Blue Woman © by Rob Lee

This is what happens when you don’t allow enough time to breathe: You turn blue, albeit in a vaguely artistic way.

I haven’t posted much lately, mostly because I was in Alaska. Meeting deadlines and spending as much time as possible with friends and loved ones sucked away most of my hours and all of my energy.

Last week I was so distracted that I never even posted a giveaway. More on that below.

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The urban homesteading movement is a growth enterprise (sorry) in the United States. My current column at MSN Money shows why.

A chicken in every condo?” details some of the ways that let people with small urban properties — or those who don’t own property — produce food.

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Pam F. is the winner of the $20 Amazon.com gift card. She’ll use it to birthday gifts for her little sister. (Cue the girl noise: Awwww!) Thanks to all who entered.

I entered two blog carnivals this week and was happy to get into both:

On the train ride to Cornwall today I met a delightful woman who has traveled extensively and once shot photos of a tiger while riding on an elephant. She suggested accompanying me to Paris on a day trip (boy, does that sound weird) this weekend or, if the Chunnel train tickets are too costly, to tour me around Windsor (the region, not the castle).

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Now up at MSN Money is my latest column, “Useless Groupon? Cash it in.” It’s all about the secondary market for social commerce vouchers from places like Tippr, Buy With Me, Living Social and, of course, Groupon.

The advantage is twofold: You can unload deals you no longer want and, more to the point, you can look for deals you missed on the first go-round or that you didn’t know existed.

As one secondary-market host says, it’s “a catalog experience vs. an impulse buy.”

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Unavocis was chosen as the winner of the $20 Amazon.com gift card. Respond to my e-mail, Unavocis, and I’ll send the prize your way.

This Friday’s giveaway will have a slightly shorter entry period. Since I leave for my trip very freakin’ early on Tuesday, I’m going to announce the winner on Sunday evening so that I can mail the prize before the post office closes Monday.

If you enter, check your e-mail before you go to bed Sunday or first thing Monday. Should you be tardy in your response, you’ll have to wait an extra three weeks to get the goods.

P.S. There will be giveaways while I am on vacation.

P.S.S. You’ll definitely have to wait a few weeks for those.

In other news:

Win free rent for a year: Eighty-seven percent of the adults surveyed by Rent.com don’t believe that home ownership is the basis of the American Dream. So what is? That’s up to you to decide – and if you do it right, Rent.com will pay your rent for a year (up to $10,000 worth). Make a 60-second video or write a 250-word essay describing the “New American Dream” before May 2; starting May 3, you’ll need to get family and social-media friends to vote for your entry. Register and learn more at http://www.rent.com/newamericandream/.

Hot deal on Netflix: If you’ve never subscribed, here’s a good way to do it – when it’s free. Netflix is the “store of the week” at the Mr. Rebates cash-back site. Now through Sunday you can get $20 in cash-back with a new subscription – that is to say, you will get $20 back even though your subscription costs as little as $7.99 per month. Netflix offers instant streaming whenever you want, including on-the-go with your mobile device. If you’re not yet a member, consider using my referral ID by clicking on this link. Here’s some fine print: You must be a new customer; gift subscriptions are excluded; the free trial and at least one successful charge to your credit card must both be completed to qualify for cash-back. If after that you decide the service isn’t for you, then  cancel it. (Note: The people I know who have it really love it. When I was in Phoenix visiting my daughter I got to watch a couple of seasons’ worth of “Eureka” that way.)

Carnival knowledge: Several of my pieces have been recognized in recent personal finance carnivals. “Fight rising prices by building your own food bank” (one of my Get Rich Slowly posts) made the Festival of Frugality at Money Obedience, “Garbage in, supper out” was chosen for the 295th Carnival of Personal Finance at Taking Charge, and “Cache some cash” is in the Carnival of Money Stories at Personal Finance Journey.

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