Tuesday, April 12, 2016

A Very Short Night for All of Us! (Tuesday 4/12/16)

I got a catalog in the mail from Catalog Favorites today and there
are a lot of T-shirts in there that made me laugh, This is one of them.

Well, maybe not all of us but most of us.

I'm exhausted... Greg and I went to bed at about 11:00 a.m. but I couldn't fall asleep so I was up until possibly 1 a.m., I don't even remember.  Then at 2:30 a.m. I heard the ringtone from my middle son emanating from my cell phone. There is a reason why I keep my cell phone on and near me at all times and this was the perfect reminder: his car had broken down in Clermont on his way back to Daytona Beach from visiting his film makers friends in town and he was stuck. Could I come pick him up?  Of course.  I had to take Greg's truck since my SUV was trapped in by my daughter's and I didn't want to take that car in case he needed a lot of room for what he was transporting (I was thinking photography equipment and it didn't occur to me that if it fit in his small hatchback, it would fit in our small sedan, give me a break it was 2:30 a.m.!) and I debated waking Greg up to let him know because I was dreading that it would then not be able to fall back to sleep. But in the end I did wake him up to tell him because he tends to get up at night to go eat cereal and if he hadn't seen the truck in the driveway, he might have assumed the worst (we got robbed!).  He offered to come with me but I was already dressed so I told him to go back to sleep.

There was no traffic and the drive is only 15 minutes long but you know how weird it feels to drive when you're barely slept, right?  So it probably was better that there wasn't any traffic, lol.  I located my son, who had managed to pull into a restaurant parking lot. His car was completely dead and he thought it might be the alternator. He was apprehensive about my reaction to having been woken up at 2:30 a.m. because I've always been upset when he and his brother did that because they decided they would call to ask something without considering that I might be sleeping so the rule is don't call or text me after 10 p.m. unless it's an emergency.  Well, it was an emergency so I wasn't upset at all and he was relieved. I'm just grateful that it didn't break down on the unlit, windy, no-shoulder back road that he had just been driving on or, possibly even worse, on the side of I-4.  Also, my laid-back attitude had a lot to do with the fact that his car doesn't belong to me or even to him, but to his dad.  I was worried that he had to work at Universal today, in which case I would have lent him my SUV, but he has the day off.  I did forget to ask about classes though as usually he does have a class on Tuesdays in Daytona Beach, but he's going to have to deal with the car, now, so he'll have to miss it.

We drove home and he went to sleep in our spare room.  Greg was wide awake and eating cereal in the kitchen.  He went back to sleep upstairs and I decided to sleep downstairs since we were both kind of still awake anyway... and then I couldn't go back to sleep because I was actually worried about what my son would do if his dad decided not to get the car fixed (they've had several problems with it already)... then at 4 p.m. I heard someone throwing up pretty violently and for an extended period of time in the bathroom upstairs and I couldn't tell if it was my son or Greg.  I didn't want to go upstairs to check because obviously the person being sick isn't going to be in the mood to chat, and the stairs make a lot of noise so I was going to potentially wake up the other person if they weren't already awake.  I ended up reading some blogs and uploading new Ibotta offers, and finally I went to sleep at about 5ish...

I had planned on getting up at my usual time of 6:45 a.m. to get started on my day, but when I saw that I couldn't sleep, I changed the alarm to 7:30 a.m.  I glad I did because it was already hard enough to get up at the later time.  I set the breakfast table for my daughter and brewed myself some coffee... I had told my son that I'd wake him up at 8 a.m. so we could go back to the car and take care of getting it to a garage.  I worked on my Bing Rewards, saw my daughter off to school, and woke up my son at 8:05 a.m.  He showered and came down just a few minutes before Greg did.  My middle son had been the one who had been sick. He had had dinner at Chili's last night so he must have gotten food poisoning but he felt much better this morning.  Greg, on the other hand, hadn't been able to go back to sleep until 5:30 a.m.  All of us were zombies!  I'm glad he had decided to work from home, I would have worried about him driving to work and back.

My son declined to eat breakfast and I wasn't hungry either so I grabbed my coupon organizer (which had been cleaned out of the expired coupons 10 days ago but I hadn't added any of the new coupons that I had printed... I had planned on doing it this morning but now my plans had been torpedoed!) and we drove to his car.  Thanks to the note that we had left in the windshield to explain that he had broken down in the middle of the night but that would be back in the morning (and we also left our cell phone numbers), his car hadn't been towed away or ticketed.  He had surmised that it would start but that it would only drive for less than 2 miles and he was right... it started (we had been ready to just connect my battery to his and let hit charge for 30 minutes if necessary) and I followed him to Tires Plus, just about a mile and a half away.  We had to wait at 2 long traffic lights and I could tell that we might be running into trouble at the 2nd one because his brake lights were very dim and indeed, he barely made it into the parking lot of Tires Plus before his car died again. Phew!  Since he needed to call his dad to discuss with him what he needed to get done, I left to do my shopping but not before slipping him $50 to pay for gas and groceries. He was very very thankful since working at Universal Studios is costing him so much more in gas than working at Olive Garden.

Before all of that happened, I had planned on spending a leisurely morning clipping and sorting coupons and working on my shopping list and itinerary, and then going shopping in the afternoon.  Since I was driving to Clermont to drop my son off at his car, it made no sense to drive back home and then out again a few hours later so I just decided to go shopping while I was there. In general,  I don't like the idea of saving documents or data to "the cloud" because then I'm at the mercy of "the cloud" not being available. Hey, it happens!  However, I love that I keep my very detailed shopping list in Google Drive because I can access it from my iPhone. So I wasn't stressing that I hadn't printed my list (I'd rather have a printout than looking at it on my tiny screen but the phone will do in a pinch!).

Since Tires Plus was very close to Panera, I stopped there first and got my free cinnamon crunch bagel with my Reward.  I was very surprised to find Panera quite empty at about 9:30 a.m. but yay for me as I was in and out.  The cashier stuffed many paper napkins in my bag so I will save them for those nights when we have pizza or other finger foods. OOP; zero dollars and cents. Thanks, Panera!

Then I went to CVS. I was only planning on getting 1 gallon of milk, but I saw that some General Mills cereals were on sale at $1.99 and a quick check of the coupons that I did have revealed a $1.00 off Cocoa Puffs coupon and a $0.75 off Honey Nut Cheerios coupon so I bought a box of each and also redeemed a $0.75 ExtraCare Bucks voucher that I had earned last week.  My favorite CVS cashier was puzzled that I was buying so little (!) and that I hadn't handed her a $0.50 CVS store coupon for the milk because apparently some people got it from the kiosk this week. We checked the coupons that had printed for me (I was like a zombie this morning so I thought I might have missed it), but I didn't get it. Well, darn it!  However I received more coupons that printed on my receipt and I got a $1.00 off 3 boxes of cereals coupon for the next time I shop so I was happy with that. My OOP ended up being $4.27 but it was all free to me since I used my CVS gift card earned via American Express Rewards.  I still have a little over $80 on it so it'll last me a while yet.

Home Depot is right across the street and I wanted to get some seeds at 50% off so I headed there next.  The only problem is that I hadn't made a list of the seeds that I needed and my mind went blank apart from knowing that I wanted okra seeds because I had written it down on my shopping list.  Once there, the seed display said "All Seeds Buy One, Get One Free" so I bought 2 packs of seeds for $1.39, only on my receipt I noted later that each packet was priced at $0.79 so I could have just gotten one packet.  That kind of pisses me off but I'll plant one packet this season and another in the fall, I guess.

I looked for potting mix and found a huge 50 quart bag of "organic" potting mix for $13.67 so I got a couple of those.

As had happened in the past, I had a really hard time finding plant food for vegetables that actually was in the 5-20 range for all 3 numbers as recommended by the FarmDaddy brochure, but I finally spotted a lone bag of PurelyOrganic Tomato & Vegetable 8-8-8 plant food that had been left on a shelf without a price tag so I grabbed it.  It ended up being cheaper than the others that weren't in the ranges that I needed, at $8.47 for the bag.  I think it'll last me a while.

Lastly, I let myself be tempted by their "4 for $10 herb and veggie sale" and grabbed two small black cherry tomato plants.  I'll put them in a bin together.  For $5.00, I'll probably get more tomatoes than the 4-5 pints that I would buy from Aldi this summer. We'll see.  My own tomato seeds were planted 3 months too late so I'm not sure that they'll give me fruit this summer. In the fall is more likely.

So my OOP at Home Depot was $45.36,  For weeks the Garden Club had been sending me $5.00 off $50 coupons.  I don't think that I got one for this week though, and even if I had, I hadn't printed it and even if I had printed it, it would have been left on my coffee table with the other coupons that I printed last week and never filed.  Still, I could have gotten 2 more tomato plants for free so I'm annoyed at myself.  I'll have to see if I did get one and possibly stop by their Customer Service Desk with my receipt to see if they would let me redeem it after the fact but it would have to be tomorrow.  Maybe not. Update: as I looked at my receipt, it wasn't clear what items they charged tax on or not.  So I calculated the worst case scenario (where they would have charged me tax on the whole amount) and they sure did. The problem?  Seeds are not taxable in Florida.  So I pulled up the pdf dated 1/2016 from the Florida Department of Revenue and confirmed that none of the items that I purchased are indeed taxable in Florida if they are used in home vegetable gardens (among other uses) but that I would need to provide the seller with a certificate stating that those items are going to be used exclusively for exempt purposes.  However, it looks like they only issue certificates like these to non-profits, which makes no sense because if you have a home vegetable garden, then you're a homeowner.  I checked their database for an answer but couldn't find one so I emailed them. It's going to take up to 5 days to get an answer.  Ugh.

From there I went to RaceTrac, down the hill, to gas up my SUV (I needed half a tank today thanks to my drive to UCF on Saturday and regular gas was $1.959 a gallon.  I charged it to my American Express, with which I will earn 2% in Amex Rewards and used my RaceTrac Rewards number at the pump. I just checked my app and it earned me 13 points.  I went inside to redeem an app Reward for a free 32 oz soda, They were out of caffeine free Diet Coke so I got the full caffeinated version instead.  I also redeemed a survey reward code for a free lemon glazed coffee cake.  I came out with 2 new receipts with which I will earn 2 more freebies: one for my gas, and one for one of the freebies and the cashier asked me to keep the freebie train going. I sure will!  I tried not to drink the Diet Coke since the caffeine has a horrible effect on my bladder and since I had used a foam cup and no ice, I was able to gift it to Greg when I got home. He was very happy :)

My next stop was Aldi, where I bought pretty much all of my food. I hadn't finished working on my list so I ended up getting a few items without knowing if I was really out of them and my gamble didn't completely pay off: I did have chocolate chips at home, as well as more yogurt than I remembered, but I also was able to stock up on a few things: they finally had the Fit & Active Light Mayo so I bought 4 jars of it at $1.89 a 32 oz jar, and I also stocked up on organic apple juice because the 64-oz bottle had gone down from $2.69 a bottle to $1.99 a bottle and I wasn't sure if it was just a temporary price break or not so I bought 6 bottles.  They had a lot of cheap produce today, even though it was the last day of the sales cycle, so I grabbed 2 bags of navel oranges at $1.99 each, 3 quarts of strawberries at $1.29 each, a cantaloupe at $0.99, bananas at $0.44/lb, Red Delicious apples at $2.89 for 3 lbs (and I counted the apples in the bag to find one that had 9 apples instead of just 8. However I didn't realize that the 9th apple had started to spoil until after I got home so I put it in the fridge with another one that's been in there a while. When I'm not tired I'll slice them and dehydrate them.)  As for vegetables, I got tomatoes on the vine at $1.29 a bag, Boston lettuce, a seedless cucumber at $0.69 and 2 avocadoes (I count them as vegetables!) at $0.79 each.  I remembered to check if they had discounted the corned beef briskets more than they had been last week.  Back then, there were $4.00 off stickers on all the packages but the price was $4.69/lb which was significantly more than what I had paid at Walmart and also the packages were very large so I would have had to buy $15-$20 worth of brisket.  Today I lucked out as there was a small package with a $7.11 price tag on it and a $4 off sticker.  Yay!  I'll make more Reuben Sandwiches next week!

Hmm, I'm guessing that price is lower than usual though 5/3 only?  I did the right thing stocking up, then!
Among other things, I ended up grabbing a package of pre-cooked bacon because I looked at the wrong price tag and thought that at $1.99 for 15 slices, I would just get it for my Bacon Cheeseburger Chowder.  Only... I ended up getting charged $2.89 for it, yikes!  As luck would have it, I remembered to check my receipt before I left the store and realized that the cashier hadn't taken off the $4 for the brisket so I asked for a refund for that and also the bacon, that I left there.

Non-food items purchased at Aldi were a 20-lb of bird seed for just $2.99 (yay!  I think it was more expensive last week so I'm glad I waited!) and a rattan deck box for $39.99 plus tax.  I'm hoping that I can fit a bunch of my gardening supplies in it, so as to free up the little shed to store my bike.  If not, I'll just use it to store my patio furniture cushions that take up room in the little shed anyway.

So my total OOP at Aldi was $121.95 and I charged that to Amex. Since it's a grocery store, I should get 3% back in Amex Rewards.  I received $6.89 in cash back for my refunds. I haven't calculated my total food expenses for this morning yet.

I headed to Dollar Tree across the street in hopes of finding a couple of items: mint seeds which I had remembered that I needed, and beef bouillon granulés. I struck out on both counts.  However, I did find a picture frame for that 8 x 10 photo that Walgreens graciously printed for free for me last week,  a birthday card and a graduation card for my oldest son (I had planned on getting more expensive cards at Publix but why? Those will do nicely and cost me only 50 cents each!), a box of impatiens seeds and a box of "shady mix" wildflower seeds, a packet of hummingbird nectar mix because I'm too lazy to look up my recipe for making it myself from water and sugar (lol) and a 6-pack of those plastic pot saucers because I don't have any round ones in stock and sometimes I wish I had them.  My OOP was $6.42 and I charged it to Amex as well for 1% back in Rewards.  Update: Dollar Tree charged me tax on the flower seeds too!  Those are also tax exempt but I don't have to provide a certificate for seeds. I'll print another copy of the policy, take it to the store with my receipt, and ask for my $0.14 back and for them to change that coding in their registers.

The okra seeds and plant food were bought at Home Depot, but everything else was from Dollar Tree

I was tempted to drive back to Home Depot to see if they had mint seeds, but I was really really tired so I just drove home.  On the way I called my middle son to check up on him and the car, and they had just finished replacing the alternator (cost $360 but his dad is paying for it, phew!) and he was on his way home. However, as we were talking, I heard him say "Uh oh... something just made a flopping sound, I should pull over" and I said "you probably got a flat!" and he had to hang up after promising he would call me back.  A little bit later I pulled into the RaceTrac station near home so I could redeem a 2nd survey reward code for another free glazed lemon coffee cake so I tried calling and got his voicemail. I texted him and he replied as I was entering my living room to confirm that he had gotten a flat and was installing his spare tire.  After that, I know that he ended up going to Universal Studios with one of his friends to cheer himself up and have some fun. Poor kid!

Greg helped me carry the groceries in and then had to be on a conference call.  I took the necessary pictures of my purchases and put everything away, and then heated up my lunch: leftover Enchilada Pasta Skillet that Greg and I shared. I also had some of the cantaloupe that I cut up yesterday. A night in the fridge did it good as it actually tasted much better than yesterday.

He and our son had each finished a box of cereal at breakfast, so I recycled the boxes and saved the bags to rinse them later on so they can be reused as freezer bags.

I remembered that I hadn't put the trash bin down by the curb. so I collected the trash throughout the house, wrote the birthday card to my oldest son and stuck a check in it, and took the trash down/mailed the card. It probably won't get to him tomorrow but that's OK, he'll be happy to receive money.

I'm way too tired to do anything else productive today so everything will have to wait. I plan on just veg on the couch and possibly even take a nap.

The first birdie of the 2016 Spring has made its way down our chimney. We can hear it chirp once in a while. Once he's all the way down, we'll do the old catch and release. I'm surprised that the cats haven't heard it yet. Our male cat is usually stalking the fireplace at the first sound of flapping wings. He must be getting old.  He also tried to escape this morning as Greg opened the sliding door to try to get a shot at some squirrels. He missed and the cat only made it as far as our berm so it wasn't too bad.  New Kitty escaped for a 2nd time yesterday (also due to Greg opening the sliding door) but he was able to grab her before she went too far. She's a bad influence on our other cats.

An email from Starbucks about their new app and Rewards program confirmed that if you make a purchase and pay with app by May 2, you'll automatically be upgraded to the Gold level. I found what that entitles you too. Doesn't seem that much of a big deal. You also get the Green level perks.

I offered one of my free RaceTrac lemon glazed coffee cakes to my daughter. I noticed that she had also redeemed one of her free 32 oz fountain drink coupons.  We're a freebie family :)

I remembered, at 2 p.m., that I hadn't defrosted meat for dinner. Greg suggested (and my daughter strongly seconded!) that I pre-spend some of that Publix gift card that I won but haven't received yet, to buy a fried chicken family dinner tonight. However, that would mean I'd have to drive there and I can't even keep my eyes wide open at 2 p.m. so I dutifully went to defrost the pork chops that I had planned on cooking. Upon which, I realized that both my skillets had been used at dinner time last night and that cleaning the dishes was another chore that I was supposed to have done this morning. Then my daughter said she would go pick up the chicken dinner so we might still do that. We'll see how I feel at 6  p.m. I might get a boost of energy.

I tried earning some Swagbucks and also running up my "team points" for this week's team challenge. You need to earn 300 SB to get a 40 SB Swag Up if your team wins the challenge.  Ugh. 40 cents for all that work?!  Still I tried. 1 survey that was promising 60 SB for 1 minute turned into let's get you to answer detailed questions about this past week's shopping and that'll take over 5 minutes and then we'll tell you you didn't qualify, oops.  Well the oops is on them as I had my suspicions that it would happen and I lied on the survey.  They've ticked me off too many times, I promise this was the last survey that I will try taking.  The "Discover" offers didn't give me any of the team points that I was supposed to get, the "Watch" videos just keep playing the same video over and over again so I can't earn any SB nor points. That's it, I'm DONE.  I did the daily poll and NOSO and redeemed a swag code and earned 6 SB for a search.  At this rhythm, it'll be August before I earn another gift card with them.

There is activity in the house next door. We can't tell if they're coming or going... I was hoping it was the previous people coming back to finish cleaning out but I just saw someone unload a coffee table from the moving van.  Dang it. DANG. IT.  Let's just hope they don't have any barking dogs or loud small children, but a house that size... it's bound to happen.  I told Greg that I want us to bite the bullet and pay for a fence.  A tall one.  I don't know how tall our fences can be and it'll be very expensive and also the trees are in the way so it won't be easy but I want a fence.  Before we spend the money, though, we need to fix the shower leak and a host of other things so don't hold your breath.  Also, the only people I have seen were 2 young adult males. I hope it doesn't mean loud parties.  Can you tell I'm dreading this?

Bath & Body Works has an offer for today only where you can score a free watermelon lemonade 3-wick candle with any purchase but you need to spend $40 to get free shipping so I'll pass.  I have a few candles to use up, still.  Right now I'm burning the French Lavender candle. A little goes a long way so I'll only leave it on for a little bit.  Also, one of the 3 wicks has broken off :(

I printed coupons from Swagbucks (more to clip and file... yay?  nope!) and uploaded the new healthy offer from SavingStar for 20% off sweet potatoes. I really wish those would work at Aldi!  Speaking of potatoes, I suspect that I have more potatoes that might have gotten bad.  I'd go check right now if it wasn't such an ordeal to get off the couch. Yes, I am that tired.  I think reading that Tara walked 8 miles today (EIGHT!) while feeling like a zombie AND worked at her job AND parented several little kids just finished me off.  I feel like I've ran a marathon and all I did was grocery shopping for goodness' sake!  I'm no good when I don't sleep my 8 hours.

I took (2) RaceTrac surveys and earned 2 new survey reward codes for free bakery items.

I submitted rebates to MobiSave and Checkout 51 and they were credited to my accounts promptly.

I have a SavingStar rebate for the Cocoa Puffs that will be submitted automatically by my ExtraCare card since I bought it at CVS.

I input my receipts in my various spreadsheets and got started on my Weekly Grocery Shopping post.

Our very nice neighbor Jeff knocked on our door and brought us 2 huge onions from his family's vegetable garden!  How sweet of him and how appreciated!  They have the best-looking veggies, my gardening efforts always look so puny compared to theirs, but they've been farmers for generations, use pesticides and things like chicken manure to fertilize their fields, and above all, they know what the heck they're doing, hahaha!  All kidding aside, I need to clear from space in the veggie freezer because on top of those 2 huge onions, I still have 8 lbs of onions that I bought on sale that have been waiting for me to dice and freeze them and Greg's delicate tummy can't handle onions, as much as he likes them, so such things as French Onion Soup are out.

When it was time to cook dinner, I was all ready to cook, but when I got into the kitchen, I found that all the pans that I needed had been used to cook last night's dinner and since I'd been gone all morning and hadn't slept much, I hadn't done the dishes yet.  So I didn't need much of a push to decide that Greg was right: my daughter volunteered to come with me to Publix, and we picked up a fried chicken family dinner, along with a deli sandwich for her.  There weren't any store coupons for either of those items so I had to pay full price.  It was delicious, though, and my daughter will do the dishes tonight in exchange for a portion of her share of the car insurance.

I used a paper plate to help my daughter with the dishes :)
Greg and I ate our dinner while watching some episodes of Arrested Development, while the kids ate their while watching their own shows on their computers.  Everybody was happy to do their own thing. We prefer family dinners but none of us felt like being talkative tonight, ha!

We still had a couple of pieces of fried chicken left, so I packed them for Greg's lunch tomorrow.

My daughter decided to clip all of the cats' claws since it'd been a while since my son had last done it. I will credit her with a predetermined sum as well, that will be applied to her share of the car insurance.


  1. Oh no! What an awful night for you all especially your son. Thank goodness he broke down somewhere that you could go and rescue him. I'm glad his car is sorted now and I'm also glad that you didn't have to pay the costs.

    I think you truly deserved that chicken dinner after your lack of sleep and going shopping. I take my hat off to you dear friend I think I would have gone back to bed and stayed there.

    I hope your new neighbours turn out to be lovely people that are nice and quiet ;)

    1. We did deserve it, right?! I was so tired. The neighbors were quiet today, let's hope it continues :) I just hope they're not the outdoor type because that would really prevent me from enjoying my own garden.

  2. Glad your son was OK after the incident with the car and you were able to go pick him up.

    You had a busy day after such a short night of sleep! Glad you got to enjoy a chicken dinner instead of cooking.

  3. Such an awful night, but you amazed me with everything you still managed to accomplish. I would very definitely have gone down for a wee nap by midday. I knew you would have to spend some of your winning gift card on a chicken dinner from Publix. Might as well be on such a day as this.

    I can't get over the size of those sweet onions grown by your NICE neighbour. And I look forward to more stories of the new neighbours and the ten foot tall fence.

    1. The new neighbors have actually been very good. They're quiet and since I don't make eye contact, i don't even know if they're young, old, man/woman couple or just the 2 young guys that I had seen moving the furniture in, LOL. Crossing my fingers that they keep being good :)


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