My Favorite Way to Earn a Little Extra Cash Online is my favorite site to earn extra cash online. Basically, you use the Swagbucks search engine instead of Google or Bing (or whichever bandwagon you've chosen to jump on). On random searches you will earn "swagbucks." These bucks can be added up and redeemed for things like Amazon gift cards.

You can do a lot more than just search too. You can take surveys, watch videos, and participate in special offers--All for points. Their website can be overwhelming, but if you know how to navigate it, and what options are worth your time, then you can make some easy money. I usually just stick to searching. The search engine on Swagbucks is not quite as clean as Google or Bing. (This is where I hear 99% of complaints against Swagbucks.) However, once you get used to it, it's super easy. It's absolutely FREE and you can make money. Hello! Definitely worth the 3 seconds of extra time.

I've easily earned a few hundred dollars from this site and will continue to use it for the foreseeable future. It's definitely not 'quit your day job money', but it can help save up for buying textbooks, birthday and Christmas gifts, etc.

Here are some tips that I've found helpful.
  • Set as your Homepage. This will encourage you to use Swagbucks for all sites you open (even your bookmarked ones). Search for everything that you always open anyway (gmail, facebook, twitter, etc.) 
  • Set as your Default Search Engine. That way you won't accidentally use another search engine out of habit. Some browsers will allow you to change the settings on your computer to set Swagbucks as the default.
  • Search on Friday. Swagbucks awards extra swagbucks on Fridays!
  • Buy Low. Depending on what you want to redeem your points for, its usually cheaper to buy more for less. Like the 10 of the $5 Amazon gift cards instead of 1 of the $50. There is a limit to the number of like cards you can get in a month, but it you have the patience, go small!
  • Set It and Forget It! Constantly monitoring your swagbuck balance will probably make you crazy. However, if you just use it like you would a normal search engine (wait a few months) and you're on your way to a new crockpot, pair of heels, or baseball glove for little timmy's birthday. 
Ready to get started? Click here to join. You'll be glad you did.

DIY Mint Chocolate Chip Desk Tutorial

DIY desk tutorial
One of my goals for 2013 that I made for myself in my head was to do more. By January 5th,  exercise quickly went the way of the dinosaurs, as did cooking. Enter Pinterest. (verb: "Pintering" coined by Mike Davis). So I found a great desk on Pinterest via the talented Jenserafini. It's gorgeous. I loved everything about it. And I thought: "I could do that. A trip to Home Depot and we'll have this done in a Saturday." Possibly the most naive statement I've made in my life.

When all was said and done we tallied four trips to Home Depot, three to four weekends, a couple more Monday family nights, one potential emergency room visit, and around $130. So, if you think this description fits you-- Read on!

Park City
We started our adventure by driving up to Park City to pick up some super cheap bookshelves we found on KSL (Utah's craigslist). Yes the gas made the bookshelves probably not worth the drive, but I got an outlet shopping trip out of it, so we'll call it a draw.

Materials to build your own desk
 Here's the haul from our first Home Depot trip. Here are the basics we used: wood (common board), wood glue, wood filler (not stainable-despite what the packaging says), wood stain, polyurethane finish, primer, paint, and lots and lots of sandpaper!

Building a wood desk
After a few measuring difficulties resulting in repeating our purchase of wood 2.5 times, and hours and hours of drying, we were ready to sand. Shout out to... my entire family for helping out. You guys were great employees. I'm sorry I won't be paying you.

Sanding tips
Look how happy they are! (This is obviously fairly early in the process.)

Next step was to stain the table top. We did three to four coats of Minwax's Dark Walnut stain. A little DIY tip for those of you in winter weather: stain, primer, and paint need to be at a fairly high temperature to work well. So, probably don't attempt this project in the middle of a freezing Utah February. Also, outside working conditions during that time of the year are not ideal. Lesson learned. 

Dark Walnut Wood Stain
Once our table was dark chocolate stained, we started working on the bookshelves. I thought the worst was over, but I was, once again, mistaken. DIY really shouldn't be my thing. Oh well.

DIY at your own risk haha
We sanded, primed, and painted each bookshelf. I chose a muted mint color for the shelves that I may regret in a couple years, but for now I love it!

And this is the portion of the post that I debated about whether or not to include. However, I decided that people might get a smile out of it, so hopefully my struggles were worth it. 
Top: I got primer in my eye. And my husband made me sit under the sink for 10 minutes until he was sure that the paint was out. Don't ask me how I did it. Its just one of those things. 
Bottom: Immediately after getting primer in my eye, I spilled half the can of primer all over the floor. I wish I could say that it was because of impaired vision... but I can't. That was all Brittany.

Overall, we did two coats of primer and two coats of paint. FYI - I got my act together after the 2nd coat of primer.

Upcycling cheap bookshelves
Here are the before and after of our $5 bookshelves. Better, right?

After putting a polyurethane top coat on the desktop, we were done! We let the wood sit for around 72 hours just to make sure that the top coat was set and we weren't going to get fingerprints, dents, etc on the desk. Didn't turn out too bad huh? It is like 1,000% better than I was expecting when we started this little endeavor. The desk is definitely not perfect. When I'm showing it off, I'll probably try to do it in dim lighting (and from a distance). We are clearly beginners. But I'm pretty excited with how it turned out.

Make your own desk with old bookshelves

DIY bookshelf desk
Well I hope you enjoyed our little tutorial. Sorry it isn't a perfect step-by-step, but if you have questions on specifics, I'd love to share our experience! We had a lot of fun making it! I'd love to see pictures/links to your DIY projects. I'm ready to put my husband back to work :)

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

 We like ranch at our house. Like a lot. A few years ago we discovered the BYU Creamery ranch dressing. I immediately fell in love. It's just a great buttermilk ranch that has that perfect ranch taste. There is one flaw to BYU's ranch offering. It costs a ton. However, I will pay for it.. Every. Single. Time. I will no longer eat our former ranch (Hidden Valley). I would rather go without.

Now that you have some background on our ranch tastes and consumption, I am going to share an awesome recipe that I found on Pinterest via The Crafty Blog Stalker.

easy and delicious buttermilk ranch recipe

BYU Creamery Ranch Dressing Recipe
There are two parts to the recipe: the ranch seasoning mix and the liquid base.

Ranch Seasoning Mix
combine the following:
  1. Black Pepper 1/4 Cup
  2. Parsley Flakes 1 1/2 Cup
  3. Galic Salt 1/2 Cup
  4. Kosher Salt 2 Tablespoons
  5. Granulated Garlic 1/4 Cup
  6. Granulated Onion 3/4 Cup
  7. Dill Weed 2 Tablespoons
I mixed all the above ingredients together and put them in two (shorter) mason jars. This recipe makes quite a bit. The mix should last you for a while, which makes it even easier to make next time! And a great tip from Katie is to get all of these seasonings at WinCo. You can get exactly as much as you need and it's way cheaper than buying full bottles of everything at the grocery store! I think she said she spent $2.50 on all of her spices and I was like "ya right, Katie." But she was absolutely right! I think I came in just under $2.50!

Liquid base:
1 Tablespoon of seasoning mix
1 Cup mayonnaise
1 Cup buttermilk
3/4 Cup Sour Cream
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

I halved the recipe on the Crafty Blog Stalker blog just because I don't have a place to store a huge container in our tiny fridge. But you can definitely double and probably even triple this recipe for big groups or families. We use this ranch for everything! You can also easily turn this into a tomatillo ranch for Costa Vida/Cafe Rio salads by adding the following:

Tomatillo Ranch Add-ons
1-2 tomatillos
1/4 bunch of fresh cilantro
Little bit of lime juice

Stick it all in the blender for a few seconds, and you're all set! So good!

Anybody going to try this recipe out? Let me know how it goes! I promise you will not regret it.

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