My favorite family vacation.

Wildwoods, NJ
Living in New York and New Jersey growing up, it was pretty much a given that our vacations were spent at the shore.  Our weekend getaways could be any of the numerous beaches, but the longer ones tended to be spent in Wildwoods. 

They were all fabulous and each has their stories to tell, but the very best one was the vacation that we took my grandmother with us.  She was a delightful, beautiful lady and everyone who met her couldn't help but to fall in love with her.  The epitome of class and graciousness, she always had a kind word and smile for everyone.

She lived with diabetes and had her thyroid removed so was on a very strict diet of foods she could and couldn't eat.  She never complained about her limitations and was extremely good about limiting the good stuff (as we kids called it), but for that one fabulous week, she broke the rules she lived by every day of her life. 

Mornings were spent at the beach, and every afternoon we spent back at the hotel, resting up for going to the boardwalk in the evenings.  My parents and grandmother usually stayed in their rooms while we kids went to the pool, and for some reason we went to Gramma's room when we needed a break, always one at a time, and when I was ready to go back swimming and playing, grandma would give me some money and tell me to sneak myself an ice cream cone and could I get her a soft serve vanilla while I were at it.  We giggled as we at them, like we were really getting away with something. Come to find out, she also did that with my brother and sister, so three cones every day!

Soft Serve Ice Cream Cones
Having her there with us was enough to make it my favorite vacation, but the memory is now even more poignant.  We didn't know it at the time, but she later told us that it was the first real vacation she had ever taken in her life that wasn't to visit family and she had decided that for that one week, she would indulge herself and us in things she normally wouldn't, and she had the best time of her life.  She was so amazing, knowing that we had some small part in giving her something special makes it one of the memories I cherish most.

Do you have a favorite vacation memory?  Are you doing anything special to make memories for your family?  We'd love to hear about it.

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My Birds Are Weird - Communal Nest, Babies With 1 Papa and 2 Mamas

Newly Hatched Baby Conure

Last week we had the first of our green cheek conure babies hatch.  Since this photo was taken 6 more of the 13 eggs have hatched. Our birds here at the loonyverse are a little bit unusual, they would have to be to live with us. First of all conures are usually monogamous forming lifelong pair bonds. Petrie,Tiki and Hotrod are all bonded to each other. It started before Tiki and Hotrod moved in with us when they still lived with Casey.  

The first time Tiki saw Petrie it was love at first site, for her. Think Pepe Le Pew but with birds. Petrie was very much a people bird back then and for the most part wasn't as into Tiki as she was into him. Then Casey got Hotrod and he and tiki where inseparable. But any  time they came over TIki still wanted very much to be with Petrie. Eventually  it worked out so Tiki and Hotrod had to live with us, and the three of them became a unit.  Fast forward a few months and i slipped up on my diligence in finding nesting sites and getting rid of them and we have eggs. Turns out Tiki and hotrod are both girls and Petrie is a boy.  Also instead of each having separate nests, Tiki and Hotrod share a single nest, which from everyone I've talked to is unheard of.  

And now, they’re hatching.

Which brings me to another strange thing about my birds.  I am also currently watching Kyra’s husbands conure Isaac. Initially Hotrod didn't like the new baby when they got him for Christmas,  but they get along great now. So well in fact that instead of being chased off as an interloper, Isaac helps care for the babies. He helps them sit on them and also helps Petrie to feed the girls and the babies, which is good because otherwise I don't know if they would get all the babies fed. But I’m happy to say all of the babies are getting fed even the newly hatched ones which might otherwise get pushed out of the way by the bigger ones

That's all for now. I'll have another post next week when I have to start pulling the babies for hand feeding. I should have more pictures by then as well. Right now though it seems that they know every time I'm bringing in the camera and Hotrod wants to kill it. I”m trying to stress them out as little as possible so the pictures can wait till I pull them for hand rearing so they can make wonderful pets.
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Community Coffee Military Match Program

 “I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Mom Central Consulting Community® Coffee. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for participating.”

The girls dad and I met while we were in tech school in the US Air Force in Biloxi Mississippi.  I got out before him and was a stay at home mom in base housing at home with my oldest daughter, Dawn.  The military can be difficult to adjust to, especially when you are away from everyone and everything you know.  Touches from "home", wherever that may be, made a world of difference.

After the military, we spent 10 years in Louisiana, where the three younger girls were born.  It was a big change for this Yankee, one I adapted to fairly quickly all things considered.

Time passes and circumstances change and the girls and I ended up moving away from Louisiana, but there are some things you never forget - among them, the food and coffee.  If you have spent any amount of time there, you know that Community® Coffee  is the coffee of choice for many natives and transplants alike, and we had friends when we lived there who wouldn't go out to a restaurant unless Community® Coffee was served.  No, I am not kidding.

Community® Coffee has a Military Match program which I think says a lot about the type of company they are -  not only do they match your purchase, they go above and beyond.  Check out the home page here to find out about this great offer.
Community Coffee
We received a  Community® Coffee Military Match Set - a travel mug and three different types of Community® Coffee  - breakfast blend, which is my personal favorite since I drink my coffee hot and black and keep it coming, all day, every day.  The two older girls like flavored coffees, so they are more apt to choose the hazlenut and Kyra and I have plans to make a tiramisu with the dark roast when she gets back from vacation.  Yes, you can make a wonderful tiramisu without espresso using a very, very strong rich coffee - we'll make it at least double strength.  

Currently I have a brother in law in the Marines who will most likely be moving back to Japan while his wife holds down the fort with the kids stateside so they can finish school here, and my son in law is in serving in the Army National Guard.  He's home from his most recent deployment, though that could change at any time.  When he was in a war zone, my daughter especially loved doing special things for him to remind him that everyone from home was thinking about him.

I think it is very important to let our troops know how much we appreciate their service, which is part of why I was so excited to be a part of this campaign.  Not only do I get to share a part of our lives with you, Community® Coffee has a wonderful program that shows our service members that we are thinking about them.  Wherever they are stationed, we can send a little taste of home to our service members.

  • Community Coffee will match any Military Match set purchases plus add an additional four bags and signature mug and ship them to an APO/FPO or military base address you provide.
  • For more information on this program, please visit here
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An Open Letter To Giveaway Bloggers

Thank you.  We appreciate you.  Really we do.

There are some things you may not have taken into consideration that we think you should be aware of to build a relationship with us and make us trust your reviews and want to enter your giveaways. 

You may or may not be doing these things, but as both a blogger and a sweeper (one who enters contests and giveaways) I see both sides of the coin and perhaps have a different perspective to offer that can help you get more traffic - and those that continue coming to your site will be genuinely interested in what you have to say, not just what you can give them.

Keep it real
What do I mean by this?  You're a person just trying to get your message out and maybe make a few bucks.  Good for you.  Here are a couple of examples of what I am talking about.

If you are a healthy food blogger yet continually run giveaways for fast / processed foods we may come to your site to try to win, but you aren't where we are getting our information on nutrition from.

If you are a baby blogger with a kid or two, or young children, you aren't a maven, a guru or an authority, don't present yourself as such.  You're a parent, and that's cool, but expert you aren't.

Get rid of the pop-ups and pop-unders

Nobody, and I mean nobody likes to be bombarded by crap when they are trying to read an article or fill out a form.  You can have ads on your sidebar or between posts.  Want us to take a survey?  Ask us nicely, we'll probably do it if we have the time, but if we get forms every time we open or refresh your page, we're going to remember and avoid your site in the future.  We may come back for a super special giveaway, but if it is part of a creative presentation, we're avoiding you like the plague because almost without fail, there is at least one other site that won't bombard us with spam.

Lose The Auto-Play

This shouldn't even be an issue, the novelty has long since worn off, but there are still some sites that have auto music.  I know, right?  ANNOYING.

That, along with the new trend of sidebar or between post ads playing automatically.  Don't do it.  A lot of us are listening to music or not using headphones and this annoys the living daylights out of us.  Remember how when the television ads were de-regulated and they got a lot louder than the shows?  Yeah, that's how they feel to us.  We're not coming back, and if we do return to enter a giveaway if we don't know what site it is on, we're exiting immediately. 

Clickable links, people, clickable links

Invest the 5 minutes and learn to make your links clickable.  Really, it's not that hard and a quick Google search and a few minutes of your time will pay off dividends forevermore.  Trust me.  It's aggravating as all get out to try to do your myriad of entries when each one has to be highlighted and then right clicked to open the page to see if we follow you or not.  It will have to be a very, very nice prize - I'm talking worth hundreds here - for me to do more than one or two.  And most likely I'll remember your site, but not in a way that makes me want to return.

Honesty Is The Best Policy

We know you want to keep your site positive, or are afraid that sponsors won't want to work with you if you show life's (or a product or services) dark side, but no one likes every single thing about everything.

Sure, you want to make money and get swag, and most of you even work for it with well thought out reviews and lots of pics.  Great, good for you.  We don't have a problem with this at all, you probably earned it.

What we have a problem with is only posting the positive - sure, every now and then something extraordinary comes along and you'd be hard pressed to find something to dislike.

This is not the norm, though, and we all know it.  Whether it is true for you or not,, what we see is that you are selling out for swag.  Unfair?  Maybe, but it's reality.

Tell us - well I liked 3 of the scents, but that last one smelled like old ladies waiting to die in a nursing home (yes, I did use that actual phrase once).  You can couch it politely, as I did, reminiscing about visiting my girls great gran and the lavender that clung to us hours after we left so it was definitely a personal preference, and that if others don't have those memories they may love the soothing scent, but put it in.

If we see you do balanced reviews, not only will we enter your giveaways, when we are looking to buy (and yes, many of us do end up purchasing when we are in the market) we'll know we can count on you to give a fair and honest evaluation.  Otherwise, we'll come to enter, but we won't believe a word you say because again, everything is not the best thing since sliced bread.  We see your review and think to ourselves - milking the cash cow- this blogger is a sell-out and we'll look elsewhere.  We're going to base our decisions on someone who sees things as they really are, not as who will pay them to promote.  We expect a companies pr reps to focus on the good, not a so-called "honest review blogger".

Clutter, clutter everywhere

Less is more.  Trust us.   Unlike glitter, this is not a case of sprinkle it everywhere and then add more.  It's a blog you want to profit from in some way, whether you host giveaways for traffic, swag or moolah.  We're fine with that.  What it's not, or not supposed to be, is a carnival, circus or sideshow. 

It slows your site down.  If you do creative presentation giveaways, we'll remember and enter on another site, even if we have to dig to find it there.  Combine this with pop up or auto play and it's the kiss of death.  Really.  Maybe your family will enjoy spending lots of time perusing the info you have to offer, but the rest of us, not so much.  Or not at all.

Clean up those sidebars and tops and bottoms.  You don't need to have everything front and center.  If it is worth finding, we'll find it.  Maybe not today, but when it will be useful to us, we'll seek you out.  
If you are writing a blog, basic grammar skills are important

If grammar isn't your strong suit, find someone who can help you.  I have seen blogs with typos, basic grammatical errors and atrocious writing skills.  Sure, we all make mistakes, I am the first to admit you'll probably find plenty on my site, but it is the exception rather than the norm.

Spell-check is your friend.  It's easy, free and fast.  While not foolproof-  it won't tell you if you have used the wrong to, too or two, for instance, it will go a long way towards keeping things clean and easy to read.

If your site is filled with poor grammar and basic spelling mistakes, we're coming for the swag and leaving as soon as possible.  I have seen more than one error in the first sentence of the about me on the sidebar, for instance.  On more than a few blogs.  You are presenting yourself as a professional, you want to represent companies and corporations.  Sure, some come for your traffic, which, let's be real here, is often inflated by getting people to click or like or pin for extra entries into your giveaways, but any reputable company will eventually realize you are doing them a disservice.  Especially when you mistype their name or don't use clickable links to their home page or social media.  Yes, I've seen it many, many times.  If the prize is valuable enough to me, I'll search out the info I need, but for a $25 or $50 prize, I'm gone.  And so are most of my sweeping pals. 

Here's another valuable tip I'll toss in since I mentioned social media-  if you are posting a clickable tweet, make sure it is within the character limit.  Test the thing out-  it only takes a second or two.  Yes, some services add on a bit and make it too long, and if we have to go in and remove things, there is a very good chance it is something you felt was important since you had it in there in the first place.  Do this, and you can be sure to get the keywords and hashtags you think are most important in, because we don't care about those when we just want to win the prize. 

Too many hoops and we're gone.

You are giving away a coupon or small value gift card or toy, for crying out loud we're not spending 20 minutes liking this and posting that for a measly chance to win.  At least not most of us.  a few diehards, who enter every and everything and make it their life's work will, but for the majority of us, it's just not worth it.

We know you do it for the traffic, and we don't have a problem with it.  We'll even enter some, to save money for our families or try new products, but if you are asking for the same types of things for an entry as you are when you are giving away say a laptop or several hundred dollars worth of something, we'd have to be daft to think it was worth the same amount of time and effort.  And if we wanted to post on our own blogs, we'd do our own reviews for guaranteed swag or at least traffic, not give up valuable cyber real estate simply for a chance.  Just sayin'.

Check and double check your giveaways

You use a form to simplify your giveaways.  Yay, we usually like that.

However.  (You knew that was coming, didn't you?)

Make sure you change the mandatory question to reflect the current giveaway.

Ditto with changing the tweet, prize info, etc.

It's not that hard.  If you don't have the time or inclination, or have just been looking at something for too long, trade off with a blogger friend or hire a virtual assistant or ask a friend.  Your spouse or kid.  Anyone.  It's not difficult, and if you want to be taken seriously as anything other than a place for us to win stuff, it's rather necessary.  If you don't care, fine.  But know that we only want the freebies from your site, we don't care any more about the rest of your blog than you care about us or your sponsors.  An occasional mistake, like typos or grammar, it is going to happen on the best of sites.  An all the time thing (yes, we've seen it, on more than one blog), we're remembering.

How Pinteresting

You want us to pin your recipes, crafts, even giveaways.  Okay, if we like the prize enough, we'll do it.  Probably.

It is NOT happening if you try to get us to misrepresent you and what your site/article is about.  In fact, it pisses us off.

Do NOT tell us not to mention it's a giveaway or put it on our important to us boards.  You will still get your artificially inflated likes and pins so the numbers look good and you can charge sponsors more, but we lose our reps with our followers (and sponsors if we have them) by pinning little pre-school crafts or obviously sponsored recipes using pre-packaged products and hashtags galore.

Not cool, not cool at all

Do not, I repeat do not list a giveaway on your site that is not your own and then put it on all of the sweeps sites and social media through your blog without disclosing that it is not yours and you get something for us using your link.  You can put it on your site with a little notice saying - hey I would love to win this and I'll get extra entries if you enter using my link, then we both have a chance, but again do not list it anywhere else while giving the false impression that if we click that link we're going to be entering a unique giveaway.

Unless you run a sweeps site, or disclose to everyone that you get extra entries or paid for people using that link, it's a crappy thing to do.  And not cool at all with all of the disclosure policies.  A shady practice that makes us think you are willing to do anything to win/get paid/whatever.  You know, like a stereotypical slimy sleazeball used car salesman.  If you want that rep, continue, if not, cease and desist immediately.

Mandatory, schmandatory

Facebook has been putting people in "jail" unable to like and removing the last month of likes for 30 days for liking too many pages at a time.  You can maybe, MAYBE, make one or two of the likes mandatory, but to have 10 pages of 10 to 20 likes each for an entry and you have to like all of them for your entry- stop it.

We don't need our accounts jeopardized to inflate your numbers.  Surely the 5 or 10 bucks you get for having that as an entry can be changed to an optional like instead of a mandatory one.

We hate, hate, hate when each like is not counted on its own.  A lot of times we may like say 8 of those sponsors on 7 or 8 of those different  sets, but we can't get credit for it because you require all 10 of them.  No, wrong, this makes us resent you a lot.  For one thing, we're going to get flagged, the powers that be do not like us liking a lot of pages in a very short period of time.  Facebook limits the amount of likes any one account can have, and there is only one account per person.  Let us have the credit we earn with sites and sponsors we actually like and/or have room for before the limits are reached, and stop trying to bully us into liking more.

Also, please keep up with Facebook's current Terms of Service.   For example, it is within their rules to ask people to post on YOUR page, but it is  not okay to ask them to post about the giveaways on their own or their friends timelines.  These are obviously not strictly enforced at this time, but again, we do not want to violate the TOS and risk losing our accounts (which again, many of us already have spent time in FB jail due to having to like too large a number of pages in too short a time) and we just don't want to take any chances.

While we're at it, if you want us to follow you on Twitter, follow us back.  After the initial limit has been reached, Twitter doesn't allow you to follow over 10% of the people who follow you.  When we've capped out we're using a tool that shows us who is following us back and who isn't and guess who is the first to go so we have more room on our accounts?  Yep, you are if you aren't following us back.  And then you are posting and wondering why you are being unfollowed.  This would be the reason.  Remember, you can follow 10% more followers than you have, so it shouldn't be an issue for you to follow your followers back.


Yes, we know you posted that little disclaimer saying that you personally are not responsible for shipping the prize and it is up to the sponsor.  Well guess what?  If we enter on your blog, we expect, at the very least, that you will try to get our prize for us if the sponsor bails.

We are not unreasonable, but we worked for that prize, we earned it, and we won it fair and square, and if you ran the giveaway the very least you can do is keep after the sponsor.

We get that occasionally a sponsor will flake out.  But if you haven't done all you can to go after that sponsor and kept us informed of the progress, we're blaming you.  Why do we do this?  Partly because we've been in contact with a number of you who won't bother even trying, just a standard, sorry, not my problem in a snotty way.

We know very few of you are making a killing with your blogs and probably can't send out a laptop if the sponsor bails, but if you don't send us copies of the correspondence with your reps and when that doesn't work call them out on social media then we are going to hold you accountable as well as the sponsor and we are going to make sure you are called out publicly.

If you are at least trying to get a resolution, we won't say don't ever enter on this bloggers site, s/he is on our side and at least trying to work with us and the sponsor.  We don't hold you responsible for the fulfillment in that scenario.

Oh, and several of us, including myself have had back and forth with the blogger and will get all kinds of excuses.  My kid is sick, I'll get to it next week.  My car died, I can't make it to the post office.  I sent it out today - oops sorry no tracking.  The sponsor was the one shipping, not me, not my problem, I wrote to them you are on your own.

Do you see the problem here?  This was all for a single prize - we have no way of knowing for sure, but we're pretty sure you kept the prize, gave it to a friend, lost it or had no intention of awarding it in the first place and just used us to bump your numbers.  Don't lie and you won't have to worry about keeping your stories straight.  If for some reason you can't send the prize just tell us so we know to give up hope and quit wasting our time and yours.

And responding to our emails with you are too busy to keep after a sponsor-  if you are that busy, you are too busy to host a giveaway.  Rather than do 20 or 30 at a time that you can't keep up with, do a smaller number so you have enough time to do your job, which is to make sure we get our prize.  We know, at that point you think my part is done, because there is nothing else in it for you.  Wrong, at least if you want to last long term and be considered someone we want to interact with again.

You would think it would only be the smaller, newer bloggers without much of a following but that's not the case, in fact I personally have been screwed over by bigger bloggers with large fan bases much more often than the parent who is trying to bring in a little extra for the family.  The smaller bloggers have even dug into their own pockets to cover a prize to try to make it up for a bad sponsor.  When we did giveaways on this blog we have sent gift cards if the sponsor refused to send the winner the prize they promised.  

In an ideal world

Sweepers Utopia would have the following present for every giveaway, and we realize it isn't going to happen, but what the heck, putting it out there for those of you who are modeling others and thinking we are fine with how things are.

    *Give us more than 24 hours to respond to a winning email-  we know there are things like deadlines, but really, most of us aren't chained to our computers 24/7

   *Only posting the winner on your page and then having a very short response time for the winner to contact you.
     Really, what's that about?   It takes a couple of minutes to email someone, less to send a message on Facebook or Twitter.  If you are that busy, perhaps you should be a little choosier about what you promote and give those products/sponsors the proper attention.   True or not, we think - wants to keep the prizes for themselves or only pick their friends for winners so they can get around it by saying prize will be forfeited or new winner chosen - because only your friends are stalking your site constantly, most of the rest of us have a real life and this is a hobby we get to when we can.  Supposed to be fun.  Honestly, we'd spend more time setting alarms and alerts for ourselves than we do trying to win the damn thing in the first place if we have to keep checking back.  It's a crappy practice.  Sometimes the prizes are worth it.  Not very often, though, nope, not often at all.

   *Don't buy our votes with extra entries.  We don't mind if you say- hey, my kid is so cute and I'm trying to win this that or the other.  If we have a decent relationship, we will vote for you.  It's what we do, help each other out.  But to say I'll give you 100 extra entries if you vote for my cousin's neighbors exes pygmy goat - well, that just makes us think - cheater-  we who enter honestly won't have a sporting chance.  Not fair. If we're down to our last $10 and desperately need that $1,000 or our computer is limping on our last toe (because the leg was shot a long time ago) and you are giving away a laptop we might vote, but it leaves a very bad taste in our mouth.  And those of us who won't vote on principal are pissed that others can be bought for a chance to win.  Well, we are.

   *No Instagram for mandatory entries.  You have to have a smartphone for Instagram.  Many of us don't.  You can give extra entries for this, but don't make them mandatory.  Yes, my technology rivals the Flintstones, what can I say.   I'd love to enter for a lot of things that I can't.  You say but a computer is necessary to enter all of them, and FB and Twitter are free, so is Instagram, so that is the same.  We say nope, we can use a computer at the library we'd have to pay for a smartphone.  There is no way to get Instagram without one.  So, different. 

This is novel length already, but will be updated if I get any important feedback.  Thanks so much for taking the time to read.


For my sweeper pals and anyone interested in the hobby, feel free to check out our series on winning HERE

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Winning contests, sweepstakes and giveaways when you have limited time.


You've found the exciting hobby of entering sweepstakes, and you enter a few and dream about your lucky break.  Fast forward days, weeks, months or longer and you're ready to give up.

Your Facebook feed or the sweeping sites you peruse are filled with winners, and what you notice is that there are a handful of people who seem to win all of the time and you figure they have all the luck and there is none left over for you.

What you may or may not know is that some people do this full time-  I'm talking all day, every day, including nights and weekends.  This I know for sure because I talk to them and they tell me as much.
They have made a career out of it, but that's just not you.

Whatever the reason, you are convinced you have no chance and are about to give up.

Wait.  I can help you figure out what to enter, how much effort to put in so that you will win some (no, probably not as much as Sally Sweeper or Carl Contester who enter constantly, but enough to make it more than worth your while) and they will be prizes you'll be excited about and still have a life.

1) Have a wish list of your most desired prizes.  These are the things you are willing to put extra effort into.  Pretty much everyone has the biggies- large cash amounts, vehicles, pricey electronics and the elusive dream home, etc. 

In addition to the biggies, my list includes experiences (trips, meet & greets, etc), home and yard renovations, household good that are an upgrade from what I currently have, and things my kids and grandsons want or need.

2) Get your name in the hat at least once for every prize you want that you qualify for.  Entering 100 different sweeps usually gives you much better odds than entering your name 100 times for a single prize.

3) Follow other sweepers on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.  You will find many sweeps, some that aren't listed on formal sweeps sites.  Often they are for a very limited time, from 15 minutes to an hour or so to a few days, and don't make it out of the venue.  Facebook is my fave for this. I've linked my accounts above, you are welcome to follow me, I sweep when I have the time and inclination.  I'm not as obsessive as some, but I have a lot of friends and they also share on my pages.  (My pages are not 100% sweeps related, but that is the majority of what I share.)

4) Recognize the time wasters (for you) and avoid them like the plague.  For me those are most of the creative presentations, especially those that have a lot of mandatory entries.  Blogs that you have to like a lot of pages for smaller prizes drive me crazy.  Really, you want me to like a ton of pages, tweet, follow you here and + you there for a $25 or $50 prize.  Not happening. I also dislike almost anything that has a daily entry for months to a year or more for one prize spread among many entry points.  For the things I really want, I'll enter once when I first see it then pretty much forget about it, it's just not worth it to enter every day, especially when they have the stupid captcha codes or watch a video to get to the form, etc.  If I have time I'll enter when I come across it when I do the expiring sweeps, but it's not a biggie to me.  Sites that have a lot of pop-ups (even with several blockers, pop unders seem to be the new trend) and / or auto-videos that play.  It slows you down and makes you crazy.  Or maybe that's just me. 

5) Now figure out what is worth extra time and effort.  Instant wins-  we all like immediate gratification, but if it is something you don't want or like, there's no reason to enter, it's a waste of your time even if it wouldn't be for someone else.  Daily, weekly or sometimes monthly drawings for prizes are worth entering more than once, as often as you can, in fact, again only if the prize is something you want.     Short entry periods.  In my opinion,  the higher dollar prizes are harder to win, but the payoff is worth the extra effort if it can make a real difference in my life like a car or a trip for my family.  I entered several times for most of my trip wins, probably a couple of dozen for WDW for 8 with loads of extras, a little less for Hawaii.  There are a lot of trip sweeps, but when time is limited I stick with those to places that are on my bucket list, that have once in a lifetime experiences included or that include extra cash for spending money &/or to help pay taxes.  You just have to figure out your priorities and the odds  and what is worth the most of your precious time.   Sure, my 7 year old grandson loves anything Skylanders or Minecraft, but a 50 dollar toy isn't worth entering every single day for months and months.   Unless it is a limited edition, can't be bought in stores one of a kind dealio.  Things like that are part of what makes me the coolest Gigi ever and worth it to me. ;)

And now, here's how I do it.

I check my email for wins, then log into Facebook and check my messages.  I scroll down a bit on my front page and enter the super-duper looking sweeps, maybe vote for a friend or two.

If you find a sweep on a friends site, use their link so they get credit.  It's a jerk move to go to the site and not use their url, and it's bad sweepers Karma.  Plus, most (not all, of course, but most) of us post as we enter and we use the first link we see in our feed for any given sweep so it makes it fair to all, and the heavy hitters have no better odds of getting you to use their link this way than the one who only enters here and there.

I use a paid sweepstakes site for the sorting capabilities, keeping track of my entries and the ability to open multiple pages at a time.

I use a form-filler  when it is allowed (always, always read the rules, to make sure you don't accidentally disqualify yourself).

I enter the ending soon sweeps - I try to be a day or two ahead, because it is not at all uncommon  to see them end before the listed time.  (The site I use filters out blogs, I use this feature because if I don't have time, I usually skip them and enter the national ones.)

I check to see which sweeps have been added since I last logged on and either enter them then (if they are one time) or add to my dailies, weeklies, etc if they are deemed worthy.  I do not put blogs in with my daily entries, they take too much time.  I bookmark or make note of any skill contests I may want to enter- these are time consuming and if I am going to bother entering I'll make sure to give them the attention they deserve.  I personally don't enter the ones that are by popular vote, I dislike them intensely, there is just way too much drama and rarely does the most deserving win, and if it does someone has to make it ugly and accuse them of cheating and such.

I do my daily entries and squee with joy when I hit an instant win.  If I remember I'll do the 24 hours as well.

I enter the blogs that are ending soon, avoiding most if not all of the creative presentations or blogs that I know run slow, are hard to read, play auto ads, list a sweep as their own but are only using you to get a click, they don't actually hold the giveaway themselves, they just want you to use their link so they get extra entries or $- this is dishonest as well as a huge time waster and if I remember a blogger and / or have pop-ups or unders.

 If I think about it I try to hit weeklies or monthlies in a timely manner, it's fairly rare, you may be much more organized.

If I still have time after that (I have a chronic illness that prevents me from having a regular job, but also makes me extremely weak and tired, so I have to try to be as efficient as I can with what energy I have- that may only be enough to fold a load of laundry and be on the computer for an hour or two, or it may be several hours, it just depends on how things are for me in any given day.) I will go through the categories and decide what I feel like entering for.  Often I'll say, hmm, I'd really love to go on another vacation, and I'll go through as many as I have time for.  Or maybe I'll say hmm, mama needs some new Le Crueset or Kitchen Aid or Ian wants a bounce house or...  I go by my whims here.  If I need something specific (hey, mom, my computer was stolen/lost/broken) I'll Google to find not yet listed sweeps.

HERE are my previous posts on winning, I'll be updating them very soon, but most if not all of the information is still relevant, and I believe it contains valuable information that will help you win.

Do you have any hints and tips that you think would help?  We'd love to hear them.

Best of luck to you, and some good luck added to your *smarter, not harder* effort, and I know you'll be posting in the winners circle soon.


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