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The Big Snow

The first big snow of the year!  Watch our blizzard of 2010....

This puppy took the trash cans across the yard, the blades off our decorative windmill, and left lots of ice on the power lines.  We kept our power, though!
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Bringing Rabbit Back

Growing up, we ate rabbit.  I don't remember it much, but my parents are once again raising the little critters to supplement their food supply.  Seeing the fat, fuzzy creatures in a cage one day -- then in a jar the next -- can be a little shocking at first.  But they sure do taste good!
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Either? Or? The Survey Dilemma

If you were to ask me if I was a stay-at-home Mom or a full-time professional, I would not hesitate to say "both."  Unfortunately, most marketing companies disagree with my ability to do both.

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How Can You Spot a Work at Home Job Scam?

(Photo by El Clinto via Flickr)

I get several emails a month from wonderful people just trying to make ends meet.  Many of them have read about my work as a freelancer and blogger in magazines. (All You did a wonderful feature on my family this year.)  They write to me with questions on how to get started, and some of them even have a "program" in mind that they think will help them in their success.  What do I tell those who come to me with a sure-fire way to excel?  I point them to my tips for spotting work at home job scams!
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Competition Vs. Collaboration (Notes from the IBlog Conference)

 (They are brothers, but will they share their onion rings?)

It's been awhile since we shared any freelance tips here, but for good reason:  I recently spoke at the iBlog Conference in Perry, Iowa, and in addition to meeting some outstanding bloggers, I was able to share my thoughts on Competition and Collaboration in the social media space.  If you missed it, here are my notes from the topic:
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Hold Off On Heating.... A Little Bit Longer

Wow!  The cold winds blowing outside is leading me to believe that there will be little official "fall" this year.  We did get a few rakings in (less for the leaves, and more for the "clean up" of all the free-range animals we have clamouring about the yard.  We have a goat who refuses to stay penned up.)
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Win a Ticket to the I_Blog Conference!

As some of you may know, I'm presenting at the 2nd annual I_Blog conference in Perry, Iowa. To help one lucky blogger with admission to the conference, they have graciously given me the opportunity to give away one ticket!

To see all the details of the conference, check out the official website. For an entry into the giveaway, check out the entry article at Wise Bread.

Good luck!
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Publishing Notes for October 2nd, 2010

Fall is here!  As more and more companies require holiday content, that means more freelance work!  Be sure to check your favorite job boards so you can stay on top of who's expanding their freelance rosters for the rush.  (And go back to editors that you've worked with in the past, and mention that you're available for any extra work -- they'll appreciate working with someone they've worked with before.)  Here is a sampling of articles I've had published in the past two weeks:
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On Conference Sponsorships

(Melissa from ShoeString Mag and I at my BlogHer 09 book signing.)

A colleague of mine, Thursday Bram, recently brought up the touchy subject of conference sponsorships.  In the Mommy blogger world, these are fairly common (I have actually attended two conferences completely free, compliments of being a Walmart Mom.)  But is it all the sunshine and roses that comped bloggers make it out to be?  And could it actually hurt you to ask and be given reimbursement for these events?
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Publishing Notes for September 9th, 2010

It's been a whirlwind of activity here at the farm/office.  Here are a few of my most recent published articles.  Enjoy!
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Farm Living Romantic? Not So Much

People always look at me, dreamy-eyed and full of hope, as they hear me say that I live on a tiny farm in Nebraska.  They imagine, I suppose, that birds' chirps accompany my awakening, the sweet smell of clover fills my nose, and that my evenings are dressed in cricket squeaks and night breezes.

What they don't see/hear/smell is the reality of country living.  Some days, it is simply the pits.
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You Might Be a Homeschooler If.....

Many of you may not know that we homeschool!  We've all heard the "You Might Be a Redneck" jokes.. but what about the homeschoolers? I swear that I am going to transfer over to using the term "Home Educator" because it just sounds more classy. Is "schooler" even a word? I remember when I used to see "homeschoolers" out and about in public. It was before I had my own kids, and way before I had even considered teaching my own children. I must admit, that I had some pretty negative feelings about these strange and backwards group of people. And then I become one of them.
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Fiverr Says: You Can Haz Job for 5$

As a freelancer, it sometimes gets frustrating to be continually undercut on projects by people who offer cut-throat pricing that NO self-respecting writer can compete with. On one hand: you get what you pay for. On the other hand: it takes attention away from those who are out there offering a great service. While most companies who choose to hire a writer for $3 or less an hour will find that the content is lacking, just the fact that they passed you over for such a provider can waste your time and theirs (and wastes money, as well.)
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4 Steps to Finding Your Formula for Blogging Success

 (Photo by storyvillegirl via Flickr)
It doesn’t take a social media expert to tell you that some blog posts have “it” – while others miss the mark.  While it would be nice to tell you that a blog post that contains X,Y, and Z will be a guaranteed success, there are several variables in the ever-changing blogosphere that prevent anyone from nailing the perfect post every time.  There are some things you can do to ensure that your blogging formula is as good as you can make it, however.  Here are our tips for finding what works within your niche.
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The Eclectic Desktop

Once in a while we all need to take a moment and clean off our PC's desktop. You can do this dreaded task once a month, or you can choose my method: do it when you can no longer see the wallpaper of your kids at your last holiday celebration.

Whichever method you choose, take note --- you will find some odd things. Whether you choose to send these unique items into the recycle bin, an assigned folder, or keep it right where it is -- this is a choice only you can make.

Perhaps you will be surprised to see some odd things hanging on your desktop. I found the following items most recently:

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Publishing Notes for August 4th, 2010

It's been a whirlwind of activity since we had our 5th child in June.  Unlike traditional employees, I didn't get the joy of taking 6-8 weeks off for maternity leave.  But, working from home does afford me some benefits.  I get to cuddle my son while I type (provided he's cooperative.)  Here is a sampling of what I've published lately:

AOL's Babies.com - Designer Baby Clothes: Would You Splurge?
Intel's My Life Scoop - 6 Tips to Make Your Flip Videos Rock
Red Plum - 10 Free Things to Do With Your Tweens
Lille Punkin' Reviews - Review of HABA Toys for Babies
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Job Searching and the Concept of "Love at First Site"

 (Hubby and I at our wedding many years ago.)

Like human relationships, freelancing relationships can blossom from a chance encounter.  Whether it be a job site, Craigslist, or a referral from an editor, it can be tempting to immediately assign potential to a job.  It may be love at first sight (or in the case of online content: site), or it may not be.

What's the difference?  What are the consequences of making that determination?
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Does a Garden Really Save Money?

I have heard endless discussion on the financial merits of a garden.  Many claim that you end up spending more on a summer veggie garden than you could ever hope to recoup.  While it is possible to go overboard and suffer a miserable harvest -- this is the exception, and not the rule.  We have found it very reasonable to put together a small garden with just what we want in it, for just a few dollars out of pocket!
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Publishing Notes for July 4th, 2010

Here is a roundup of some of my most recent published articles from across the web.  Enjoy!

Wise Bread - 4 More Ways to Save on Maternity Clothes
Lille Punkin' Reviews - Battle of the Pails: Munchkin vs. Diaper Genies (Part One)  and (Part Two)
Red Plum - DIY By the Kids: Napkin Rings
Red Plum -
DIY By the Kids: Decorate a Menu
Red Plum -
DIY By the Kids: Decorate a Solo Cup
Red Plum -
DIY Edible Arrangements
My Life Scoop -
6 Smartphone Apps for Expecting Parents
My Life Scoop -
6 Top iPhone Apps for Voracious Readers
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5 Signs Your Client Has Jumped the Shark

 (Photo by miusam-ck via Flickr)

You may have built an amazing relationship with a client in a very short time, or maybe they are someone you’ve been with since the very beginning.  In either case, odds are great that you’ll be working with a client at the very moment they “jump the shark.”  This doesn’t mean you can’t continue to work with them (most of us still need to eat, don’t we?)  Knowing the signs in advance, however, can better equip you to revise your business strategy, prepare for the worst, and fill in the gaps where needed.
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Writing Samples Are Not "Free" Samples

 (Photo by jbcurio via Flickr)

Wow!  I can't believe the nerve of some agencies and companies looking for freelancers these days.  Most are amazing, 100% legit, and willing to play by the rules of the writing world.  And then you have this guy....

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Memorial Day Birdhouse

Sometimes, you just have to take a break from putting up fence, mowing, and tending the garden to get creative with your kids.  Sam took Memorial Day with the boys to resurrect a roofless old birdhouse we found on the property when we moved in.  The boys have anxiously been waiting for the painting portion of the project, but first there was much sanding, cutting, and hammering to be done.  In the meantime, Sam put together some creatively-cut wood scraps so the boys could "build" while they waited:

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Preparing for Maternity Leave (Or any other time off)... When you Freelance

(Cookie break, anyone?)

In just a week, I'll have brought child #5 into the world, and unlike past jobs (where I can just put in my request for sick leave and go), I really struggled with how to plan for time off as a freelancer.  On one hand, it's dependent entirely on when I feel like taking a break (no need for a doctor's note!)  On the other, if I don't work -- I don't get paid!  (So taking off too early will just kill me 30-60 days down the road.)

I've learned some valuable lessons from this experience, however, which have better prepared me for future life events that would warrant me taking weeks of from work (a vacation, maybe?)  Here are the important bits:

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Publishing Notes for May 27th, 2010

Here is a roundup of my most recent published articles from across the web.  Enjoy!

Babies.com (AOL Partner)Baby Travel Items: What to Take When You're on the Road
Yahoo! Shine - 6 Play Date Rules for Friendlier Fun

Tom's Guide - 15 Tech Tricks to Teach a 5-year-old
My Life Scoop - 7 Apps That Inspire Positive Thinking
Wise Bread - How (And Why) To Make Good Pan Gravy
Lille Punkin' Reviews - Review of Bar-S Products
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Update on AOL Seed

As most of you know, I've been playing around with one of the newest "Freelance" opportunities: AOL Seed.  You can read my experience with signing up and submitting posts in that previous post.

Since that time, I've had a total of two more articles accepted and paid for.  Here is how it happened:
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Sunday Side Up

 (Look how orange the yolks are!)

Some people just don't believe how wonderful chickens are.  Their personalities alone make them perfect companions for small farms, homesteads, and urban areas where they are allowed.  I'll admit I didn't always feel this way about them.  They poop.  A lot.  But with that poop comes greener grass.  They also keep the bug population under control, aerate my lawn, and provide the best eggs even God himself could imagine.
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Can You Make Money Writing for AOL Seed?

(Flickr photo by Peter Kaminski)

I admit to, until recently, having no clue that AOL Seed even existed. I had heard about it on a MediaBistro message board, and decided to check it out. I am fairly familiar with the set up -- other sites have tried to lure freelancers in with the promise of "possibly" publishing their works (after they've submitted a completed article and was deemed the best out of all the contenders.)
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Why Dine Alone?

My kids often eat outside when it's nice. (It saves me from scrubbing the floors so often.) This, however, was not my idea. It sure beats dining alone!

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It Might Not Take a Village....

I stepped outside our farmhouse bright and early this morning just in time to see two adolescent grackles falling from the sky. "Grackles", in case you didn't know, are like blackbirds. They are loud, screechy, and plentiful in Nebraska. This particular pair had just been booted from their nest and were flopping about in my front yard. Two adult birds were overhead, squawking and watching from the safety of the trees.....
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Digging a Hole to China

Most homeschoolers know that you can't dig a hole to China.. but try explaining to your 3-year-old why you can't dig one to hell. ( I think we need to put a kabash on the Tom and Jerry cartoons) This is going to be a long summer:
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Do You Blog in Your Pajamas?

(Photo by Chaparral [Kendra] via Flickr)

I see so many blog graphics with the WAHM in their pajamas. Do people really work that way? Or is it a treasured caricature of what we think we look like?
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Double-Check Those Links!

(Photo by Kafka4Prez via Flickr.)

I don't know why I don't do more of this myself... but after this week, I will never skip it!
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Maggie the Cow "Moos" for the Camera

Our sweet little Dexter cows love the snow. They love Sam more, however. You can hear Maggie, our gal, giving an approving "moo" as he talks a bit to her. (To her left is her new beau, Elvis.)