Sunday, August 28, 2016

My Daily Freebies: 8/28/16


Here is what I got/found for free today!

  • Zinio alerted me that the latest issue of AllRecipes Magazine is available for me to read for free online via my library system's subscription.  I like clipping recipes but I can print them from Zinio too if I wish.
I think they meant September 1st, though, not August...

  • I had 2 freebie offers in my McDonald's app today for free breakfast sausage burritos if I wore my Orlando City Soccer gear.  Unfortunately, the McDonald's that we visited at lunchtime (the one at the Orlando International Airport) didn't honor the app coupons (I didn't have my nephew's tshirt with me anyway!) and I didn't feel like going back out once home so they will remain unused since they were only good today.

  • Starting today, you can make $0.25 on a box of Puffs facial tissue by combining a Walgreens sale ($0.99 with their Balance Rewards card), a manufacturer coupon ($0.25) and a $1.00 offer from Checkout 51!



Did you get any freebies today?

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Easy Peasy but Productive Saturday ~ 8/27/16


I woke up to a reminder that my daughter turns 18 in a week.  I'm stressing about it because I have nothing done or planned, actually. I don't have any presents for her nor do I know what to get her nor does she know what she wants.  My mom had made a big deal about my 18th birthday. I made a bigger deal than I usually do for my oldest when he turned 18, then was paralyzed for my middle son (because his birthday is after Christmas and by then I'm over the holidays/gift-giving!) and now paralyzed for my daughter. I think it's because I'm in denial that she's turning 18. Also, because I don't like birthdays in general and usually don't really make any kind of fuss: a cake, presents and we call it a day.

She had talked about going to The Cheesecake Factory but we're both watching what we're eating.  She doesn't seem too gun-ho about the ceramics painting anymore.  I might just give her cash in her college savings account.  I don't even know what cake she would want. Maybe I'll just make cupcakes. Last year she had wanted red velvet pancakes for her birthday so I had obliged.

Anyhoo, that's really causing me some anxiety!  I want her to remember her 18th birthday, I guess, but I have no clue of what to do. Plus it'll be Labor Day weekend so it's not really like we can go anywhere special without a lot of crowds.  She is only close to one girl who has serious health issues so going out with her to eat is out, and restricts the kind of activities they can do.

So today I'll be trying to come up with a plan of sorts.  I really wish I had something tangible to actually give her, darn it (the money can just be transferred online).  Arrgh. Have I mentioned that I hate birthdays?! It's a good thing my culture doesn't do Quinceañeros or Sweet 16 or Bat Mitzvah!

Update: well my daughter just informed me that she's meeting with her BFF on Monday to discuss her birthday plans.  So I guess she's planning her own birthday celebration after all. I can't decide if I'm relieved or miffed about it because it doesn't sound like we, her family, will be included at all.  She's already told her dad and stepmom that she didn't want to do what they had planned for her (a family outing to go on a zip line attraction).  Yes, I know, I'm never happy!

So on this note, I placed an order for a Christmas present.  While decluttering my printer stand yesterday, I came across a catalog that I had received several months ago and earmarked for a present that would be perfect for Middle Son's girlfriend so I ordered it and also ordered a bracelet for my daughter to give her at graduation time. No, it won't come in time for her birthday and I want to give it to her just before she leaves for college anyway. At least I'm ahead of the game for that.

I spoke with Greg late last night, after he'd had dinner with his sister and BIL.  His dad had chemo on Tuesday and then had been fine on Wednesday and Thursday but was very very loopy yesterday.  His sister is probably not going to be able to make it to the doctor's appointments in her state so the BIL said he would try to go instead. Yay.  Apparently, if the scan results (scan will be in a month) show that the tumors have shrunk, then Greg's dad will want to continue the treatment.  Greg didn't think to ask the doctor what the plan was going to be if the tumors didn't shrink (will the doctor want to continue the chemo or can his dad be transferred to Hospice Care at this point?) so we're not sure what will happen. Greg doesn't think that his dad will last the rest of the year anyway. Instead of going back right after his Canadian trip, he was thinking about going "for the end" and anticipates this being in October or November. I had to remind him that it might be winter-like in Ohio in November and we Floridians don't have snow tires on our vehicles so he probably should fly and not drive and not wait too long to make a reservation because of the Thanksgiving holiday travel nightmare. But again, you can't really plan in advance since there's no way of telling what's going to happen. So it's a little frustrating for someone like me who likes things plans and ducks in a row.  But it's not about me so I'm also going with the flow.  I don't think it's going to be a very festive Christmas this year between me not talking to my Oldest Son and Greg's dad's situation, whatever that might be at the end of the year.

Alright, time to post my To-Do List. It's actually shrunk a little! Well it had, until the late afternoon when I decided to add a boatload of projects to it. Grrr. I'm annoyed at myself :)

To Do List
  • Crafty/Creative:
    • Finish painting squirrel sign and assemble it
    • Make a lightbox to take better pictures
    • Melt down old candles and make into one or two new candles - No, I've decided to just pitch them. I know it's not the frugal thing to do but I have a ton of candles to use up, still, and I really need to declutter the house.
    • Make "No Soliciting" sign for front door and another one for the other front door (we have two)
  • Cleaning/Decluttering:
    • Dust the bedrooms (including son's fan) - in progress
    • Declutter linen closet
    • Clean kitchen cabinets
    • Declutter the top of the fridge
    • Mend items in mending basket (add Greg's hat)
    • Declutter shelves over printer stand 
    • Declutter storage bench 
    • Declutter coffee table - in progress
    • Dust fan in exercise room
    • Clean the fridge
    • Declutter gardening supplies chest
    • Sweep laundry room - done
    • Sweep front porch  - done
  • Cooking/Baking/Preserving:
    • Dehydrate pineapples 
    • Bake a batch of Grape Nuts (Saturday)
    • Make Chicken Tetrazzini with chicken meat from fridge (Sunday)
    • Make new menu for next week
  • Entertainment
    • Plan an outing to Leu Botanical gardens or Bok Tower Gardens
    • Sign up for ranger hikes in local parks
  • Errands:
    • Take items to the dump
  • Gardening/outdoors:
    • Transplant ferns into bare patch in front lawn to make shady planter
    • Research cone flowers and their care and plant them somewhere - Transplanted them in larger pot.
    • Scrub patio pavers with bleach to remove mildew (this might have to wait until the months when it's not quite so hot!)
    • Fertilize the raspberries - I'm thinking about pulling them and putting more roses in pots in their place.
    • Add mulch to the vegetable garden - I will do this once I have replaced the broken self-watering bins
    • Pull unwanted plants from center "planter" in the backyard, add soil, plant flowers, add edging around it (watch out for large roots that would be in the way). Make planter with other materials if edging doesn't work. (this will have to wait until Fall when it's not so hot and when I can plant wildflower seeds).
    • Divide and repot the aloe plant
    • Plant more okra
    • Trim grass behind the hedge
    • Trim weeds alongside the berm
    • Find fish emulsion and use on plants
    • Pull the rest of the dead tomato plants 
    • Plant passion flower vine seeds
    • Check on the seedlings and water as needed - Done
    • Add water to pepper bins
    • Refill green bird feeder
    • Pour weed killer on weeds on patio
    • Water the potted plants - it rained  a little today
    • Water the zombie pineapples - Done
    • Replace batteries in solar lights in front of the house (need special batteries) - ordered the batteries today
  • Health:
    • Call gyneco to make annual appointment - I'll do that once I'm more comfortable with my weight because I know they'll be nagging me about it anyway.
    • Use recumbent bike   - done
    • Do 5 min of strength exercises  - moved the recumbent bike a couple of times
    • Log food into My Fitness Pal   - done
    • Record exercise in Walgreens Balance Rewards (in September)
    • Weigh myself (Wednesdays)
  • Maintenance:
    • See if I still have mildew-resistant white paint for bathroom ceiling
    • Get Greg to replace the ceiling tile in the entry room
    • Test the batteries in all 3 smoke detectors and replace as needed
    • Vacuum fridge coils
    • Vacuum AC vent in kitchen  - done
    • Greg to call plumber
    • Wash the bathroom ceiling with bleached water
    • Remind Greg to re-secure chicken wire to AC unit and also to block off opening under front of the house
    • Scrub mildew off front of the house (porch, behind bushes, front stairs)
    • Install white beadboard in laundry room (will need to measure and purchase)
    • Install new stick-on tiles in laundry room (will need to remove ancient ones first)
    • Paint laundry room cabinets
    • Get Greg to fix/remove rotten wood on front porch
    • Make a list of which outlets need to be replaced and call Duke Energy Homewire Protection to schedule appointment
    • Ask electrician for estimate on installing outlet on front porch
    • Ask Greg to make me new tiled table for electric roaster on front porch
    • Get on flat roof, sweep it, and clean out the front gutter
    • Ask Greg to install gutter screens on the front gutter
  • Technology/Paperwork:
    • Caption old pictures that have already been scanned
    • Scan more old pictures
    • Create spreadsheet to track IRA contributions using ALL our old tax returns - Started but need to do more research.
    • Figure out if we should contribute to regular  or Roth IRAs for 2016 and fund them - I guess I need to wait until tax time next year, actually. I'll have until April 15, 2017 to fund 2016 IRAs so I need to work on taxes way sooner than I did this year so I'd have time to fund the IRAs and THEN file my taxes.
    • Download all May-July photos to my external drive - in progress
    • Back up my external drive to my other external drive
    • File the remaining loose recipes that I organized already in appropriate recipe binders
    • Purge filing cabinet upstairs
    • File paperwork
    • Write new letter to great grand aunt
    • Research local candidates for Tuesday's local elections - Done
    • Remove daughter's pc from her room and decide what to do with it
    • Prep August Food Expenses post
    • Clip new coupons
    • Sort new coupons
    • Discuss ACS Road to Recovery volunteering with Greg
    • Track our net worth in a new spreadsheet (use AARP model and set up this one) - in progress

FRUGAL SUCCESSES
  • I used newspaper print from the recycling bin to pick up the cat barf that greeted me in the kitchen first thing this morning!

  • I brewed a pot of free coffee from Wawa.

  • SavingStar credited me with the $1.29 for the cup of Riceroni bought on Thursday.

  • I was able to complete a 100 SB survey before 8:30 a.m. so I have already reached my 1st Daily Goal for Swagbucks, woohoo!  I might try to reach the 2nd one later on...


  • I completed the daily Bing Rewards credits activities.

  • I placed a catalog order and charged it to my USAA Visa to get 10% back in Rewards.

  • I signed us up for the Discover Bonus Rewards that will run from October through December (both cards).

  • Thanks to a poster on Slickdeals, I was able to print a coupon for milk off Hopster.com.  While on the site, I logged into my account and saw that there were BOGO coupons for Red Star yeast strips and also for Cosequin Cat Joint Health Supplement so I printed those as well. I'm hoping that maybe Publix will have a BOGO sale on the yeast at some point in the next month, and my cats didn't like the joint supplement samples that the vet gave me so I'll look into the Cosequin at Petco.

  • I realized that I had another one of those cheese pizzas bought on clearance this week in the fridge, so we'll have pizza and salad again tonight and I'll make the tetrazzini tomorrow instead.

  • Target has issued a 10% off storewide purchase* (*with lots of exclusions, of course!) mobile coupon valid only tomorrow in store or online, FYI.  I can't imagine going to Target on a Sunday unless I have an urgent need for something (I don't), so I'll sit this one out.

  • Lifehacker has a good article about "Top 10 Clever Ways to Repurpose Your Kitchen Scraps."  You might already do some of those things, but others might be new to you. I do need to try the corn cream or corn stock recipe that you make with the corn cobs. I do have 3 ears of corn in the fridge right now!


  • Last night I was very tired and told my daughter that I wasn't sure that I still wanted to go to Lake Louisa to hike today. So, of course, now I'm rested and all ready to go and now she doesn't want to go.  Argh.  So I exercised for free at home today, using my recumbent bike. At first I was enjoying an episode of L&O: CI on a DVD from the library, but I got engrossed in a new blog that I had found so I turned the TV off so I could concentrate on reading some blog posts on my Kindle.  Not going to Lake Louisa saved us gas and the entrance fee, although I would have enjoyed walking on the trail, observing nature and taking pictures!

  • I put the exercise bike away. I've been wheeling it into the living room every day and wheeling it back to the exercise room afterwards because I'm enjoying biking in the more spacious living room more than in the tiny exercise room!  The wheels help a lot but it's still pretty heavy so I'm mentally counting this as my strength exercise.
  • I was considering the thrifted camera bag that I had bought myself several months ago for $5.00 but that was now too small for my dSLR camera since my new lens is longer.  I was feeling annoyed that I would have to donate the bag and find myself a larger one when... I realized that the compartment separators were actually velcroed to the inside of the bag so it was very easy to detach them and now my camera fits in the bag perfectly!  But what was I going to do with my older lens?  Well, it fits perfectly in one of the side pockets!  Imagine that!  I'm so thrilled that I can continue to use my thrifted bag and not have to buy another one :)



  • I decided to declutter the coffee table. But in putting one thing away in the breezeway, I got sidetracked by decluttering the countertop in the breezeway. In doing so, I gathered several items for the donation box, several of Greg's things that needed to be stored in his shed so I took them there, and found 2 items that I had been meaning on fixing for quite a long time:
    • A cheap picture frame from the Dollar Tree that had been knocked off a cabinet and had lost one of its sides. I could have just replaced the frame but why?  I used superglue from the Dollar Tree to put it back together. Since I didn't want to dribble glue on the countertop (I'm a famously messy crafter!), I fished a cereal box that we had just finished out of the recycling bin to protect the countertop. And it was a good thing that I did that, trust me!  The frame holds a printout of a sign that I had seen in an online catalog. I'm too cheap to buy the sign, but I loved it so I printed the picture in color, used a colorful sheet of scrapbooking paper that I had kicking around, and put them in the $1 frame. It'd been greeting our visitors for a couple of years now and I always chuckle when I see it :)  So glad I finally fixed it!

    • The second thing that I fixed was the coffee mug that Middle Son gave me for Mother's Day 2 years ago.  It's very meaningful to me because Middle Son rarely spends his money on others and I loved that it was something that I would use every day (a mug) and that was cheeky in a sense.  I chipped it last year when I accidentally brushed the lip of it with a hammer, I think.  I had already superglued it back together but after a few months, the glue melted and the chip fell again. I'll admit that today I was thinking "I have plenty of mugs, I'll just pitch it..." but again... meaningful gift from Middle Son so I decided to rescue it.  I was nervous about possibly glueing my fingers together since the chip was pretty small and I have thick and bumbling fingers so I looked for the cheap tweezers that I had bought from Dollar Tree and that didn't tweeze anything. Darn it, I couldn't find them!  Then I checked my gardening supplies because I'm forever upcycling things to use when I garden and, sure enough, I found another pair of tweezers that I was using for small seeds.  So I used those to place the chip and hold it in place while the glue dried (20 seconds) and voilà! My mug is ready to be used again!  I'm very happy that I didn't throw it away!


  • By then I had completely forgotten about declutering the coffee table, but I did declutter the area near Greg's desk (well, not everything, there are still items to be taken to the "attic" but I'll have him do that since it's his former computer.  I took a cat scratching post/pedestal that I had bought at Aldi and brought it back to the cat room. I had placed it in the living room back when we got New Kitty at Christmas last year so she could hide in there and learn to do her claws on that and not on the furniture, but she never used it. Greg started piling stuff and there and then I did too so it had to go.  The stuff that was on there (our old router and the box for the new one) were put away. I'm not sure if we can just bring the router to the landfill or if we should destroy something on the inside first so people can't retrieve any of our info so I will ask Greg smash it to pieces. It doesn't work anymore but you can't be too careful these days.  I also put the house surveillance camera that had come with Greg's PC in the donation box. We never opened it and won't be using it so away it will go to benefit someone else.  Lastly, I found a crate of genealogical materials that I had printed many years ago. It's been sitting here in plain sight so long that I had become completely blind to it!  Tonight I will go through it and probably end up shredding most of the content since I know have everything in a database anyway.  If things need to be scanned, I will put them aside.

  • In decluttering the breezeway earlier, I found the Febreeze car clip that I thought I might have thrown away. Hooray!  I don't have to spend $2.97 to get a new one!  In the past I had used Velcro to attach the Glade freshener pad to the clip but today I found a box of "picture stickers" in one of my craft bins and decided that since it was double sided tape, it would probably work. It works for now but the heat in the car will probably made it fall and then I'll have to find another solution... like probably just using a rubber band, somehow.  I'm not big on aesthetics, it's the function that interests me.




  • Since I went outside to put the clip in the SUV, I decided to sweep the front porch on my way back in.  On my front porch, I keep a large outdoor broom that's being held to the handle with duct tape, and a small broom that used to be an angle broom that I used inside the house until Greg started using it to sweep the driveway. Its head is halfway gone now, but it still works fine for the front porch!  I collect all the dirt in an old large dustpan that doesn't have a handle and that we had thought of throwing away.  I love re-using items that have been fixed or that would have been thrown away!  Yes, I could buy new ones that would "look nice". But what do I care? This way, I keep items out of the landfill and I keep on using them until they can't be used anymore. And even more important?  I keep money in our pocket.  Also now the porch looks much nicer for Greg's return tomorrow. But the dry weather we've been having means a lot of dry leaves in front of the house again. You'd think it's actually Fall!  I need to get on the flat roof above the porch and clean out the small gutter that we have there. It's likely full of leaves and ant nests. Yuck. I want Greg to install the gutter screens that he put on the one in the back, this fall.

  • Then I swept the laundry room and since I had to put the broom back in the kitchen (I keep it next to the freezer), I swept the kitchen too. All of this counted for exercise since I was wearing my phone on my belt, woohoo. Plus, I was still wearing my exercise spandex  and it's well known that if you wear exercise clothes, then anything you do is exercise.  Oh yes. Look it up!  While I was sweeping the laundry room, I decided to buy some beadboard and just nail it over the walls. The room is still unfinished, several decades after it was built, and the walls are just particle board.  It worked to our advantage when we had to have the water heater changed because it's just on the other side of one of these walls and had been installed before they built the laundry room and they only put a narrow door to the space where the water heater is and it wouldn't fit through there. So Greg had to saw through the wall so the appliance guy could get it out. What a pain!  Then we glued the wall back in place, lol.  I'm thinking I'll buy white bead board, cut it to size and nail it to the particle board. Then I'll paint the natural wood grain cabinets and I also want to remove the ugly dark green and once-upon-a-time white linoleum tiles and just replace them with cheap stick-on linoleum tiles that will look nicer.  Small, inexpensive cosmetic changes. Who knows when they'll be done, though, I've been talking about doing this for years!

  • My last chore before taking a break was cleaning the furnace vent in the kitchen. It's white but a lot of grimy dust had accumulated so I used my homemade citrus vinegar degreaser and a washing cloth to clean it as best I could. It looks much better, especially since I'm the one who faces it when sitting at the dinner table!

  • So after all of that, I input my food and exercise intake into My Fitness Pal and decided to relax with the last piece of angel food cake (my daughter has been having some too!) with sliced strawberries and some plain nonfat yogurt on top. Yum!

  • The sky has been getting dark and it's 5 p.m.  I hope we get some rain, my garden needs it so badly. If it doesn't rain at 6 p.m. I have an alarm to go water it. My potted plants are almost dead and I'm not joking.  Ugh.  5:11 p.m.: thunder and lightning just sounded and it's indeed raining!  I hope it lasts a while! Arrgh, at 5:20 p.m. it's already not raining anymore :(


  • I need to replace the solar batteries in my solar lights in front of the house.  Those things were cheap to purchase at Aldi but the replacement batteries aren't that cheap.  Ace Hardware has them in stock at my local store, but I'm going to order them through their website via Swagbucks so I'll earn 2 SB per $ spent.  I don't want to place the order today because I won't be picking them up until Wednesday, so I'm putting a reminder on my calendar to place the order on Monday. Never mind, I went to check Amazon and saw that I could buy 12 of them for less than $10 (so cheaper than Ace) with free shipping and I can use my Amazon Chase card rewards to get them free anyway. Yes, it makes more sense to apply the rewards to my balance at the end of the month (we pay off all our credits cards every month) but I like the rush of using my rewards to buy THINGS.  I just need 6 batteries for now and I'll keep the other 6 for the next time they die.  I don't use Amazon Pantry so I didn't bother with the No Rush Shipping.


  • Oh hey!  Since we didn't go anywhere today, I can count this as a No Drive Day, woohoo! 

  • I reached my 2nd Daily Goal in Swagbucks after all, woohoo :) I decided to keep on going a little bit longer since I'm on the laptop anyway. I just need to click a banner every 30 seconds, not a big deal. I'm only running nGage for now as JunGroup was giving me trouble and crashing.

  • I found a penny on the floor of my living room. which I think came from the box of genealogical materials that I have heaved onto the couch so I can go through it. I added it to my 2016 Spare Change Jar.

  • So for dinner I cooked that 2nd cheese pizza bought for just $2.50. My son will have 4 slices and my daughter and I each will have two. The kids wanted theirs plain and I sliced a whole bunch of homegrown jalapeños and serranos that had been in my fridge for quite a while, it might have been too much!  We'll see.  I made a side salad too. I finished a jar of homemade Dijon vinaigrette that was starting to get a little rancid and I added 1/4 avocado to my salad. The kids don't like avocado but I do :) I might have some cherry pie later on (bought on clearance as well), I need to see how many calories I have left for the day :)
The pizza, before I baked it. I really piled the hot peppers on... I had to take a break in between slices when I ate it because it was so hot! But also: yum!
  • While the pizza was cooking, I went to refill a pitcher with rain water collected in the rain barrel (so warm, it's like a bath in there!) and used it to water my indoor zombie pineapples, the peace lily (the flowers have died so it's just greenery for now) and the seedlings that are still growing. But my heart isn't on gardening this fall. Unless I get a boost of energy soon as I did this Spring, I might just not have a vegetable garden at all this season.  We'll see.


SPLURGES
  • I placed an order for a Christmas gift and a graduation gift.

  • While I was catching up on the news online this morning, I saw a story about the American Cancer Society being in dire need of volunteer drivers to take patients to and from their chemo appointments.  I checked out their website and it seems pretty flexible, as long as you don't skimp out on the patients at the last minute, which I'm very unlikely to do unless there is a true emergency. With my son now taking the bus to and from school and my daughter driving herself to her classes, I should be able to put in a couple of "shifts" a week, I think.  Before I fill out the application and view the orientation video, I need to discuss it with Greg and also find out if my son is ever going to be participating in after-school activities when he would need a ride home.  I would have to use my SUV so we would be responsible for the gas expense, wear and tear on the car, etc. I don't think I would need to increase the insurance coverage on the car since I already carry quite a bit on it because it was mandated by the school board back when I volunteered with my daughter's FFA club and I never changed it back.  I wish I could watch the orientation video without filling out the application so I can better judge if that is something that I can truly commit to. For instance... if their chemo session is several hours long, can I just leave and come back to get them or do I have to stay at the hospital with them the whole time? I'm not good at waiting, to be honest. But if I could go to the library, or find a local park to take pictures, etc., that would be good.  I also wonder what a typical route for someone who lives in my area would be. If they are treated in Clermont, then it's only a 15-minute ride. But if they have to be treated in The Villages or in Orlando, then it's a 45-minute to 1 hour drive, with tolls.  So I'll discuss it with Greg this week to make sure he's on board with the expenses.  We won't be able to deduct anything on our taxes since we don't itemize, although I'm wondering if that might change in the future as we will be losing my daughter as a dependent next year (we don't claim the kids on our taxes once they are out of the house since they are expected to pay for their own studies and housing anyway).  I hope it works out as it sounds like the type of volunteering that would be rewarding and would allow me not to work in a team. I'm not a good team person. Well. I'm awesome at it but I really don't enjoy it.



FAILURES
  • None!

CHORES
  • I picked up cat barf right after getting up, ugh.
  • Ordered some presents
  • Researched all the local candidates on my ballot for the local elections slated for this Tuesday
  • Looked up information about volunteering as a driver for the American Cancer Society
  • Printed some coupons
  • Tried to change my daughter's mind about going hiking but she really didn't want to go :(
  • Made my bed
  • Caught up on blogs and news
  • Exercised
  • Glued back a couple of items
  • Decluttered the breezeway counter
  • Partly decluttered Greg's rat nest on the breezeway counter
  • Put away his stuff in his shed
  • Put together the air freshener clip in my car
  • Swept the front porch
  • Swept the laundry room
  • Swept the kitchen
  • Cleaned the AC furnace vent in the kitchen
  • Placed an Amazon order
  • Cooked dinner
  • Watered the indoors plants
  • Started a new spreadsheet to track our net worth every month

HEALTH
  • I didn't have breakfast until 10:30 a.m.  My internal clock is 2 hours behind, I thought it was 8:30 a.m., lol!

  • I used the recumbent bike for 55 minutes (10.88 miles) and today I took the phone off my belt so I wouldn't cheat with the step counter inadvertently.

  • I recorded all my food and exercise intake into My Fitness Pal.
Lunch

GRATITUDE
  • That the League of Women Voters of Florida made it so much easier for me to research my local election candidates by publishing the questionnaires that they sent each candidate! Most people only vote in the national elections but the local elections are usually far more important.

  • The tropical wave that seemed like it would impact us this weekend will be passing over South Florida and into the Gulf of Mexico so Greg's flight shouldn't be disturbed at all.  We do need the rain, though.

  • For the light rain that we experienced for a few minutes in the late afternoon. It wasn't long enough but it was better than nothing!

NATURE & PETS


It was raining when I took this picture. The lizard seemed to enjoy this shower very much!
Re-zombie celery on the left might have finally croaked, while new zombie celery on the right is doing quite well!

Male cat has already claimed the "platform" that I moved from the living room back to the entry room.

Mean Kitty, just waking up from her nap, taken right next to my son while he was doing some homework,

New kitty's posing for me on her favorite spot :)
How was your Saturday?

My Daily Freebies: 8/27/16


Here is what I got/found for free today!

  • A 12-pack of rechargeable solar AA batteries, from Amazon. I got them for free after using some of the Reward points that I accrued on my Amazon Visa card. I will use them in the solar lights that I have in front of the house.



Did you get any freebies today?

Friday, August 26, 2016

Bloggers and Readers Inspire Me ~ Friday 8/26/16



I'm sick of the weather being muggy!  I want to go back to spending the mornings on my patio with the birdies and take lots of pictures of them!  Arrgh.

My daughter and I were chatting in the entry room/breezeway yesterday afternoon when she mentioned to me that there was a hummingbird at the feeders so we were able to observe it from behind the windows for a little while. I was so happy!  I hadn't seen a bird at the feeders in quite a while since I'm never outside anymore, and when I walk down the breezeway (many times a day!) and look outside, there's never anything going on :(

So that made me itch to go back outside and observe nature and I proposed to my daughter that we go hike at Lake Louisa Park this weekend. She agreed so we'll see if we go... we still have that tropical wave that's supposed to hit Florida over the weekend so it could be quite wet.

And, oh crap, I just checked the National Hurricane Center and it looks like it could be headed straight for the Louisiana/Mississippi area.  Those poor Baton Rouge people don't need anymore rain!



Greg is meeting with his sister tonight so they can coordinate what is going to happen over the next month. She's not on bedrest so he needs her to accompany the parents to all the doctor appointments as he said they are exhausted and confused and when they recap the visits, they only get about 60% of what was actually discussed correctly.  The primary care doctor referred his dad to a Wound Specialist because of his bedsores and now it seems that he has developed trench foot too!  The socks that Greg bought for him actually seem to have made things worse as his legs are swollen and leaking and so he shouldn't be wearing any socks at all. Greg had to get their space heater and place it near his dad since he's freezing most of the time. They already don't have the AC on. I don't know how his mom is going to be able to stand the temperature.  The bad news, IMO, is that the earliest the Wound Specialist can see Greg's dad is in 2 weeks!    Greg said he would definitely go back to help his parents at the end so it sounds like he'll be home for a couple of weeks, go on his Canada business trip, go back to his parents' to be there for the scan in a month and then possibly stay there a while if it looks like his dad is taking a turn for the worse.  His sister will probably give birth in the middle of all that.  Goodness.

So on a lighter note, I joked that it was time for him to come home so he could mow the grass otherwise squatters would move in the next time I left the house.  My friend with whom I had lunch yesterday was telling me that she and another real estate agent were teaming up to convince a lady to sell her house in Fruitland Park.  The house is unoccupied. It belonged to the lady's mother who passed away in the house but wasn't found for a whole week (that's sad. I suspect that it would take my kids several months to find me if that happens to me and Greg isn't with us anymore, based on how often they communicate with me these days and projecting that it'll be the same with the younger two!). Anyhoo, the lady feels a lot of guilt over the circumstances of her mother's death so she's having a very hard time letting go of the house (she thought she'd have to disclose that someone died in the house) and yet she doesn't want to keep the house. So my friend and her colleague have been talking to her about it. The colleague drove by the house recently and noticed that someone was living in it.  So she and my friend went over and the girl who answered the door told them that she was taking possession of the house via this unfair but legal process that states that if you think a house is abandoned, you can claim it as your own ("Adverse Possession").  So they contacted the owner, who was out of state and didn't have a clue, and they called the police and luckily the police was able to get the girl out of the home by explaining that it was a 6-step process and that she had only completed the 1st step (so hopefully they will sell the house right away because you know that the scam artist is going through the other steps right now, probably!).  Isn't that nuts?!  So I was joking with Greg that the grass was getting so long (it's not!) that squatters would be moving in soon.  Seriously, though, if he wasn't coming back this weekend, I'd have to mow it and I wasn't looking forward to it. The self-propelling mechanism is completely dead now but Greg refuses to buy a new mower. I love his frugality, but it makes things harder for me when he's gone and I can barely maneuver the thing.  

On to my To Do List, since I don't have anything exciting planned for today. Well, watch my Law & Order: Criminal Intent DVDs, woohoo!

To Do List
  • Crafty/Creative:
    • Finish painting squirrel sign and assemble it
    • Make a lightbox to take better pictures
    • Melt down old candles and make into one or two new candles
    • Make "No Soliciting" sign for front door and another one for the other front door (we have two)
  • Cleaning/Decluttering:
    • Dust the bedrooms (including son's fan) - in progress
    • Declutter linen closet
    • Clean kitchen cabinets
    • Clean out the printer stand, including school paperwork folders -Done
    • Declutter the top of the fridge
    • Mend items in mending basket (add Greg's hat)
    • Declutter exercise room (including storage bench) - in progress
    • Declutter coffee table
    • Spray bleach in shower stall -Done
    • Dust fan in exercise room
    • Clean the fridge
    • Sweep laundry room
    • Sweep front porch
  • Cooking/Baking/Preserving:
    • Dehydrate pineapples 
    • Bake a batch of Grape Nuts (Saturday)
    • Make Chicken Tetrazzini with chicken meat from fridge (Saturday)
  • Entertainment
    • Plan an outing to Leu Botanical gardens or Bok Tower Gardens
    • Sign up for ranger hikes in local parks
  • Errands:
    • Take items to the dump
  • Gardening/outdoors:
    • Transplant ferns into bare patch in front lawn to make shady planter
    • Research cone flowers and their care and plant them somewhere - Transplanted them in larger pot.
    • Scrub patio pavers with bleach to remove mildew (this might have to wait until the months when it's not quite so hot!)
    • Fertilize the raspberries - I'm thinking about pulling them and putting more roses in pots in their place.
    • Add mulch to the vegetable garden - I will do this once I have replaced the broken self-watering bins
    • Pull unwanted plants from center "planter" in the backyard, add soil, plant flowers, add edging around it (watch out for large roots that would be in the way). Make planter with other materials if edging doesn't work. (this will have to wait until Fall when it's not so hot and when I can plant wildflower seeds).
    • Divide and repot the aloe plant
    • Plant more okra
    • Trim grass behind the hedge
    • Trim weeds alongside the berm
    • Find fish emulsion and use on plants
    • Pull the rest of the dead tomato plants 
    • Plant passion flower vine seeds
    • Check on the seedlings and water as needed 
    • Add water to pepper bins
    • Refill green bird feeder
    • Pour weed killer on weeds on patio
  • Health:
    • Call gyneco to make annual appointment
    • Use recumbent bike - Done
    • Do 5 min of strength exercises 
    • Log food into My Fitness Pal  - Done
    • Record exercise in Walgreens Balance Rewards (in September)
    • Weigh myself (Wednesdays)
  • Maintenance:
    • See if I still have mildew-resistant white paint for bathroom ceiling
    • Get Greg to replace the ceiling tile in the entry room
    • Test the batteries in all 3 smoke detectors and replace as needed
    • Vacuum fridge coils
    • Vacuum AC vent in kitchen
    • Greg to call plumber
    • Wash the bathroom ceiling with bleached water
    • Remind Greg to re-secure chicken wire to AC unit and also to block off opening under front of the house
    • Scrub mildew off front of the house (porch, behind bushes, front stairs)
  • Technology/Paperwork:
    • Caption old pictures that have already been scanned
    • Scan more old pictures
    • Create spreadsheet to track IRA contributions using ALL our old tax returns - Started but need to do more research.
    • Figure out if we should contribute to regular  or Roth IRAs for 2016 and fund them - I guess I need to wait until tax time next year, actually. I'll have until April 15, 2017 to fund 2016 IRAs so I need to work on taxes way sooner than I did this year so I'd have time to fund the IRAs and THEN file my taxes.
    • Download all May-July photos to my external drive - in progress
    • Back up my external drive to my other external drive
    • File the remaining loose recipes that I organized already in appropriate recipe binders
    • Purge filing cabinet upstairs
    • File paperwork
    • Write new letter to great grand aunt
    • Look at sample ballot and research local candidates - in progress
    • Remove daughter's pc from her room and decide what to do with it
    • Shred the shredding pile -Done
    • Prep August Food Expenses post
    • Sort new coupons

FRUGAL SUCCESSES
  • Brewed a pot of free coffee from Wawa.

  • My son packed a lunch to take to school.

  • He took the school bus.

  • My daughter will be packing a lunch as well. She has a long day with a lab today and somehow the college didn't schedule a break between the chemistry class and the chemistry lab, both scheduled from 9 to 3:30 p.m. So the teacher is going to have to request that the lab be moved back for 30 minutes, which makes her day longer, but they have to eat!  On a side note, I'm a bad mother because I don't even know what classes she's taking and I had completely forgotten that she was taking 2 classes online on top of her 2 classes at the actual state college. So she's much busier than I had assumed she was and she told me that she didn't think we might be able to do the outings we had discussed doing on Mondays when she doesn't have actual classes, because she has so much classwork to do.  Well, poop. She got me all excited for nothing!


  • After several tries, I was able to complete a 80 SB survey this morning, which allowed me to have enough Swagbucks to order a $25 Walmart gift card. Woohoo!  My 1st Daily Goal is 122 SB and I'm up to 108 SB at 8:30 a.m., helped by the 50 Swag-Up award that credited when I ordered the gift card. So I should be free to do chores after I reach my 1st goal, sigh.


  • SavingStar credited my account with the 50 cents for the Annie's cereal that I bought on Wednesday (still no news from Ibotta, though) and also credited me with the full price purchase of 2 bottles of Kens' dressing toward the "Buy $12 worth of Ken's and get $3 back!" award. I wish I had known this on Wednesday when it was still on BOGO so I would have asked my daughter to buy another 2 bottles to get the $3!  Oh well.

  • Greg is going to be bringing the socks that he had bought for his dad back home since he can't wear them after all.  Not a freebie and he ended up spending $35 on them (aaaargh!) but at least he'll get to use them, I guess. His sock drawer is already so full!

  • I dried the potatoes that I had rinsed and left to drain yesterday morning (was it?  or the day before?!) and found about 5 or 6 of them about to go bad. So I need to cook them. I might make hash browns for my son's breakfast tomorrow, I think that'll be the quickest way of using them up.

  • I told Susan in reply to a comment yesterday that maybe I'd just go to Publix next week so I save time and I'm not tempted to buy any meat on clearance/sale... however, I just checked the CVS weekly ad for next week and there'll be quite a few freebies to be had plus I have a gift card, and then I have the Walmart gift cards from Swagbucks... so I'm going shopping at usual, Susan. You were right, I have learned nothing from this week's trip :) I shall try to avoid the meat section, though.


  • So right after I complained about Walgreens in my "Failures" section, I noticed something new about their ad that I like a lot: they've stopped including the Register Rewards in the final price for a product! I like that because I think it's always been very misleading to advertise something as "free" when in fact you're just issued a coupon to use on another purchase.  Well, much like some of the CVS "freebies" that I'm about to post in my "Daily Freebies" post tonight, lol.  The difference, for ME, is that anything food-related that I buy at CVS is indeed free to me since I use a CVS gift card earned via one of my credit cards rewards programs (so those are money makers for me) and that any ECBs earned on anything else (beauty, health...) get used to get more grocery freebies. But I wish CVS did what Walgreens just instituted in their app, I think it's much more honest. Plus some people won't use the Register Rewards anyway.

  • I was going to exercise at 11:15 a.m., had my exercise clothes on and everything and then...  I got inspired.  The best thing about bloggers and blog readers is that many times they can be very inspiring. So this morning, I drew my inspiration from Susan at Retirement Fun(ds) (who is decluttering and reorganizing her craft room this week and told me to rest since I had done some cleaning - what can I say? I'm contrary!) and Live & Learn from Live & Learn - Toss & Turn (who is decluttering her whole house because they're in the process of buying a new home and downsizing somewhat) and I decluttered and reorganized stuff for close to 3 hours!  
    • In the end, it didn't feel like I had done much of anything during those 3 hours, but I was indeed able to let go of those old candles that I will probably never melt down to make new candles, which freed a couple of shelves which are now housing the DVDs that were spread throughout the living room. 
    • In the exercise room, I consolidated shelves, which freed up 2 of them that now house all the extra boxes of cereal that had been in bags on the floor for a long time. I reorganized the corner that holds the school supplies a bit (I can't purge it yet since I still have kids in school!), did all the shredding that needed to be done.
    • I moved a filing cabinet to the space where the cereal had been. In its place (next to New Kitty's litter box), I put the bucket that holds the pooper scooper and also the small brush and pan to clean up all that litter that she kicks out all the time.
    • I had emptied the file cabinet this summer so now it houses some odds and ends that I'm not ready to get rid of yet, but that had been sitting on overcrowded shelves or on the printer stand.
    • I decluttered the printer stand. A few things were moved to other rooms but most of it was thrown away. 
    • I also started a new donation box and it's already full.
    • I vacuumed the room while I was at it.  There are still several shelves that need to be decluttered but it's progress!
  • So I had lunch at about 2 p.m.  There were leftovers and I was too tired to make a sandwich so I had a leftovers.  Dang it, I still have to exercise!

  • Walgreens Photo is offering a new code for a free 8" x 10" reprint this weekend (FREESTUFF), so I went ahead and ordered a reprint of a wildflower picture that I had taken. I put those in black frames from the Dollar Tree and I'm decorating my bedroom with them, bit by bit. 

  • Whoa, what?!  I checked my Swagbucks total after entering a Swagcode this afternoon and I had shot past my 2nd Daily Goal!  How in the heck?!  Well, I had emailed Customer Service this morning to tell them that the survey that I had taken for 80 SB hadn't credited. But then 10 minutes later, the survey credited. So I emailed them back again and said "never mind!". But this afternoon they credited me with 80 SB anyway.  Well, alright, then!


  • I took a customer satisfaction survey regarding my oil change at Valvoline on Wednesday and they gave me a coupon for my next oil change.  I have a coupon worth more than double that one anyway, but I was happy to provide positive feedback on the personnel with whom I interacted.


  • I exercised for free at home with my recumbent bike.

  • I completed the daily Bing Rewards credits.

  • I brewed a new pitcher of herbal tea (Country Peach Passion today) with some Celestial tea bags that I had gotten for free a couple of years ago.

  • The used book that I ordered recently from a third-party Amazon for free with some of my rewards came in today. As usual, it's in much better shape than the description mentioned :)  As a bonus, I found a pamphlet entitled "Florida's Venomous Spiders & Snakes" in the middle of the book, probably left there by the previous owner. This whole "Florida's Fabulous" series was recommended by the Lake County Park Ranger who conducted the "Wildflowers & Butterflies" hike that I participated in earlier this month at P.E.A.R. Park.  I plan on buying all of them, little by little. This one is particularly interesting to me as it has many close-up pictures of each butterfly found in Florida, along with close-up pictures of the caterpillars and many other details.

It's going to be super useful to identify butterflies and their caterpillars!
  • For dinner I heated up the turkey chili from last night for my son and myself. My daughter went to spend the afternoon at her BFF's after class and they're going to attend the high school football game tonight. This leaves me with more turkey chili that I had hoped would have been finished tonight!  We also split the leftover salad from 2 nights ago.

SPLURGES
  • None today.

FAILURES

  • All of the shorts or capris that still fit me have some kind of a problem: too ripped to be worn in public, zipper doesn't stay up, etc. I don't want to have to buy new or even new-to-me bottoms since I'm losing weight and I have an assortment of pants/capris/shorts in smaller sizes!  So it looks like I'm going to have to wear skirts for a while. I hate wearing skirts!  No pockets and my thighs rub against one another, which is very uncomfortable in humid weather when you run errands.  

  • Food Waste Friday: I'm trying to remember what I had to dispose off this week and I can't remember but it wasn't much: a couple of potatoes, that cantaloupe (ugh, still mad about that), a large piece of naan bread that had molded.  I think that might have been it?! I should go back to documenting it in its own post and add to it as it occurs.  That really helped me when I was doing that the first year.

  • Arrgh, this is really MY failure because I should have noticed, but I really dislike Walgreens despite my very friendly cashier and their frequent photo freebies: my $1.50 Register Reward from last week has already expired!  It expired on Wednesday and I had decided not to go to Walgreens since I hadn't seen anything in the ad that inspired me!  I thought I had another week to spend it since they're usually good for 2 weeks.  Darn it.  CVS gives you ONE MONTH to use the ECBs.  I'm so mad at myself.


  • I didn't see the "free fries with any purchase" offer in my McDonald's app. It was promised by McDonald's in their email from yesterday as happening "this" Friday. Well, for me that means today.  Not for them. Looking at the tiny print at the bottom of the email, it states: "*Free Med. Fries on Friday  w/any purchase valid 5/16/16 - 7/24/16 & 8/29/16 - 9/25/16.  McD App download and registration is required for participation. Valid only at participating U.S. McDonald's. Must be 13 years or older."  So maybe next week.


CHORES
  • Made my bed
  • Replied to blog comments
  • Updated my calendar with details of Greg's trip to Canada
  • Worked on my shopping list for next week
  • Sprayed bleach in shower stall (for mildew)
  • Reorganized DVDs in living room
  • Decluttered exercise room
  • Vacuumed exercise room carpet
  • Decluttered printer stand
  • Did the shredding
  • Started new donation box
  • Commented on blogs
  • Ordered a reprint from Walgreens
  • Took a customer satisfaction survey
  • Exercised!
  • Brewed a new pitcher of herbal tea
  • Decluttered some school paperwork
  • Did some more shredding
  • Heated up dinner 


HEALTH
  • I biked on my recumbent bike for 45 minutes (9.23 miles), and as of 5:30 p.m. My Fitness Pal is giving me a 250 calorie adjustment for walking over 6,000 steps. Maybe I shouldn't wear my phone while I'm biking, eh?  Lol.

  • I recorded my food intake and exercise into My Fitness Pal.  I was dreading having to do this, but it's been going pretty well, actually.  I usually do it while I'm on the bike so it's not like it's taking anymore time.
GRATITUDE
  • It looks like that tropical wave won't be hitting Central Florida directly. I want rain but I don't want bad storms, especially since Greg is flying in this weekend and I have to drive to the airport to pick him up.
  • The Swagbucks survey that I took was actually kind of interesting (food).
  • For the readers and bloggers who inspire me with their decluttering efforts (Bless, Susan, Live & Learn), saving prowesses at the grocery store (Alison!), who earn Swagbucks day in and day out (Alison and Mia), who are going through tough times but still find the strength to be grateful and positive (Bless, Dawn, Tara), who are wonderful moms (Dawn, Bless, Jess, Tara, among many others!) who are working AND going back to school (Laura), who find beauty all around them (Pixel Peeper and Live & Learn) and countless others whom I'm not mentioning here because my memory is a little foggy.  Thanks, ladies, for sharing your lives via your blogs and/or comments.