Monday, January 16, 2017

Domestic Monday? Hmm, Nah ~ Monday 1/16/17

Today's Google Doodle. 

I was thinking about this yesterday and I'm not sure if today will be Domestic Monday or not, as I stated in my Day Book this morning.  Greg is off due to the holiday and our son is home from school.  The weather looks to be beautiful and I've love to go somewhere, but we have to take the family car in for maintenance and go pick it up by 5, and I promised Youngest Son that I would help him with a project that requires us to go to Publix, probably this afternoon.  So I guess we'll stay home. Greg has a big presentation tomorrow so he said he had to work for a couple of hours today to get ready for it. Poop.

The kittens drove me wild last night!  I went to bed late because I was trying to catch up on blogs, and then Tabby Kitty and Explorer thought my bed was a wrestling ring so I literally kicked them off the bed. Princess had already decided they were a PITA so she had disappeared somewhere.  She reappeared at 7 a.m. to wake me up.  I'm not sure why my fitness tracker app thinks I was awake all those times last night because I only got up to use the bathroom once.

Daughter is being dropped off by her dad or brother tonight.

Well, dang, my To Do List is a complete repeat from yesterday's (ok, almost) and I have to add tasks to it so I don't forget to do them. Arrgh.

  • Watch "Sherlock" (but probably while I fold the laundry tomorrow)
  • Read details of Diabetic Exchange program 
  • Do my foot exercises DONE
  • Exercise DONE
  • Finish putting away Christmas decorations
  • Wipe out a USB stick for library
  • Greg and I need to assign the IRA contributions to specific funds 
  • Vacuum fridge coils
  • Declutter under window seat in Exercise Room
  • Compare music libraries between the 2 laptops and finish moving what's missing to my new laptop
  • Figure out what software I still need to move/reinstall on new laptop
  • Trying syncing my phone on new laptop
  • Clean litter box upstairs DONE
  • Add Osmocote plant food to rose and hibiscus bushes
  • Read Kiplinger's magazine
  • Clip Tabby Kitty's back claws and Explorer's claws 
  • Type up and post my menu for the upcoming week DONE
  • Defrost meat for dinner DONE
  • Clip coupons DONE
  • Sort coupons
  • Charge my fitness tracker? 
  • Do the laundry DONE
  • Fold the laundry
  • Put the laundry away
  • Sweep and fake mop the kitchen
  • Help son with AP project DONE
  • Take the Focus to the garage DONE
  • Pick up the Focus from the garage DONE
  • Put DD214 away
  • Juice the grapefruits Nope!
  • Make lemon poppyseed muffins or/and lemon squares with the "grapefruits"!
  • Pick the oranges
  • Zest the oranges and freeze
  • Check if iTunes charged me for RunMeter upgrade DONE
  • Enter MyCokeRewards DONE
  • Cook black beans in pressure cooker (Tuesday but I didn't want to forget about it)
  • Harvest a green onion stalk for dinner Didn't need to do as plans changed slightly
  • Bake something with an ingredient from the side-by-side freezer (this week)
  • Pluck my chin (I keep on forgetting to do that and it's driving me crazy!) DONE
  • Order cat grass/oat grass for the kitties DONE

  • I opened the windows this morning as it was gloriously cool :)

  • Still using up "stretched" milk in my morning cereal!

  • Greg finished a box of Grape Nuts last night and saved me the box and bag. I put the bag aside to be washed and dried so I can reuse it as a freezer bag and I recycled the box.

  • Earning Swagbucks with automatic videos on my laptop. My 1st goal is 100 SB today, meh.

  • Kellogg's confirmed that they applied my Rice Krispies purchases to my KFR account.

  • They also sent me a code for a free Shutterfly notebook that I won't use since shipping is so high, usually. If anyone wants the code, email me (see "Contact Me" in the sidebar).

  • RecycleBank emailed me that my points were about to expire. I used to earn points on RecycleBank to redeem for a free subscription to Entertainment Weekly but I don't read it anymore, plus the hypocrisy of promoting green living and shilling magazines is pissing me off so I stopped earning points on RecycleBank altogether. Then, they used to have coupons that I could actually redeem my points for and use at Walmart (for that Parsley Plus cleaner, which I love) but now it's coupons for brands I'd have to buy at Whole Paycheck, probably, so never mind. I had about 850 points so I made a $3 donation to the Arbor Day Foundation (750 points) and I entered a giveaway for an $100 Amazon gift card twice (100 points).

  • Greg and I dropped off the Focus at our garage. Our trusted garagist had done the research to see what needed to be done at 60K miles and informed me that the air filter on that car doesn't get replaced... the whole air filter assembly needs to be replaced and it costs over $100. However, there is a footnote that it should only be replaced every 150K miles so we're good :) I had him drop the tire rotation from his list (since 3 of the 4 new tires have been replaced in the past 3 weeks) as well.  He'll call me later on (they're going to check the brakes) and I'll pick it up before 5 p.m.

  • On our way home, I asked Greg to stop by RaceTrac and I picked up a free Apple Crumb muffin in exchange for a survey reward code, for our son.

  • As I said it is lovely outside and Greg didn't want to go anywhere today as he wants to repair his leaf blower and has some work to do for his presentation, so I decided to sit on my patio, where I am right now. It's been weeks, nay, months since I've sat out there and it feels great!  Sadly, no birds but a squirrel who I think is pissed that I'm re-establishing possession of my own backyard, because it is screaming at me.  Too bad for you, squirrel!

  • I'm doing 2 super loads of laundry in cold/cold. I hung my clothes, all the undies/socks/exercise clothes and the cleaning cloths/cloth napkins out on the racks outside and Greg's clothes and the bath towels went in the dryer on the Auto Moisture Sensing setting. I need to remember to check the dryer as soon as it stops so I can hang Greg's work pants and flannel shirts and save myself some ironing!

  • I used an old newspaper plastic sleeve to collect the "treasures" deposited in the upstairs litter box.

  • I earned the daily Microsoft Rewards credits.

  • I defrosted a pound of ground turkey in the microwave and browned it with an onion for the 3-bean turkey chili that I cooked in the crockpot for dinner. I didn't feel like looking for the exact cans that the recipe called for, so I grabbed a can of Great Northern beans, one of garbanzo beans and one of light red kidney beans.  I will also cook the large 2 baking potatoes that are about to go bad. My thought was to serve some of the chili on top of the potatoes.

  • While I was in the kitchen, I fixed myself lunch: an "egg salad" sandwich, a spinach salad with blueberries and a little bit of crushed pecans (I used Light Raspberry Walnut dressing), 8 small crunchy toasts with caviar (need to finish it, it's from the Christmas buffet!) and a Dole Mixations cup (one that hadn't spoiled already).  I ate my lunch out on the patio, it's so lovely outside.

  • Greg used the part bought from RepairClinic last week to repair the leaf blower and blew the leaves off the side and the front of the house (and also raked them). He couldn't clean the patio since my laundry was hanging there!  Woohoo for a frugal husband willing to try to fix things himself instead of buying new tools.

  •  Yeah, however he is looking at buying himself an expensive pair of headphones to replace the less expensive headphones that the kittens chewed through because he claims that he couldn't repair them. Arumpf.  To his credit, I pointed out that the Microsoft Store gift card was only 3,500 credits on Microsoft Rewards yesterday but he told me he'd redeem his credits for an Amazon gift card instead (5,250) to help defray the cost of the headphones.  Then I suggested he checks the price of the ones in the Microsoft store since they sent me a 20% discount; he did, but they're much more expensive than what he could buy on Amazon, according to him, even with the discount.  Later on, I exhorted him to purchase whatever pair he wanted since he games so much and the better the headphone, the least I will have to hear any of the scary noises coming from his games, lol.

  • The car was ready to be picked up by 1 p.m.  I told the garagist we'd pick it up by closing time (5 p.m.) so our projects (and relaxing time on the patio!) aren't interrupted. I suggested to Youngest Son that he comes along so we can stop by Publix on the way home, that'll save time and gas. He agreed.

  • I was able to reach my 1st daily goal in Swagbucks, let's see if I can reach my 2nd Daily Goal for a bigger bonus :)

  • I researched the current APY rate for Discover Bank Savings accounts since they had sent me documentation on that. We're earning pretty much nothing at USAA so I'd be interesting in moving at least part of our savings to an FDIC-insured account that yields more interest. I had discussed it with Greg and he's leaving it entirely up to me.  I don't like teamwork but when it comes to our money, I don't like being the one in charge of all the decisions because if I screw up, then there's no one else to blame, hahaha.  So I need to make a decision on that. I'm also looking at CD laddering for part of our savings.  It's a lot to consider and I haven't even yet thought about our brokerage account's performance!

  • Greg started and ran the generator for several minutes, which is part of the monthly maintenance to make sure the gas line doesn't gunk up, etc.  Hurricane season is only a short 5.5 months away now, so we need to make sure everything is in shape for that.

  • Last week, I took our live Christmas wreath off our front door and set it on top of one of our yard waste trash bins. I had meant to take it apart to put the pine branches in the yard waste bin and save the metallic wreath frame, the florist wire and the ribbon (to donate) but I forgot. My wonderful husband did just that this afternoon. He was going to put the stuff in his shed "in case he needed it for something" but I told him I was planning on donating it. He doesn't need it now so he didn't mind. I'm happy that I'm married to someone who, like me, sees the value in keeping items that others might throw away so that we might repurpose them!

  • I noticed that my lottery ticket expired on Saturday night. I'll check if I won anything with the magical scanning machine at Publix tonight and I'll take a few months' break from buying another one. I know that some people say that it's a tax on the stupid. I think that if you can afford to pay your bills, your money is yours to spend as you see fit.  I enjoy being able to dream about winning the lottery and helping my friends and family (and have Greg retire ASAP!) so the couple of dollars that I spend a week is well worth it. I know that millions of people spend more than that at Starbucks on ONE drink so it doesn't keep me up at night. Plus the money I invest in my dreaming goes back to Education in Florida, and our educational system needs all the help it can get.  But.  I also can dream in other ways so I'll limit myself to two or three $20 runs (10 drawings in advance) this year.

  • I found a cat grass kit for just $2.97 on Amazon but it's an add-on item price.  I checked my wishlist and there's really nothing else that I want to order right now, so I put it in my cart and will discuss with Greg which headphones he wanted to order. I'll get the cat grass when he orders the headphones. I'm only ordering one kit because I'm not sure that our cats will actually like it. If they do, I might do a subscription.

  • I entered the lone Powerade bottle cap code that I had into MyCokeRewards and earned 3 MCR points.

  • Not sure if this is a frugal success... it doesn't look like I'm getting charged for the upgrade to RunMeter elite. The payment didn't hit my credit card. I pulled up my iTunes purchases and it's not in there. However, the app itself now says "Elite" when I turn it on and all the features seem to have been enabled.  However, even though it is linked to MyFitnessPal account, it didn't transfer any activity from yesterday.  Also, I can't find the promised setting that would allow the timer to pause when I'm walking and then I pause, which is the main reason why I upgraded in the first place! Oh, never mind, I found it (note to self: "Stop Detection" must be turned ON in the settings. So I guess it is a frugal success.  Not sure why iTunes doesn't have a record of my purchase...

  • I decided to buy my own copy of "Florida's Incredible Wild Edibles" instead of copying pages of the library booklet that I had borrowed. It's only $6 and I have $17 in Amazon gift cards so it's free to me :)

  • I unlocked new MobiSave and Ibotta offers.

  • We went to pick up the Focus from the garage. I charged the OOP to our Amex so I can earn 1% in Rewards as I would like to order a new CVS gift card soon :)

  • Greg went straight home and Youngest Son and I stopped by Publix to do research for his AP Human Geography project. I didn't buy anything :)

  • Then we dropped off my 2 library books at the library's drop-off box. No late fees and now the pressure to read the one fiction book is gone.  I called my daughter on the way to ask if she would be home for dinner but her brother, Middle Son, will drop off her after dinner. So I don't have to feed her tonight, nor pay for gas or tolls to get her back. Plus, I might get to see Middle Son if he comes in :)

  • Back home Greg was hungry and the turkey chili was ready so we had an early dinner. Instead of baking the potatoes, though, I just used up a bag of tortilla chips, crumbled in the chili; It was delicious and we have leftovers that I plan to use for dinner over pasta tomorrow night.

  • I exercised for free at home by using my recumbent bike while listening to Frasier on Netflix and catching up on blogs on my Kindle.

  • Middle Son came in for a few minutes so I got to wish him happy birthday again and confirm that he's definitely interested in coming on our road trip with us this summer. Yay!

  • Gas:
    • to drop off the car at the garage (2 vehicles)
    • to pick up the car from the garage (2 vehicles)
    • to start and run the generator (monthly maintenance)

  • Really good gaming headphones for Greg!

  • The kittens knocked off my bottle of sweet Mirin cooking wine and it spilled all over one corner of the kitchen, arrgh.  

  • I had wanted to make a spinach grapefruit salad like Laura had suggested to me, with one or two of my neighbor's free grapefruit but I cut a couple of them open and they're so tart, they taste like lemons. They look like lemons too. But they're not lemons, they're from the same tree that has been producing grapefruit all these years!  Weird. So I guess I'll zest them and use them as lemons. I might need to make lemon poppyseed muffins and lemon squares this week!

  • I had to throw away yet another Dole Fruit Mixations cup!  Arrgh.
Bad cup on the left (see the domed top?), good cup on the right (concave top).

  • The sun and reduced amount of hours I got last night are conspiring to make me sleepy on the back porch. I don't think it's going to be a very productive "Domestic Monday"!

  • Yeah, I don't know who Martin Luthur King is, Swagbucks. Sheesh. I'm embarrassed for the person who made that typo on Martin Luther King's birthday, no less.  It's not like it's a federal holiday or that he was a very important American or anything...

  • When we got our Amazon Prime Membership again in January of 2015, I had invited all 4 kids to share in the Prime shipping benefit.  Only Middle Son & Daughter had accepted. I never converted the account to that Amazon Family that they keep on pushing (Greg just uses my login so we share the same account, which means that my thrillers and romance novels appear on his Kindle even though I specifically mention that I want them to go on MY Kindle, and his historical memoirs appear on mine, no big deal) so Middle Son and Daughter are still getting free Prime shipping. However, I just realized that Youngest Son never accepted the invite and now it's too late as I can't add anybody else anymore unless I convert to Amazon Family and then Middle Son and Daughter will lose the free shipping.  This came about because Youngest Son yesterday was ordering himself some customized LEGO sets on Amazon (he'd been squirreling the gift cards family members had given him for several years so he has a couple of hundreds of dollars in gift cards!) and I was telling him to wait until I got home so I could invite him to share Prime and so he could get free shipping. Well, I can't. It wouldn't have benefited him yesterday after all because 2 of his items had free shipping built-in anyway and the 3rd is coming from overseas, I think.  But, moving forward, it means that he'll have to pay for shipping unless I convert our account.  I guess I'll see what happens once Middle Son and Daughter can support themselves.

  • The trash collection truck came by today. Mondays isn't trash collection day, though. Tuesdays are.  So I was confused. We didn't put out our trash cans but some neighbors must have because we heard the truck stop several times throughout the neighborhood. I had signed up for e-bill pay several years ago so they email me the water bill but I never ever receive any attachments even though they mail announcements and such to those who still get their bills in the mail. I have requested on several occasions for the Utility department to save the attachments as pdf and email them to me (and others like me) but they've never replied and I've never gotten them.  I've also asked them to post them on their website. No reply, nothing posted.  So I'm guessing they changed our collection day without telling us?!  I'll put out the bins tomorrow and if they don't show up, I'm going to march myself to City Hall, which might be bad because I think I'm ovulating and I get really really bitchy at that time of the month.

  • Car maintenance: $203.98
  • Cat grass, Florida Edibles book, Greg's headphones: $75.42
  • An offer for a free notebook from Kellogg's and Shutterfly
  • A free Apple Crumb muffin from RaceTrac with survey reward code
  • A copy of "Florida's Incredible Wild Edibles" from Amazon, with gift cards earned on Microsoft Rewards
  • A cat grass kit from Amazon, with gift cards earned on Microsoft Rewards

  • Fed the cats
  • Aired out the house
  • Wrote my Day Book post and planned my week
  • Donated my RecycleBank points and entered a giveaway
  • Dropped off the car at the garage
  • Picked up breakfast at RaceTrac for Youngest Son
  • Made my bed
  • Cleaned the upstairs litter box
  • Did the laundry
  • Cleaned up after a couple of kitten messes
  • Cooked dinner in the crockpot
  • Hung the laundry to dry
  • Posted my Weekly Dinner Menu
  • Worked on reaching my 2nd goal in Swagbucks
  • Clipped coupons
  • Researched Discover Bank's rates
  • Went to get the car from the garage
  • Helped son with his project
  • Called daughter
  • Returned the library book
  • Set the dinner table
  • Unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher and started it
  • Put away the leftovers
  • Placed order on Amazon

  • I don't think the fitness tracker is giving me the correct information about my sleep patterns because I certainly wasn't awake all those times they said I was, unless I'm a sleepwalker.
  • I drank 2 cups of water before the first sip of coffee :)
  • Breakfast was a bowl of real Rice Krispies this time, with 1/4 cup of blueberries and 1 cup of ~2% milk. I drank Cinnamon Churro coffee.
  • I did my foot exercises
  • Lunch was an egg salad sandwich, a spinach blueberry pecan salad, 8 mini caviar toasts, and a Dole Mixations cup. I drank water.
  • Afternoon snacks were an apple and a yogurt. I drank water.
  • Dinner was 3-bean turkey chili and some tortillas chips. I drank water and then decaf instant coffee.
  • Exercise was riding my recumbent bike. I don't have exact numbers because I was biking for a while and then Middle Son and Daughter came in and we talked for just a few minutes but my counter reset itself in the meantime. Grrr. I biked after that for 32 minutes (5.72 miles) so I'm ing to guess that altogether I biked for at least 42 minutes and about 7.25 miles.
  • As of 9:33 p.m., I have logged 9,452 steps today. I have?! Hmmm.... I don't know about that.
  • For a beautiful morning on my back patio
  • For an honest garagist
  • For an alert Youngest Son who noticed the kittens had broken a bottle and prevented a larger mess
  • For a husband who took NO! for an answer when he proposed to move the drying laundry racks away from the patio (and myself too, I suppose) so he could blow the leaves off the roof and off the patio. I was comfy and I didn't want a bunch of dirt flying around my clean clothes!  I asked him to do it next weekend :)


  • There was a mourning dove on the electric wire, facing a neighbor's house this morning so I took a quick picture.
But the sun hadn't completely come out yet so my picture didn't turn out too nice.

There are oranges on my tree. I'll need to harvest them and zest them.

If the rose bushes keep on growing roses, I won't be able to prune them back!

One small strawberry is growing from the one plant that has survived so far...

The verbena plants are blooming again.

Once the sun warmed up the patio, the basil was abuzz with bees... but none of my pictures captured any bees!

A few lizards came out to play as well.

And I finally succeeded in photographing what I think is a Giant Orange Sulphur butterfly on the verbena.

It was a lovely day in our backyard!
How was your Monday? Did you get the day off?

This Week's Dinner Plans: Monday 1/16/17 through Sunday 1/22/17

Each week I peek in my fridge, freezer, and garden, to see what needs to be used up and I take a couple of minutes to think of ways to use up those ingredients in the next few days...

I wrote my menu while Greg was driving us home yesterday because I still had what we have in the fridge in mind. It only took a few minutes since I just had to pluck things out of the air instead of making it more complicated by looking for recipes in my books :)

I just realized that I don't have anything planned that uses an ingredient that comes from the side-by-side freezer (I keep mostly veggies and fruit in there) so I will make either muffins or scones with some of the frozen fruit (or a cranberry clafoutis, we'll see what strikes my fancy!)

MONDAY: Baked Potatoes and Three Bean Turkey Chili with Buttermilk Biscuits
  • From the freezer: ground turkey
  • From the pantry: baking potatoes, 3 cans of beans, onion, can of tomato sauce, can of diced mild chiles, chili powder
  • From the fridge: light sour cream, butter, tin of rolls
  • Need to harvest: green onion stalk
  • Need to make in advance: bake rolls
  • Need to buy: nothing

TUESDAY: Pasta Topped with Turkey Chili, Steamed Zucchini
  • From the freezer: nothing
  • From the pantry:  box of pasta, herbs for the zucchini
  • From the fridge: leftover turkey chili, shredded cheese, zucchini
  • Need to harvest: nothing
  • Need to make in advance:  defrost chicken breasts for tomorrow, cook black beans in pressure cooker for tomorrow and this weekend
  • Need to buy: nothing

WEDNESDAY: Southwest Chicken Stew in Crockpot and Buttermilk Corn Bread
  • From the freezer: chicken breasts
  • From the pantry: jar of salsa, cans of black beans and corn, flour, cornmeal, baking powder, vinegar
  • From the fridge: milk, eggs
  • Need to harvest: nothing
  • Need to make in advance: make buttermilk corn bread
  • Need to buy: nothing

THURSDAY: Spaghetti and Meatballs with Side Salad
  • From the freezer: meatballs
  • From the pantry: spaghetti, spaghetti sauce, croutons
  • From the fridge: grape tomatoes, cucumber, salad dressings
  • Need to harvest: lettuce
  • Need to make in advance: nothing
  • Need to buy: nothing

FRIDAY: Turkey Burgers with Corn on the Cob and Side Salad
  • From the freezer: ground turkey
  • From the pantry: Homemade Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • From the fridge: condiments, hamburger buns, corn on the cob, butter, grape tomatoes, cucumber
  • Need to harvest: lettuce
  • Need to make in advance: nothing
  • Need to buy: nothing 

SATURDAY: Spicy Black Bean Soup with Grilled Ham & Cheese Sandwiches
  • From the freezer: nothing
  • From the pantry: can of corn, can of Rotel tomatoes, cumin, red pepper flakes
  • From the fridge: black beans precooked earlier in the week, Better Than Bouillon, ham, cheese slices, bread
  • Need to harvest: nothing
  • Need to make in advance: nothing
  • Need to buy: nothing

SUNDAY: Mushroom Pork Loin and Rice, Sauteed Zucchini with Naan bread
  • From the freezer: pork loin roast, naan bread
  • From the pantry: homemade onion soup mix, flour, white rice, EVOO
  • From the fridge: light mayo, minced garlic, white mushrooms, milk, zucchini
  • Need to harvest: nothing
  • Need to make in advance: cut the roast into cutlets
  • Need to buy: nothing

What's cooking in your kitchen this week?

Day Book: Monday 1/16/17

Outside my window... it's nice and crisp (59F/15F) at 8 a.m. and the sun looks like it'll be shining today. Indeed, our high is supposed to be 80F/26.6C.  I just opened the windows for the kitties and that we can all hear the birds chirping in the nearby trees.

I am thinking... that I'm not sure whether today will be Domestic Monday or not. It's a holiday so Greg and our son are home, which never makes me feel like cleaning anything.

I am thankful for... having my men at home with me today and my daughter coming home tonight.

From the learning rooms... Daughter is taking 2 classes at the state college that ended up being hybrid classes so she doesn't always have to go in. I guess every other week or so they assign her online work instead of in-person classes.  That kind of messed up her plan to give rides to her BFF who has a very similar schedule but is taking different classes, but the BFF is taking her Driver's License driving test this week so hopefully she will pass and won't depend on Daughter to get to her classes.  Daughter is also taking an additional 2 online college classes so she has a full plate.  She actually created a Google calendar with her class schedule for me, as I had been nagging her to organize herself virtually and not just on paper in her bedroom. Yay!  Not we'll see if she maintains it!  Youngest Son is taking the Learner's Permit written test this week and attending a Future Business Leader's of America awards ceremony out of town on Friday so he will be missing all his classes. He's not excited as he doesn't want to have to catch up on the work over the weekend and I don't blame him!  As for me, I have got to read the Diabetic Exchange information that I printed yesterday!  I'm also running out of time in the month to read the latest issue of Kiplinger Magazine and my dSLR manual. Arrgh. Let's not mention fiction books to read for pleasure. That ain't happening either.

From the kitchen... the kitchen is clean!  I'd like to pat my back a little for having done the dishes at night every night since shortly after Christmas.  I have a menu put together for the week but I need to research the actual recipes and fill out my regular categories before I post it so it'll be later today.

I am wearing... the same clothes as yesterday since I only wore them a few hours: khahi capris from a thrift store (I love them, they make me feel skinny!), a very soft and comfy Merino black T-shirt from Target (bought for $5 during a sale) and my fuzzy black slippers.

I am creating... hmmm, what I am creating?  I don't think anything... I do want to get started on the French blog for my mom, though. Maybe today.

I am going... with Greg to take our Ford Focus in to the garage for its 60K maintenance appointment today. We'll leave it there and go pick it up this afternoon. Youngest Son wants me to take him to Publix this afternoon so I can take pictures of various food items for an AP Human Geography project. I'm only taking the pictures because it is required that he is in every single picture so kids don't cheat on the project.  We'll probably stop by RaceTrac to get a freebie snack for him to make our trip count a little bit more and allow me not to have to bake today!

I am reading... aargh, nothing unless you count blogs and the news.  I think I'm going to take the fiction books off my January goals. I could make the time to read them but I don't feel like reading them so why force myself?!

I am hoping... that this week won't bring another bout of depression. I'm skimming the news, not really reading anything in depth because between the kerfuffle with the local politicos in my own city, the Orlando cop killer they still haven't found and You Know Who getting inaugurated (the horror!), there's really nothing pleasant to read about. And that's only in our own country. Ugh.  OK, I'll stop as I had said "no politics" but it's going to be impossible to ignore him from and his train of nutcases from now on, ugh, ugh, ugh. If you don't want to read my blog after this, that's OK, I also hate it when bloggers interject their politics in their frugal blogs, I have indeed stopped reading MANY blogs since the election. Have a nice life :)

I am hearing... traffic on the nearby highway, the kittens chasing one another.

Around the house... Greg and our son are still asleep.  The house is reasonably clean but still a little messy. I'll probably take the dead seedling trays out to the backyard since the kittens keep on digging in the dirt, but that'll give them more room to rump around on the breezeway countertop, right next to my pineapple jars, arrgh. They are kind of driving me nuts, I've had to yell at them several times this morning.

One of my favorite things...  I'm a Colgate girl and I get it for free at CVS all the time so when I bought several tubes of Crest Be toothpaste on clearance at Publix for 25 cents a tube a few years ago, I must have been out of my mind!  It was bothering me that it was still sitting there in my stash recently, as everyone always picks the tube of Colgate when it's time to replace it, so when I run out of toothpaste in the upstairs bathroom, I picked myself a Crest tube and was ready to hate it.  But.... this is Vanilla Mint flavored and it makes me feel like I'm eating a muffin right after I get up!  The perfect toothpaste for the gal on a diet :)  I don't even know if they still make it, but I have something like 6 tubes of Crest Be in my stash so I'm set for a while. I ought to check if they're all Vanilla Mint...

A few plans for the rest of the week... dropping off the Focus for maintenance today and helping Youngest Son with his project, celebrating (virtually) Middle Son's actual birthday (21!),  grocery shopping, taking Youngest Son to take the Learner's Permit test, and on Saturday morning attempting to obtain a free sapling(s) of crepe myrtle from a local giveaway at the Lake Hiawatha Preserve.  On Sunday Daughter and I will be attending the Renninger's Antique Extravaganza in Mount Dora and getting the kittens ready for their surgery the next morning as all three of them will be getting fixed at the same time. I'll be a basket case.

Here's the picture I'm sharing...  My sister and her husband spent the weekend in Honfleur in Normandy and she posted this picture on Instagram...  I want to go :)

Have a good week!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

A Blissful Day ~ Sunday 01/15/17

Colt Creek State Park, Polk County, Florida

I stayed up a little late last night, re-reading some of my own entries from January 2016. I came across the one about Greg being cold and I was laughing so hard. He's such a goofball!  Luckily for him, it hasn't been that cold this year. Yet.

Anyhoo, I was re-reading posts on the couch last night, and Greg, who'd been sick most of the day, was snacking non-stop. It's really hard, when you're trying to be good, to have your spouse stuff his face in front of you. Or, in this case, right behind you.  And then, he went to get some crackers so he was crunching, on top of that, so I'd had it and I took my laptop and went upstairs.

Big mistake.  The kittens, who's been asleep or about to fall asleep (again! They slept a lot yesterday), came up, thinking it was bedtime, but since I had the laptop going, they decided it was playtime, after all and oh my.  They.were.jumping.on.everything!  Explorer kept on jumping inside of my trashbin and making it fall over (we have wood floors so it made a pretty racket!), Princess was determined to chew on or play with the mini-blinds, Tabby Kitty was trying to get into the closet so was busy pulling away the draft stopper that I had installed at the bottom of the door. I had to swat little kitten butts more than once!

Finally I'd had enough (I ought to trademark that phrase...) and turned off the light and then... well, the circus continued on for a little while with the trash bin repeatedly being thrown to the floor and me yelling at Explorer.

Not Explorer but basically what he was doing for a while!

The rest of the night... I don't remember.  I got up several times. Explorer must have gone to sleep with Greg because he was nowhere on my bed, but Princess was and this morning at 6:24 a.m. she decided that she was a kitten and didn't care about Sunday mornings and sleeping in and she wanted to play and me to wake up and feed her so she started stepping on my face, trying to nuzzle (read: bite) my ear lobes, trying to rip the chain off from around my neck, biting my fingertips... all the while purring, of course. It's hard to yell at a cute, soft, loving and playful kitten even when they're being obnoxious when they're purring at the same time!  She's evil.

So I got up.  It was dark. It was Sunday morning. I wasn't happy.  But then I got on my scale and I lost 2.8 lbs this week so I was really happy!  Bonnie, I have reached the 5 lbs that I meant to lose in January and it's only 1/15!  Woohoo!  How are you doing, by the way, if you're trying to be healthier?  The hard part now is to maintain the loss and forge ahead. I still have a long way to go to lose my 50 lbs by December 1st.

Well, it was just as well that I got up since I had to get the crockpot going for dinner, read the news, print and clip coupons, get started on Swagbucks, etc...

My plan for today?  I'm going to visit my BFF this morning to deliver the microwave to her. I think I'll take her out to brunch or lunch or coffee or something too. I'm also bringing her both bags of bagel chips that I bought yesterday. I luuuurve those so it's too dangerous to have them at home and she and her kids will enjoy the treat I think. I'd bring her more food from here but they eat differently from what we eat and she really doesn't cook all that much, and now that she works nights at the restaurants, I'm assuming the kids microwave something (hence the need for a new one).  Maybe I'll snoop in her pantry and fridge and see what she has in there so next time I'll know what she could use.  I don't want to embarrass her and certainly she has food, but if I can help with my surplus, that's more cash she can dedicate to paying the other bills, right?

After I visit her, I want to stop by Walgreens to get the cereal/milk deal. It'll be another stop that I don't have to make on Wednesday and there's a Walgreens really close to her house. As a matter of fact, I think it's on the side of the street when I go to her house so I might stop on the way over there.

This afternoon, if Greg feels OK, he and I will go walking. I don't really want to go back to the General Van Fleet Trail so maybe we'll go to the Lake Minneola Trail, but this time I want to park at the Minneola Trailhead and walk towards Clermont.  Or park at the Lake/Orange county line and walk towards Oakland. It'll be a change.  We'll see what he says.

I forgot to mention yesterday that Youngest Son played with his LEGOs yesterday, most of the day, and I can't tell you how happy I felt about that!  First of, it reminds me of when he was little because he would film his own stop action LEGO movies and they were so funny! Secondly, that means he was away from the computer, which I like because he's really on there all the time. At dinner last night, I asked him what book he was reading these days and he admitted that he wasn't ready anything. I've always required the kids to read 1 minute in order to earn 1 minute of computer game time, and I've completely dropped the ball with him since he's gotten to be a tween/teen. Arrgh. So I tasked him with finding a book to read at the library next week and I'll check on his progress.

It's Sunday so I shouldn't have a To Do List, damn it, but if I don't write down the things that I hope to accomplish, they simply won't get done. So here goes...

  • Cook dinner in crockpot - DONE
  • Bring microwave and snacks to BFF DONE
  • Go to Walgreens DONE
  • Get a free snack at RaceTrac for Youngest Son DONE
  • Go on a walk with Greg DONE
  • Read details of Diabetic Exchange program - I printed the documentation but I didn't read it
  • Do my foot exercises DONE
  • Exercise  DONE (walk)
  • Finish putting away Christmas decorations
  • Wipe out a USB stick for library
  • Greg and I need to assign the IRA contributions to specific funds we talked about it, but didn't do it.
  • Vacuum fridge coils
  • Declutter under window seat in Exercise Room
  • Compare music libraries between the 2 laptops and finish moving what's missing to my new laptop
  • Figure out what software I still need to move/reinstall on new laptop
  • Trying syncing my phone on new laptop
  • Clean litter box upstairs  DONE
  • Add Osmocote plant food to rose and hibiscus bushes
  • Read some chapters in my book
  • Clip the other two kittens' claws Clipped Tabby Kitty's front paws
  • Bake a cranberry clafoutis? Or something else?
  • Make a menu for the upcoming week DONE
  • Print coupons DONE
  • Clip coupons
  • Sort coupons
  • Charge my fitness tracker

  • I prepped dinner in the crockpot for tonight: 3 bottom round steaks that I had bought on 50% clearance and cut into chunks, 3 carrots, 2 large baking potatoes that were just starting to get soft, an onion, and 2 small cans of no salt added tomato sauce (plus salt and pepper). It'll cook for 10 hours and I'll bake that last tin of biscuits to go with it.  I don't like having to cut or handle meat first thing in the morning, though! It was 6:45 a.m.!  Yuck.
  • I've noticed that we don't seem to go through so much milk anymore... we're still finishing the gallon that I had stretched with water earlier in the week and I have a whole unopened gallon in the fridge. But I'm still going to get the Walgreens deal today, which includes a gallon of milk, because it would be so stupid not to. I'm thinking that I might give the milk to my BFF, though. I wonder if they use whole milk or not. I should ask her.

  • The paper only had 1 coupon insert, 1 Publix store coupon insert and a sheet of Steak n'Shake coupons, but it's better than nothing :)  I saved the newspaper sleeve and reused it later on to bag the "treasures" from the upstairs litter box.

  • I had asked Greg to turn the AC on as I went to bed last night because it was 75F downstairs, which means that it was warmer upstairs and neither he nor I sleep very well when it's warm or hot upstairs. We set it for 74F. We didn't turn it on in the other part of the house at all (we have 2 AC units) since my daughter isn't home. However, it must have run only for a little while because it was only 72F in the living room this morning. So I turned it off again and opened the windows. It's gloriously cool. Right now is the time that we should be walking!

  • I earned the Microsoft Rewards for the day and I'm working on Swagbucks thanks to automatic nGage videos. I will try to remember to leave my laptop open when I leave, so they can keep running and earning me SB.  My 1st goal is 60 SB and I'm only at 23 SB at 9 a.m.

  • I lost 2.8 pounds! Woohoo! I've lost a total of 7 lbs since I started :)

  • I input my weight for yesterday and today into Walgreens' Balance Rewards for Healthy Choices and earned 40 BR points.

  • I uploaded new digital coupons to my CVS and Publix digital wallets and printed coupons via Swagbucks and Smartsource.  I printed all the pet coupons from Swagbucks and I will donate them to the South Lake Animal League Thrift Store ladies. It's not completely disinterested, as I will earn 10 SB per coupon that is redeemed. Which reminds me that I haven't gotten any coupon credits in a while...

  • I was about to brew coffee when I remembered that I had the free hazelnut coffee in my fridge!  So I poured part of it in a large cup and nuked it. It is a tiny bit bitter but nothing like the RaceTrac coffee!   I'll heat up the rest to bring along to my trip to my BFF's.

  • I finished a box of cereal so I saved the bag that I will wash and dry later on, since I've used several bags that I had saved to freeze meat in the last few days.  My freezer is full again! (which is why I can't freeze that gallon of milk from Walgreens...)

  • I packed my free Wawa coffee in my travel mug and headed to my BFF's.

    • Right before her house, I stopped by Walgreens and bought:
      • 3 boxes of Kellogg's Rice Krispies at 3 for $8.00. I redeemed (3) $1.00/1 coupon from KFR and a $1.50 Register Rewards earned on Wednesday.
      • 1 gallon of 2% milk, free with the purchase of (3) Kellogg's cereals.
      • My OOP was $3.50 after tax. I paid with my Amazon Visa for 2% back in Rewards.
      • I earned 80 Balance Rewards points on my purchase
      • Back home, I submitted for the $1.00 Ibotta rebate so my purchase will cost me $2.50 total, not bad for 1 gallon of milk (priced itself at $2.99) and 3 boxes of cereal!
      • I will earn KFR points when I submit my receipt to Kellogg's Family Rewards.

    • As I left Walgreens, my BFF texted me that she had misread her calendar and that instead of working the night shift, she was scheduled to work the day shift AND they had just texted her, asking her to come in early!  She felt so bad because I had just driven 30 minutes for "nothing".

    • So I went to her house, which is just 5 minutes from Walgreens, and gave her:
      • the gallon of milk. I had texted her and found out they use 2% milk.
      • the 2 bags of bagel chips
      • the microwave. I told her it was her Valentine's Day present and she was very appreciate of everything.

    • I told her that her not being able to spend time with me worked out great for me, actually, since now I could go on a walk with Greg earlier in the day, while it was still cool. So she was relieved that I wasn't upset.

    • On my way home, I stopped by the Wawa near her house to get a free coffee sample (might as well since I was passing it!) but that Wawa wasn't giving out free samples. So I left without buying anything.

    • I called Greg and offered him 3 options for our walk: the two that I discussed in my intro or go to Colt Creek State Park down in Polk County, buy the annual state park family pass, bring a picnic, walk the trail and do some fishing.  Guess which one he picked?  Well not the first two options that were close by and free! He got ready while I drove home.

    • Before going home I stopped by RaceTrac and redeemed a survey reward code for a free Apple Crisp muffin for my son.

  • At home, Greg made us PBJs and I packed them in reusable sandwich wrappers that I've had for years. We  filled our water bottles and I also brought pretzels and a fruit cup for me.

  • I grabbed his military release paperwork so we could get the military discount on the State Park Annual Pass.

  • We had asked our son if he wanted to come along, but as usual, he didn't.  So we put him in charge of making sure the cats were OK and the kittens fed at lunch time.  He did.

  • We stopped by RaceTrac for Greg to fill up his truck. He went inside to get a free 32 oz Diet Dr. Pepper with his monthly app coupon while I pumped gas. So I earned rewards on my loyalty app, got a receipt which I will exchange for another freebie once I take the survey, and charged it to Discover for 5% back in Rewards.

  • At Colt Creek State Park, the ranger was very friendly and not very used to selling annual passes and especially not military paperwork :)  He was about to give us a lifetime military pass, which only disabled veterans are entitled to (for free), when (to Greg's surprise who thought I would have jumped at the opportunity to get a lifetime pass for free, but I don't think lying by omission just to get a freebie that I'm not entitled to is right!) I corrected him and explained that he needed to sell us a family annual pass but give us the 25% military discount.  So we paid $90 plus tax instead of $120 plus tax.  He made the pass good through February 2018 instead of through January 2018:)  I think he was just happy that I didn't bamboozle him with the military status!  I charged it to our Amex for 1% back in Rewards.

  • We had a lovely time at the park, see my recap at the end of this post.  While driving to one of the trails, I spotted a T-shirt laying in the middle of the road so I yelled at Greg to stop and he did because he thought I was joking. I wasn't. I left the truck to pick it up and bring it home. He couldn't believe I did that!  It was an Adidas T-shirt and I figured that if it wasn't in super shape, I'd donate it to a thrift store. I put it in the laundry basket when we got home. It doesn't look like it'll fit any of us so I will donate it once it's clean :)

  • On our way home, I wrote a menu for the week in the Notes app on my phone and emailed it to myself!  I love when I can whip one up on the fly because I remember what I have in my fridge that I need to use up!

  • Meanwhile, our son went to our local park to get some swinging done. He also cleaned up after the kittens when they broke a glass. Oops.

  • I had left my laptop running automatic NGage videos since I had left to go to my BFF's. When we got back, I had met my 1st daily goal and close to meeting my 2nd one when the videos finally stopped playing :)

  • I submitted my Walgreens receipt to Ibotta.

  • I unlocked new offers on SavingStar.

  • The weather was very overcast today so it never got to the 78F that was supposed to be our high. Our AC was off until 4 p.m. when I turned it back on because it was getting to be 75F downstairs, which meant hotter upstairs. I'll turn it back off once night falls since the high overnight is only supposed to be 61F.

  • I clipped the nails of the front paws of Tabby Kitty myself. I would have done the back paws too but he was having none of that!

  • Dinner was delicious!  We were apprehensive about this Easy Beef Stew recipe since it was the first time I made it and when I got home from my BFF's this morning, I exclaimed, as soon as I got into the house "Pee-eww! What stinks in here?!" and it was the stew. Oops. But it wasn't stinking when we got home this afternoon, although it wasn't smelling nice either. As a matter of fact, it didn't smell like anything. But oh. It was SO good.  And so easy and cheap to make: 3 carrots, 2 large potatoes, 1 onion, 1.5 lbs of bottom round roast (I had gotten bottom round steaks on 50% clearance so I used that), 2 small cans of tomato sauce (I used no salt added), 1 tsp of salt and 1/2 a tsp of pepper. Cooked on low 8-10 hours (I did 10).  I served it with wedges of naan bread that I had gotten for free at Publix a couple of weeks ago and frozen. Yum, yum, yum and we have enough for another meal for 3 people. I may freeze it.

  • I washed the baggie that had contained the wedges of naan bread and hung it up to dry so I can reuse it.

  • Ibotta credited me with the $1.00 rebate for the Rice Krispies! I love it when I get rebates back.

  • Gas:
    • to go visit my BFF and deliver the microwave. I wish I could take the Focus but the microwave is already in my SUV and it's heavy and I don't feel like moving it to the trunk of the Focus. Is that a failure?  Well, we won't mention that to Greg.
    • to go on a walk with Greg

  • For a Florida State Park annual family pass.

  • I upgraded my Runmeter app to the Elite version.  Greg said I might as well since I wanted to be able to have the app pause my time when I stop to take pictures while we're walking and also not have ads etc.

  • The kittens broke a glass while I was gone and it wasn't the one that I meant to throw away because it's so water stained :(

  • The Dole Mixations fruit cups that I brought for my lunch once again was spoiled!  This is from the pack that I just bought last week with the free coupon they had sent me to compensate me for the pack that had spoiled already. Grrrr!  I'm NOT buying those anymore!

  • I had to throw away a hamburger patty that I had cooked last Sunday but that had gotten uneaten.

  • Walgreens: $3.50 (but got $1.00 back so $2.50)
  • Gas for the truck: $21.93
  • Florida State Park annual pass: $96.30
  • Runmeter upgrade: $9.99
  • a gallon of milk from Walgreens with promo
  • an apple crisp muffin from RaceTrac with survey code
  • a 32 oz fountain drink for Greg with a RaceTrac app freebie coupon
  • an extra month on our state park annual pass thanks to a generous ranger

  • Weighed myself
  • Took a shower
  • Fed the cats
  • Started dinner in the crockpot
  • Emptied the countertop composting bin into the large one outside
  • Printed and uploaded coupons
  • Earned rewards on my reward programs
  • Emailed a couple of articles to Greg
  • Thought about and wrote down an itinerary for the day in my phone so I don't forget anything and maximize our gas expense
  • Drove to my BFF's
  • Went to Walgreens
  • Donated items to my BFF
  • Stopped by Wawa
  • Went to RaceTrac
  • Packed a picnic lunch
  • Went on  walks and fishing with Greg
  • Bought an annual pass for the FL state parks
  • Wrote a menu
  • Submitted a receipt for a rebate
  • Cleaned the upstairs litter box
  • Cuddled with kittens
  • Clipped the front paws' claws of Tabby Kitty
  • Entered my receipts into my spreadsheets
  • Upgraded an app on my phone
  • Fed the kittens
  • Set the dinner table
  • Unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher and started it
  • Put away the cooler we used for our picnic
  • Looked up the details for fishing at Lake Louisa State Park
  • Logged my food intake and exercise into MyFitnessPal
  • Downloaded all my pictures and wrote up this post!
  • Cuddled with a kitten!

  • My foot has been feeling great this whole week, since it hurt so bad due to my long walk last weekend. I think the stretching exercising really work!  It'll probably hurt again today and tomorrow if we go walking again but I love our walks!
  • I lost 2.8 lbs!  I was delighted as I hadn't expected to lose as much.  I'm down to 221 lbs now.
  • I drank 1 cup of water before switching to coffee. Bad Nathalie, but I couldn't make myself gulp another cup. I wanted to sip on flavored coffee instead.
  • Breakfast was a bowl of generic rice crispies with 1/4 cup of blueberries and a cup of ~2% milk.
  • I had a hard-boiled egg before going on our walks as a snack
  • We walked for 29 minutes (1.24 miles). We did stop a few times for me to take pictures.

  • We had a picnic lunch. I had 1.5 PBJ sandwich, and about 15 pretzel sticks.  I drank water.
  • We walked for 42 minutes (1.83 miles). Once again, I stopped several times to take pictures :)

  • For mid afternoon snack, I had the remaining 0.5 PBJ sandwich. 
  • I did my foot stretching exercises.
  • Dinner was a bowl of Easy Beef Stew and a wedge of naan bread.  I drank water.
  • As of 8:40 p.m., I have taken 15,404 steps today!

  • For having lost weight again this week!
  • For my foot not hurting most days this week!
  • For annoying wet kitten "kisses" in the early morning
  • For a wonderful day with my husband, it truly was blissful
  • For my son being a great cat carer

NATURE: A Visit to Colt Creek State Park (Polk County, FL)

Greg and I had visited Colt Creek State Park back on October 3, 2016. Back then I had meant to write a whole post about our visit later on and then I never did :(  Well, poop.  

I wanted to go back there because back in October, it had rained there a lot and the trails were very muddy. I didn't have boots then so we had to turn around. Since now I have hiking boots and it rained recently, I wanted to go hiking in the mud!  Plus we wanted to buy the annual pass to the Florida State Parks so we could use it to go into Lake Louisa State Park (near us) and then also visit other state parks.

We got there at about noon today.  We bought our annual pass and headed to the main parking area, which was pretty busy!

I guess we weren't the only ones wanting to enjoy an outing on a nice and cloudy day!  There was even a truck from Ontario in the parking lot.

There were several parties fishing off the dock and also several boats and canoes/kayaks on the pond with people fishing from them.

Some of the fishermen (and women)

We first walked the trail that goes alongside the "lake" (it's really a large pond).  Back in October, it had been quieter and there had been more flowers to photograph, so it had taken us a while to get to the muddy part where we had to turn around... but today... well, it only took us 29 minutes to walk to the end of that part of the trail and then get back to the parking lot and that's with stopping to take a couple of pictures too!

Sorry this is blurry, I took the picture as I was walking and I tend to bounce a lot :)

Palm Warbler

This snail was in the water but we couldn't tell if it was swimming or just an empty shell floating there...

A Little Blue Heron on the far shore. This was taken with the 40X digital zoom, hence the grainy quality of the picture.

Broadleaf Arrowhead
There a whole tree covered in those clusters of small white flowers but I don't know what it was...

I think this is Climbing Dayflower.

This was the lone remaining tiny flower on a clump of otherwise dead branches. I think it might be an Aster of some kind. It doesn't show in the picture but it was a very delicate mauve.

Some creature laid eggs on this branch and I'm not sure I want to know what kind of creature!

A familiar sight in Florida anytime there's any body of water... (gator, in case you hadn't guessed!)

There has been a lot of maintenance done since October!  Back then, parts of the pond were inaccessible to hikers because the vegetation was so overgrown, but some mowing had been done since and also they had added some pebbles to the parts that had been very muddy back in October.

When we got to the "end" of that portion of the trail, we found ourselves near the equestrian trail entrance where there are 2 other, smaller ponds.  Again, maintenance had been performed so we could access the ponds today and found benches, picnic tables, etc.  The ponds were quiet, no one was there, although there were several trucks with horse trailers parked in that parking lot.  The weather was overcast and it was cool, so we decided to go back to our own truck and drive it to that parking lot so we could have our picnic there where it was quiet and then Greg could try to fish in the larger of the small ponds.

On the way there, we suddenly spotted 3 or 4 of these birds near an area of waist-height dead grasses where they were probably nesting. I had never seen birds like these and neither had Greg. Apparently it is a Killdeer, a bird known for faking a broken wing when danger approaches to divert it from its nest, which it build on the ground, in shallow gravel depressions.

When we got there and settled to eat our picnic under one of the pavilions, we spotted several hawks flying overhead and calling to one another, it was lovely. I wasn't able to take a picture of any of them though :(

The only trash we left was meant to be only the plastic top of my fruit cup (I would have recycled the cup at home), but I had to throw the whole thing away because it had spoiled :(  Otherwise we brought sandwich wraps, cloth napkins and put our pretzels in a glass container.  Greg and I have reusing our water bottles for several months by now and will continue to refill them.  The sandwich wraps were made by an acquaintance, several years ago.  I really love them!

Our view of the pond where Greg fished later on. There were hawks flying over it and calling to one another.
I think those were crows, though. There were several of them flying around too. I wish my camera were better! See how overcast it was?

We saw horseback riders, who were very friendly and greeted us like they knew us. It was fun to see people riding horses and made me wish we had horses to ride too!

This truck had My Little Pony decals on its back window, as Greg noticed!  I took a picture for Youngest Son who loves My Little Pony!
We had a good time chatting and joking while eating lunch, and we also looked at the map of the trails in the park and decided to go on another hike after Greg did some fishing.

I appreciated that the pavilion featured both a trash can and a mixed recyclables bin.  Everything was very clean, that park is very well maintained.  The friendly ranger drove by while Greg was retrieving his fishing gear from the truck and I waved at him and he waved back with a great big smile.  I loved the friendly atmosphere, even though usually I really don't want to see anyone :)

There were several "bloops" in the water so the fishing looked promising but Greg didn't have any luck. In fact, I'm proud that my husband, instead of taking a fish from the pond, left one there: his little plastic fish bait became entangled in some cat tails and he had to cut the line and leave it there :(

Goodbye little plastic fish!
I caught up on some Feedly articles while he fished and apparently talked much too loud instead of using "my fishing voice" whenever I warned him of another "bloop!" in the water and scared the fish away. Whatever, Greg!

So after a little bit the sun came out again and we decided to go for our hike on the equestrian trail. It's funny how, when you're on a diet, every fresh horse turd looks like a scoop of rich chocolate ice cream or a steaming brownies fresh out of the oven!  Greg didn't think they did. But I thought so!

Relax!  I didn't take a picture of the horse shit... so here are some deer tracks for you :)  How exciting, I know.

The trail itself is 10 miles long but of course I knew that we couldn't walk that far with my foot problem. The trail was interesting terrain with some dips and even a dried up creek bed that we crossed on foot (Greg was surmising that it probably was indeed Colt Creek. How smart of him, I hadn't though of that!) but since it's January, most of the vegetation is dormant and there wasn't too much stuff to photograph.

Ooh, suddenly this looks much more interesting... like the entrance to a forbidden forest!

I call those "squirrel staircases".

These saw palmettos look like they were crawling out of the ground to get us!  Creepy...

We crossed a dead creek bed. To our right, there was a narrow rickety bridge. Greg couldn't
resist walking across it on our way back.

Blackeyed Susan

Deer moss

Florida used to be the bottom of the ocean so you will find petrified sand formation with shells in them everywhere, in the middle of the fields, miles from the Atlantic ocean or the Gulf of Mexico!

Carolina Jessamine

Now <i>that</i> was interesting: the horizontal branch was actually the primary trunk of this
oak. Somehow, it had gotten unnaturally bent to the left almost at a right angle. So two of its branches continued to grow upwards, themselves becoming "trunks"!

Close up of the bent area (on the right) and one of the new "trunks" growing from it (on the left)
"If you can dream it, you can do it"?!
We walked until we crossed a road and then my foot started warning me that it might be smart to turn around so we did.  It was a lovely walk anyway and we do want to go back and explore some more!  And now we can and should since we have the annual pass :)


This "artistic" effect is because the freaking flash wouldn't decide whether to go off or not and then the kitten moved... but Tabby Kitty was totally sitting ON TOP of his sister and she just let him. She'd been sleeping next to me on the couch pillow but it's one of his favorite spot.  However, she wasn't about to leave, lol! She's very stubborn. But so again, so is he.

Tabby Kitty and Male Cat where playing with each other!  I tried to take a picture but Male Cat walked off...

to the Ripple Rug nearby where he "plopped" himself and invited Tabby Kitty to come play with him. But I had to leave to be at my BFF's on time so I didn't get pictures of that.
Right now (9:24 p.m.), next to me on the futon... Princess (far left) just gave a very thorough tongue bath to her brother, Explorer, and now he looks very relaxed, nestled between her and my thigh :)  Such cuties!
How was your Sunday?  Do you own an annual pass to any parks or attractions or museums?  When  the kids were little, we had a ton of annual passes. I'm a sucker for annual passes :) Right now I have the Harry P. Leu Botanical Gardens annual pass (Orlando) and the Florida State Parks annual pass. I'll probably also get the National Parks annual pass.