pain, you know it’s cool enough to put the honey in.  If it’s hotter than that, the enzymes and probiotics will be destroyed.)

Sources and More Information

Read here for more information on medical studies, the history of honey, etc.

Read here for a list of ailments for which honey can be used as a treatment

A somewhat inscrutable John’s Hopkins article on enzymes and aging

Read here for more information on honey and Ayurveda