Sunday, April 3, 2016

Cooler Weather and A Lovely Walk (4/3/16)

It never fails... when I have a good night and I'm snug as a bug, dreaming of fabulous things, the darn cat wakes me up by meowing for her food. This morning it was at 7:30 a.m.!  I would usually ignore her but my bladder started screaming too so it was time to get up.

So I took care of business, fed the cats, and went to get the Sunday paper down the driveway. It's noticeably cooler today and indeed our high is only supposed to be 75F, yay!

I then decided that no matter what the hour, I would go on a walk in Clermont today, and stop by RaceTrac to get more bakery and drink freebies, as well as Panera's to get a free bagel :)

My breakfast was very frugal again since I reheated the 2nd cup of coffee that I had brewed with the free Café Bustelo K-cup yesterday morning and had the free blueberry muffin from RaceTrac.

I read skimmed the paper and clipped a few coupons from the inserts, while listening to smooth jazz on WLOQ.

Then I read the news online (since the paper's only giving me yesterday's news!) and found an article alerting me to the Lake County Landscape and Garden Fair, a couple of weekends from now. It's free and sounds interesting so I added it to my calendar.  Busy, busy month of April!

What's that?  Publix is having a Spring Cleaning Sale?  How int... well, I don't care, really. Cleaning?  There's living to be done!

Greg got up at 9 a.m. and was still feel icky.  Our son got up early too, he was rearing to go at 9;30 a.m. and walked to the park to "get his exercise" for his fitness class.  Good for him!  I asked him before he left if he would be interested in going on a walk with me on the trail in Clermont and he even said yes. Wow!  Then Greg said "well, I want to go on a walk too!", which surprised me since he's not feeling well. I warned him that I also wanted to make several stops to get freebies so we'll see if he ends up changing his mind.

Jodie texted me a picture of the tea she likes to drink because it "flushes your system" (i.e. you get to poop!).  I might try it because as I age I'm getting more and more constipated. TMI?  Sorry!  I wanted to add it to this post so I don't forget about it.

I completed my Bing Rewards activities for today and reached the 150 searches that I needed to maintain my Gold Level, yay!  I'm at 80% of my goal so I will soon be able to order an Amazon gift card.  My Amazon Prime membership is due to renew this month, I believe.  At first I had said that I wouldn't renew, but you know what?  I will.  We're not hurting for money and I like having Amazon Prime Instant available to us (although admittedly I don't use it nearly as much as Netflix), especially for their exclusive content so, shrug, I'll be splurging on that.

I printed coupons from my usual sources (crap, I need to purge my coupon organizer of all the expired coupons!) and uploaded coupons and deals to my apps and digital wallets.

Greg handed me his phone so I could create a RaceTrac Rewards account for him (he hates doing that stuff) so I did.  I used the same phone number as for mine in his profile because he spends more at RaceTrac than I do and he will never redeem the rewards so I wanted us to have a common account.  But the free drink coupons didn't appear in his app, and I'm wondering if that's because of the common phone number. I played dumb and emailed Customer Service to see if they can put them through. If not, we'll have to each earn our Rewards separately and then i'll have to borrow his phone at night or on weekends to go redeem the freebies which would be a major PITA.

I had also emailed them from my own phone to mention that it'd been over 24 hours and my status hasn't been upgraded yet. I just checked my app and they must have pushed it through because now I'm a "Prince of Pastries" (I also mentioned that I thought their titles were sexist...).  So the April Prince of Pastries free drink coupon appeared in My Coupons as well... Yay!

I put 4 books on hold at the library.  My waiting list number is next to each title... it'll take probably 2 years to get a couple of them, darn it!  Arrgh.

Greg discovered all of a sudden that he has access to the Kindle Lending Library, even though he's had a Kindle for many many years, lol.  He was very excited to tell me about it and got a little deflated when I told him that I knew about that, lol.  Anyhoo, he was able to download/borrow a book that's worth $10 so he was very proud of his frugality.  Please join me in congratulating him :)  I asked him to send me a screenshot (and in the process taught him how to take a screen shot with his Kindle) but his email connection didn't seem to work with the Kindle. He told me he had never gotten it to work. So I Googled the problem, found the solution and he was able to get it to work!  As I noted, it's not even noon and I've taught him 3 things today and what has he done for me?  Nada. LOL.

And then he "bought" a free e-book, effectively saving us another $10, woohoo!  Go honey go!

We decided to have lunch at home and go walking after that.  It remains to be seen if it will indeed be a frugal outing...

Staples sent me an email with an offer of 25% back in Rewards on any orders of $60+ in HP ink. I did need to restock so I checked their price, double checked Amazon's (which was higher this time!) and ordered two multi color packs.  This qualified me for the Rewards (which I'll get next month, I think) and free shipping. I also made sure to go through the Swagbucks portal so I should get 2 SB per dollar spent (so almost 140 SB although last time I ordered from Staples through their portal I never got the SB and they never replied to my repeated inquiries either!) and I charged the purchase to my Amazon Visa card which will lend me 2% back in Rewards. Woohoo!

I uploaded several new offers to my SavingStar account. The Advil promo is back so I'm wondering if buying 1 bottle will result in my getting credited for ALL the rebates again?!  I'm very tempted to try it, lol.

New Kitty has been very vocal all morning and I've noticed that she's using a litterbox very frequently.  The good news is that she's peeing and pooping fine but I'm not sure what her problem is.  Hopefully not another urinary tract infection! I've cleaned the litterbox in case she was just being fussy (it was cleaned last night too) but she's still at it afterwards. Ugh.

I was worried about my middle son because he never replied to my messages and his phone has been going straight to VM for a couple of days. So I texted him to please call me because I was worried.  Then a few minutes later his dad texted me to ask whether I had heard from him because he was supposed to spend the night at his dad's but never showed up. My anxiety level shot up sky high upon hearing that so I texted his GF. Thankfully she knew where he was and that he was OK (his phone was dead and he spent the night at a friend's) and she asked him to text us so he did. But she's complaining about the same thing, which isn't good because it shows that my son is an inconsiderate person and not just with me!  But at least he's OK.  I love, love, love his GF, she is so sweet.

After eating lunch (black bean soup leftovers, sweet & tangy pineapple salad and some cantaloupe), I went to take a shower.

I reused the water collected in the shower to flush the toilet and scrubbed it too while I was at it.  Required household chore done for the day, woohoo!

Then we left to go walking. My daughter stayed home to study so it was just Greg, our son and myself.  We first stopped by RaceTrac and while Greg pumped gas into his truck, our son and I went inside to redeem a survey reward code for a free huge chocolate chip cookie that he devoured in the car, and I redeemed another of my free drink coupon from the RaceTrac Rewards app for another 32 oz of caffeine free Diet Coke.  The pump hadn't worked when we said that we were Rewards members so I asked the cashier about it and she apologized that several of their pumps were having problems with the Rewards program and that "they would be fixed soon". In the meantime I asked her whether I should email Customer Service with my receipt and she agreed that it probably would be best since she wasn't sure what else to do.  Well, darn.

Back in the truck, we realized that Greg had forgotten to bring his water bottle and he was very thirsty so I let him drink my Diet Coke... I'm a good wife!  I used that to strong arm him into agreeing to take me to Panera right away because I suspected that if we waited until after our walk, he wouldn't want to go since it's not on our way home.  First though, we stopped by Save A Lot to get him more ginger ale since we were almost out of it and he always drinks ginger ale when he's not feeling great.

I tried pre-ordering my bagel from the Panera app so it would be ready when we got there, but the darn app now requires TouchID to verify to method of payment (even though it was a freebie) and my iPhone's TouchID only works to unlock my phone, not for individual apps, so I couldn't place my order. I was very annoyed and sent Corporate an email demanding to know why I couldn't just log in to my account with my password?!  So, so annoying. Thankfully at the store itself, I could just give them my phone number, but I'll never be able to pay with my app from now on, as I did before.  I'm really ticked off about this.

Alison has commented yesterday that she really liked the cinnamon crunch bagels there and I had never tried one so that's what I ordered.  After a short thought for Alison (!), I tore into it. Oh my, it was sooooo good!  It was almost more like cake than bread, but with a delicious buttery cinnamon-u crunchy topping.  I dare say it tasted almost like the Polish Sugar Cake that my Polish grandmother used to make when I was little!

This is for you, Alison!
So we drove to the South Lake Trail and parked at our regular park.  It was a gorgeous day, not too hot, not humid at all, with a slight breeze, and TONS of people were about and about. Every single amenity was being used, which was great to see: lots of families biking and using the playgrounds, basketball courts, splash park, the beach, etc., as well as couples of all ages walking and biking or just having picnics alongside the lake.  I usually like my outings to be more solitary but it was so nice to see everyone enjoying themselves.  And we did too!  My usually taciturn son was joking with his dad and me, and neither complained when I stopped to take pictures (and I took loads of pictures!).  Everyone was in a great mood and I couldn't believe that Greg was actually under the weather because he didn't look like it at all.  We walked all the way to Jaycee Beach and back (good thing they had bathrooms at both ends because we took advantage of them and my son appreciated the water fountains). Greg estimates that we walked about 4.5 miles.  That probably doesn't sound a lot to someone like Tara who walks more than this every day just to take her kids to school, but by the time we got back to our truck, Greg and I were pretty pooped, lol.  Here are the pictures that I took on our walk:

This is the park where we left the truck.  Isn't it pretty with all the oak trees?  The building is the bathroom.  We needed to go visit that before we embarked on our walk.  Middle age bladders, you see...

This is the view from the "bath house".  The lake that is alongside the trail is beyond those trees in the back, on the other side of the road.  They did an incredible job developing this bucolic area but also keeping its charm.

Greg kept on offering piggy rides to our son.  I was so afraid he would bust an ACL or something...
Note: no one offered ME a piggy ride.  Hpmf!
This is one of the small playgrounds along the trail. We're already about 1/2 a mile (or more?) from the parking lot at that point. Then the trail curves to the left to keep following the lakeshore. I have put an arrow to show how far we walked today (Jaycee Beach) and then, of course, we had to walk back. Puff, puff.
Further down, we passed the new watersport building.  The logo on the building is Clermont' new logo that mimics the Olympic Games logo and declares Clermont to be the "Choice of Champions".  With its lakes and hills, South Lake County has become quite known among athletes as the prefect training ground for waterskiing, thriathlon athletes and more. Several Olympic hopefuls train at our National Training Center (NTC) and we have several big Ironman competitions, bike races and triathlons that take place on Lake Minneola.  The city is making a huge effort to provide amenities that will attract such athletes.
Tons of people were using the boat ramps today. The parking lot was full!

We saw sailboats and motorboats...

Pontoon boats (in the background)

There is a rowing club that practices on the lake.  Look at those long... canoes?  I'm not sure what to call them. I want to go on the trail early one morning to watch them practice.  I love watching the rowing event during the Summer Olympics!
Approaching Pioneer Village... I always take the same picture, I ought to try taking a picture coming back so we get a different angle!

The little building in the back is the small World War II museum that Greg and I visited a few weeks ago. We didn't stop today.  We should have, though, since our son was with us. We were too busy chatting, as we passed by, to have thought of it.

I like how the waterskiing school used old wakeboard that they painted as decorations alongside their building. It makes me feel like I'm on vacation on some tropical island!

This is Lilly On the Lake, the restaurant where Greg and I ate a couple of times last month during our walks.  See the wrap around porch?  That's where we sat, overlooking the lake. We had thought to stop by to get a drink and a snack on our way back today, but it looked crowded so we didn't.  There were people playing with the lawn games that they had set up. I tell you, everybody was out enjoying everything today. It made me feel glad to be part of this community, something that is really out of character for typically asocial me!

There is a very nice "boardwalk", for lack of a better term, just past the restaurant, with picnic tables and benches under the oak trees, overlooking Lake Minneola. Once again, I wish we had brought a picnic so we could have partaken there. It was so lovely.  When I homeschooled my son, we sometimes came here to do some schoolwork al fresco.
Some people were kayaking.  We also saw people on paddleboards. That looks hard!

Approaching the new splash park. It opened last year, I think, but we hadn't seen it yet.  It's cute.  They charge a $2 fee to use it so it's not overrun by kids and also to minimize the cost to the taxpayers, I guess.  I wish we had had all that when the kids were little! 
It'll probably be more crowded as the Florida summer takes a hold of us...
This is Jaycee Beach. Years ago I took my then little boys here to swim, before my daughter was born. as we lived only a couple of miles away.  But the cypress trees turned the once clear water very brown so the city decided not to let anyone swim in the lake, for fear that in case of emergency, it would be too hard for the lifeguards to rescue anyone.  So the beach sat there with dire warnings of "NO SWIMMING ALLOWED" for years and everyone was complaining, especially since the city still left commercial operators run the various triathlons there!  Finally, it looks like they have changed the warnings to "Swim at your own risk" and there were many people enjoying the beach and little kids enjoying the lake today. I tried to take a picture with the least amount of people in it, though.  And yes, there ARE alligators in that lake. Of course, it's Florida!  My former in-laws lived on that lake when I was married to my ex, and we used to waterski there.  The rule was that you had to get back in the boat as soon as possible after you fell, because of the gators. And we did see one hanging around their dock a couple of times. And yes, the same dock where I took my babies swimming when it was too hot!  LOL.
Lots of people were using those jetskis.  They look like fun but the darn things are so LOUD.  We have a very small lake next to our house and a couple of local people fire up their jetskis on it in the summer and the noise is infernal. My son would love to try it, though.  I need to research how old you have to be to drive one of those and see if I can rent one for an hour. I'm quite sure that it's possible on that lake.
So then we turned around and walked aaaaaalll the way back to the truck.

Some of the flora and fauna I saw on our walk:

This is a Narrow Blue-Eyed Grass (sisyrinchium angustifolium). My Florida Nature app tells me that this is a native plant and that although it is often mistaken for grass, it is actually a type of iris.
A lovely bougainvillea bush, outside of Pioneer Village.
I wasn't able to find this one in my Florida Nature app nor in my Audubon Society Field Guide to Florida. I will have to inquire somewhere else. Some kind of iris? It grew on the lakeshore.

I was delighted to see several birds hanging around this lakeside bird "condo" because in all my years living here, I had never seen any birds in it. After observing their behavior for several minutes, I believe they are teenage birds who just emerged from the nests and haven't taken their first flight yet because they just stayed there, while I was pretty close too. The top one didn't look like all his feathers had come in yet, too.  I'm not sure what they are... swallows or swifts.

This is a tri-colored heron (egretta tricolor), hunting in the marshy grasses of the lakeshore.
We witnessed an osprey catching a fish and flying overhead on the trail back to its nest, around the bend.  I was so happy to discover this picture on my camera because I didn't think  I had succeeded in taking a picture of it.  It was too far to see clearly, though. Oh well.


Bald Cypress

I think this is an American Coot, also known as the Mud Hen.

These two white egrets met up in the grass and flew off together.



These look like black-eyed Susans but they are Leavenworth's Tickseed, aka Common Tickseed (coreopsis leavenworthii). This is a Florida native which is from the genus designated as Florida's state wildflower and it is found almost exclusively in Florida (source: Florida Nature app)
On the way home we stopped by Publix because Greg wanted some orange juice. I knew that they had Haagen Daz ice cream on BOGO sale so we grabbed a couple of pints for the men, and I got some chocolate-covered pretzels for my daughter and a chocolate bar for me :)

Back at home, New Kitty was quieter but she had pooped a lot more while we were out and kicked a whole bunch of cat litter on the floor too.  Argh.   I think something is wrong with her although all the crying might also be because she would be in heat if she hadn't been fixed.  The stray cat that I saw on Friday was back on the patio, his nose almost pressed against the sliding door, so I know he can smell her and probably vice-versa. Our older female cat also seemed to be bothered last night and was more aggressive with younger New Kitty this morning than she's been in a long time.

I emailed RaceTrac with a copy of my Rewards card and our receipt to ask if they could credit my Rewards account. I hope that they can!

I had been thinking about how both Laura and I apparently have large stocks of tea even though we're coffee drinkers because we can't resist buying new teas (!) so I decided to brew myself a whole teapot of that Green Peach Tea that I bought yesterday.  I hadn't use my tea pot in a couple of years so it was nice to press another thing that I own into service.  And I had the perfect tea cup too: almost 22 years ago, my mom and beloved grandmother came to visit me after my oldest son was born and we went to have High Tea at the Grand Floridian Resort at Walt Disney World.  My grandmother loved china so I bought her a tea cup there to commemorate her visit. It's actually made in England.  When my grandmother passed away a few years later, my mom had to liquidate a lot of her possessions since she herself didn't have any room for them, but she mailed me the tea cup that I had gifted my grandmother. It's been sitting on one of my bookshelves since then but today I'm drinking my tea from it and remembering my beautiful and sweet grandma whom I miss so much. Love you grandma!

Hey, if you're a genealogy enthusiast, Fold3 is offering free access to their Civil War records through April 15th!  You'll need to create an account but that's it.

For dinner I grilled blue-cheese stuffed hamburgers on the barbecue.  They were delicious!  I made them with some of the ground beef that I bought on 50% clearance this week and some blue cheese crumbs that I had in the freezer.  I served them with waffle chips from Aldi and some pickles for Greg and myself.

I reused 4 cereal bags to freeze the last 4 pounds of ground beef from that chub.  I still have a 5-lb chub in the fridge that I will need to cut up and freeze as well.  I will do that in a couple of days, after I have used up some of the meat in the freezer to make room for it!

I remembered to claim my March bonus from Swagbucks. I usually get between 600-800 SB in bonus but,if you'll remember, I barely participated in Swagbucks this past month. So my bonus was only 55 SB.

Greg and I have been watching episodes of "Documentary Now!" (with Fred Armisen and Bill Hader) on Netflix.  The first episode (Sandy Passage) made us laugh quite a bit (there is one part, specifically where we laughed a lot) and the one about the hipster "journalists" in Mexico was kind of funny.   But the rest of the episodes weren't very good although Greg is laughing his head off at "The Eye Doesn't Lie" right now. I haven't been following so I have no idea what is going on...

Our local Optimist Club reached out to my daughter and offered for one of the judges, a retired University Speech professor, to help her practice her speech for the Regional Competition.  Of course she accepted gratefully, as there is a $2,500 scholarship on the line!  So we will be going back to the Villages in a couple of weeks.

A side rant: you know what really annoys me about all those sites and blogs that have ads from certain networks on them?  The ad networks pick up what you buy while you're online and then just show you ads of the exact same products that you just bought.  WTH?  So now that I bought ink on, every site that I go to shows me ads for the exact same cartridges that I just bought.  Hello?!? I just bought the darn things so why would I click on your ads now?  Ugh.

I've been needed a camera strap for the older Canon Rebel Xti DSLR camera that my middle son exchanged for rent last December and I couldn't find anything at the thrift store. So i ordered an ugly one from Amazon (the pretty and cheap ones didn't list my camera as being compatible with them!) and redeemed the last of my Discover Rewards to get it for only $2.44.  I picked the No Rush Shipping option and qualified for another $1.00 digital credit, woohoo!  So two things: 1) this means that now I'm going to start seeing ads for camera straps everywhere and 2) it'll be way easier to carry the camera around and actually use it now. It might spur me to actually go to a photography class to learn how to use all the settings, ha!

So guess what I just put on hold at the library?  Oh yeah...

My oldest son is graduating from UCF next month (my, how time flies) so I took advantage of a freebie code on Tiny Prints to order 10 free graduation announcements.  I will send them to our family in France as a keepsake.  We don't do graduation announcements or ceremonies in France so that'll be different for them to get in the mail!  I picked the slowest mailing option, which dropped my OOP to just $5.30 and I'll get them in a couple of weeks.


  1. I enjoyed going on a virtual walk with you! I'm sure I burned off a lot of virtual calories! Thanks for all the photos; loved looking at them.

    1. I'm glad that you enjoyed them, Bless! I'll try to go walking or biking on another part of the trail so I have other things to show in the future, but it's really my favorite part of it!

  2. Nathalie what beautiful photos you took on your walk and what a gorgeous place to walk. I'd never moan if the walk to school was anything near as pretty as that.

    Its so nice to have a 'proper' cup of tea out of a teapot and in a china cup isn't it, my Nan used to have a cup and saucer very similar to your Grandmas.

    Its so nice that you love your sons girlfriend. It made me laugh when I read that you were complaining that your son does not reply to your messages because I forgot to charge my phone at the weekend and my eldest son rang on the home phone from a football match and moaned that I didn't answer his message or ring him and he was getting concerned and it was very inconsiderate of me. Ha ha!

    Have a great day my dear friend xx

    1. Thanks Tara! Kids don't like it when we give them a dose of their own medicine, do they? I'm tempted to do that next time... not pick up the phone when they do call and not reply to any texts or messages they leave just to make a point? The problem is, I get so excited when they do call that I'll probably forget all about it. Was Liam very upset with you? It's sweet that he was concerned. He's a good son! I could be dead for all my oldest sons know.

    2. Yes he was quite put out Nathalie and then he went on to say that he always has to ring me and I don't ring him very often (I don't want to be a pain and him to think Oh no not mum again).
      He is a brilliant son, I know I am so lucky. I think if I'm honest that's one of a couple of reasons why I'm feeling so rubbish about everything at the moment because I know even when he goes away in May for three weeks I am going to miss him so much. Argh sorry I don't want to offload on you hun xxx

    3. Oh no, that's totally fine, Tara, unload away! Sometimes it helps to talk to someone who knows what you're going through! I don't call my sons very often either for the exact same reason, oh my. This is kind of funny. Then I worry that they think that I don't care, but they've complained about their dad always being in their business so I try to do the opposite. But a sign of life without me having to panic first would be nice. Boys...

    4. Oh Liam just tells me straight. He always tells me I over think things and if I have something to say or want a chat then ring. How old are your two eldest? I bet your daughter keeps in touch when she is out doesn't she? I bet your boys don't mind you ringing them,it sounds like your second son just gets caught up with what he is doing. Xx

    5. 22 (soon) and 20. Yep, she keeps in touch. My middle son had been much better about it but he's slid back into his old bad habits. They might not mind if I call, but they never pick up. The problem is that I never know when they might be in class, in a rehearsal, or at work so it's hard to get them when they're actually available and since their schedules change all the time, I can't really set a specific day and much less time to call them. I'm not on Facebook but if I were, they wouldn't friend me anyway, lol.

  3. Two lovely outings back to back. I haven't left my house in a week, but I feel so refreshed after going out with you these past two days. Ha. It has been a treat living vicariously through you. Loved the photos and I thought the pictures of birds you took were exceptional.

    Not that I have noticed or anything, but it sounds like Greg owes you big time once he is feeling a little better....the free instruction on using his Kindle, giving him YOUR diet Coke, stopping for Ginger ale, I'm sure you will remind him. I hope that both he and New Kitty are feeling better soon.

    1. I'm glad you are enjoying my outings as much as I am enjoying your posts about Egypt!

      New Kitty was back to normal today so I'm not sure what her deal was, but I'm relieved. Yes, Greg came through big time today when I asked if the bike that I wanted to buy for myself was too expensive and his reply was "nothing is too expensive for you, honey!". Awww. So now I have a brand new, very spiffy bike. I might go on a ride tomorrow!

  4. Replies
    1. Thanks, Jess! (Notice that I didn't call you Tara, lol)


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