Recycle That Old Phone You Hate, Get Money and Help a Good Cause!

For the past two years I’ve used a smartphone that I’ve absolutely hated. It gave me nothing but issues within the first few months of getting it. It never had service,  would randomly shut down, and the camera would stall among a million other things. I even had my original one replaced because AT&T thought maybe the first phone was faulty.

No, the Android Trill was just a hunk of junk, and I dreamed of the day that I could run it over with my car or take a hammer to it. Luckily for me I was so excited when I was due for a new phone that I forgot the death promises I had made. That hunk of junk ended up being cash in my pocket.

While waiting on line at the post office one day I had grabbed a free bag available for recycling ink cartridges. On that bag was also an advertisement for Maxback.com which is an online electronics recycling service that takes back old cellphones, iPods and tablets.

I looked up that Android phone that I so despised and found that MaxBack was willing to give me $84 for it! If I was willing to mail it to them in my own box (rather than having them send me a box for shipping) they would add an additional $5 to that price. And to top it off, they would give a 10% commission to a local school or charity of my choice, without taking that 10% out of the money they were going to give me.

That was a win, win, win situation if I ever heard one! The process was more than easy. I just had to create an account, select my cell phone and the condition it was in, picked a school in my town and mailed it! That was it! They even provided a prepaid printable shipping label.

They received my phone within 3 days of me shipping it and I was paid literally the next day through PayPal (if you don’t have a PayPal account you can request to have a check sent to you). I’m currently in the process of looking for some of my older phones, that I kept for whatever reason, to see what I can get for them too.

This site is awesome and I absolutely recommend checking it out if you have any old phones, iPods or tablets lying around  Why not get a few easy bucks from something you are going to get rid of anyway. Plus you’re saving the planet and helping a local cause at the same time!

Quick Crochet Baby Bear Hat With Ears

This past winter my aunt and I donated some of our time to a good cause by crocheting baby hats for a local church who then in turn, donated them to local hospitals. The hospitals give the donated hats to newborns that might otherwise leave for home with a bare head. This pattern is very easy to do and can be completed in a little more than an hour.

You can see 2 of the bear hats that I made below. I also took this crochet pattern minus the ears and altered it to make a few other types of baby hats which I will include in future post.

This pattern will make an infant sized hat. Use a size H or I crochet hook and 4 ply yarn. You will also need a large sewing needle at the end of the project to attach the ears to the hat.

For the hat:

  • Chain 8
  • Slip stitch to join
  • Chain 3
  • 2 Double crochet in each stitch (there should be 16 DC in total)
  • Slip stitch to join the round
  • Chain 3
  • 2 Double crochet in each stitch (32 DC in total)
  • Slip stitch to join the round.

For the ears:

  • Chain 5 and slip stitch to join
  • Chain 1
  • Work 10 half double crochet through the center of ring
  • Chain 1
  • Work 2 half double crochet in each of the next 8 stitches (16 HDC in total)
  • Work a reverse single crochet
  • Sew the ears onto the hat, make sure they are evenly placed on each side before securing

Save a Tree, Trade and Get Books for Free

If you’re anything like me you’ve got a pile of books that you read once and wish you never bought in the first place, old school books and childhood books that your never going to use again. I’ve tried selling books on Amazon and eBay but usually I find that it costs me more to ship them then the people are willing to pay for them. Not exactly a win win situation when you want the cash to buy a new book.

A few years ago my sister told me about PaperBackSwap.com which is a place where users can post books they no longer want, earn points and request books that other people are trying to get rid. All books are swapped using a point based system and pretty much relies on the honestly of others. I was skeptical at first but decided to give it a chance seeing as I had nothing to lose except a few books I didn’t really want anymore anyway.

Four years later I’m still hooked! According to the site I have saved almost $80 in books which is great. But what I love the most is that I’m able to keep track of books I’ve read, books I want to read and find books that I never knew existed.

After setting up an account you can browse tons of books from numerous genres including new books, create a “wish list” of books that you’re dying to get your hands on, post any book you’re trying to get rid of (as long as it is in reasonable condition) and make friend connections. When someone requests one of your books, all you have to do is wrap it up in the shipping label that PaperBackSwap provides for you and pay the media mail shipping price. Once the recipient gets the book, they record it on the site and you earn a point to request a book for yourself. All in all it’s a very simple process and in the four years I have used the site, I have never once had an issue with people being dishonest or trying to scam for more points.

If you’ve got even one book that you don’t want, I suggest you check it out. The banner below will take you directly to PaperBackSwap.com to get started. What have you got to lose? The way I look at is that the media mail shipping price that I pay to mail someone a book, is much cheaper than the price of 95% of the books I’ve requested from people and gotten for free using the points I earned from mailing a book.

Happy Reading!
Trade Books for Free - PaperBack Swap.

Delicious Sugared Cranberries

I wish I had time to post this recipe earlier but I’ve been so busy with the holidays. These cranberries make a beautiful holiday table display and are absolutely delicious!
 
Plain fresh cranberries can be extremely bitter and many people I’ve talked to don’t like them at all. The sugar-coating gives them the sweet kick they need and the “crunch” they make when you bite them is addicting. I ate so many after I first tried this recipe, that I had to make a second batch to have enough for our Christmas party.

Sugared Cranberry Ingredients 

You will need:
3 Cups Fresh Cranberries
2 Cups Granulated Sugar
2 Cups Water
 
For coating:
1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
3/4 Cup Natural Sugar

Directions:
 
Wash cranberries and discard any that are soft. Put remaining cranberries in a large bowl and set aside.
 
Bring the water to a boil. Stir in the 2 cups of sugar until dissolved and let simmer for a minute or two. 
 
Remove sugar mixture from heat. Once it has cooled slightly, pour mixture over cranberries. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
 
Note: Do not pour boiling mixture over cranberries! If the liquid is too hot, the cranberries will burst. I suggest testing the temperature by tossing a cranberry into the liquid and letting it sit for a minute. If the cranberry is till firm when you remove it, then it should be ok to pour the mixture. If it is mushy or bursts completely, let the liquid cool longer

Drain the cranberries and begin the sugar-coating process. Pour some of the natural sugar into a bowl and toss in some cranberries. I suggest only using a portion of the sugar and a handful of cranberries at a time, otherwise the sugar gets too wet and clumpy.

Fresh Cranberries in Sugar

Spread the sugar-coated cranberries on a cookie sheet to dry for an hour. Once this initial sugar-coating and drying is done, carefully repeat the process using the regular granulated sugar. The sugar will adhere to any remaining sticky parts of the cranberry.
 
Spread the cranberries on a cookie sheet again and let dry for at least an hour.
 
Place in an airtight container but do not refrigerate

First Coat of Sugar

Cranberries with first sugar-coating

Second Coat of Sugar

Cranberries with second coat of sugar

Easy Mini Chocolate Pudding Pies

I absolutely love chocolate pudding. I love it so much that sometimes I’ll eat it while it’s still warm off the stove because I can’t wait for it to chill in the fridge. So naturally whenever I’m put in charge of making desserts for family functions, chocolate putting always pops into my mind. But I never picture pudding of any sort being festive and of course the family functions are usually a holiday such as Christmas or Thanksgiving. So I end up resorting to searching the internet for festive holiday desserts. Sometimes I hit a winner, usually I give up start asking relatives for requests.

This Christmas I decided I was making chocolate pudding whether it was festive or not. But rather than just pouring it into a bowl, I figured I could make a chocolate pudding pie. But what’s even better than a pudding pie? Mini pudding pies of course! Little bitty bite sized pies that you could just pop in your mouth.

Mini Chocolate Pudding Pie Desserts

Although I was tired and didn’t make these as carefully and neatly as I could (I know, it’s no excuse!) they still taste delicious and they were pretty easy to make.

You will need -

  • 2 boxes of chocolate pudding
  • 2 sleeves of gram crackers, finely crumbled
  • 1 stick of butter, melted
  • 4 tea spoons of sugar

Directions -

In a large bowl mix the gram cracker crumbs and sugar then add the melted butter until wet crumbs form. You should be able to put the crumbs into a cupcake liner and press it to form the shape of the liner. If the crumbs do not stick together, you want to add more melted butter. Keep in mind that you also do not want the crumbs to be a sopping mess.

Line a mini muffin tin with mini cupcake liners, if you prefer you can also make them regular cupcake size but then  you can’t just pop them in your mouth!

Spoon the crumbs into the liners and then press the crumbs to form the shape of the liners. Try to get it up the sides of liners a little also, that way the pudding does not stick to the paper. I was able to make 24 mini pies and 21 regular sized cupcake pies with the ingredients listed above.  Put the “crusts” to the side.

Make the pudding according to the directions on the box. I used the My-T-Fine brand’s Chocolate Fudge flavor. I personally like the way the stove-top kind tastes better than instant pudding, but instant pudding will probably work just as well.

Let the pudding cool slightly then spoon into the crusts. Put enough pudding into each crust so it covers most of the crust, but not so much that it is touch the sides of the liners. The pudding will stick to the liners.

Cover and refrigerate until pudding is solid. Serve with whipped cream or any other yummy topping!

Silly Goats

If you’re ever looking for a place to unwind and get back to nature, Hoyt Farm Nature Preserve in Smithtown is an awesome place to visit.

It was originally a small working farm that was later donated to the town of Smithtown when the owner passed away. You can see the orignal house, silo, old water tower, an old schoolhouse and a bunch of cute farm animals.

Old School House

Old One Room School House

 

Amoung the critters are sheep, goats, rabbits, pigs, ponies, a turkey and a cow. Depending on where the animals are being kept that day you can usually pet them and watch their head-butting antics. Don’t forget to bring them some carrots or apples treats!

Silly Goat

Silly Goat

The property also has really great forest trails to explore with tons wild life around. I highly recommend going during the fall when the trees are changing colors and the air is slightly crisp. The smells of the forest are wonderful and I personally find it really relaxing. You’ll spot many species of birds and may even be lucky enough to spot turtles sunning themselves in the pond.
Yellow Tree on Wooded Path

Nature Path

If you like to see more pictures of nature and animals from Hoyt Farm you can take a look at my earlier blog post.